Rich Simmons: The Inner Outsider at Imitate Modern
This is a bright, bold and shiny new collection from Rich Simmons, who burst onto the British art scene with what became an iconic street art piece celebrating the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011.
Simmons is a self-taught artist with no formal training – an “outsider”. He is pioneering the Contemporary Urban Pop Art movement (CUPA) and formed “Art is the Cure” five years ago to promote using creativity as a positive release. Chatting about this new 35-piece collection, he explained it as a progression from previous work, despite producing it one-handed due to a broken wrist and working through the day and night, whenever inspiration hit. He describes this show as feeling darker and more twisted yet also increasingly colourful in celebration of inner beauty and hope.
The series of skull butterflies and skull insects, Calvariam Bruchus are visions of beauty and death, a juxtaposition that runs throughout the new collection. Spray-painted and stenciled onto reclaimed billboard canvas, the skulls become integral to the beauty of the butterfly, which Simmons hopes will promote a message of embracing negative emotion and turning it into something more positive through creativity.
Other works highlight juxtapositions of outer impressions and inner truth through colour and monochrome contrast – a retro black and white pin-up poster of a woman with a net against a tessellated background of colourful skull-butterflies. Chasing Butterflies is a group of four canvases with progressively changing backgrounds and makes up a nice pop art collection. Then there is the series of skeleton hands clasping the Chanel perfume, Vanities Death Grip – again beauty and death, chasing vanity to the grave. Other pieces offer similar projection and insight to varying degrees of effect.
If you’re a big fan or collector of contemporary urban pop art then this new work from Simmons will be appealing in appearance. However, as a commentary on contemporary culture from the viewpoint of the “inner outsider” it rather lacks nuance and depth.
Photos: Charlotte Bruning
Rich Simmons: The Inner Outsider is at Imitate Modern until 13th July 2013. For further information visit the gallery’s website here.