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London – An interesting exhibition was John Copeland at the Newport Street Gallery. American artist John Copeland (b. 1976) is for the first time in a solo exhibition in London, UK. The exhibition ‘Your Heaven Looks Just Like My Hell’ features twenty-five paintings, spanning from 2009 to 2017 – all coming from Hirst’s Murderme collection.
In the middle of real depiction and abstraction, the work of Copeland is in oil and acrylic paint with a tangible, impasto surfaces. The artist is caught up with ‘any arrangement that involves interaction between the figures’, and frequently uses social settings to locates his subjects, such as around a table, playfully balanced on one another’s shoulders, or surveying a painting as a group. The figures remain, however, very indefinite, and are placed against abstract backgrounds full of curious shapeless figures, frequently underlined by pairs or mirrored human forms. His work refers to Expressionism and Pop.
Copeland’s habitual use of recognizable art historical motifs – the nude, the table and the skull, for example – allow him to investigate the complications inherent to image-making and representation. He illustrates the content of the canvases as a ‘starting point for a conversation or a digression… like a riddle or a bit of a poem [that] raises questions that aren’t really answerable’. He works from a plethora of found sources, usually photographic; mid twentieth-century magazine cut-outs, Americana and biker imagery among others. His work is, in large part, an exploration of the ‘act of looking’. He states: ‘I’m concerned with the dynamic between surface and undercurrent, myths and realities. All of my work plays with the act of viewing and being aware of the act of viewing, in terms of our collective visual culture and the images we see with every day.’
John Copeland was born in California in 1976, and went on to attend the California College of the Arts, and in 1998 he received his BFA. Recent solo exhibitions include: ‘Wolves Wait At Your Door’, V1 Gallery, Copenhagen (2016); ‘You’ll Never Be The Same’, Galleria Marabini, Bologna, Italy (2012); and ‘Old Glory’, Nicholas Robinson Gallery, New York (2009).
Recent group exhibitions include: ‘Nude’, V1 Gallery, Copenhagen (2017); ‘The Brask Collection meets Willumsen’, J.F. Willumsens Museum, Frederikssund, Denmark (2017); ‘Salon Djurhuus’, Munkeruphus, Denmark (2016); ‘Bad Painting’, John Copeland & Katherine Bernhardt, V1 Gallery at Spinnerei, Leipzig, Germany (2013); ‘Summer Reading’, The Hole, New York (2013); ‘Hell Raisers’, Galerie Lange + Pult, Zurich, Switzerland (2012); ‘Wonder Works, Master Works from Private Danish Collections’, The Museum Of Modern Art Aalborg, Denmark (2012).
The artist lives and works in New York City, apparently he is not an eminent figure in his home country. Also it is not known if he is represented by a gallery in the US. Copeland is born in California. He is represented by a gallery in Denmark, but not, apparently, by one in his own country.
At the top floor of the Newport Street Gallery, London, John Copeland exhibition “Your Heaven Looks Just Like My Hell” is running from 21st February until 28th May 2018.