Award-winning young Italian artist Riccardo Prosperi, otherwise known as SIMAFRA, has made a name for himself with his dream-like, textural, abstract expressionist landscapes. His work is collected by celebrities, royals and adorns luxury venues across the world. Simafra can be found gracing the walls of Cameron Diaz’s New York apartment, the private residence of The Royal Prince of Qatar and is a regular feature within The Ciprani Group. His dreamy landscapes have been exhibited internationally in galleries in Paris, Berlin, Istanbul, Rome, Florence and London as well as featuring on international film sets. A favourite with the interior design community, this January solo exhibition at Maddox Gallery, his first London solo show, will feature new, previously unseen works. The London exhibition is in association with Bellini Cipriani, the original Harry’s Bar cocktail, which will be served at the private view on 26th January.
Originally from Florence, Simafra has been painting professionally since 2000. He began honing his skills at a well-respected Florentine studio, mastering the craft and skill behind classical art restoration. He went on to develop his own work and recognizable style and has since managed to amass a strong following with collectors and celebrities and has become a much sought after name in the luxury interior design-led art world.
Simafra produces his work at his self-founded studio in a converted warehouse in the centre of Florence. The studio is located in The Oltrarno, the creative neighbourhood of Florence, where most of the artisans ‘botteghe’ and artist’s studios are based. The studio also doubles up as a collective artist studio, gallery space and independent culture center. Simafra practices a strict routine here, “I need to lock myself in my studio, isolating myself from everything and immersing in a deep silence. Inspiration comes from my inner self, and hence I start to associate images and colours.” This routine and intense method of working is necessary for him to produce the minute levels of detail and ‘layering’ methods which can be observed throughout his work.
Nature and the environment have always provided Simafra with sources of inspiration but are particularly prevalent in his upcoming exhibition, Eden. Simafra comments the inspiration for the show came about at a recent installation he was working on in Florence.
“I started thinking about nature when I was working on the site-specific installation at the Biagiotti Progetto Arte Foundation. The installation recreates a fictional jungle, where a real car is eaten by the jungle itself: the aim of the work is to reflect on the regenerating power of nature. During the installation, I came across a number of images of gardens, flowers and animals, that led me to the ‘Eden’ theme.”
“Along with this natural theme, my paintings are meant to reflect on the eternal fight within good and evil, as suggested to me by our society. This theme is ancient and yet extant, just like my painting, that aims to be timeless”. This concept of creating ‘timeless’ works of art, present in Simafra’s exploration of the eternal power of nature and the fight between the man-made and natural world, can also be seen in the artistic sources he draws references from.
Simafra has cited a range of influences for his work, spanning time periods and movements from English romantic painter William Turner to the more contemporary natural observations of Peter Doig. Observing his rich use of colour and spontaneous mark making we can also note the strong influences of the great Italian abstract expressionist painters Afro Basaldella and Alberto Burri. The use of gold combined with layered textures has also drawn comparisons with Klimt.
Simafra’s gold infused paintings provide a much coveted touch of luxury with which to adorn galleries, film sets, venues and more intimate interior spaces, as can be seen in the front cover of ‘Elle Decor’.