Ron Sims: Reviews
Reviews of exhibitions and individual works
Solo exhibition, 3rd to 24th February 2001, Chappel Galleries, Chappel, Essex
A famous professor of architecture at the Glasgow School of Art once said, "Only architects can appreciate the humour in architecture". In Ron Sims' paintings the sense of humour is, on one level at least, no less esoteric, but surely on other levels we can all enjoy the delicious sense of humour going on here? How does George Stubbs, 16th C Dutch Interiors, life-drawing at the Royal Academy Schools, Walt Disney, butterflies, hippos and cowboys all come together and make sense? These paintings are both abstract and representational at the same time; and this gives the clue to Sims' eclectic and sometimes abstruse, hard-edge style. Visual ambiguity allows a complicated game of association to take place.
The forms develop their meaning as the eye moves across the picture plan, in and out of representation and in and out of an architectural space that creates a formal visual pleasure and a catalogue of innuendo and art historical in-jokes. This is fanciful visionary painting; Modernist in allegiance, Constructivist and Cubist in inspiration. He embraces these traditions for their importance in the development of the visual creative process. It is not surprising that Sims admires the work of Georges Vantongerloo, a Belgian Cubist sculptor prominent at the beginning of the twentieth century, and Frank Gehry, the architect of the Guggenheim Museum of Modern Art in Bilbao at the beginning of the twenty first.
Earlier, in Ron Sims' art school training, chats and meetings in studios with 60's Pop-Art icons Peter Blake, Eduardo Paollozzi, and Allen Jones, helped to fashion ideals and strategies in his paintings. In America, the hard-edge artists, like Stella, Newman, and Ellsworth Kelly were coming to the fore. The presence of East Anglian artists like John Nash, Edward Bawden, and Humphrey Spender, also contributed and shaped the beginning of Sims' very tonal, hard-edge style.
The architectural space (albeit as a pictorial illusion) that he creates, is enhanced by his choice of acrylic paint; it allows for the continual over-painting and fine adjustments of line, shape, edge, and tonal colour. The acrylic polychrome forms, which sometimes protrude forward of the picture plane, manipulate soft imagery into rigid block representations. These forms suggest that his architectural fantasies are, in contrast, constructed from the familiar building materials of steel, stone, or painted aluminium.
In Ron Sims' work, contradictions of surface and form, ambiguities of pictorial space, visual puns, literal associations, and historical cross referencing, allow Mickey Mouse with Hands in Pockets to sit quite naturally alongside Multi-Storey Bird Auto Park. There is a sophisticated visual language on show here, not just for painters and connoisseurs, but for architects too!
© Barry Atherton, Charles Rennie Mackintosh Building, Glasgow School of Art
See the original exhibition details
Solo exhibition, August 1985, Oakwood House, Maldon, Essex
The pictures are softened in a unique way - through humour. Space Baby, City Whizz Kid and Skinhead are good examples of this humorous treatment. Sims' painting has progressed since his last exhibition at Galeria four years ago.
He makes greater use of multiple images and is much more adventurous in his use of colour. The tension and conflict latent in these colour clashes is unified by the continuity of the geometric shapes and the black lines enclosing them, which also create a three dimensional effect.
Hospital Surgeon was especially effective: with the first glance one sees the mickey being taken out of the muffled mystique, but then the colours, blues and greys, strike a chill and the mystique returns.
The exhibition will remain open until August 11.
© Jackie Horne, Maldon and Burnham Standard
Solo exhibition, June 1981, Galeria, Maldon, Essex
Mr Sims, whose style evolved while still a student at the Royal Academy Schools, obviously has a perceptive sense of humour.
This was highlighted by his style in such paintings as Early Motorist, with that familiar heavy eyelid feeling and Yawning Dog, with every sinew and string of saliva coming across in terms of colourfully geometric forms.
His theme was at its most profound in Space Hero and City Whizz Kid. A frightening, futuristic message seemed to come from them and everything was down to basic, simplistic lines and colours comparable to the computerised world that threatens us and lurks within our minds.
The room has an almost sinister, nuclear edge to it as people's heads seemingly turn into cars, telephones and filing cabinets and dogs' mouths into trumpet keys and rulers. The paintings left a lot of room for individual interpretation - although the underlying comment by the artist was clear.
Some paintings are reminiscent of the 1960s 'pop', art with dramatic comic-book, use of colours in simple lines and shapes. It might be interesting to see, few different subjects, perhaps landscapes, experimented on.
The paintings do take quite a bit of digesting to appreciate, But Mr Sims has definitely got something new to say - do go to have a look at his work; it will leave you with many new ideas on life as well as art.
The exhibition is on until June 7.
© Bronwen Evans, Maldon and Burnham Standard