Fred Coppin, A Well-Constructed Treehouse

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12 Northgate Chichester West Sussex PO19 1BA

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Drum solos. Conversational table tennis. The smell of smoke in an outdoor European bar. Sleight-of-hand magic. People eating incredibly spicy things (see Mikey vs scotch bonnet, Big Brother 2008). Distant dog barks at night. The piano intro to Outkast 'Roses'. A well-worn painter's jacket. Watering a clay tennis court. Not being bothered about getting a tan. Tan lines. The functional beauty of an Estwing hammer. Olympic gymnastic floor routines. French accents. Japanese knives. Mexican beers. Sci-fi films at precisely the right level of head fuck. An unexpected palm tree. The first two pints. A confident thumbs-up. Seasons. Iconic Tour De France mountain stages. The card game Janeve. Animals that can change colour. The momentary mystery of seeing unknown people arrive home. Tales of prison breaks. Chairs: Directors, Umpires, Stackable. Overnight snow. Ponytails (on almost anyone). Invincible house plants. A well constructed tree house, …Powder blue budgies. Holding a pencil behind your ear. Futuristic music equipment I would never understand how to use. Plant-packed conservatories. Pisco Sours. A swimming pool all to yourself. Promenades. Well-considered lighting at a house party. Fleeting moments when running doesn’t feel quite as hard work. New music that hits first time. Soppy dogs. Getting an early night in a camper van. Old archive footage of artist’s studios. Holiday showers. The smell of carpentry workshops. The smell of Notting Hill Carnival. Twinkly hilltop lights viewed from a balcony. People’s bathroom paraphernalia. Winding on a film camera. Secret doors…

Inspired by Bill Nighy’s contribution to a book of essays entitled ‘Modern Delights’, Fred Coppin began compiling a list. A list of things that bring the artist a unique and particular sense of joy. These are the highly personal and pleasingly specific observations of life that bring an acute, if fleeting, sense of happiness. Taking its name from one of the many evocative items on this list, A Well-Constructed Tree House invites us to share in his pleasures and consider what the delights of our own lives might be. From seemingly ordinary objects such as a houseplant or jacket, to very particular but often unassuming sights, sounds or smells, Coppin demonstrates the depth of pleasure that can be attached to the ordinary and offers a personal insight into the things that make him tick. Having already established himself as an artist whose works offer an escape from the everyday - his colour-saturated views of exotic palms, swimming pools and sunbathers invoking the shared optimism of holidays - in this series the artist instead allows us space to escape within the everyday to find those same, small pieces of joy. Perhaps reflective of the inception of these paintings as somewhat ineffable moments of pleasure, there is a pared-back approach to the colour palette and heightened use of abstraction than we have previously seen in Coppin’s work. Sleeping in a camper van, for example, offers a fragmented and distilled view of a landscape, reduced to just three shapes seen through a small window, its curtain pulled back. Here the joy is not just the view, not just the holiday, not just the freedom - but something of the experience as a whole. In Painter’s Jackets, the composition is reduced to its core elements - the traces of a studio, the outline of an artist - whilst the paint splatters have been transposed from the jacket onto the canvas itself, such that they become the main subject of the work. A rigorous planner who delves deep into reference imagery when developing his compositions, the influence of many great British artists are visible in Coppin’s paintings, from the saturated blues and long shadows of Promenade reminiscent of David Hockney, to the 6

Francis Bacon-like deconstruction of figurative form used to portray movement in Drum Solos. But it is the great post-war, American artist, Richard Diebenkorn, who Coppin finds himself returning to again and again. Of his practice, Diebenkorn once said “all paintings start out of a mood, out of a relationship with things or people, out of a complete visual impression”. And it is this sentiment that rings particularly true of Coppin’s latest body of work, in which it is very much the representation of a certain feeling that is the focus, rather than the objects or figures in themselves. In Pisco Sours, for example, there is a heady surrealism imparted by the patterned jackets, exaggerated hands and visible traces of the figures as they have been developed on the canvas, such that it is very much the pleasure derived from drinking that tells the story, rather than the drinkers themselves. Over the last few years, Coppin has been on quite a journey. From far-flung travels to the slower pace of new parenthood, he has become increasingly aware of the sensitivity of time. Thinking about his own list of delights has been an eye-opening process that has allowed the artist a greater appreciation of what he describes as the “small wins” in life that should not be left to pass by unnoticed. As an artist who believes that paintings can contribute a very tangible means for people to connect with their own happiness, what this exhibition demonstrates most beautifully is that if one delves deeper, past the ubiquitous or clichéd moments that people cite as life’s pleasures, one can find happiness in so much of the everyday. And, at over eighty items on his own list and counting, it is clear that Coppin will continue to find joy and inspiration in the world around him for some time yet. Essay by Isabella Joughin





Museo, 2023 Oil on linen 150 x 125 cm 11

Allez, 2023 Oil on linen 105 x 140 cm 12

Shade Bathing, 2023 Oil on linen 120 x 95 cm 13

An Unexpected Palm, 2023 Oil on linen 120 x 85 cm 14

Drum Solo, 2023 Oil on linen 75 x 105 cm 15

Promenade, 2023 Oil on linen 100 x 80 cm 16

Hilltop Lights, 2023 Oil on linen 100 x 80 cm 17

Aquarius, 2023 Oil on linen 75 x 100 cm 18

Solo Swim, 2023 Oil on linen 100 x 75 cm 19

Seasons, 2023 Oil on linen 95 x 95 cm 20

The Invincible House Plant, 2023 Oil on linen on panel 100 x 50 cm 21

Holiday Shower, 2023 Oil on linen 80 x 60 cm 22

A Well Constructed Treehouse, 2023 Oil on linen 80 x 60 cm 23

Watering A Clay Tennis Court, 2023 Oil on linen 80 x 65 cm 24

Tan Lines, 2023 Oil on linen on panel 30 x 81 cm 25

Distant Dog Barks, 2023 Oil on linen on panel 61 x 91 cm 26

Suit Energy, 2023 Oil on linen on panel 91 x 61 cm 27

Painters Jacket, 2023 Oil on linen 75 x 60 cm 28

Pisco Sours, 2023 Oil on linen on panel 61 x 45 cm 29

New Sounds, 2023 Oil on linen on panel 61 x 51 cm 30

Seeing You Arrive Home, 2023 Oil on linen on panel 76 x 76 cm 31

The Smell Of Smoke In An Outdoor European Bar, 2023 Oil on linen on panel 61 x 61 cm 32

Budgies, 2023 Oil on linen on panel 61 x 61 cm 33

Conservatory Green, 2023 Oil on linen on panel 61 x 61 cm 34

Overnight Snow, 2023 Oil on linen on panel 61 x 50 cm 35

Sci Fi, 2023 Oil on linen on panel 61 x 50 cm 36

House Party, 2023 Oil on linen on panel 61 x 50 cm 37

Sleeping In A Campervan, 2023 Oil on linen on panel 51 x 51 cm 38

Ponytail, 2023 Oil on linen on panel 51 x 51 cm 39

The Olympics, 2023 Oil on linen on panel 51 x 40 cm 40

French Accent, 2023 Oil on linen on panel 51 x 40 cm 41

Sleight Of Hand, 2023 Oil on linen on panel 51 x 40 cm 42

Analog, 2023 Oil on linen on panel 51 x 40 cm 43

Estwing, 2023 Oil on linen on panel 40 x 31 cm 44

Pencil Behind Ear, 2023 Oil on panel 20 x 20 cm 45

Padel Players, 2023 Gouache & pencil 45 x 30 cm (68 x 51 cm framed) 46

Study For Solo Swim, 2023 Gouache & pencil 45 x 30cm (68 x 51 cm framed) 47

South Of France, 2023 Gouache & mixed media 60 x 54 cm (74 x 58 cm framed) 48

Study For Pisco Sours, 2023 Gouache & pencil 40 x 30 cm (52 x 42 cm framed) 49

Education: 2009 – 2011 BA (Hons) Fine Art, Oxford Brookes Selected Exhibitions 2022 - ‘Light Speed’ solo show - Candida Stevens Gallery, Cromwell Place, London - London Art Fair - Candida Stevens Gallery 2021 - 'Pressing Matters' group show, curated by Pavement Licker - 'Thinking Out Loud' solo show presented by Paul Smith - '1 Large: 2 small' group show, Candida Stevens Gallery - London Art Fair - Candida Stevens Gallery 2020 - 'Towards The Light' solo show - Candida Stevens Gallery - 'Isolated Observations' group show - Candida Stevens Gallery 2019 - Arts Depot Open, London - 'A Very Small Cactus & Other Studies' solo show - Islington, London - 'Pavement Licker' group show - Portland Place, London 2018 - Royal Institute Of Oil Painters Exhibition Annual Exhibition at Mall Galleries, London - 'Angles & Optimism' solo show - Shoreditch London (hosted by Creative Debuts) Awards: - Artist Magazine Award - Royal Institute Of Oil Painters Coverage: 50



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