The works of Hans Jürgen Simon (°1940, Lauban, Germany) are not easy to categorize. They are partially sculptures and partially collages. The German artist exclusively works with printed newspaper or magazine paper that he tears, cuts or folds into small strips and subsequently glues together again with synthetic resin to create a new three-dimensional shape. Hans Jürgen Simon is not a conceptual artist who starts from the content of the printed media or a social vision on communication, but an artist who is intrigued by the mass element of newspapers and magazines, and by the almost serial result created from this. Through deformation and transformation processes, Hans Jürgen Simon makes the mass medium ‘newspaper’ to a meta medium, which is art.
It is striking how organic these compositions come across, not only because of the shapes that clearly refer to natural elements, such as capsules of wasp nests or spores of fungi, but also because of the used material. Originating from trunks in turn, the recycled printed paper shows “washed” colors that are clearly close to nature. The tectonics and structure of the surface is tied to geological processes such as erosion and sedimentation, created by the influence of water and wind. Reference to Land Art is not hard to find. Hans Jürgen Simon’s works are clearly connected to Minimal Art, because of the obvious abstraction and harmony. The combination of the serene shapes of the work itself with the sometimes very busy lettering creates a contrast of rest and movement. In the newly created artistic construction the meaning of typography changes – the function of title, subtitle and text is lost; they become graphic elements defining the structure of the work.
Additionally, there are clear links to other collage artists, not in the first place Matisse, whose recent exhibition on collages at the Tate Modern was extremely successful, but also a Dadaistic artist such as Kurt Schwitters. The use of trivial and ephemeral material refers in turn to the Arte Povera. The reuse of newspapers and magazines reminds us of the Antwerp artist Denmark, who opposed to the ceaseless flow of information in the printed media by rebuilding huge stacks of newspapers, magazines or books to sculptural installations. Also the Korean Kim Chun Hwan, who lives and works in Paris, uses recycled paper to construct large vertical works.
The work of Hans Jürgen Simon was already on display at various group and solo exhibitions among which Kunsthalle Osnabrück, Germany; Gut Ostenwalde, Melle, Germany; Kloster/Schloss Bentlage, Germany; Centrum voor beeldende kunst Enschede, Netherlands; Neuer Kunstverein, Aschaffenburg, Germany; Oerlingerhauser Kunstverein, Germany; Papier Biënnale, Museum Rijswijk, Netherlands and CODA Museum Apeldoorn, Netherlands. The work is included in the permanent collection of Kunsthalle Osnabrück in Germany.