‘Figure Painting’ is a series of oil paintings of the toys from Joe’s childhood. The collection is a love letter to the action figures of the 1970s, 80s & 90s.
The 34 paintings launched as a solo exhibition at The Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, London - February 24th - March 5th 2017. Limited Edition prints of each painting are available from joesimpson.bigcartel.com. For a price list of originals please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
"This project started whilst going through my Mum’s attic sorting through my old belongings and on discovering my old toys I got a wave of nostalgia and memories from these little inanimate plastic figures. They were such a big part of my life as a child. When you haven’t seen something for years (they’ve been hidden away in a box, shut away in the attic uncorrupted by later associations) to see them again provokes an involuntary memory and acts as a portal back in time, provoking a moment of appreciation rather than mere recollection. I want these paintings to have that ‘Proustian’ affect on other people."
"I’ve painted each portrait on a natural linen canvas, to give them a timeless feel that is removed from context. I’ve tried to paint them in a way that describes the tactile surface of each figure, the texture, the touch – even the taste. Which sounds a little odd, but I think most kids chewed on their toys at some point, and taste is such a strong evoker of nostalgia due to the initial processing of these stimuli passing through the emotional seat of the brain. For example, painting the He-Man figure, I tried to make the head look squishy and chewy compared to the rigid plastic of his torso.”
"There’s a quote that I like by Roger Fry from ‘An Essay in Aesthetics’ first published in 1909, he says - ‘it is only when an object exists in our lives for no other purpose than to be seen that we really look at it’. I believe that’s true for representational painting, I’m trying to elevate these figures into something to be looked at, dwelled on and considered."