In Point of Roughness, a reference to winter solstice, the longest night, Simon Huelsbeck sorts out the monotony of the winter season to reveal images of humor, magic and a touch of foreboding. Huelsbeck’s oil paintings are rendered in classic atelier style, though his work is more than a technically astute portrait or landscape - he incorporates violations: scribbled confessions, doodles and incongruous imagery.

His experience as a parent has provided him with an awareness of the extraordinary in an ordinary life, as simple as finding the subtle nuances of value and color in an overcast sky. It is the brevity of our existence Huelsbeck wants to preserve, capturing what would have been missed. He gives each piece the weight of a revered artifact small enough to hold in one’s hands. The works are encapsulated memories; framed in resin-coated blocks, as though flash frozen in the snow.
— Allison Hiltner, SooVac Gallery Manager

The Point of Roughness is a reference to the Welsh name for the winter solstice. It is the time of year that is the darkest but also is the beginning of the slow transition back to the light and the life that comes with it.

The impetus for this body of work began  with the birth of my first child. I am not surprised that his violent and beautiful entrance into the world would be trans formative for me. But I had not anticipated that his birth would have me become more aware of my own mortality. He was introduced to his extended family at his grandmother’s funeral; she passed nine days before his birth.

Several months later, when I was working in the studio in earnest again, I found myself immersed in the themes of winter and the cycle of life. And so I asked a friend of mine who was diagnosed with a terminal illness if I could record our conversations together. Over the course of this past year he shared the experience of his transition and letting go with awesome generosity and clarity. The imagery from these conversations and his dreams has become embedded into my mind and my work.

The cycle of life has continued to touch us in the relatively short period of time that I have been making this body of work. Some time ago now my nephew left this world after being in it for three short months. And now my wife and I have had our second child, Stella. I know that these dramas have always been transpiring around me, but not so close to home and with much less awareness and intensity on my part. I have a new fear of letting go. But I find that when I open myself up to it, I am also more wholly present.