Greg ‘CRAOLA’ Simkins has an amazing exhibition titled NO STRINGS running currently in Los Angeles at KP Projects. There’s not long left, so if you’re close enough go and check it out.
No Strings presents another fantastical journey into Simkins’ mystical land – ‘The Outside’. Craola’s notorious cast of characters and fairytale creatures invite us to escape the daunting realities and responsibilities of our current world and embrace the unknown.
Symbolically presenting us with the gift of transport, animal spirit guides present black and white striped gift boxes
as portals into Simkins’ other worlds. Reappearing throughout the narratives, scissors also represent cutting ties to
the real world. And yet, there is still uncertainty about finding our way on these adventures – What if our problems
are mirrored in this alternate existence? As parallels to the real word, fairy tales have always served as moral
lessons for children and adults alike, and Simkins’ narratives are no exception. His unique blend of Storybook and
Pop Surrealism combines the charm and innocence of Disney with the mischievous and cautionary undertones of
original 18th and 19th century fables.
A nod to the classic story Pinocchio, Simkins’ new body of work acknowledges the dark origins of Carlo Collodi’s
original tale and the hopefully optimistic Disney version. Adapting a new perspective on these two renditions,
Simkins highlights the adventurous and redemptive aspects of learning through mistakes and staying true to
oneself. Through the lushly rich visuals of expansive imagination, Simkins’ reinterpretation of both the classic and
contemporary adds a new twist in painterly form.
Expressing a range of emotions, Pinocchio’s face in the title piece, No Strings, is an allusion to emotional duality
through the use of theater masks, referencing the ancient Roman god Janus. As the god of beginnings, passages,
and endings, Janus is often depicted as having two faces, looking to the future and to the past. This reflects our
inner struggle with self-exploration and the multitude of emotions within our own psyche. In all versions of the
fairytale, Pinocchio spends his life trying to become a real boy, to exist in the real world, and cuts his puppet
strings to do so. As a wooden puppet in “The Outside” world of Simkins’, Pinocchio has cut his strings but remains in
his whimsical world – uncertain if reality is truly a better place for him. The trials and tribulations within each of
these narratives entreats us to trust in our instincts and learn from our mistakes as we keep adventure and dreams