Los Angeles

John Coleman

Zora Gallery

Here is an expressionist who is not angry. His subjects are those of Die Brucke, rendered harmless by familiarity. We can’t believe that he wants it otherwise. He is energetic, thoughtful, and lots of other things, but not shocking. Coleman is a serious printmaker and printmaking makes contemplators and philosophers, not revolutionaries.

That love of technique bred by printmaking shows in Coleman’s oils. They are realized in value changes. Colors run to earths, warms and an occasional red or blue. For a man showing oils for the first time he reveals an admirable aptitude. Occasionally, as in Studio with Model & Press, a color will go to mud as if he momentarily forgot painting and thought he was inking a plate. He delights in the possibility of bigness in oils, denied in prints, and it is understandable if subjects look blown up on these ambitious canvases.

Coleman’s artistic background is international but his technique reveals, perhaps deceptively, marked interest in local figures. John Paul Jones’ name is closely linked to southern California printmaking, and he has written an appreciation to Coleman’s prospectus. Maybe this is why he seems to appear in the aquatints of Coleman’s prints. Certainly the delicately-wiped color tints of Coleman’s work are distinctive. It may also be fortuitous that the jagged shapes and scumbled whites of Coleman’s painting recall paintings by William Brice. At all events such speculation is only by way of description. Whomever Coleman may admire, he is his own man, a man who may reveal himself most personally in his watercolors, the titles of which are whimsically turn-of-the-century; The Embrace, and Sinister Undertaking. Coleman seems to agree with German vision while finding himself incapable of seeing tragedy in the fact that we are common, vulgar, and undignified.

William Wilson