In the era of hyper-connectivity, of overexposure and of overconsumption of images, where millions of photographs are taken per day, most of which are deleted or perhaps never even seen; Julian Simon, expresses his interest in these neglected and forgotten images by transposing them onto canvases in the manner of the great masters.
Taken spontaneously with a disposable camera, the photographs chosen by Julian Simon are often poorly cropped, blurry and overexposed, capturing chromatic aberrations and the occasional distinctive shadow of a finger blocking the camera’s lens.
Once his subject is selected, the artist works in a technique similar to that of fa presto, a practice originated in seventeenth century Italy, painting rapidly to arrive at a spontaneous and expressive result. He prepares his canvas with an imprimatura, or an initial stain of color, that gives his work a certain radiance. Simon then transcribes his photographs without preparatory drawings in multiple thin layers of oil paint.
In the interest of realism and inspired by the praised, limited color palette of Anders Leonard Zorn (1860–1920), the artist employs only seven colors in his works : black, white, ultramarine blue, ochre, burnt Sienna, burnt umber and crimson. These colors allow him to depict the skin tones and lighting that are particularly dear to him.
Julian Simon offers a realistic and offbeat perspective on the Generation Y, immortalizing forgotten carefree and intimate moments on his canvases.
Translation by Katia Porro
The mysterious nights of Julian Simon
« The archiving of random photos, taken during an evening that went wrong, is the starting point of the German artist Julian Simon, who stands at the crossroads of two American influences. That of the painter Eric Fischl with his sarcastic scenography and that of underground photographer Dash Snow, sincere on the edge of madness. Simon’s series of new paintings is presented at the GALERIE CHLOE SALGADO.
The characters, burned by light coming from the outside, take drugs, urinate or, unconscious in drunkenness, lie on the ground. Where exactly ? In which country, which city and which neighbourhood ? Who are these people ? Where does the lighting come from ? A camera flash, used by a friend who lost control of his actions ? Or a police officer’s flashlight ? Julian Simon is a chronicler of the great uncertainty of our time. The choice of painting, more than unexpected in the representation of this kind of subjects, creates a distance between spectator and characters, allowing the former to reflect on their condition, rather than to feel emotions for them, as would be the case if they were documentary photos.»