Artist in Focus: Simon Hennessey

Plus One Gallery
Feb 22, 2017 4:42PM

‘Emanate’ Acrylic on panel, 40cm diameter, 66 x 66 cm framed

Simon Hennessey takes an almost forensic approach to constructing his paintings. The key to his work I believe lies in the analysis of his reference material, which for the most part describes the human face. In a similar way to a macro lens, Hennessey manages to record and describe more information than the human eye. By enlarging photographic information on a monitor screen to the point where images begin to pixelate he will begin an editing process through which he decides what to clarify and what to remove.


Quick Review

BORN: Birmingham, UK.

LIVES: Birmingham, UK.

STUDIED: BA (Hons) Fine Art, Solihull college, Solihull.

WORK: Simon Hennessey’s latest series of works ‘Duality’ touches on the state or quality of being two, a theme that has been both consciously and subconsciously underlying throughout his practice. Hennessey is interested in incorporating multiple perspectives, feelings or contrasting elements that intersect our world. Through his realist approach Hennessey attempts to paint over a singular picture plane so that it conflicts and distorts our own perceptions of reality, the familiar becomes less familiar. His aim is to be innovative and explore the contradictory to find a harmonious balance between realism and abstraction.

'Memoirs of Westminster', Acrylic canvas, 107 x 107cm

Hennessey is critically aware that only so much can be achieved on a computer screen which is when a stage of written notation takes over, helping him determine how he will translate the raw information of photography into a painted object.
Leaving technology behind allows him to consider practical methods of reconstructing an image. An open-ended approach to the use of materials allows Hennessey to experiment freely with how to visualise his ideas. Hennessey manages to avoid a sterile approach to his subjects by employing highly inventive methods for their description. Using a heat cutter to make freely made cuts into acetate sheets, he makes masks to spray layers of paints and inks through. Building up layers of information in this way allows for a sympathetic portrayal of his subject, often not present in the original imagery.

Simon is opening additional possibilities of spatial exploration by combining the close-up view of an eye and superimposing a reflected landscape, which suggests potential for ever more complex imagery.

'British Realism Now' written by Nathan Walsh.


“What we are starting to see more and more of within my work is a conflict going on over the surface, where the images are fighting for dominance. We can visually make out different parts of each image which either pop out and dominate or recede back into the picture plane.”

    -Simon Hennessey

'Underground Distortion Lines’, Acrylic on canvas, 107 x 107 cm                       City Slicker’ , Acrylic canvas, 120 x 120 cm

On first view Hennessey’s paintings, may be considered as photographic representations of reality, but in truth his artwork transcends into its own abstraction of reality. He does not adhere to a true mimetic depiction of a photograph, the camera is only used as a source to assist in the gathering of information, which is then combined with his own artistic input and vision. Hennessey’s process consists of adding or removing detail, altering depth, adding textures, form and colour values, their relationship within the painting. This allows him to create an illusion that blurs the boundaries between what is real and what is not and therefore presents the viewer with a simulation of reality or a hyper reality.

'London Eye', Acrylic on panel, 40 x 40 cm                                                        'Stars and Stripes', Acrylic on panel, 40 x 67 cm 

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