New York

William Copley

Iolas Gallery

No mistake be made, William Copley is quite clear about the matter of our country’s birth. Not confident that the sacred cows have been brought to the slaughter enough times already, he takes each of our national heros and myths and subjects them to a raunchy replay. Copley knows that to be subtle would be coy, and also overlooked. He had an all-blue painting with dark blue block lettering reading DON’T FIRE UNTIL YOU SEE THE WHITES OF THEIR EYES. It was a good pun and a good painting which not-so-incidentally poked fun at the one-color canvas school of painting. Other paintings with obvious messages assailed such myths as Betsy Ross, who does a striptease with the newly created American flag right off a quite modern Singer; some heroic eagles with W.C. Fieldsian epigrams; firecrackers glued to a “July 5” painting; and a George Washington slightly drunk with a red nose. On a rather impressionistically dappled field arises the infamous signature “John Hancock,” oversized and important. It points up the immodesty of a certain kind of name-fetish. His nose-thumbing adolescent sense of humor is complemented by a cartoony painting style which feeds off, and makes fun of, many art traditions of this century. It’s all very evil in a playful way—like upsetting a very patriotic third-grade teacher. Copley has been quoted as saying that the Bicentennial is not a time for thinking, but time for a party. His crude satirical paintings suggest an unsophisticated sophomore Dada cabaret ending in a drunken brawl and orgy. One painting is titled “My Fatherland Can Fuck Your Motherland.”

Jeff Perrone