Rising from the flames: Bermudian artist Lexy Correia with Déjon Simmons and her portrait, which has made it into the Royal Society of Portrait Painters exhibit. *Photo by Dion Correia

Bermudian artist Lexi Correia has been accepted into the Royal Society of Portrait Painters annual exhibit with her painting of burns victim Déjon Simmons.

The painting of Simmons, who survived a horrific traffic accident in 2004 sustaining burns over 90 per cent of his body, is titled The Phoenix.

Correia is likely to be the first Bermudian to have been accepted — organizers could not confirm by press time, though resident artist Jacqueline Alma has been selected in the past. 

Correia told the Bermuda Sun: “As soon as I saw this competition, I knew right away who I wanted to paint. I do like to challenge myself and I felt I could do justice to Dejon’s uniqueness. 

“Like many of my paintings, I had planned the kind of painting I wanted to do and I had a few conversations with Déjon as to what direction he felt the painting should go… if I should show the humorous side of his personality or the serious side. 

“The photo shoot made that decision for me. There were three shots that grabbed my attention. To me, the picture chosen says so much with just the look. Having spoken to Déjon on a myriad of subjects, including his accident and the subsequent years after the accident, I felt that the deeper issues that resulted from the accident all seem to culminate in this ‘look’. I also really liked the dark shading that was in there which allowed for some dramatic shadows.”

Correia painted the portrait in mische — an old masters’ technique using egg tempera and oils. Due to the painting process, it took her a few months just to get the first two layers accomplished and she then worked on the painting for about six months. 

Simmons said he was “stunned” by the artist’s talent. “I wasn’t really too focused on watching the process of it because I love the end product of a painting, kind of like being in awe of a magician, but not knowing how he created the illusion. 

“When I finally saw it, in my mind I was like “wow”, speechless even. I have gotten used to seeing my body, my scars but to see someone attempt to capture them is beauty in itself. Lexy’s painting is surreal to me — the way she played with the lighting and depth of certain scarring on my body.”

Correia is hoping to attract sponsorship to help pay for her travel to the UK with Simmons. She has already found sponsors to transport the painting (BWS BOSS) and framing (private individual). “I’m so appreciative of these sponsors and their support of not only the arts in Bermuda but of me, as a Bermudian artist. We can only get recognized overseas by getting our work overseas and it’s not always a financially easy thing to achieve. I would love to win one of the few prizes offered but more than anything, I just want to make Bermuda proud of a home-grown artist who will be representing the island to the best of my ability. I urge other local artists to look into their specific medium or genre-related competitions overseas. I feel that for us to grow and become better, we need to compete with the best in the world.” 

To see more of Correia’s work, visit her website at www.artoflexy.com