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KP Projects is proud to present Greg “CRAOLA” Simkins’ 6th solo show with the gallery entitled "NO STRINGS".
No Strings presents another fantastical journey into Simkins’ mystical land, “The Outside.” Simkins’ notorious cast of characters and fairytale creatures invite us to escape the daunting realities and responsibilities of our current world and embrace the unknown.
Symbolically presenting us with the gift of transport, animal spirit guides present black and white striped gift boxes as portals into Simkins’ other worlds. Reappearing throughout the narratives, scissors also represent cutting ties to the real world. And yet, there is still uncertainty about finding our way on these adventures – What if our problems are mirrored in this alternate existence? As parallels to the real word, fairy tales have always served as moral lessons for children and adults alike, and Simkins’ narratives are no exception. His unique blend of Storybook and Pop Surrealism combines the charm and innocence of Disney with the mischievous and cautionary undertones of original 18th and 19th century fables.
A nod to the classic story Pinocchio, Simkins’ new body of work acknowledges the dark origins of Carlo Collodi’s original tale and the hopefully optimistic Disney version. Adapting a new perspective on these two renditions, Simkins highlights the adventurous and redemptive aspects of learning through mistakes and staying true to oneself. Through the lushly rich visuals of expansive imagination, Simkins’ reinterpretation of both the classic and contemporary adds a new twist in painterly form.
Expressing a range of emotions, Pinocchio’s face in the title piece, No Strings, is an allusion to emotional duality through the use of theater masks, referencing the ancient Roman god Janus. As the god of beginnings, passages, and endings, Janus is often depicted as having two faces, looking to the future and to the past. This reflects our inner struggle with self-exploration and the multitude of emotions within our own psyche. In all versions of the fairytale, Pinocchio spends his life trying to become a real boy, to exist in the real world, and cuts his puppet strings to do so. As a wooden puppet in “The Outside” world of Simkins’, Pinocchio has cut his strings but remains in his whimsical world – uncertain if reality is truly a better place for him. The trials and tribulations within each of these narratives entreats us to trust in our instincts and learn from our mistakes as we keep adventure and dreams alive.
“In painting this show, I found myself examining my own life and insecurities while looking at my role as a father and seeing my sons make choices and their repercussions. I feel like I am always battling becoming one of those boys who were turned into donkeys on Pleasure Island. These childhood stories, along with a brush loaded with paint have assisted me as I navigate through these paths and try to save the strings which knit me to my own conscience.”
Greg Simkins was born in 1975 in Torrance, California. At age 3 his early attempts at drawing were inspired by various cartoons and later books such as Watership Down by Richard Adams, and The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. At the age of 18, Simkins started doing graffiti under the pseudonym “CRAOLA.” Graffiti became his impetus for painting and gave him the confidence to pursue large painterly works.
In 1999 Simkins received his Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Art from California State University of Long Beach, and in 2005, after some time working as an illustrator, Simkins pursued his desire to paint full time. He has since been featured in numerous group and sold out solo exhibitions. His collaboration list includes, among others, Disney, Mattel, Juxtapoz, Logitech, Vans, Converse, Electronic Arts (EA), Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Linkin Park, Blink-182, Upper Playground, To Die For Clothing, and Dark Horse. Simkins’ artwork currently appears in galleries throughout the world.