INTERFACING: Tom Christophersen and Michael Simms @ Stanley Street Gallery

Tom Christophersen and Michael Simms are two of Australia’s most exciting and talented queer, figurative artists. INTERFACING is their first collaborative exhibition, featuring a body of new works that articulate the entanglement of technology and the human experience, bearing playful witness to the ongoing digital reformation of our basic social actions. Interfacing exposes the destructive power of technology, the ways we use it to tear at each other and ourselves. It is an explosive, collaborative figurative exhibition between two of Australia’s most exciting emerging visual artists. INTERFACING is an exploration into our flawed and often pixilated representations of ourselves.

INTERFACING | Tom Christophersen and Michael Simms

Opening Night:

Thursday 20 September | 6pm


Exhibition Dates:

12 September – 6 October 2018

Stanley Street Gallery

1 / 52 – 54 Stanley Street
Darlinghurst, NSW, Australia

Tom Christophersen and Michael Simms are early career, queer identifying, Australian artists who specialise in provocative figurative paintings and drawings that sit between the surreal and realistic. Tom holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts from the South Australian School of Art and a Bachelor of Performance from the Australian Academy of Dramatic Art. Michael holds a Bachelor of Behavioural Science (Psychology), a Bachelor of Arts (Screen Studies/ Visual Arts) from Flinders University, and received a scholarship to study at the Julian Ashton Art School. Permeating their works are themes of the distortion and diffraction of gender, identity, sexuality, and self-hood through contemporary modalities of public visibility – a resonance that compelled them to collaborate on a show in which they intentionally focus and distill these ideas together.

Tom Christophersen // “TIFF #1”, 2017

Watercolour paint, watercolour pencil and white acrylic on Archer’s watercolour paper, 40x40cm

Tom Christophersen // “TIFF #2”, 2017

Watercolour paint, watercolour pencil and white acrylic on Archer’s watercolour paper, 40x40cm

Tom Christophersen // “TIFF #3”, 2017

Watercolour paint, watercolour pencil and white acrylic on Archer’s watercolour paper, 40x40cm

In an age of digital expression, INTERFACING prises apart notions of dangerous self-representation and distorted identities via technology. Technology and chance brought this team together. Born in the same year in neighbouring Adelaide suburbs, the two met serendipitously in Sydney as adults – the same day Michael discovered Tom’s work hanging in Stanley Street Gallery he received a tweet from Tom who had just seen Michael’s work online and suggested a meeting. The result is INTERFACING, in which both artists present some of their most ambitious drawings and paintings to date. Timely, resonant and provocative, this show isn’t to be missed.

Michael Simms // “IRL”, 2018
Oil on Canvas, 85.3 x 129.5 cm

Michael Simms // “Hostage”, 2018
Oil on Canvas, 91.5 x 122 cm

Michael Simms // “Miasma 1”, 2018
Oil on Board, 30 x 40 cm

INTERFACING, to be mounted at Stanley Street Gallery (NSW) this September, is a collaborative exhibition, featuring a new body of work from Michael and Tom. Each piece exposes the constructed contours of our lives, showcasing the iteration and extension of our self into personas that seek and perform indulgence through online platforms, exchanging social, sexual and emotional capital as they wither and flourish in intangible spaces. We are glitching flesh of four hundred notifications, Tumblr footprints and ‘Super Likes’ on Tindr. INTERFACING problematises the utopian promise of technology, exploring its impact on the contemporary human experience through moments of social isolation, distortion and obsession. This occurs across a body of work that takes classical representations in visual art – the reclining nude, the gaze, and the society portrait – and simultaneously subjects them to social media ravaging and a critical queer ontology.

Michael Simms // “Live Streaming”, 2018
Oil on Canvas, 91.7 x 76.5 cm

Tom Christophersen // “The Reply”, 2017
Watercolour paint, watercolour pencil, white acrylic and silver leaf on watercolour paper, 29.7 x 42 cm

INTERFACING features ten new drawings on paper, custom-framed in device-like perspex ‘screens’ by Tom, and eight new oil paintings on canvas and layered prospect sheets by Michael, as well as a collaborative video installation between the artists. While each work is conceived to stand alone and inhabit the theme of fragmented humans engulfed by technological landscapes, each also resonates with one another within the context of the exhibition. A catalogue essay, written by Melbourne-based queer writer, Brigid Hansen, will accompany the works and frame the exhibition in respect to broader themes and issues evoked by Michael and Tom’s collaboration. The artists conceived INTERFACING with the goal of teasing out the complex relationship between digital technologies and humanity, contributing to an ongoing vigilance and discussion about how we can best manage ourselves and communities in this state. As emerging artists still in the first five years of their career, INTERFACING is Tom and Michael’s most ambitious and comprehensive project to date, presenting an opportunity to exhibit their largest volume and highest quality works in a professional gallery in the heart of Sydney. INTERFACING is the first, solid step for both artists in building sustainable creative careers that allow them to continue to explore their prospective practices whilst engaging with wider audiences and other professional creatives around the country.

Tom Christophersen, 2018

     “SPIFF #1”                                  “SPIFF #2”                                          “SPIFF #3”

Watercolour paint, watercolour pencil on Archer’s watercolour paper, 15.5 x 15.5 cm

Tom Christophersen // “Rage/Repeat”, 2018
Watercolour paint, watercolour pencil and white acrylic on Archer’s watercolour paper, 29.7 x 42 cm
[A Collaboration with Lou Vegus]

Tom Christophersen: Interfacing is a curated, collaborative collection of interactions with the digital world. The not so nice ones. The broken ones.
Interfacing exposes the destructive power of technology, the ways we use it to tear at each other and ourselves. The people in my portraits have been changed by technology, often through strange, traumatic experience. These sitters were thoughtfully selected. These portraits tell a story about our digital-social experience. These portraits hold up a mirror.

You have no new likes.

Interfacing focuses on ways people can be neglected by the digital-social platforms designed to remember them. A digital facade we look after so much but which often doesn’t look after us.

Our narcissistic palaces.
I am not attempting to judge this development because I am affected by it too.

My posture has changed from looking down at screens. I have debased myself on dating apps. I slave over digital collateral to fill the void.

Even as a digital world connects us, it simultaneously divides, accesses our emails and records our IP addresses.

If you don’t appreciate something, you will lose it.

I don’t want to lose you.

We have progressed but we are not yet in control.

My intention has always been to make images that create the necessary disturbances in order to provoke permanent, positive change.

My work is intentionally beautiful as its origin, its essential truth, is often brutal and terrifying. After all, you deserve the truth.

I love you,
You can’t stop me.

Tom Christophersen // “Super Like”, 2018
Watercolour paint, watercolour pencil, white acrylic and silver leaf on watercolour paper, 29.7 x 42 cm

Tom Christophersen // “An Embarrassment of Riches”, 2018
Watercolour paint, watercolour pencil and white acrylic on Archer’s watercolour paper, 20 x 21 cm

TOM CHRISTOPHERSEN is an actor, artist and general arts atrocity (his own words). Hailing from Adelaide, Tom grew up performing in Fringe Festivals from a young age. Tom completed his Visual Arts degree, specialising in painting, in 2008 at the South Australian School of Art (SASA) before moving to Sydney to attend drama school at the Australian Academy of Dramatic Art (AADA). After graduating from drama school Tom has created award winning portraiture and has performed in art events such as Marina Abramovic’s Project 30 with Kaldor Public Art Projects. Tom has exhibited across the country and has created bespoke commissions for Lady GaGa, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and various Australian based fashion and art houses. Tom is inspired by Twin Peaks, dark-streaks and beautiful things which are bad for your health.

Tom Christophersen // “Swipe Left”, 2018
Watercolour paint, watercolour pencil, white acrylic and silver leaf on watercolour paper, 29.7 x 42 cm

Michael Simms: is a multi-award winning artist based in Sydney. Born in Adelaide, he completed degrees in psychology and film at Flinders University before winning a scholarship to study art at the Julian Ashton Art School.

Since then, Michael has brought together his interest in classical art and contemporary human behaviour to reveal hidden truths about his subjects. In 2018, Michael was the winner of the Royal Art Society of NSW Young Artist Award and the inaugural SBS Portrait Prize, and in 2016 was awarded the Cambridge Studio Gallery Portrait Prize and Cliftons Art Prize. He has been a finalist in several major art awards across the country, including the Doug Moran, Black Swan, and Kilgour Art prizes, and notable Australians who have sat for portraits include Thomas Keneally, Liz Ellis, Genevieve Lemon and Paul Capsis. 

Michael Simms // “Possession”, 2018
Oil on Canvas, 61 x 51.2 cm

About Author

Caitlyn Gregson is the Social Media Manager of Beautiful Bizarre Magazine, and a 3rd year Bachelor of Fine Arts student at the University of New South Wales, Australia. She started her journey with Beautiful Bizarre Magazine in April 2017 as an intern, working closely with the Editor-in-Chief to learn about independent publishing and the arts.Caitlyn continues to work with the Editor-in-Chief, Danijela Krha Purssey, providing editorial and curatorial support, and now she also provides input into the magazine curation, assists with the administration of the annual Beautiful Bizarre Art Prize, manages the magazine submissions process and MentorMe, the Beautiful Bizarre Magazine free artist resource.Caitlyn started her artistic journey as an acrylic portrait painter, but is now focusing more on photography, which she is falling more and more in love with each day. She loves spending her time reading and is a self proclaimed plant mum. Caitlyn loves all things weird, wonderful, beautiful and bizarre. And just between us, she’s also a little bizarre herself - but aren’t we all!


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