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Paul Simonon – Two Years: London & Mallorca

23rd Sep 2022 - 06th Oct 2022
John Martin Gallery, London

From the start of the first lockdown in 2020 and over the course of the next two years, artist and musician Paul Simonon chronicled his surroundings through two very distinct and contrasting bodies of work.

Paddington, London
Spring 2020 & Winter 2021/2

The first is a series of paintings made close to Paul’s studio in Paddington and reflecting the empty streets he encountered during those first months of isolation in London. Often painted at night and lit by street lights, the narrow, terraced houses become intimate stage sets for people’s daily lives. Seen on his evening promenade’s, paintings like ‘The Row’ and ‘Vermeer’s Daughter’ evoke the subtle drama played out behind the curtains, contrasting with the profound stillness that transformed life in London during the spring of 2020.

“Come the evening the street lamps would illuminate the narrow houses, it became a theatrical set, and in some ways it is as if you have gone back in time… “

S’Estaca, Mallorca
Autumn 2020 to Winter 2021

Leaving London in the summer of 2020 Simonon travelled to Mallorca intending to focus entirely on his painting and live in isolation. He was lent the use of a room in the fishing village of S’Estaca on the rugged, north coast of the island. With less than ten houses, no shop or bar and one fisherman (who was also the self-appointed Mayor), the remote location seemed an ideal spot to work. He brought his materials and supplies, moving there in October 2020 and staying until the end of the following year. Commenting on his daily routine he remarked “…in some ways it doesn’t matter where you are…you do a lot of exploring in your mind when you are on your own.”.

Solitude alone wasn’t enough: “it was such a pretty place I didn’t really see anything I wanted to paint.”. Then one evening, walking along the coast one he came across a bay with the moon rising over it and he began to paint the night view, inadvertently finding a continuity with his Paddington street paintings from the spring. After this, he continued painting daily, often working late into the evening. Describing S’Estaca he says, “it was lost in time and like being on the edge of the world…the weather would change constantly and you’d see rainclouds getting closer. The waves beat below the buildings and you felt alive.”

Alongside the paintings, will be shown a series of figure carvings made from driftwood and logs found along the edge of the bay.


John Martin Gallery, 38 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4JG. See on map