Step Away from the Sun, You are Blocking the Light
Simon Willems’ solo exhibition at the Jugg Art Foundation Step Away from the Sun, You are Blocking the Light takes inspiration in its title from the famous exchange between Alexander the Great and Diogenes in the history of philosophy. Taking the barrel from which Diogenes mocked the Macedonian King as a starting point for thinking about the founding Cynic’s hard-line asceticism – as it has appeared in art history – Willems reframes Diogenes make-shift home as a prop for a game of paintball. Building on other recent paintings featuring images of corporate team-building activities taking place in hermit landscapes sourced from the Western canon, Willems considers Diogenes’ example as a necessary addition to a body of work that seeks to explore the image of resistance and isolation as a site of performance. Drawing on the work of Salvator Rosa, John William Waterhouse, as well as Carl Spitzweg and others, Willems’ paintings appear otherworldly and ‘slow’, deploying porous layers of paint, which, striated and scraped through, suggest decaying tapestries exposed to the light.
Simon Willems is a London-based artist and has recently completed a practice-based PhD in Fine Art at the University of Reading. Having graduated from the Painting School at the Royal College of Art in 2000, he has shown widely in both solo and group exhibitions throughout Europe, North America and Asia. These have included solo exhibitions at Torrance Art Museum (Los Angeles), FRAC Auvergne (Clermont-Ferrand), Galerie Polaris (Paris), Xero, Kline & Coma (London), Elaine Levy Project (Brussels), Percymiller Gallery (London), Wallspace (New York) and Mark Moore Gallery (Los Angeles). Willems’ work has featured in numerous group exhibitions including shows at 176 Project Space – Zabludowicz Collection (London), Lion & Lamb Gallery (London), FRAC Haute-Normandie (Normandy), FRAC Auvergne (Clermont-Ferrand), Artotheque de Caen (Caen), Galerie Forde Espace D’Art Contemporain (Geneva), RAID Projects (Los Angeles), Vegas Gallery (London) and Galleri SE (Bergen). His work has featured and been reviewed in Flash Art, Art Review, Elephant Magazine, ART US, Le Monde, WOUND, El Pais, La Libre Belgique and Beautiful Decay and was included in the survey painting publication A Brush with the Real:Figurative Painting Today (Laurence King Publishing). In 2015 Willems completed a doctoral study trip to the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, which was sponsored by the Swedish Embassy in London. Willems’ work is included in several public collections including the Walker Art Center, Bronx Museum of the Arts, FRAC Auvergne, FRAC Haute-Normandie, National Museum of Gdansk and the Zabludowicz Collection.