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NEW HENRIK SIMONSEN PRINT EDITION | RED LEAVES

August 29th 2015
Henrik Simonsen’s new screenprint edition Red Leaves sees the artist use a vibrant colour palette of turquoise and red combined with more organic tones to illustrate and explore the delicate and fragile nature of all things living.

The intense colour is what strikes you first when you see Henrik Simonsen’s stunning new screenprint Red Leaves. The harmonious combination of a beautiful green-blue turquoise, a creamy caramel and a slightly orangey-red is briefly accompanied by brick burgundy with splashes of white for the all-important lift. A master of colour, Henrik takes pride in choosing the exact desired palette for each of his creations, whether it’s a painting or a screenprint. Although I wasn’t present during the making of this particular edition, I can just picture him at Artizan Editions’ studio, who published the print, taking his time on each and every shade to get each one just right.

Those of you who have followed Henrik’s work over the past few years may notice this new print explores similar themes to a previous edition of his, the popular Fragile from 2012. As with Fragile, silhouettes of butterflies have been used to represent the leaves on the tree, which is the main focus of the piece. Red Leaves however can be seen as a progression from his 2012 works in that it brings elements of other recent print editions, such as Eyestorm editions Magenta and Ochre from earlier this year. Looking at it more closely, it’s clear that Red Leaves has been made in a similar way to those prints, where marks such as scratches and drips are printed as one of the background layers and then the red and the blue (that creates the ‘negative space’) is printed over the top as one of the last screens.

Henrik’s idea with this print, as with Fragile, is to allow it to speak of the fragility of living things, while referencing historical art and writing. In the Vanitas paintings of the 16th and 17th century, butterflies - along with flowers and fruit - were a reminder of the ephemeral nature of life. Henrik said he likes the fact that the butterflies also act as a reminder that we should “use those wings while we have them”.

Despite the fact that butterflies and leaves have some similarity in shape, in reality they’re very different things. He goes on to say “One can flutter in the wind but not move. The other is the image of freedom and movement.”

A reoccurring theme in Henrik’s work is transition, especially with reference to the changing of seasons and thus the constant movement of time. Butterflies are often used as a symbol of passage, development or evolution, but colour also plays a part, where the different colours hint at the changing of seasons, and this takes us back to the importance of the palette in Henrik’s working practice.

The dark, almost black tones at the base of the tree not only ground the piece as a whole, but for me also hints at the frailty of natural living things and how easily they can be diseased and affected by their environment. I like this underlying darkness in the work, which is reiterated by the running baby blue paint that appears to be dripping rebelliously from some of the branches. Without these important elements, in my opinion the work is a little too amicable; I want it to speak to me, to teach and remind me about what’s important in life, and I think Red Leaves certainly comes close to doing this, if viewed in the right way.

Red Leaves is available to buy at Eyestorm for £800.00 from today. See the piece in more detail here.
ANGIE DAVEY
Creative Director
HENRIK SIMONSEN
Red Leaves
 
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