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The Hanging Garden Painting

Kirsten Rae Simonsen

United States

Painting, Watercolor on Paper

Size: 7.5 W x 7 H x 0.1 D in

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About The Artwork

This work is from Kirsten Rae Simonsen’s newest collection of works, The Cosmic Bestiary, which reflects a love of the space created by fairy tales: where animals talk and magic or evil lurks around the corner. The work combines beauty and disorder, fairy tale and reality, the mysterious and the ominous. Most of the animals in the series are drawn from the artists’ own collection of photographs of Victorian and early 20th century taxidermy displays from places such as the Field Museum in Chicago, with its placid animal scenes that mirror cozy nuclear families, and the Victorian-era Booth Museum of Natural History in Brighton, UK, with its brutal, unforgiving scenes of death and destruction. The fluorescent pastel colors dusted with mica create an otherworldly atmosphere, conveying a hyperreality, a garden of ecstatic surfaces.

Details & Dimensions

Painting:Watercolor on Paper

Original:One-of-a-kind Artwork

Size:7.5 W x 7 H x 0.1 D in

Shipping & Returns

Delivery Time:Typically 5-7 business days for domestic shipments, 10-14 business days for international shipments.

ARTIST STATEMENT My paintings of Victorian taxidermied animals in fanciful environments reflect my love of the space created by the fairy tales of my childhood: where animals talk and magic or evil lurks around the corner. Birthday cakes and other sweet treats are a recurring theme as I explore the borders of childhood innocence, and the ways in which childhood trauma can enact its subtle revenge. The work conveys a sentimental sweetness, which is also cloying and unsettling. The animals’ expressions and the situations depicted in my work evoke an ominous feeling lurking beneath the surface. The atmospheres in my work encompass both attraction and disgust. Often my work depicts placid animals suspended in artificial, human-made environments full of pastels, neon colors, and glittery surfaces. I use “unnatural” and sometimes fugitive colors along with more “permanent” pigments, exploring the tension between the “real” and the artificial.he “real” and the artificial. All of my work explores how humans romanticize the natural world in our culture, and how that romanticizing can be artificial, inauthentic, and even sentimental and saccharine. Humans idealize, distance, and control wildness in many ways: with stuffed cuddly toys, and in fairy tales, children’s books, natural history dioramas, zoo displays, and nature documentaries. Often, the animals have names and human narratives are created in these situations. Nature is idealized, devoid of its real-life contradictions. The same is true with notions of “paradise,” a human idea that comforts and smoothes over real-life strife and ecological disaster. I examine and often challenge idealized notions of the natural world. BIO Born 1971 Missoula, Montana My technique is very influenced by my study of Balinese traditional painting and Chinese painting. I spent time in Bali studying art on the Darmasiswa scholarship, which is given by the government of Indonesia to encourage the study of traditional arts by people from around the world. I also studied traditional Balinese drawing and painting with a painter in Batuan, Sukamati (Bali). Also I have studied a bit of Chinese painting in China and in Hawaii. Both of these techniques inform my current practice. My work has been exhibited in many cities including Shanghai, London, New York, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Seattle. Enjoy! You can see the rest of my work on my website: and on instagram: @behomebeforedark

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