Artist David Coyle’s work currently shows at Gallery 40000 on Peoria Street—we caught up with him to discuss his work.
Your show at Gallery 40000 has both painting and video. What’s behind your choices for the characters in your video: the ape, the wizard and the tin man?
The video starts out with a shot of an amp on which I’m playing the opening song from “2001: A Space Odyssey”: “Thus Spoke Zarathustra.” Next the three faces enter, the ape, the wizard and the tin man, saying “I’m sorry Dave I can’t do that.” Then the third part is the wizard writing “OK” on the wall with spray paint. I think of them as modes of operating; the ape is the primitive, the wizard it the mystical and the tin man is the automaton. The wizard ends up telling us that everything is OK. So I think it’s optimistic!
Your paintings reference a wide variety of art-historical sources. They seem to imitate high abstract styles without actually reaching them, as in “Untitled (Why)” or “and then there was once…,” because the artist behind them seems anxious or jittery. Are you?
I’m definitely jittery! This is an ongoing issue in my own practice. I’ve never really been interested in serial or iterative paintings, a traditional series. I am interested in trying to find agency, meaning and value within my own practice. As an artist I would like to feel that I could bring everything into my studio with me and critically look at it. The commonality between all of the work is that they are trying to find stability through a relationship to history or to an authoritative mythological icon, like the pope or vampires. There is an ethical play in the work, where the paintings are trying to be meaningful in the face of failure and futility at the same time. I want to feel like I have some kind of purpose or agency in the world because eventually we’re going to die.
That’s for sure…
I’m trying to get to a place where I can bring all of my life into my studio instead of aligning my work with some external theoretical construct. When you do that and you go in your studio then you have to leave everything else outside except that construct. I’m trying to leave the door of my studio open. (Dan Gunn)
David Coyle shows at Gallery 40000, 119 North Peoria #2C, (312)738-0179, through December 29.