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Artist Richard Colman on heavy paintings, causality and his latest exhibition, Misanthrope.

Your past work has been vibrant in color where this exhibition features rather minimal and toned-down color palettes. What brought about this shift?

The black and monochrome hues came from reaching a point where I had to take a break from using tons of different colors in my work. It started as an exercise—working with black, heavy, thick paintings—and ended up captivating me. The exhibition is juxtaposed with monolithic works presented next to the colorful pieces because I wanted to reintroduce myself to working with colors. It’s been a heavy year politically, particularly in the US, so doing monolithic paintings felt appropriate to me. Painting that way is a lot more instinctual and emotional—more immediate—as compared to painting with many colors, which is a more considered way of working.

The pieces in Misanthrope have women as a focal point. Why is this?

Women have always been an incremental part of my work. I grew up with strong female role models surrounding me and they’re the protagonists of my work.

How does the word misanthropy tie in with this exhibition?

The paintings aren’t concerned with the literal meaning of the word but rather derived from a feeling of disconnectedness. I perceive the word to be not as dramatic as the actual definition: It’s not about hatred toward anyone but rather about an asocial perception of feeling disconnected from the world around you as a result of the heavy surroundings. Those surroundings are hard for us to relate to.

"It’s been a heavy year politically, particularly in the US, so doing monolithic paintings felt appropriate to me."

Do you think it’s good for art to have a political side to it?

It’s never been anything that I’ve done in a direct manner. I tend to look inward and derive art from there rather than taking all these things that are going on in the world and basing my work off of that. As a painter, you make things based off of your intuition. The way in which these works relate to the misanthrope is that they’re at once meticulously laid out while still being isolated figures that are interwoven into each piece. Even when there are multiple figures within the same work, they’re still separated from one another.

You began work on the exhibition in August 2016. Would you say that it changed and took form as a result of external events?

Absolutely. The outside world always affects what you make. It’s more pronounced in this instance; the work doesn’t have politics as its focal reference point but it is informed by it.

Is causality a big part of your work?

The act of making something is, to me, causality in itself. You can have a preliminary agenda or purpose to your work, but simply taking the action to bring something new into the world and pursue a life where that’s what you’re doing is causality. I’m always amazed by seeing new art—be it in a museum, a gallery or a flea market—thinking about how somebody made that given work. It’s a unique thing, taking the time to make things that have no tangible purpose. That’s where the causality has its roots.

The exhibition Misanthrope by Richard Colman is on display until May 13th.

V1 Gallery
Flæsketorvet 69-71
1170 Copenhagen K
Denmark

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