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.
Some time ago, I closed my sketchbook and began using the process of painting as an end unto itself. Beginning only with a few random lines, I seek to explore improvised gesture as a type of ice-breaker before stepping into the phase of creation Jackson Pollock once referred to as the “get-acquainted” period. Hard-edge black lines and primitive scribbles are forcibly softened by layers of bright or dark color in order to resist the entrenchment of definition too early in the process, which is deliberately fluid. In this organic way I discover non-representational shapes along the way that interest me in a very raw sense.
When I am satisfied with its depth and balance, I decide that a piece is finished without ever having settled on any specific notion of what it “is” or might be. The title of the painting comes to me as a suggestion of a vague feeling or a deep memory, as much a guideline for a title as anything. This is my only effort at suggesting what one is supposed to see; call it a nascent symbol, call it a hunch, just don’t confuse it as a legend or a decoder key.
There is a great deal of contemporary art that is an essentially one-way conversation, handed down from the artist to the viewer, thrown out like a visual challenge, as if the artist is saying “This is my vision, this is my idea, agree and be enlightened, neutralized or otherwise transformed, disagree and go about your mundane marginal way.” Unless an active relationship with the viewer is established, an artist’s influence can become intoxicating, and, as iconography and ideology graduates to propaganda, dangerous.
I believe that the artist has a fundamental responsibility to engage in a healthy conversation that speaks to our common human foundations. I seek not the ability to change anyone, nor do I seek any particular approval. But I do strive for some degree of relationship and empathy, which can be as transformative as any political or conceptual statement. I am just as gratified and validated by a small child excitedly pointing out recognizable shapes as I am a potential buyer agreeing to the price of the piece and forking over money.
When we are born into this world, we are equal in the amounts of genetic memory stored in the body. As helpless infants we count on instinct to steer us towards sources of nourishment and protection, using hard-wired recognition of other humans to inform our reactions to hunger, cold, and danger. We start life seeking out connection to open eyes, smiles, and efforts to make contact.
My wish is for the art viewer to be drawn into my work with the same fascination afforded to faces in knobby tree-trunks, shapes in the clouds, and the man in the moon. This rattling need for identification, this affective desire to empathize is a powerful common denominator, and it is that nature of participation that I aspire to induce in the viewer.
See the shapes that you see, feel the memories or emotions you feel, there is no “right,” there is no “wrong,” remembering only that it is the conversation itself that is and always will be correct.