Simon Dragland

../Simon Dragland

By Sandra Cowan, January 2001
      Eastern Edge - Artist Run Gallery

Simon Dragland had an exhibit at Eastern Edge, "Cold War and Hot Flashes", along with Adrian Gollner from Ottawa. The first thing I noticed about Simon's art is that it feels good. It is inviting work - warm, lively, inclusive, a well-balanced asymmetric movement of colour, shape and texture. The second thing that struck me was the intelligence and humour that informs and is present in his work. He uses all kinds of materials and media (paint, print, text, sound, digital, found and altered objects) and puts them together in unexpected but visually striking ways. As he said, "I like the unlikely existence of things."

He demonstrates this with his juxtaposition of materials and images which varies from poignant to absurd. Simon is an artist who grew up in London, Ontario. He attended Bealart, a practice-based art college in London, specializing during his second year in painting and video. From there he went on to study film at Concordia University for 2 years. Then he moved to St. John's, where he returned with a passion to the practice of visual art. In between bouts of tree-planting, he "attacked" art, "working hard to try and understand art for [him]self rather than from another perspective." He dedicated himself to making art, exploring visual ideas through experimentation, through an immediate, physical relationship with a limitless variety of materials, and by working against any defined style or convention.

During this very driven two years of art practice, he produced "just terrible work," according to him. Much of it was lost in a house fire. But he kept on working, consciously establishing an immediate, intimate and ever-changing relationship with art. It is the process that is important to him, the thoughtful and spontaneous engagement with ideas and physical materials.

On his return from travels in India, Simon is planning to work on a series of time-based collaborative pieces with a good friend in Toronto. He now lives in Toronto where he works in film and video in order to support his art.

- Sandra Cowan