Who I Am
Although I am primarily an abstract artist with influences from surrealism, I am hugely influenced by the landscapes around me on Bowen Island near Vancouver, BC, and what I see on my travels. I think I can say that every piece I’ve ever done has its roots in the natural world—the textures and colors, the shapes and shadows, and most importantly, the emotional pull. I paint because I have to reveal what I see for others to respond to and I hope resonate with.
You could definitely use the word “eclectic” to describe my work. I try never to repeat myself and am always searching for new ways to work with my materials. In the studio, I paint mostly in acrylics and when I’m traveling, I use pastels and gouache to create drawings based on all the new stimuli I encounter on the road. I also love history—both cultural history and the history of art. My work is heavily influenced by the great 20th Century masters such as Matisse, Picasso, and particularly the great surrealist artist Max Ernst. If you love the work of these artists and others such as Jackson Pollock, Georgia O’Keefe, Nicolas de Staël, and Joan Miró, then I think you’ll see how their influences permeate my work. When we travel, I search out art exhibitions and always get new insights. I’m also heavily influenced by music, particularly jazz and classical. I always have music playing while I’m in the studio—usually classical while I paint and then jazz afterwards. My two loves—music and art—are completely intertwined in my paintings and drawings. You’ll see rhythms in my brushstrokes and melodies in my colors and shapes.
I was born in Ottawa in 1947 and promptly moved to Vancouver at the age of six months. My father was the noted architect D.C. Simpson who instilled in me a love of shape and form. My mother, Ferne Cairns, was a professional concert singer who gave me my love of music and appreciation for travel and art. I was fortunate to grow up in the mid-century modern home that my father designed in West Vancouver. The house bordered the dense forests of the Capilano Canyon area. I spent my youth roaming the woods near my home. No wonder I love landscape and incorporate so many elements of it into my painting.
In my late teens, I embarked upon my career as a painter and jazz drummer. My music career was extensive--if you want to know more, please contact me and I'll send you links to my music pages. You can check out a full list of my Exhibitions and view a selection of the private and public Collections that include my work. My art is also included in numerous academic studies, art history books and journals published in Canada, Europe, and Australia and has been exhibited in several historical surveys on surrealism. View the full list of reviews, critical writing, and publications.
In 2003, a nationally broadcast documentary was made for BRAVO TV on my life and work, A New Arcadia: The Art of Gregg Simpson. Click the link to view the documentary on YouTube. You'll learn about my background in the Vancouver art scene of hte 1960s and 1970s and view an amazing exhibition of my work at the Fortezza di Montalcino in Tuscany, Italy.