Losing Face with Artist Pepijn Simon

Pepijn Simon was five years old when his teacher had his class listen to music while painting, and he distinctly remembers thinking it was the most important lesson of his life.

The rest of school, he says, wasn’t as inspiring. Naturally, he pursued art, and most recently, paint has served as his weapon of choice. Simon grew up in the Netherlands without a father, and with a mother who was somewhat aloof. He turned to art in order to foster his own safe haven. At a young age, he got the hell out of Dodge to pursue photography and attend Fotoacademie Amsterdam. Soon, however, photography started to feel limiting, so he began to paint. This summer, he is sharing his paintings for the first time.

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These paintings began as an experiment to see how much one can eliminate from the face without losing recognition. “We are all programmed to see faces and to recognize emotion in them. There is ultimately a combination between realism and abstraction that is needed to portray an emotion”, he says. A friend in art school noticed a face in a painting and this inspired the work. He had what Simon describes as “a certain look in his eyes.” He says, “I didn’t pay much attention to it. Years later, I painted this series of portraits, and I finally understand that look.” It is clear that these are human figures, but everybody is going to see the characters differently. Personally, I can’t shake the image of Meltman from Action League Now.

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Simon paints without the use of any brushes. In fact, he is using old twisted credit cards. He begins with a black painted canvas and paints while it’s still wet. He applies the white paint without any sketching or use of photographs. “I try to catch the person who reveals himself in the paint at that moment. This goes very fast. Shortly afterwards, I decide, while the paint is still wet, if it can stay or not. If not, then I start the process again.” For Simon, the dark paintings are an expression of miscommunication between people and the reflected emotions.

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