23.05.08 — 21.06.08 ‘Over the Frontier’, Henrietta Simson

At the heart of Henrietta Simson’s work lies an exploration into the development of spatial construction within the Western visual tradition. She approaches her subject in two different, but complimentary ways. Firstly, she investigates pictorial methodologies from the early Renaissance and their experimental use of perspective. Secondly, she manipulates contemporary photographic landscape images, a process that challenges photography’s normative equivalency of ‘natural vision’.

This work in Over the Frontier was produced after a series of research trips to Florence, Siena, Assisi, Arezzo, and Sansepolcro in order to visit and look at specific works by artists such as Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Benozzo Gozzoli, Giotto and Piero Della Francesca. In these paintings, it is possible to see a shift in paradigm from a medieval metaphysical world to the beginnings of Renaissance scientific thought. This crossover, from one mindset to another, exists on the picture surface, within the construction of the image itself. The works thus create intriguing and elegant spatial arrangements that have not been dictated by perspective and its dominating codes of vision. Simson also explored the local landscape of the areas she traveled to, comparing the natural terrain to that depicted in the artworks she was researching, and documenting it for use in her work with photographic projections.

In response, Simson has produced a series of paintings that reference her sources by removing all narrative elements from the original image and painting only the landscape space that is left. She has also produced a number of works in which photographic images are projected onto a support and their perceived materiality altered through various techniques which include drawing directly on top of the image or cutting into the screen. These paintings and projected images examine the boundaries created by perspective and photography’s assumption of a ‘true’ visual equivalency and present an alternative visualisation of the construction and representation of landscape space.

The exhibition is accompanied by an introductory essay by Jim Harris. Read the essay here.