Simon Mills comes from a long, highly successful professional scenic artist background in theatre and television, mixed with teaching and Italian wall painting restoration. His landscape paintings are strong, slightly brooding and refreshingly unpretty. He offers a unique take on the painted landscape, hovering ambiguously between apparent realism, when seen from a distance, and a true painterly abstraction in close up. Simon is an artist-walker with an intense love of OS maps, and has always loved tracking down where artists have worked, recently discovering where Turner painted his view of Upnor Castle, surmising that he had “invented” the sunset. Simon chooses places to paint, which are recorded with rapid pencil sketches and a camera. Working afterwards in the studio, Simon evolves a complex and effective system of built up layers of brushstrokes, as immediate and significant as handwriting. Although initially speedily applied with an intense bravura (the medium is quick drying acrylic) the works are built thoughtfully in layers over time, with oil paint used at some stage to create texture and depth. Developing an ability to remember the atmosphere and emotional impact of the place first recorded, Simon later recreates this to develop a meaningfully charged work. It is no surprise that Simon was influenced as a young student by David Bomberg and Frank Auerbach.
Extract from WOW Magazine Article by Veronica Tonge