GREG “CRAOLA” SIMKINS: THE ESCAPE ARTIST
New work by Greg “Craola” Simkins will be on view at KP Projects in Los Angeles.
Greg “Craola” Simkins holds on to a “jar full” of childhood memories to draw from whenever he feels the pressures and realities of daily life closing in on him or dragging him down. These memories serve to help rediscover some of his childhood innocence long enough to create a new painting, come up with a character or devise a narrative for his works to follow. Simkins believes so strongly in these moments that he has named his new exhibition The Escape Artist in order to only further connect with these remembrances of times past.
“The older I get the more affected I am by the responsibilities that my age requires and holding onto that youthful spark is like chasing too few fireflies without a net,” says Simkins. “I am lucky to have stored away a jar full of them though! Those memories from being a kid and what it felt like the first time I saw a whale in the wild and the first time I witnessed a meteor shower reinvigorate me each time I sit down to sketch out an idea for a painting.”
Great artists create a world that their art exists in and then they too become a part of this imagined world. For Simkins, his own private Narnia or Oz is The Outside, a fantasy world where the creatures and animals in his paintings strive for love, hope, faith, acceptance, control as well as the shortcomings that result in pursuing these ideals.
“It is a fantasy world, much like a delicious cocktail with equal parts Narnia, Oz, Wonderland, Never Neverland, Middle Earth, Animal Planet and the Audubon Society shaken or stirred together,” says Simkins. “The birds play a big part and possibly a larger role even in this show because what better escape is there than to hop off the back of a bird and fly away to strange new lands.”
This latest episode is marked by the appearance of something that Simkins refers to as the Starry Knight Drama Club. These characters act like puppeteers by moving on the story and managing the going-ons of the entire world found within The Outside.
“They are identified by their all-black suits with a single white star on their faces,” says Simkins. “I chose to create many different races of creatures as part of this club to represent a unity of spirit around a common cause and that it doesn’t matter what species they are, they are all welcome in the club.” A key moment in Simkins’ own story came with the birth of his two sons. Many of the stories found in The Outside serve as nightly entertainment for his two boys and their appearance in his life have inspired him to dig deeper and keep creating such tales.
“My two boys have reinvigorated my imagination and reminded me of those youthful exciting instances from my own childhood memories,” says Simkins. “I would be a far different painter if it wasn’t for them, and I feel I am better off with the whimsical stories we tell to each other at bedtime and playtime. I have been able to watch the world through their eyes, during good times and bad, and those things have worked their way into the way I draw and work.”
Greg “Craola” Simkins works on The Escape
Artist, acrylic on canvas.
Gone Missing, acrylic on panel, 24 x 20"
Back Outside, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 18"