Special Holidays in Simrane
Among Simrane core values, we cherish craftsmanship and art.
This winter, we are happy to unveil an exclusive collaboration with American artist Julia Felsenthal.
She reinterpreted 5 prints from our latest collection and we created a very limited edition of 30 greeting cards sets.
Through this project and many more, we keep building and strengthening relationships between Simrane and artists, in a symbiotic dialogue. Celebrating our 50th anniversary, we are true to the original spirit of Simrane: offering you a collection of timeless textile creations, where one can always see the delicate signature of the designer and the craftsperson. We know how much this know-how is increasingly precious, our mission is to make sure it is passed on.
Julia Felsenthal answered our questions and shared with us her inspirations and told us about her artistic journey.
What are your inspirations as a person, as an artist? Do you have some artists that helped you find the way of your practice or any experts in other domains?
I am a very stubborn person and for decades I declined to paint anything other than people (my all-time favorite artist is the late, great portraitist Alice Neel) Then two things happened. First, I wrote an essay about the master flower painter Jane Freilicher and saw the way she transformed these potentially banal still lives into something quite marvelous and psychological (much like Alice Neel turned the tradition of portraiture inside out ). Then the pandemic hit, and my access to new faces dried up. Now I think of my paintings as portraits of flowers. Like people, flowers are frustratingly complex.
What are the things you cannot live without for your practice? Are they some objects that are key for you like totems?
These paintings are maximalist fantasies that mash up patterns every which way. I like that they cut against the grain of moderation or good taste, and say something about how universal our desire is to find new ways of depicting the same kinds of subjects. I love things and I’m an inveterate and indiscriminate collector of the decorative arts. The paintings are odes to the bric a brac i constantly pick up from thrift and antique shops and flea markets. They’ve given me an excuse to buy every bit of chipped china that catches my eye. My only metric is: would this look good in a painting?
“I think of my paintings as portraits of flowers. Like people, flowers are frustratingly complex.”
What drove you to watercolor?
I painted a bit with acrylic in high school, but otherwise watercolor—and more recently gouache—has always been my thing. I like that it’s portable and direct. Very little stands between me and starting a painting. I haven’t taken an art class since I was a teenager, and though I had a wonderful painting teacher in high school, I consider myself mostly self-taught. I have been told repeatedly that I do not use watercolors in the way they’re meant to be used; I wouldn’t know how. I’ve sort of bent them to my will.
Do you cook, or make tables, make decor? What are the things that nurture your inspiration through your daily life?
I am a disinterested cook but a devoted decorator (lucky for me I married a great cook who tolerates my constant tweaking of the furnishings). My surroundings absolutely nurture my inspiration. This summer, owing to the pandemic, I began to spend a lot more time by the sea in Massachusetts, and that led me to begin an ongoing series of water paintings. The flower paintings are very interior, though, and that has an effect too. I spend entirely too much time and energy thinking about how to create spaces that are conducive to my own creativity. I find a lot of romance in antique, handmade objects, and the way they create portals to the past. I think objects must be at least a little bit haunted by their makers and past owners. I love things that are beautiful, but I’m equally drawn to things that are a little bit demented in their idiosyncrasy, that clearly originated as someone’s weird pet project. Surrounding myself with other people’s obsessions helps me justify my own.
Why did you find in Simrane a brand you have some affinity with?
I’ve always been drawn to the way block printed fabrics embrace a certain degree of imperfection. You can see the hand of the printer, the slight misalignments. They have a graphic, playful quality that feels in tune with how I paint. Simrane’s patterns are lovely and intricate, and the color palettes are gorgeous. What’s not to like?
Julia Felsenthal, 37, is a writer and painter who splits her time between Brooklyn, New York and Orleans, Massachusetts. Her Instagram account is @Julesandbinoculars.