John Copeland: Your Heaven Looks Just Like My Hell

21 Feb 2018 – 28 May 2018

Newport Street Gallery presents an exhibition of work by American artist John Copeland (b.1976). Copeland’s first UK solo exhibition features twenty-five paintings, dating from 2009 to 2017, taken from the Murderme collection.

Veering between representation and abstraction, Copeland’s paintings feature tactile, impasto surfaces, rendered in oil and acrylic paint. Professing an interest in ‘any arrangement that involves interaction between the figures’, Copeland often situates his subjects in social settings – around a table, playfully balanced on one another’s shoulders, or surveying a painting as a group. The figures remain, however, deeply ambiguous, and are set against abstract backgrounds populated by curious, amorphous shapes. The unnerving quality of the imagery is heightened by the appearance of pairs or mirrored human forms, as in The Bullet Screams Past (2015).

Copeland’s habitual use of familiar art historical motifs – the nude, the table and the skull, for example – allow him to explore the complications inherent to image-making and representation. The Brooklyn-based artist describes 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.’

Coinciding with this show is a solo exhibition of work by British artist Rachel Howard also at Newport Street Gallery.


Special event

On the occasion of his exhibition, artist John Copeland talks with Francesca Gavin. Gavin is the contributing editor at Kaleidoscope, Twin and Sleek as well as the author of six books including ‘Watch This Space’. In 2016 she co-curated Manifesta 11 and was formerly the curator at Soho House Group. This event took place at Newport Street Gallery Tuesday 24 April 2018.

Click here to watch John Copeland in conversation with Francesca Gavin or click on the related video below.


About John Copeland

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.The artist lives and works in New York City.

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).