Delight is the variety of gratification which suffuses and vivifies every inch of Nicolas Lambelet Coleman's paintings. This is by design. It is a cultivated delight, consciously developed and sustained by the artist - a delight in the materials he uses in combination with the subjects he chooses to capture. This is no small feat. It is not simple or even natural to find beauty in ordinary things. This exhibition is a testament to Coleman's capacity to make exquisite, decorative order out of otherwise mundane subjects. There is no object, animate or otherwise, in a Coleman canvas that has not been lavished with attention. (Consider, for example, the delicious texture of the floor wood panels in "Elijah" or the ridges which make up the pant leg in "The Idiot.") The choices that he makes, his compositions, his colors, how he renders certain shapes, the thickness and wetness of his paint, all are made with one objective: to create an image the entirety of which is consistently beautiful and interesting. Representation is not his goal. He is not trying to recreate the universe in which we live: he is instead building his own universe, a universe which is the product of his peculiar, intimate relationship with his medium. His people are not made of flesh and blood. They are made of paint.
Like Matisse, an artist with whom Coleman shares a painterly sensuousness and capacity for decoration, he was markedly influenced by time spent in Morocco. His previous series of paintings, sketched during and then executed after a trip to that country, captured the peculiar, complex beauty of the region.
In that series Coleman translated the colors and patterns of the Maghreb into his own painterly vernacular. Each of those canvases contain such rich variety it is almost surprising that they are not crowded - the same calm pervades those paintings as pervades the ones in this exhibition. Thankfully, upon Coleman's return to America he did not find the comparative aesthetic lack impoverishing (natural beauty can spoil an artist). Instead, he set himself the task of seeking out beauty in the mundane. The fruit of that assignment hangs before you. Savor it.
- Celeste Marcus
Nicolas Lambelet Coleman (b. 1998, North Carolina), currently lives and works in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He holds a BA in visual art and political science from Duke University. Coleman had a solo exhibition at Steve Turner (Los Angeles, CA) in 2022 and his work was also included in group exhibitions at Galerie Hussenot (Paris, France) and Foreign Agent (Lausanne, Switzerland).