A sense of Disney dystopia is the first impression that hits you when delving into John Copeland’s realistic distortions of everyday life. Beauty is an illusion. Good deeds are dirty deeds in disguise. Sex is nature, not love. Faith is a means to control man devised by man. After scrutiny, you realize that Copeland depicts the unique in the mundane. We make the world interesting every day - you just have to look a little closer.
By removing the thin layer of supposed perfection applied to life – by us or by others – Copeland paints a picture of the underlying malice, power, joy, carnal lust and make-belief hope. Orgies, drunks, bikers, blind followers, righteous bigots, laughing girls, skulls and faceless men swarm his works. In a distorted blur that seems more life-like than many of the clear-cut images and situations we are presented with every day.
In High Life Copeland explores and mirrors human relations and interactions. Like humans, the works in the exhibition engage in a dialogue, confront or ignore each other. There is a feeling of voyeurism entering the exhibition: are you allowed to watch, who is watching who, what are you looking at, and are you being watched. Abstraction is worked into precise detail only to turn into abstraction again. Dark humor, an eerie suspense and a sincere fascination of the many strange facets of human existence are reoccurring themes in the works.
The feeling emanating from the works is actually not pessimism. They are not looking for a way out. Rather they feel potent, almost romantic. And ready for the absurd ride towards the laughing gallows waiting at the end. To fight for truth, the lack thereof, and hypocrisy in all its deformities. In John’s works the grit is glory and glory is a joke. And one is left behind with the classic question: is the initial repulsiveness in the mirrored world not rather in the eye of the beholder?
High Life is American painter John Copeland’s (1976) first solo exhibition in Denmark. Copeland is part of a younger generation of prolific New York based painters revitalizing the narrative of contemporary painting. V1 Gallery will also present a new solo exhibition by John Copeland at the invitational art fair in New York, Volta Show NY, from March 4th – March 7th. 2010.