Michael Simpson Interview: Advice to the Young



“Don’t be afraid of the history of art.” We had the pleasure of meeting painter Michael Simpson in his studio. He here shares his solid piece of advice for young artists, who should learn from the history of art rather than dismiss it as something outdated.

Simpson feels that being an art student is in a sense “a false playground,” where you get lots of feedback and support. The big test of whether or not you can become an artist comes when you leave art school: “You suddenly find yourself in a room on your own, and it’s essentially hermetic, this activity. You’re suddenly involved in nothing more than a monologue with yourself. And it’s dangerous and it’s really, really difficult.”

Michael Simpson (b. 1940) is a British painter born to a Russian Jewish mother and a Roman gypsy father. Simpson has been working on a series of large paintings relating to the same atheist theme since 1989: ‘Bench paintings’. Although this work – which originates in his intense interest in the infamy of religious history and in particular to the renegade medieval philosopher Giordano Bruno – is contemporary, its main influences originate from 15th century Venetian and early Flemish painting. Simpson’s first solo show was at Piccadilly Gallery in 1964, and he has since exhibited continuously including solo shows at Arnolfini in Bristol, David Risley Gallery in Copenhagen and Serpentine Gallery in London. He lives and works in Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire in England.

Michael Simpson was interviewed by Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen in his studio space – a former gas works – in Wiltshire, England in February 2016. Please note that the painting shown in the background is an unfinished work by the painter.

Camera: Kyle Stevenson
Produced and edited by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2016

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