Simon Fieldhouse: Icons

With accentuated lines and meticulous detail, the works of Sydney-based artist Simon Fieldhouse depict iconic buildings, architectural monuments and cityscapes from around the world that are embedded in historical and cultural significance. ‘Icons’, an exhibition at Australian Galleries in Melbourne, showcases a selection of Fieldhouse’s illustrations of distinguished landmarks such as the Louvre, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, Central Park and the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. Also included are panoramic depictions of global cities; places like New York and Paris. All of which accentuate his deep appreciation of these architectural feats.

Fieldhouse’s career began in law, practicing as a solicitor for nearly ten years. He left this profession and began working for architects making scale architectural models. These miniature constructions allowed him to physically engage with and understand the architectural design process; its technique, scale and form. Fieldhouse began to appreciate the beauty of architecture and soon his interest developed through the appropriation of these three-dimensional structures into two-dimensional artworks of ink and watercolour.

Specific sites of historical, cultural and civic significance dominate Fieldhouse’s drawings however their inclusion seems to be heavily influenced by design and aesthetics. “Hopefully I’m very open-minded about architecture but I am attracted by anything that looks interesting with a clear preference for beautiful design”, says Fieldhouse. His drawing of the interior of the National Gallery of Victoria shows the beautiful mosaic stained-glass ceiling in the Great Hall. One of the world’s largest pieces of suspended stained-glass, the facets of its geometric pieces bounce and refract coloured light from the floors surface. A single figure lies on the floor staring up at the ceiling, mesmerised. According to Fieldwork, the figures are “based on situations or people that I know and often semi-autobiographical.” Perhaps here, the figure mirrors his personal appreciation of this architectural marvel.

Influenced by the distinctive style of black ink drawings with satirical undertones of illustrators Aubrey Beardsley and Robert Crumb, Fieldhouse creates work of intricate detail and complex line work coupled with whimsical and humorous dialogue of the figures. Their main purpose is to “break down the formality of the architecture”, explains Fieldhouse. In Louvre – Paris, Fieldhouse creates an elaborate rendition of the Parisian museum’s facade, evidence of his superb technical skill and precision to detail. Two figures of what appear to be an art statue and an art lover are naked and embroiled in lust. While this small inclusion, both comical and controversial, can distract the viewer’s eye from the detail of the building, the columns, arches and reliefs, Fieldhouse is merely portraying “what goes on in people’s minds”, an admiration for art.

Fieldwork sometimes uses representations of popular culture, heroic figures such as Superman and Spiderman. “I ended up buying all the Superhero costumes and did a series of them in everyday situations. I like the idea of superheroes behaving just like ordinary people”, says Fieldhouse. Fieldhouse’s architectonic drawings show a masterful perspective, a whimsical line, and reveal a natural innate artistry. While he marvels at the beauty of these structures, Fieldwork’s inclusion of comical and whimsical figures playfully reflect the ordinary lives within these built environments and the work is left to the interpretation of the viewer – “once again, it’s fun!”

Australian Galleries, Derby Street
9 to 28 June, 2015

Webb Bridge – Melbourne, ink and watercolour on arches paper,  56 x 76cm
National Gallery of Victoria Stained Glass Ceiling, ink and watercolour on arches paper, 65 x 44cm
Courtesy the artist and Australian Galleries, Melbourne