May 26 – June 16, 2012
What strikes one first about Simon Collins’ works is the utter confidence of his painterly approach. It is a quality that has earned him considerable attention with the inclusion of paintings into some of the nation’s most prestigious art prizes. This new series again expresses the importance a sense of place has for him. Both surface and human document, each painting presents a small ‘slice of life’ momentarily glimpsed among the streets and parks of suburban Sydney. Collins depicts ordinary, everyday activities “that are not so different from any one else’s – stuff that has an impact, positive or negative.” Subjects include his place of residence under a flight path, family outings and the “mundane but beautiful” traffic images he encounters during daily work travel.
Artists interpret their responses to the world as they experience it, and those responses are very much conditioned by interior states of being. Collins’ works act as a kind of mediation between coexisting realities. Alluding to the title of this body of work, which also enigmatically names the painting of a grinning, ornate skull, Collins shrugs, “Up? Well the word comes into my head all the time, it’s like a mantra in my brain. As much as one looks up, life is never a hundred per cent rosy and sometimes looking within is unavoidable. The works relate to the duality idea – things being usually measured in degrees of good and bad, intriguing yet unremarkable, beautiful yet fucked up.”
At almost every level, existence seems to be composed of binary pairs or opposites. While acknowledging this pattern in nature, Collins sees the value of embracing the whole as an organic unity. He tells of how he felt when the planes started flying very low over his house after extensions to the Sydney Airport runway were completed. “There’s a love/hate thing going on with them. I hate them coming in for all the obvious reasons, but they are immensely intriguing to watch on a nice sunny afternoon in the backyard. I’m in awe of these machines and what they do, so my paintings of planes are a juxtaposition of negative versus beauty.”
Collins understands well the correspondence between feeling, form and technique. Although the material world appears dense and solid, we now understand it to be a vibratory energy field. Collins’ epiphany-like pictures evince that force with fluid gestures, flickering light and abundant texture. The dynamism of the works derives from the directness of his execution. “I like to paint the whole canvas at once as each area is a relevant part of the puzzle,” he explains. “I’m never sure how the painting is going to work when starting out, the painting itself dictates – it tells you as you go. My aim is to let the medium carry me in a way that imparts the experience I’ve drawn upon… to take the viewer to that place, abstracted and embellished as it may be.”
Alive with energy and movement, exaltation and shadow, Collins’ paintings prompt us to be cognizant of those fleeting, elusive instants that elevate the quality of our day to day lives. “I consider a work successful if it reveals even a tiny bit of poetry or beauty that may not have been recognised in an otherwise unremarkable day. I’m trying to look at the positives, looking up so to speak, not only where the planes fly.”
The exhibition ‘Simon Collins – Up’ is showing at Anthea Polson Art, Shop 120 Mariners Cove, Seaworld Drive Main Beach QLD 4217 (next to Marina Mirage), from May 26 – June 16, 2012