“When asked what I do I will tell people that I paint but I think that I should say that I draw. The main element in my work is drawing. The attraction to drawing stems from the directness of the mark making process and the simple, yet magical way lines on a surface create shapes and forms.
I do all my drawing freehand even if I repeat an element, as I feel that projectors or stencils take the life and strength out of the line.
My work has had nature as a central theme for years. There is a lesson to learn from how nature is able to vary simple forms infinite. It might sound clichéd to say that nature is your source of inspiration but I can’t change that. I think this is where my Scandinavian background becomes evident. Scandinavia has a long tradition for art, design and architecture inspired by natural forms. For me personally the draw of the subject matter is its inexhaustible richness and metaphorical ability to speak of human existence, of life, passion and the brevity of existence.
The influence for this body of work has also been the 18th century. Or more specifically the period from between 1730 and 1765 now referred to as the Rococo. Rococo looked to nature for inspiration. It celebrated the sinuous, the organic and the sensuous. It embraces the bizarre and the beauty of natural phenomena. I am fascinated by its lack of structure, hierarchy and the fairytale like world that it shows us. It’s a world of beauty, freedom and just plain fun.
There is a very interesting connection between the prints and the paintings when you go into the print studio, it is really helpful to have an idea in mind. When I start a new print with Artizan Editions, we talk through the possibilities and limitations in my choices and start to come up with a rough order of the layers. For example, something I discovered when making a print was that it’s near impossible to print a bright, vibrant, transparent red onto any other colour other than white. So you really need to think the whole print through and decide on the order of the colours and this process often leads to changes and moderation in the original idea. I'm lucky enough to be working with some fantastic printers at Artizan that often come up with new work processes to enable me to complete the print as I would like it. When making original screenprints there is a large element of responding to what each layer adds while not using more screens than you need and thereby sending production costs sky high, so you do need to think the process through in a manner that is not needed when working on a painting.”
Simonsen was recently invited to create a piece for a museum in Belgium’s permanent collection. Other artists invited included Carl Andre, George Baselitz, Derek Boshier, Anthony Gormley, Claes Oldenburg and Gerard Richter.