Joshua Liner Gallery is pleased to present Inside the Outside, an exhibition of new paintings and works on paper by the Southern California artist Greg Simkins. This is Simkins’ second solo show with the gallery.
A fantasist at heart, Simkins alternates between the unsettling and the sentimental—in his finely rendered work, the grotesque can turn sweet and vice versa. Fanged caterpillars become sad-eyed clowns, grow machine parts, or inflate into bulbous balloons that sprout other bizarre creatures and beings. Simkins’ vision weaves together influences as diverse as contemporary pop culture, twentieth- entury fantasy novels, old master paintings, carnival kitsch, and cyborgian amalgams of technology and nature. With Inside the Outside, inspired by his recent travels in Hawaii, Simkins approaches a new dimension of fantasy—a desire to break down boundaries found in the natural world.
In these 10 acrylic paintings and 20 ink and graphite on paper works, the artist harnesses his appetite for fantasy to challenge the rigid, seemingly arbitrary rules of nature. Whereas taxonomy categorizes the biological world into evolutionary branches, and physics dictates who swims, crawls, and flies, Simkins’ art allows the artist to transcend these limitations to propose a new dimension. He conceives this body of work as reaching “outside” a conventional understanding of the world into a pictorial space of imaginative inquiry—in other words, the native realm of the fantasist.
The almost fantastical beauty and variety of Hawaii’s natural environment is concentrated into works like A Branch in the Water, an acrylic-on-canvas painting where jellyfish possess the anatomy of roses and hibiscus and perch in coexistence with iridescent-feathered birds and hybrid insects of the imagination. Other works evoke the meandering, fluid quality of undersea environments where forms and textures interpenetrate with greater ease—here, Simkins is inspired by tropical fish and coral reefs, though never literally. In another painting, The Welcoming Party, for example, the artist introduces deer, geese, and even upholstered furniture into this environmental mash-up. There is something tantalizing and seductive in these extra-natural introductions between wildly diverse species, an “eco-fantasy” that clearly brings great pleasure to the artist even if existing only on canvas.
Born in 1975 in Torrance, California, Greg Simkins received a BA in Studio Art from California State University of Long Beach. Selected solo exhibitions of his work include: The Pearl Thief, Gallery Nineteen Eighty Eight, Los Angeles (2009); It Wanders East, Joshua Liner Gallery, New York (2008). His work has been featured in the following selected group exhibitions: Sons of Baby Tattooville, Riverside Art Museum, Riverside, CA (2009); Locked & Loaded, Joshua Liner Gallery (2008); KNOW Show, Mark Murphy Design (Art Basel Miami Beach, 2007); Bergamont Invasion II, Copro Nason Gallery, Santa Monica (2006).