Entitled, “Old Glory”, the show makes both oblique and specific reference to
‘American’ experiences. In the paintings, various protagonists play out ‘typical’
scenes that are much more than they first appear.

Many of the source images for Copeland’s paintings are culled from vintage
magazines and found photos – anonymous snapshots that are invariably innocent or
wholesome, but whose neutrality or blandness simultaneously allows the artist to
infuse them with the tone of his choosing.
The paintings depict respectable citizens locked in an indeterminate temporal frame –
somewhere between the demure idyll of the 1950s, and the liberation of societal
strictures in the late 60s and 1970s perhaps. Copeland infiltrates their idealized
world with his aggressive but controlled brushwork, showing the unpalatable
realities of sex and death that they would otherwise fail to acknowledge.
It is possible to discern characters young and old, enacting the various rituals or rites
of passage of everyday life – social gatherings, work and leisure activities, playing,
praying – but their faces and expressions are distorted by swirls of heavy expressive
impasto, heightening the narrative ambiguity, and giving rise to the suspicion that
decency is skin-deep and that subversive forces are at work.
Please contact the gallery for further information.

John Copeland

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