Arthur Simon is an abstract expressionist on canvas painter with study in social robotics. Most recently he has been drilling minimalist pet rocks. Arthur has been a finalist for the Hunting Art Prize, and you can view stuff currently for sale at the East Austin Studio Tour, a TikTok channel and his Etsy shop.
If there is an opposite to trypophobia, I’m here for it. Trypophelia, I am told. Holes!
Symmetrical holes, clusters of concave holes and vast voids trigger immediate physiological responses in our lizard brains, primal manifestations of fear, curiosity, disgust or attraction. Low-level visuals- the lower the better!- guide our infant development; as babes we seek out eyes or mouth or breast as early recognition of other humans or animals and we spend our days projecting these facial shape patterns onto inanimate knobby trees or the man-in-the-moon.
Prior to recent works in stone (Pet Rocks, 2020-2021) I’ve worked in oil paint which has been an additive mess. There is a sublime geology to the Modernist color washes ranging from Arshile Gorky to Hassel Smith that become strata of mood and gesture for the audience’s visual excavation. In my paintings (Abstract Expressionist Oils on Canvas, 2001-Present) I have sought to create layers of color and line to make them vy for the premium real estate of the viewer’s attention.
In the midst of the chaos are scattered holes- mouths and eyes and chasms. But it has never felt enough to merely add a black dot and call it a hole a-la Bugs Bunny… I have wanted holes to break space and plunge deeper. Lee Bontecou’s mixed media voids or Andy Goldsworthy’s organic hollows yank you into negative space, a holy void. It’s into that mystery where the trypopheliac in me wants to go!
These reductive Pet Rocks are my first entry into a medium of minimalism and stone. The sprawling pocked rubble of Central Texas limestone is easy inspiration and leaves naturally occurring hagstones everywhere. This is a landscape filled with the holes representing geological and anthropological time: oil wells and pipelines and ancient bedrock mortar holes – or morteros– holes … as well as a whole bunch of displaced cheap aggregate.
In sharp contrast to the Jackson Pollock statement “I don’t use the accident – cause I deny the accident” my accidents are no longer gifts but gaffes! The cleaner a rock’s finish, the more successful it becomes. It is with this mix of shale, limestone, basalt, granite, quartzite, flourspar, marble, chert or flint I bore my projected eyes to inspire underlying biological response. Diamond-tipped drill bits allow me to rip through at a molecular level and leave behind the crisp hard circular edges that make those eye holes.
Maybe they’re lowbrow throwback gag gift meets pandemic boredom DIY trainwreck, maybe something more. They remind me of robots (don’t get me started) or the blobs from Zelda 2, or I draw inspiration from abstract art, landscape but also want to help magical stones to keep people company… rocks that will listen! Kami-as-you-go. Good for offices, pockets, kitchens, aquariums and stocking stuffers.