Monday, 30 March 2009

Simon Birch

"Simon Birch is an exciting Hong Kong-based artist who is fast building a reputation in Asia. His portraits, in particular, have drawn attention due to a number of high-profile commissions and two highly successful exhibitions in the past few years.

In 2003, as well as a collection of striking portraits, that include well-known Hong Kong personalities, Birch added an extra dimension to his work with collaborative pieces, handing over finished works to selected artists, designers and photographers and giving them total freedom to add, take away, re-paint, create or destroy. Award-winning designers Stanley Wong and photographer Wing Shya were among those who took part in this project, which not only reflected the artist's position as a Westerner living in the East, but also mirrored modern culture where so many creative ideas are shared, stolen, mixed and enriched.

Simon Birch paints like everything else he does in life, with passion and intensity. In his portraits, often on a large scale, the subjects are reduced to an austere minimum, with the removal of context, giving an ambiguous intimacy and tension to the work. The faces are intense, yet non-specific in their expression, leaving the viewer to decide on his own perception. Painter, subject and viewer, each has his own subjective interpretation.

Born in Brighton in 1969, Birch began painting at a very early age under the guidance of his parents. His mother is an accomplished painter and art teacher; his father, an award-winning graphic and interior designer. He has pursued a versatile career, which has included design, entertainment, music and sport, but he has continued to paint throughout his life. In 1996 he moved to Hong Kong.

Birch describes himself as an artist immersed in street and eastern culture, a catalyst for many forms of creativity, an artist reacting to the fragmented perception of the everyday world, saturated with images. Inspiration for his paintings may be triggered by the smallest detail - a colour, a face, a texture, a sound, a song. Once he has that spark, he begins painting as soon as possible, compulsively, often for days at a time with little or no rest.

Like Kippenberger, he uses different styles concurrently with the aim of developing himself as an artist, not purely a figurative painter. He is influenced by Abstract Expressionist artists such as Rothko and Richter, whose work has the power to convey strong emotions, as well as, less obviously, Basquiat and graffiti artists such as Futura 2000."(10 Chancery Lane Gallery)

++Simon Birch
++10 Chancery Lane Gallery
++Alive not dead profile

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