From the extremes of Chris Vine’s perfectly executed intricate paintings, to the crudely accomplished, yet oddly sophisticated work of Simon Evans, it may seem like a big leap. But beneath the quite obviously contrasting aesthetics, both artists create work that it driven by a clever wit and is a visual manifestation of a written idea.
I first came across the work of Simon Evans through a book that was bought for me as a present; ‘Vitamin D – New Perspectives in Drawing’. I’ve had the book just over a year now and find that when I re-look at it every few months, I can appreciate much more of the work each time. This time when I re-looked at the book, I noticed Simon Evans’ work in a light that I hadn’t looked at him in previously.
Evans is an appropriate artist for me to look at currently, in the sense that he uses elements of collage, which I have begun exploring myself, as well as juxtaposing text and image, and also, he has created some map-based works.
Following on from a recent Drawing Practice lesson, I found Evans’ ‘Directory of Purgatoire’ very interesting. Opposed to creating a map of an already existing physical place such as the UK, Evans’ has created a map, almost in the style of a room plan, of a psychological environment. Having thoroughly enjoyed the map exercise I was set in Drawing Practice, seeing Evans’ maps has prompted me to consider what physical or psychological environments I could document visually as a map, that relates to work I am making in ‘Application of Visual Investigation’.
'1000 Smiles' (2003)
Mixed Media on Paper
‘1000 Smiles’ (2003) is a work of Evans’ in which he has painstakingly collages 1000 smiles, cut out from magazines and then pastes them in a numerically detailed grid. This looks reminiscent of Warhol’s silk screen on canvas, ‘Marilyn Monroe’s Lips’ (1962). Although many of the smiles look very similar, no two are exactly the same. In terms of technique, Evans’ ‘1000 Smiles’ also reminds me of Graham Rawle’s ‘Woman’s World’ collaged novel; the notion of committing oneself to such a meticulous task. I think I can appreciate these works because working on a small and detailed scale myself, means that a lot of the work I do is very meticulous and I love that he has actually gone to the trouble of collecting 1000 smiles, numbering and arranging them, all by hand, when other people might think ‘Why bother?’ I love the irony that even through using a quite a rudimentary method; cutting and sticking images from magazines, he has managed to create a piece of work that looks very sophisticated and quite formal – like a parody of a scientific chart.
'Women I'd Fuck in Time' (2004)
Mixed Media on Paper
In the previous module, ‘Visual Investigation’, I used Evans’ ‘Everything I Have’ (2008) as a reference; this is a piece of paper on which Evans’ has visually documented every single object that he owns. Like Evans, I love to make lists; lists that may seem mundane and unnecessary to other people. Seeing how Evans visually translated his list via a combination of images and seemingly unrelated text, made me realise that my lists, themselves are ‘Work’ and that I could follow Evans’ simple ‘text and image’ approach and make them visual pieces of work opposed to just written lists. My favourite piece of Simon Evans’ work is ‘Women I’d Fuck in Time’ (2004), which contains some personal as well as historical references; ranging from the comical (Anne Frank), to the odd (Smurfette) to the downright bizarre (Medieval Ski Jackets ???). He cleverly mocks society’s impulsive need to hierarchically list very private, hidden information as well as very impossibly philosophical criteria.
Finally, I love how Evans’ uses completely illogical numbers for his lists, for example, ‘100 Reasons Why I Hate the Irish’ (2002) which only contains 33 reasons. It is very simple and subtle and something I recently adopted into one of my list-based pieces of work. Dominic Molon, author of the article about Simon Evans in the ‘Vitamin D’ book, notes, ‘The comically self-defeating mathematics of these list-based works emphasizes the ultimate futility and absurdity of our many attempts to limit or define the boundaries of the staggering complexity of human endeavour.’(Molon, D. (2005) p.98)... Very witty indeed!
'Everything I Have' Image:http://www.jamescohan.com/artists/simon-evans/
'1000 Smiles' Image:http://theluckycharm.files.wordpress.com/2007/04/1000-smiles-2003.jpg
'Women I'd Fuck in Time' image: From my 'Vitamin D- New Perspectives in Drawing' book.