Francis Simeni
Medium: Painting and Mixed Media

Studio Location:
255 18th Street
Studio # 13


Artist Bio:
Francis Simeni is a painter living and working in Brooklyn, NY. Born in Nigeria, the son of a diplomat, Francis split his childhood between Poland and Nigeria before settling in New York City in 1982. It is from this
perspective that he creates compositions with intense personal narratives. From the portrait of a single child, to the story of the African Diaspora, Francis explores personal themes of the human condition. His graphic compositions are infused with emotion from an earthy warm palette and grainy wood surface to a vibrant and full palette on torn up pieces of paper. Using these natural and man-made surfaces as part of composition grounds each piece as it creates a broader narrative. His narrative is one of intent and emotion. Focusing this emotion with a limited color palette sometimes, and a broader, more colorful palette at other times, he explores personal themes and how each person's story relates to the broader human experience. From one's own self image to the greater community and from the community back to the individual.

His work has been shown at various galleries throughout the country, including solo shows at Sensei Gallery in Manhattan and the Red Horse Cafe in Brooklyn, a group show at Project 1 Gallery in San Francisco, and was a part of an ongoing show at the OneWay Gallery in Rhode Island. He has also taken part in benefit auctions including the Hammonds House Museum Charity Auction in Atlanta, GA and the Rush Arts Charity Auction in Chelsea, New York City. He was also a semifinalist in the Sprout juried artist competition in New York City, and a part of the ongoing Art Erotica series at Madame X,
New York City. In recent years, he was honored to take part in Dance Africa 2010, as an artist in the companion show "African Rhythms / American Voices" at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. He was part of a group show at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA). And in recent years, he has had solo and group exhibits at Panda NYC as well as a Sensei Gallery NY launch in January 2014.

Francis' interest in comic books led him to study illustration and Toy Design at FIT, where he received an Associates Degree. Since college, he has designed graphics for apparel and created illustrations for print publications. His clients range from Ecko Unltd. to The New York Times.

His background in illustration and design melds with his expressive hand to produce graphic yet emotive paintings that are informed by his experience as an unsettled settler, at home in a foreign land. With a forward gaze, he studies the past.

Artist Statement:
My work is largely about self-image and identity???mostly in relation, but not limited to, the African Diaspora. Having been born in Nigeria, raised in Poland, and settling in America, I have had to examine who I was in relation to my environment and culture. I often ponder how society views me in contrast to how I view myself.

For many years, my work has been about examining self-image through the lens of portraiture. An image can capture beauty, complexity, a particular mood, or time. I often use this form to strip a theme down to its essence; just the person and the environment. At times, this is done on wood, because of the raw, earthy, patterned tones it affords???and its depth of character. Other times, I have used torn up old newspapers and books, collaged on canvas and then painted on???symbolizing a discarded existence from which a strong character can eventually form.

In some of my works, the subject is in harmony or disharmony with its colorful environment. In other works, the subject has a charged relationship, or ambivalence. Ultimately, my works are about finding truth, beauty, self love, defiance, complexity, and all the things that make us human.

All images and text copyright Francis Simeni