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Joe Coleman and The Shadow Self

October 25 – December 21, 2019

The Book of Revelations, Take Two, 2019, Acrylic on wood panel with painted frame and fabric 
Hellhound on My Trail, 1995, Acrylic on panel
A Doorway to Joe, 2010, Acrylic on wood panel
A Doorway to Whitney, 2015, Acrylic on panel
Swift Runner and the Colonialist Windigo Effect, 2017-2018, Acrylic on wood panel with wood/resin frame and period artifacts
I Am Joe's Fear of Disease, 2001, Acrylic on panel, with the artist's used medical paraphernalia, mounted on the artist's hospital gown
A New York Pirate (A Portrait of Albert Hicks), 1997, Acrylic on panel, mounted on shirt worn by Elmo Patrick Sonnier during his execution
As You Look into the Eye of the Cyclops, So the Eye of the Cyclops Looks into You, 2003, Acrylic on masonite, mixed media console, audio soundtrack, mounted on smoking jacket worn in film Scarlet Diva, TV set knobs, magnifying lens from the artist's gradfather's TV set
King Khan, 2019, Acrylic on panel with subject's necklace and traditional Indian trim
As You Look into the Eye of the Cyclops, So the Eye of the Cyclops Looks into You, 2003 (painting only), Acrylic on masonite
Old Man Brown, 1995, Acrylic on panel, mounted on exploded American flag
Sammy Town, 2016, Acrylic on panel
A Scab Vendor Contemplates Narcisa, 2015, Acrylic on found triptych icon
The Holy Saint Adolf II [Adolf Wölfli], 1995, Acrylic on panel
Adam Parfrey: A Feral Man in a Feral Land, 2019, Acrylic on wood panel with painted frame and fabric from subject's garment
Joe Coleman and The Shadow Self
Joe Coleman and The Shadow Self
Joe Coleman and The Shadow Self
Joe Coleman and The Shadow Self
Joe Coleman and The Shadow Self
Joe Coleman and The Shadow Self
Joe Coleman and The Shadow Self
Joe Coleman and The Shadow Self
Joe Coleman and The Shadow Self

Joe Coleman and The Shadow Self surveys the past twenty-five years of the artist’s degenerate and deviant portraiture. Coleman's subjects are at once subjective and self-reflexive; contemplations of the other as reflections of his own identity and abiding sense of humanity. Whether self-portraits, depictions of his friends or— with the greatest affection, his wife and muse Whitney Ward— or invocations of infamy like the insurrectionist abolitionist John Brown, the medieval composer Carlo Gesualdo, who murdered his wife and her lover and then put them on display, or Swift Runner, the Cree hunter, who when facing starvation as a result of the alien European extinction of the buffalo murdered and cannibalized his family, Coleman’s art is painted with an impassioned degree of love and understanding that is rare and somewhat reviled in the profession of fine art.

Emerging in the downtown New York scene of the Late Seventies and Early Eighties, a time and place where all manner of transgression seeped into the zeitgeist across myriad domains—most notably underground film,

 music and club-based performance art— Joe Coleman was fundamental to the great push towards the extremes of expression before the dawn of the culture wars, when what had been a relatively private subcultural conversation became public and politicized. Coleman does not dabble in taboo, he dives deep into the forbidden, an ongoing investigation into the darkness within all our hearts.

Brimming with biographical and autobiographical anecdotes and executed with the painstaking precision of a single hair paintbrush, these portraits exude a supreme act of empathy, like some multifaceted societal communion. The great affection Joe Coleman invests in his portraits is only superseded by a kind of reverence, a faith and a fetish that is ultimately spiritual, seeking transcendence within transgression.

Coleman’s art has been exhibited worldwide including solo exhibitions at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art (Berlin, 2010), the Palais de Tokyo (Paris, 2007) and Jack Tilton Gallery (New York, 2006). His appearances in film and television include « Lower East Side » on Anthony Bourdain’s CNN series  Parts Unknown (2018), Julian Hobbs’ Memoirs of My Nervous Illness (2006) and Asia Argento’s Scarlet Diva (2001).

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