Todd Mrozinski
Visual Art

Stories of My Life

Hoax Gallery presents self-portraits by Vincent Coleman-Copeland, a mail man and artist.

By - Jun 18th, 2019 05:22 pm
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Self Portrait by Vincent Coleman-Copeland.

Self Portrait by Vincent Coleman-Copeland.

For the rest of the month, Hoax Gallery houses the paintings of 2014 MIAD graduate Vincent Coleman-Copeland. Raw emotion infuses these paintings. On the main gallery wall we see six paintings, five of which have matte black backgrounds and one, the smallest in the show, has a background that glows like the moon. This particular painting is a small self-portrait: Coleman-Copeland wears a red cap and beaming smile. It is full of expressive brushwork, a complex painterly surface with areas of depth and freshness. The smile is framed by a thin mustache and the shirt is made up of dancing marks conveying the mood of the artist embarking on his journey, full of excitement and possibility. Near this self portrait is a painting of a naked pregnant woman standing with arms raised in front of a full moon; the glow and color match the small self portrait. This show feels like the birth of an artistic life and the realization of the labors of life after college, a situation so many face.

The title of this show, “Not Good with Words”, intrigues me because during the day Coleman-Copeland is a mail carrier, delivering millions of words to awaiting recipients despite his wish to simply do his artwork. He paints this struggle: the smile of the MIAD grad turns to an intense feeling of introspection, of longing which is truthfully conveyed and felt in this exhibition. In the largest piece in the show, “What is the Void Worth?”, we see Coleman-Copeland sitting in the middle of the canvas, gazing into the distance holding his mail carrier bag full of money. From the bottom of the canvas, outstretched hands of his customers and employers hold out clumps of green bills which he seems reluctant about. Oversized clocks float around him in a dreamscape which is heightened by the way the painting is made. Thin layers of color depicting a log cabin, skyscrapers, palm trees and a backward Hollywood sign are pushed to the background by a dry spray paint mist that looks like shooting stars disintegrating.

On the opposite wall is, in essence, the same painting. A self portrait, but this one is stripped of the narrative elements, naked and raw in its emotional intensity. Again, Coleman-Copeland sits in the center of the canvas, but now he looks directly at us in dramatic under lighting, and his body disappears into the darkness of the canvas and merges with the vertical brushstrokes of the void. But in the void lies potential. We see a masterful colorist in a painting like “Her” where hue becomes electrified and tells a story words cannot. A woman sits looking at us through slightly misty glasses; she glows from multiple light sources. The blue and pink of her skin conveys a mood that empowers her. The outline of her hair and face glow with an otherworldly neon aura complimented by golden glasses and earrings. Her hand touches her face and is painted sensitively, reminiscent of the work of American artist Alice Neel in its directness and subtly nuanced simplicity.

On a small wall there is a canvas, unlike the others, with notes written by Coleman-Copeland adhered to the entire surface. They seem to be written to his “higher artist” self as much as to another person. “I dream about and think about you way too much for you not to be in my life” and “Without you I don’t know where I would be. You’re the main person that pushes me to be better.” These are revealing and accentuate the fact that, despite the struggles, these paintings grew out of a passion to create and tell a powerful story that transcends words.

“Not Good With Words” Gallery

“Not Good With Words,” paintings by Vincent Coleman-Copeland, at the Hoax Gallery, 2375 S. Howell Ave. in Bay View, through the month of June.

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