This month’s works on paper features the iconic series of altered magazine covers from the Brooklyn-based painter John Copeland (born 1976, US). First exhibited in Answers to Questions I Never Asked at V1 Gallery in 2012, the magazine series highlights Copeland’s ongoing practice of détournement. Inspired by Abstract Expressionism, Art Informel, and maybe most obviously Situationist Internationale’s 1960s formal experiments, Copeland reroutes and subverts the meaning of “The Most Iconic Photographs of All Time”. Comprised of LIFE, Easyriders, and Playboy magazines, collected, found, or purchased at swap meets, altered with his gestural touches, Copeland has created a significant tactile series of paintings on paper.
In the most compelling example Untitled (2012), Copeland transforms the cover-girl, actress Elizabeth Taylor, seated with her Academy Award, smoking a slim cigarette (LIFE Magazine April 28, 1961), into a grotesque imagery, altering her face into a garish mask. “They will come and they will go. Bottomless cavern”, it says, painted in a zine-aesthetic font. Shattering social and cultural conventions, the series questions the power of visual communication within modern consumer society.
“Copeland’s work is informed by a long lineage of art, while maintaining a confident independence that enables it to work outside the confines of contemporary art. It speaks to us directly. Simultaneously bold and fragile. A poetic and visceral visual language that connects us.” – Gallery Director Jesper Elg says.
Acrylic on antique magazine covers
In smoked oak wood frame
with true colour glass
48 x 38.5 cm
Signed by the artist