Simon Casson

Artist Simon Casson
Photo: Sheridan Casson

Have you ever stood and gazed at a painting that you have been so captivated by, the narrative taking hold of every emotion in you, the landscape resonating all sorts of memories and desires.  Wherever you have had this experience, it resonates a profound sense of awe, that will most likely stay with you forever.  The landscape of Simon’s work is a multifaceted layering of this experience, his paintings, a stroll through museums from anywhere you can imagine, wandering through the old halls of an eclectic mix of Titian, Rubens, Gainsborough, Le Brun, Diego Velazquez or Orazio Gentileschi.  However, there is one catch, Simon’s skill with the paintbrush almost fooling you, one could be convinced that his works are extracts from the originals of those classics; creating a montage or collage effect.  These artworks are all original Casson paintings; assembled to create a landscape of poetic narrative.  It doesn’t stop there, he then combines a contemporary medium of blurring, cutting away elements with hard angles and blunt edges.  His paintings, appear layered up; the whole is a complete modern art form, with all the romance, colour, nostalgia and emotion of a baroque painting, capturing the same textures of silk dresses and garments and the opulence of floristry and romance.

Artwork by Simon Casson
Spirity and Spire I by Simon Casson
Artwork by Simon Casson
Auverlooked by Simon Casson
Artwork by Simon Casson
Frandish by Simon Casson

Born in the UK Simon spent a big chunk of his childhood in Zambia.  When I ask him if the country influenced his work at all he concretely says “no” although he does emphasise the vast landscapes and “a profound sense of green”.  I ask him if he knew he would be an artist when he was young, again he says no, he was not aware of his talent as a boy, although he does recall being top in the class at drawing and that he loved drawing trees.  He then mentions making cars out of wire; which if you have been to Africa you will have seen plenty of wire artworks.  He wanted to be a Game Guard and protect animals from poachers in Africa.  However it was a visit to the National Gallery in London and the painting of Bacchus and Adriane by Titian, that really had a profound impact on the young 10 year old Casson.  By now he was back in the UK attending a boarding school in Cumbria, over the next few years his interest in art developed.

Artwork by Simon Casson
Fretchety II by Simon Casson
Artwork by Simon Casson
Smeech and Vairn by Simon Casson
Artwork by Simon Casson
Vore-noon by Simon Casson

By the time he was 16, he decided he wanted to attend art college. He began with a foundation at Barnsley College of Art and Design; followed by the Rotterdam Acadamie van Beelden Kunsten, an undergraduate Scholarship in the Netherlands.  Returning to the United Kingdom, he attended the Exeter College of Art and Design.  He then completed a BA with First Class Honours in Fine Art at Central St Martins College of Art and Design.  Followed by The London Institute, Central School of Printmaking he completed a Postgraduate Diploma and then the Royal Academy Schools, the Royal Academy of Arts with an MA in Painting.

Artwork by Simon Casson
Keeve by Simon Casson
Artwork by Simon Casson
Ablement and Ablish by Simon Casson, commissioned by the Cadogan Hotel

Simon began teaching Fine Art when he left Art college.  He additionally became involved in prints, finding big sheets of steel from building sites, creating etchings by hand to make a print, along with zinc plates from builders scrap yards, exhibiting the artworks at the Royal Academy.  Now he paints primarily with oil on canvas, his style significant and recognisable.  He defines it beautifully “It’s like looking in the mirror, you recognise yourself and know who you are” his works are sold all over the world including the future king of England, H.R.H The Prince of Wales who owns two of Casson’s paintings, as well as commissions for the legendary Cadogan and Savoy Hotels.  His work has been auctioned at Sotheby’s in New York, 17 awards including the Royal Academy medal for painting.  I fist encountered his work at the Long and Ryle Gallery in central London in Pimlico.  He has had plenty of other solo exhibitions around the world, most recently the USA and filling one of the largest art galleries in Canada with his work.

Artwork by Simon Casson
Savoyards by Simon Casson
Artwork by Simon Casson
Lupercalia, Ilia II by Simon Casson
Artwork by Simon Casson
Anby by Simon Casson

Casson’s method is poetic he explains, he works on the aesthetic renaissance of the figure, bringing it into the 21century, painting more like poetry “When you read a poem” he explains “reading it over and over; when you re-read the poem 5 to 10 years later it has a different meaning” he emphasises.  As with his artworks, walking away for a time and then coming back to it.  Interestingly his inspirations are additionally abstract contemporary artists such as Anselm Kiefer and William De Kooning, Frank Stella as well as landscapes by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot.  Cross pollinating from different mediums, film, poetry and photography he explains, borrowing from one discipline to another, blurring boundaries finding visual inspirations from various fields.  He references film director Peter Greenway’s contemporary films, like A Zed and Two Noughts, and that emotions of post modernism excite him.  Simon’s style is an alternative version of modern art, escaping from concept art, that has been taking hold of the art world for a couple of decades, with advertising executives like Charles Saatchi, becoming collectors and art dealers.

Artwork by Simon Casson
The Great Daedale by Simon Casson

He moved away from London, after  spending 11 years in the city between 1988-1999.  He now lives in Somerset with his wife and three daughters, with their chickens, and other animals, however he visits London regularly, and with each visit, he goes back to the National Gallery, where his journey began.  He is still in love with sitting amongst those Greek Gods, and still visits Bacchus and Adriane.   

Interview: Antoinette Haselhorst

portrait of artist Simon Casson
Photo: Sheridan Casson

Ignacio Lalanne

photo portrait artist cake
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

The first painting I saw by Ignacio Lalanne, I was taken by the expression of a portrait of a man’s face, with large deep soulful tragic eyes and pink puckered lips, in almost a heart shape, with rose coloured cheeks as if too much make-up had been applied and a straight bold bone structure with dark rigid lines.  It has elements of a stained glass window, a definitive Romanesque influence, completely pulled apart and put back together to be something completely unique.  As you continue to peruse his other works, from his portrait of Queen Elizabeth I  to his Matador holding his hat, or his painting of a lady with tied up gold hair in a black gothic dress, his style activates and grabs your soul.

artwork painting artist cake
Artwork: Ignacio Lalanne
Painting Queen Elizabeth 1 cake artist
Artwork: Ignacio Lalanne
painting matador contemporary artist
Artwork: Ignacio Lalanne
Artist painter cake Argentina
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

His influences came early as he grew up in beautiful San Isidro on the river, Río de la Plata, translated, River of Silver, in Buenos Aires, visiting the La Iglesia Del Pilar church every Sunday as a boy with his elegant grandmother.  He paid attention to the fine choreography in the woodwork and embroidered statues, he tells me, as we sit outside South Kensington having a coffee and water in the evening sun.  That was the first layer of the inner core of his artwork, he explains.

Painting art cake artwork
Artwork: Ignacio Lalanne

Then tragedy struck the nine year old boy with the death of his mother; isolated and confused he started reading, a deep interest in theology and spiritualism embroiled itself.  After finishing High School in Buenos Aires, he took his back pack and as a free spirit ventured on his quest through Asia.  Two months ended up as being one year, India, Pakistan, Japan, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.  India stood out on this quest for knowledge,  working with Saint Mother Theresa’s charitable organisation at the holiest of the seven sacred cities, Varanasi.  He searched for higher knowledge through Hatha yoga as well as exploring traditions of the world.  During this pilgrimage he developed a passion for Japanese art and whilst in India he read Siddhartha by Herman Hesse as well as poems by Rumi.  What he discovered is that beauty and pain come together as one.  “The Lotus grows in dirty water” he tells me, and with this awakening, ” It was as if I had to throw up all this beauty and decided to paint.”  He pulls his palms out to express the release as he says this, the decision happened India, when he decided to study art.

Artist painting artwork cake
Artwork: Ignacio Lalanne
painting sailor contemporary art
Artwork: Ignacio Lalanne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

painting Goddess India
Artwork: Ignacio Lalanne
Artist portrait painting
Artwork: Ignacio Lalanne

In 2001 when Argentina had its financial crisis, Ignacio had to leave Pakistan on his fathers bequest and come to London to sort out family affairs; visiting his Godmother who lived in Gloucester Road.  London started to become his base, working in pubs to save for a foundation course at Kensington and Chelsea then studying fine art in Central Saint Martins.  Other jobs included working in the reception in an apartment block, where he made friends with a gentleman, who was deeply taken by Ignacio’s diligence as the young student sat with books and notes studying in the back during shift breaks.  The man offered to cover a large percentage of his tuition costs.  Lalanne looks at me intently and explains how surprised he was that someone who doesn’t know you can trust you and see something in you.  He tells me about the three most important influences in his life, to whom he is most grateful; his partner, his best friend and his sponsor. 

Artwork artist painting cake
Artwork: Ignacio Lalanne
photo artist painter cake
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst

After graduation Lalanne, made his roots here in London, Ignacio hired a studio and started his own practice in now trendy Bow, East London.  With plenty of Exhibitions under his belt, he has made a reputation for himself, however he has felt isolated in his studio at times and didn’t want his art just to be a commodity.   So Ignacio studied mindfulness and theology, and he now uses art as form of healing and meditation as he sees art as a window into our inner soul, recently visiting a spiritual retreat in Ibero, Spain, where he was giving mindfulness workshops.  

art artworks painting cake
Artwork: Ignacio Lalanne
Artwork artist painting cake
Artwork: Ignacio Lalanne

We talk more about his art and influences, and he tells me Egon Schiele is an artist whose work he loves, Mugal art, Cusco School as well as Tudor Court paintings.  He tells me about paradox, referencing a visit to Israel, and that he saw the most beauty, most absurdity and the most sacredness.  The alpha and omega, the beauty and ugliness, and the many layers in a painting.  Then he gazes at me intently after describing his mother and how she reminded him of Lisa Minelli in Cabaret, and quotes the book by Antoine de Saint Exupéry, The little Prince, “ The essential is invisible to the eye ” . 

Interview: Antoinette Haselhorst

Artist painter cake photo
Photo: Antoinette Haselhorst