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Pepijn Simon, b.1967, The Netherlands


“I try to catch the person who reveals himself in the paint at that moment.” (Pepijn Simon)

In this statement Pepijn Simon expresses a choice to give a central position to the human, but its not looking at it from the outside, but exploring it from within. What is specific about the human is its link to the awareness of death, which gives depth to the physical and anatomical aspects within his work.We humans are penetrated by our conscious minds and the question is; how do our minds deal with the physical?

In Simon's work there is a very interesting game played between the interior and exterior. The interior being the part that feels, loves, fears, reflects and judges, the exterior being the organic and material which reflects, stretches, rips and decays. 

The new use of the cold and sterile aluminum refrigerates and reflects our own images. Some paintings show faces and bodies that have been ripped, cut, mutilated and seem to destroy the human, living aspect of the body. This disturbs the viewer as it generates a tormented , static representation to viewer and creates a unanimous reminder of death and a look in the subconscious mind in the form of faceless flesh. A viewer’s negative reaction or shock is a belief that they are being subjected to a visual attack from the artist. In truth, however the rejection and negativity is the result of subconscious awareness versus a conscious denial.

“I try to catch the person who reveals himself in the paint at that moment.”
By this, the painting process is an experience lived within artist’ mind. While he is painting, he experiments with his own mind. Sometimes a dangerous experiment.

This experiences are manifested by a brutal an aggressive presence that cannot be staged. The experiments itself are of a prime importance as it destroys the invasion of any preconceived outcome and is truly driven by a fundamental desire to release internal tensions.

The material he works with is treated like of minor importance to which he has no mercy. In his paintings we can see marks of alteration that have affected the canvas or  the aluminum physically and that like our own bodies have been subjected to the effects of time and decay and show the capacity to heal. The changes that appear are like beautiful accidents and remind the observer of the uncontrolled dimension of the painting. 

Simon quickly paints with conviction and great mastery of the material. The contrast between the oppression, the curious observations and fleeting precision keeps the viewer alert.



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.
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.
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.


Article by Sarah Wasko

Pepijn Simon