One Off Contemporary Art Gallery, Nairobi, Kenya 29 Oct 2022 - 20 Nov 2022
Frances Simpson – Survival in a Harsh Environment II, 2022 – Mixed media on paper – 60h x 90w cm – Kshs 240 ,000
Frances Simpson is a self-taught expressive artist working from a conscious connection to the landscape and her memories and experiences. After many years of singular exploration and experimentation, she paints with large brushes and mixed media onto paper or canvas, then scratching and mark making into texture and colour with inks, pastels, ash and charcoal. Her work is in many private and corporate collections. She has held solo shows in East Africa and Europe.
Born in Nakuru and painting for many years in the great Rift Valley, she is drawn to harsh environments; dry Acacia thorn scrub, soda lakes with their black volcanic rocks, dust plains. In contrast with those extreme landscapes, she depicts the delicate birds and plants that survive in those hostile places. Her aim is to experience this juxtaposition in her painting process: the physical strength of the black inks against a pale pastel wash of acrylic or watercolour.
In her plein air paintings she often uses the Flamingo (a Phoenix like bird) and the Acacia tree as signs of resurrection and regeneration, where nature rises again from the ashes, always in a process of change but still in the cyclical ebb and flow of death and rebirth. To the artist the Flamingo is a natural muse that inspires creativity and transformation and the Acacia shelters and defines the African landscape. The colours of pink, blood red, magenta, indigo, ochre, grey and white are particularly important in Frances Simpson’s work. So too is the bold line of ink and charcoal.