The Fantastical Worlds of Kim Simonsson
April 21– July 15, 2018
First Look Opening: Friday, April 20.
Sculptor Kim Simonsson of Fiskars, Finland, crafts innocent, yet beguiling life-sized figures of child and animals in “moss-covered” ceramics, often found in natural settings that lead the viewer into an imaginative, fairytale-like world inspired by the forests of Finland.
The American Swedish Institute exhibition will be a captivating display of 35 selections of Simonsson’s work on view in ASI’s contemporary Osher Gallery, and throughout the historic Turnblad Mansion. The artworks can be assembled into various compilations depending on the space, so the ASI setting will really tranform into the Fantastical Worlds of Kim Simonsson.
Selected as one of Artnet’s “Nine Fascinating Objects” at 2016 Design Miami, the “Moss People” sculptures are the result of a unique technique combining stoneware, paint and green nylon fiber, which gives the figures their smooth and mossy surface. Every sculpture is handmade and created in the artist’s studio in Fiskars Village.
In his book “Tales of the Moss People,” Simonsson explains, “the name refers to children’s innate, sensible camouflage. The moss green figures blend perfectly into their natural surroundings, just as a soft carpet of moss covers the ground, rocks and tree trunks and acts as a sort of protection. In the Moss People world, lost and disconnected children, evoking different characters, gather in a Shaman Party, choose leaders and end up creating false idols.”
Simonsson’s work illustrates the Moss People community, with reason to believe that the children living in the forest have experienced difficult rites of passage as part of their growth and development. If you had to draw comparisons, Simonsson’s works evoke an emotional sense of a world concocted from a cross between Alice in Wonderland and Lord of the Flies with a splash of Peter Pan and the Hunger Games. The children and animals he depicts are at once whimsical and evocative, yet lonely and, yes, slightly disturbing. They exude a sense of determined strength. “As I carried on, I could be sure what mattered the most was with me,” says one.
As the story goes, Simonsson almost became a soccer player but, while biking to a practice one day, he lost his football boots and decided to become an artist. He entered the Department of Ceramic and Glass at the University of Arts & Design and was thereafter captivated by the three-dimensional possibilities of clay. In 2004, he was awarded the Young Artist of the Year prize and invited to work as guest artist for the Art Department Society of Arabia, the famous Finnish ceramics maker. His work has been exhibited around the world in locations including New York, Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, Beligum and Korea.