Studio Visit: Simon Birch
Simon Birch is a U.K.-born artist, of Armenian descent, who is a permanent resident in Hong Kong. He was awarded the Sovereign Asian Art's Manfred Schoeni Prize in 2004 and the Louis Vuitton Asian Art Prize in 2007. Although much of his work is and has been large, figurative oil paintings, Birch has, in recent years, ventured into film and installation work, culminating in some particularly notable large-scale projects including: Azhanti High Lightning (2007, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore); This Brutal House (April 2008, 10 Chancery Lane Gallery and Annex, Chai Wan); the 20,000 sq. ft. multimedia installation HOPE & GLORY: A Conceptual Circus (April 2010); and Daydreaming With… The Hong Kong Edition (May 2012, ArtisTree, TaiKoo Place, Hong Kong) – all of which represent a new level of integration of his conceptual, material and aesthetic concerns. These large multimedia projects combined films, paintings, installations, sculptures, and performances housed in specifically configured spaces.
Birch is interested in universal ideas of transition, the ambiguous moment between an initiation and a conclusion, the unobtainable now. He is also interested in myth, history, circus and science fiction. He chooses to represent these themes in an environment of theater and spectacle. His intention is that the environment, where the works are housed, envelops the viewer, so the process of viewing becomes experiential. Birch hopes to give the viewer the experience that he would want from an exhibition: overwhelming and complex, a spectacle, and a visual aesthetic adventure.
Birch's most recent exhibitions include Out of the Darkness, at the Louis Vuitton Gallery in Hong Kong (2008), a series of photos and works on paper as a response to his recent recovery from cancer, a condition from which he was not expected to survive; and his video installation Soghomon Tehlirian shown at the Hong Kong Museum of Art in the group show, Looking for Antonio Mak (2008-09). The HOPE & GLORY project at ArtisTree Hong Kong (2010) represents a new level of integration of Birch's conceptual, material and aesthetic concerns.
We shall visit Simon Birch in his 2,000 sq. ft. studio in Ap Lei Chau, where his complex ideas are conceptualized and large-scale multi-media artworks realized.