Award-winning young Italian artist Riccardo Prosperi, otherwise known as SIMAFRA,
has made a name for himself with his dream-like, textural, abstract expressionist
landscapes. His work is collected by celebrities, royals and adorns luxury venues across the
world. Simafra can be found gracing the walls of Cameron Diaz’s New York apartment, the
private residence of The Royal Prince of Qatar and is a regular feature within The Ciprani
Group. His dreamy landscapes have been exhibited internationally in galleries in Paris,
Berlin, Istanbul, Rome, Florence and London as well as featuring on international film
sets. A favourite with the interior design community, this January solo exhibition at
Maddox Gallery, his first London solo show, will feature new, previously unseen works.
The London exhibition is in association with Bellini Cipriani, the original Harry’s Bar
cocktail, which will be served at the private view on 26th January.
Originally from Florence, Simafra has been painting professionally since 2000. He began
honing his skills at a well-respected Florentine studio, mastering the craft and skill behind
classical art restoration. He went on to develop his own work and recognizable style and
has since managed to amass a strong following with collectors and celebrities and has
become a much sought after name in the luxury interior design-led art world.
Simafra produces his work at his self-founded studio, ‘La Bottega Moderna’, a converted
warehouse in the centre of Florence. The studio is located in The Oltrarno, the creative
neighbourhood of Florence, where most of the artisans ‘botteghe’ and artist’s studios are
based. ‘La Bottega Moderna’ also doubles up as a collective artist studio, gallery space and
independent culture center. Simafra practices a strict routine here, “I need to lock myself in
my studio, isolating myself from everything and immersing in a deep silence. Inspiration comes
from my inner self, and hence I start to associate images and colours.” This routine and intense
method of working is necessary for him to produce the minute levels of detail and
‘layering’ methods which can be observed throughout his work.
Nature and the environment have always provided Simafra with sources of inspiration but
are particularly prevalent in his upcoming exhibition, Eden. Simafra comments the
inspiration for the show came about at a recent installation he was working on in Florence.
“I started thinking about nature when I was working on the site-specific installation at the
Biagiotti Progetto Arte Foundation. The installation recreates a fictional jungle, where a real car
is eaten by the jungle itself: the aim of the work is to reflect on the regenerating power of nature.
During the installation, I came across a number of images of gardens, flowers and animals, that
led me to the ‘Eden’ theme.”
“Along with this natural theme, my paintings are meant to reflect on the eternal fight within good
and evil, as suggested to me by our society. This theme is ancient and yet extant, just like my
painting, that aims to be timeless”. This concept of creating ‘timeless’ works of art, present in
Simafra’s exploration of the eternal power of nature and the fight between the man-made
and natural world, can also be seen in the artistic sources he draws references from.
Simafra has cited a range of influences for his work, spanning time periods and
movements from English romantic painter William Turner to the more contemporary
natural observations of Peter Doig. Observing his rich use of colour and spontaneous mark
making we can also note the strong influences of the great Italian abstract expressionist
painters Afro Basaldella and Alberto Burri. The use of gold combined with layered textures
has also drawn comparisons with Klimt.
Simafra’s gold infused paintings provide a much coveted touch of luxury with which to
adorn galleries, film sets, venues and more intimate interior spaces, as can be seen in the
front cover of ‘Elle Decor’.