Beauty awakens the soul to act
Maggie Simonelli : ARTIST in the Studio filmed and photographed by Nousha Salimi
Maggie Simonelli’s artwork embraces the feminine, highly decorative style, and handmade sensuality of touch in the rich and beautiful materiality of her paintings that speaks of love, romantic mythology, nature, and beauty. Simonelli continues on themes from Gift of Venus, Vera Conversazione d’Amore, and Meditations : Wind & Grasses series to invoke the nature of love. Simonelli says "I am a Seeker of Beauty and Spirituality in Nature. Painting is a meditation on Nature, a reflection of the Garden of our inner world and the surrounding beauty of Earth, the Garden of Eden."
Simonelli refers to her paintings as "Lipstick Paintings" creating the handmade paints with pigments in cosmetic grade beeswax using her inventive and original style of encaustic technique, including elements like cosmetics as well as historical pigments. Simonelli has always been known for her use of unique materials as well as symbolism drawing us into a story in the paintings that although abstract speaks to the essence of our being, our nature as humans and particularly of love, both sacred and romantic.
Simonelli's "slow-tech" process combines hand drawn and carved metal in many layers of beeswax interlacing 24 kt. gold, colored silver and oxidizing copper leafs between layers of handmade paints. The beeswax paints are made in the studio from historic exotic materials including crushed coral + glass pigments from Japan, Chinese Cinnabar , Lapis Lazuli from Afghanistan and Arabian Malachite. The paintings are constructed interlacing details by carving into the surface of the wax using ceramic carving tools. The layering of metals creates an opalescent effect of shimmering light between the surfaces of colored wax. Playing on the theme of feminine beauty, Simonelli finishes the paintings by applying beautiful colors from cosmetics like CHANEL, Dolce & Gabbana, Bobbi Brown, and MAC with special make up brushes and incorporating the titles of the cosmetics to play into her story. It is this pursuit of playfulness and joy along with sensuality of the materials that is Simonelli's passion.
"I love including elements like real seawater, bee pollen, essential oils like lotus and sandalwood, and creating colors made out of precious materials like lapis lazuli, Chinese cinnabar and Arabian malachite." Colors and materials take on symbolic meaning in her created language of romantic mythology.
I love including elements like crushed pearls and cosmetics : CHANEL Passion lipstick, DIOR Blue Lagoon eye shadow, and Dolce & Gabbana Bacio blush. Nature plays into my materials with use of real sea water from Byblos, bee pollen, oxidizing copper leaf. Japanese coral, indigo, and cochineal (blood of insects), rose oil from Istanbul, gold, and essential oils llke lotus and sandalwood. I combine traditional and contemporary pigments but tend to gravitate to the historic pigments made from precious stones, Lapis Lazuli from Afghanistan, Chinese Cinnabar and Arabian Malachite for their radiant color.
Images from right to left: The artist Maggie Simonelli carving into the turquoise blue wax with a ceramic tool, heating each layer of beeswax with a heat gun, a pot of lapis lazuli ready to be cooked up on the double boiler, a whole layer being carved away just leaving the gold with blue directly underneath, using an X-acto blade to carve the shapes and layering the third layer of gold leaf
"I am an Archeologist discovering and uncovering the many layers carving back to reveal a layer below, an inner world." Her painting process is a devotional contemplation, a communication of beauty of the human spirit through the hand. "I see color and pattern as symbolic elements and painting as nature, as a living communication transcending time."