The Drawers -  Billy Copley   Commentary written by Julie Oakes

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 In the early days of Pop art, evidence of the artists hand gradually disappeared from art in favor of techniques of mechanical reproduction. This reinforced the concept of the multiple. Individuality was replaced by mass production.

Fifty years later, artists once again crave the authentic self. A one of a kind approach, recognizing the individual. The unique is once again desirable. The more subjective arrangement of images and surface treatment is the fresh take of Billy Copley's recent works.

Working with pre-painted papers, Copley seldom leaves a flat uninterrupted color field. He uses a rich range of colors that are created with patterns, washes and gradations, transmutations layered and collaged so that each area is unique. This also makes for illusions of depth which in turn allows the push and pull of the picture to be activated.

Within each piece there is a maximum of means and a maximizing of the opportunity to present a surface.
Rather than trying to convince us that there is a distance from the imagery, Copley acknowledges his engagement in the process and thus encourages the subsequent engagement by the viewer.

Copley melds the abstract and subjective with the discipline of an obsessive, precise aesthetic. With freedom to borrow from kitsch and sentimental rag barrels, he snips, pastes, prints, rubs and paints his way into a new corner, a place of no return for there are so many layers of visuals that the process of looking back to the beginning is indeterminate.

Relishing the creative process, there is a lip-smacking tastiness in the riot of elements, recognized and strange, within each work. Elements balance precariously in a circus ring like juggling balls. While these appear to be happy works, there is also something disquieting about them. They scream for attention much like a child at play.

These works however, are mature no matter how loud they scream. Through the Power of visual presence, Copley extracts a varied beauty from the wacky objects and patterns he juxtaposes using styles from hard edge to mottled surfaces, visual treatments that carry braggadocio as if they were developed to wow the viewer.

With a painterly, psychedelic perspective, the foreground competes with the background and the relationship between the visual spaces becomes queered and all the elements fold into each other.
Billy Copley seems to be pushing all of the buttons at once and taking us on a ride that brings forth a thrilling if somewhat queasy jubilation. The imagery propels the precepts of earlier pop art into fast-forward (or perhaps fast-reverse) and this results in giddy interesting work which like the wackiness of Saturday morning cartoons is full of adventurous changes.

So with Copley, his use of the familiar - be it pin-up girl, rose, polka dot or grid becomes new again and creates a sensational pop! For those who get their kicks out of art, it's a rush. Copley gives a lot of energy to the work.

Copyright 2008,  Julie Oakes