British Council, London, UK
Ekard Collection, Wassenaar, Holland
David Roberts Arts Foundation, London, UK
Arts Council, England
Arts Council, Northern Ireland
Royal College of Art, London, UK
University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, Bristol, UK
Carlisle Art Gallery and Museum, Carlisle, uK
Ulster Museum and Art Gallery, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Camden Borough Council, London, UK
David Risley Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark
Michael Simpson has been working on a series of large paintings relating to the same atheist theme since 1989. Called Bench paintings, they relate originally to his intense interest in the infamy of religious history and in particular to the renegade mediæval philosopher Giordano Bruno who, after enduring eight years of torture and interrogation by the Inquisition, was burnt at the stake in Rome’s Campo dei Fiori (the Field of Flowers). Simpson has increasingly come to regard these works as Vanitas paintings. The bench serves as a metaphor of endless waiting, with its associations of confinement, alienation, restraint, and industrialised death, it is a place where justice and injustice are administered. In this way the paintings can be considered as meditations on death. Although the work is clearly contemporary its main influences originate from 15th century Venetian and early Flemish painting. The bench also serves as a fixed, coherent form within the paintings. A structure through which Simpson explores the pure language of painting–form, colour, composition–through imagery without figures yet implying a profound human presence.
Simpson’s first solo show was at Piccadilly Gallery in 1964. He has since exhibited continuously including solo shows in London at Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, and Serpentine Gallery. He has been included in group exhibitions at institutions such as Hayward Gallery, White Cube, and the Royal College of Art in London, and Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.
Courtesy of David Risley Gallery