Creative Industries Festival: Surreal Queer Utopias

Fine artist Simon Foxall reflects on the ways queer artists disrupt the status quo, surrealism, reimagining society and its power relations.

Images of abstract art by Simon Foxall
Fine artist Simon Foxall reflects on the ways queer artists disrupt the status quo and the potential surrealism offers for reimagining society and its power relations.

Simon is a British artist, based in Italy (near Asti) since 2020, where he has his studio. He was born in Saudi Arabia in 1983, and grew up in rural Worcestershire (hills and green woodland) before completing a BA Fine Art Painting at Brighton University, and an MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art in London. After living in Brighton (sea), London (city), Margate (sea) and Barcelona (sea and city), he finally returned to hills and green woodland, but this time in Piemonte rather than Worcestershire. His work deals with queerness, otherness, surrealism and the grotesque while placing that conversation in a sense of tangible time and space. His work has always changed energy as he moved to different places, absorbing something of the spirit of an environment.

A specificity of space and his feelings about it emerge in conversation with the cast of characters he populates these spaces with. At the moment they are all smiling, like we were told to do in photos as kids! He finds smiling to be the most ambiguous facial expression. The characters explore contemporary and classic iconography, melted together, inspired by pop culture, drag queens, celebrity, fetish-wear, cowboys, comedy, neo gothic, horror, fantasy and bad taste, heavily influenced by the simultaneously flamboyant and earnest imagery and of medieval, gothic and Neoclassical genres. When he is not oil painting, he makes heaps of charcoal drawings and watercolours. All beginnings and suggestions, some big some small, a kind of visual stone-skimming, seeing what might bounce.
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