DREW SIMPSON


Article by Clare Ros // Studio Visit Photographs by Mike Milosh

Drew Simpson is a Canadian painter that currently lives and works in Berlin. Raised in a small town outside of Toronto, Simpson has painted since the age of 13, and found it an outlet for, “dealing with a typical, god-fearing Pentecostal family in the ‘burbs.” Simpson studied at OCAD University (formerly, Ontario College for Art and Design) for a short time, though he never actually enrolled in a painting class. After being awarded the highest prize in painting scholarships he was asked to leave for “failing to achieve the standard 64% grade percentage.”

Berlin Art Link Studio Visit with Drew Simpson

Determined to continue making art, Simpson worked independently and resumed training at The Toronto School of Art. During this time, he additionally began to curate works by his contemporaries, which lead to collaboration with Mix Magazine as an editor and Mind Control Gallery as a curator. After four years in Toronto regularly exhibiting his own work with the Christopher Cutts Gallery and over 25 international art fairs under his belt, Simpson left Canada to travel around Europe.

Berlin Art Link Studio Visit with Drew Simpson

Attracted to counter-culture phenomena developing at the fringe of society, Simpson explained his reluctance to accept traditional norms – be it in his training or societal views. “Art school taught me that grades and degrees don’t amount to anything, unless you’re a white girl from an upper middle-class family,” he explains. “Grasping that possession is nine tenths of the law is all one needs to know. So I suggest emerging artists rent the smallest, dingiest room and look the part. Everybody’s at their scariest when they’re trapped, right? So paint yourself into that corner and fight back. Your art is out to get you.”

Berlin Art Link Studio Visit with Drew Simpson

Berlin Art Link Studio Visit with Drew Simpson

Following his own advice, Simpson landed in Morocco and for six months painted, “in the same gutter hotel where William S. Burroughs wrote Naked Lunch.” As scenes unfolded daily below his balcony window, exposed were the harsh realities of urban life. “I learned two things living and working in Tangiers. One, everyone pays a different price, literally. And two, everyone leaves a little more broke, spiritually.”

Berlin Art Link Studio Visit with Drew Simpson

Addressing contemporary complexities of daily life, Simpson’s work is framed within the languages of baroque to romantic styles in painting. Conceptual themes surrounding domestic heartache and deception appear, as Simpson juxtaposes settings of domestic interiors and rural to suburban landscapes with imagery of the grotesque. In doing so, he effectively pulls out the dark side of assumed security attributed to such environments.

Through his series entitled, Pseudo Sanctuary, Interiority Complex, and Thrill Life, Simpson examines the home as the false sanctuary – exposing alternative truths about intimate spaces and personal objects. “For the past six years I’ve rarely deviated from exploring the mysteries of the ‘Interiority Complex’ and the ‘Bourgeoisie Bogeyman’ that haunts it. Our homes are actually the compost pile of our psyche where we bring all the piss and shit of existence home with us. It’s where our cancers fester in dark corners, beneath beds and inside cluttered closets. In the shadows of our unforgiving furniture we are fighting, fucking and consuming flesh… It’s where we fail our children, beat our wives and plot against our neighbor. Home is definitely where the heartache is. Oscar Wilde said it best on his death bed, ‘My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death.’”

Berlin Art Link Studio Visit with Drew Simpson

When asked to provide an artist statement, Simpson poetically responded with the following text:

Everyday I paint.
Everyday nothing changes.

It begins the same.
Darks, centuries before the Lights.

Everyday I paint What is Beyond The Curtains.
Everyday I paint The Secret Life of Wallpaper.
Everyday I paint Cancer of the Corner.

Everyday I paint.
Everyday nothing changes.

It begins the same.
Colds, so far past the Blues you never want to visit it again.

Everyday I paint Death in a Living Room.
Everyday I paint Armchair Terror.
Everyday I paint The Lair of the Hunted.

Everyday I paint.
Everyday nothing changes.

It begins the same.
I grab my brush and blindly slug it into the Web.

Everyday I paint a Ticket to my own Execution.
Everyday I paint 10 inches of Nothing.
Everyday I paint $2,600.

Artist Info:

drewsimpson.ca
drewsimpson.tumblr.com

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