This exhibition of new and recent works by Simon Ling extends and develops a number of ideas and themes explored in the preceding group exhibition, “The Noing Uv It”, this time through a solo presentation of paintings.
Simon Ling is a British artist whose practice involves itself in a deep and extended engagement with painting. Ling’s subjects can often appear banal — street scenes, still lifes, rocks, stones or patches of scrubland — but through a process of sustained and rigorous ‘looking’, his works transcend the ordinariness of their initial appearance, taking on a strange and at times unsettling quality.
Looking and seeing are of profound importance in Ling’s work. This might seem an obvious statement with regard to an artist, particularly a painter, but for Ling the operations and effects of perception are of particular centrality. For Ling, looking is always an extraordinary act. Not simply a process of passive observation, but an active and deliberate thing; a thing that not only produces the world, but alters and disrupts it.
Many of Ling’s works are made ‘en-plein air’: painted in the streets around his London studio, in more rural locations in the British countryside, as well as in parks, wasteland areas and even zoos. But he also works in the studio, sometimes from models — which he constructs himself — sometimes from sketches or from memory. In this way, his paintings take on a composite quality, accumulating and collapsing together different kinds of experience, perception and time.
Across all of Ling’s paintings we see an intense engagement with objects (in their broadest sense) — their relations, realities, and our mutable experience of them. Each canvas might be read as a kind of ‘event’: between the artist and the world, as it appears in that moment, as well as through the vagaries and distortion of recollection and reverie. Ling’s paintings might be seen to exemplify this unstable, contingent quality of the visible, the withdrawn and flickering thingly-ness of things, the way objects seep and pulse with the mute but exuberant fact of their own materiality.
Simon Ling (b. 1968) lives and works in London.
Curated by Martin Clark, this is the largest exhibition of Ling’s work to date and his first major exhibition in Norway. It will be accompanied by a fully illustrated publication.