Jacob Coppedge’s ‘Dark Corner’ at Off the Kerb

For all the art we have to admire in the world, some of the most fascinating and enrapturing pieces remain to be some of the simplest: drawings. Maybe it’s the rawness of them – the idea that it’s from mind to pencil (or pen) to paper, with little else in-between? That intimacy which is created between an artist and their viewer by communicating a feeling with the very barest of essentials is an oddly seductive one, and Off the Kerb’s latest offering is the perfect example.

246Courtesy of Jacob Coppedge. All rights reserved.

The show is called Dark Corner, and it’s the premiere solo effort of Melbourne-based artist Jacob Coppedge. A collection of illustrations which explore the themes of spirituality, sexuality, identity, space, and time; Coppedge’s drawings are a unique coming together of both contemporary and traditional techniques, in such a way that is sure to become a trademark of the exciting new up-and-comer.

I recently had the chance to speak with Jacob about his show Dark Corner, what it is he loves about drawing, and an upcoming and most interesting collaboration:

Outlet Magazine: Jacob, you’re quite young but your art feels very accomplished. There’s an assuredness to your hand which suggests that you’re not only a very gifted artist, but also a very passionate one. Did you always know a career in art was something that you wanted?

Jacob Coppedge: Without a doubt! I always wanted to pursue somewhat of a creative field, but I’ve always had a biased towards drawing. I invested most of my youth in working towards that and met some inspiring people that have helped me along the way and couldn’t be more thankful for their support. It is slowly but surely is becoming a reality.

O: What’s your background? Are you currently studying art?
JC: I’m African American and Dutch Indonesian and no, not currently. Decided to take a break for this year.

247Courtesy of Jacob Coppedge. All rights reserved.

O: You explore expression over a few different modes – what is it about drawing specifically that you enjoy?

JC: To be honest, I’ve never really thought about it. I’ve just always been attracted to drawing mediums. But I guess it is the control and precision, I thrive off of clean cut and refined imagery. I obtain and guide the pencil/pen to get the exact line I want. I’m quite the perfectionist in that sense.

O: I’ve noticed your art can have quite a raw and intense quality to it. Are the sometimes confronting elements of your works a commentary, or is it more impulsive than that?

JC: I think a bit of both. I work mostly work with my own emotive feelings to express a deep sorrow for events that take place in my life, and I find consult in that, but every now and then I have quite spontaneous work that manifests in the process of discovery.

248Courtesy of Jacob Coppedge. All rights reserved.

O: Could you explain to us some of the themes of your new show, ‘Dark Corner’?

JC: The work deals with quite heavy themes regarding the complexities of the mind an mental state of a humans during depression, anxiety, and other mental struggles and how one feels going though such a personal battle. Chain smoking, self-doubt, loneliness and the list goes on. But it’s up to that person to make the decision whether they want to be consumed by such darkness or open themselves to opportunity and love.

O: What about the technical details? What sort of paper are the drawings on? And are the pieces all ink works, or do you illustrate with graphite as well?

JC: Most of the works are drawn on a high quality, acid-free, water-color paper, and about 300 gsm. I take caution in the materials I buy and am very picky when using different brands of fine liners. I like the best of the best to achieve a drawing I am pleased with. Many of the works in this show, I used mixed mediums from graphite and charcoal to ink and copic markers. I did a series of work called ‘sitting’ which are strictly ink but the others either have 2 or more intertwined.

249Courtesy of Jacob Coppedge. All rights reserved.

O: Take us through your process; does a piece go through several versions before you decide on the final composition? Or do you work from start to finish on one canvas and build as you go?

JC: I start with a 4H graphite pencil, sketching out the backbone of the work then build up with ink and other mediums working with the process from start to finish. I never have a pick and choose situation because I’m rather indecisive as a person and if I worked like that I would accomplish nothing. Instead, I don’t give myself the option, working with what I have in front of me. I tends to lead more of a trial and error approach.

O: Do you have a favourite piece from the show?

JC: I have a work called ‘Boy wander’ that was probably the most challenging work in the show for me, but I’ve grown quite fond of it. I enjoyed working with new mediums and doing something out of my comfort zone. I can become complacent with my practice.

250Courtesy of Jacob Coppedge. All rights reserved.

O: You’re collaborating with Jason Parker on a mural for Off the Kerb’s courtyard, as a part of the 4-D: Preservation project. Could you tell us a little bit about that, and the impact, if any, that collaboration has had on your solo show?

JC: We are still in the conceptual faze of the collaboration, but I’ve always been a big fan of Jason’s work and working alongside him will be an honour of mine. We hope to get it up before the opening of our shows, but we are cutting it slim…

O: What’s next for you?

JC: I’ve got a group exhibition with OTK in April so working on a piece for that. I’m eager to start building a photo book of nude figures to use as reference images and maybe a photography series, but mostly I’ll be focusing on my practice a lot this year and exploring new paths.

Many thanks to Jacob for taking the time to chat with us.

Jacob Coppedge’s Dark Corner opens at Off the Kerb on March 18, from 6 – 9pm. The exhibition will run from the 17th through 31st of March. Off the Kerb is located at 66B Johnston Street in Collingwood, and is open from 12:30pm to 6pm Thursday – Friday, and 12pm to 5pm on Saturday + Sunday. You can find more information about the gallery at their website: offthekerb.com, and you can see more of Jacob’s work on Instagram @jacobcoppedge.

Courtesy of Jacob Coppedge. All rights reserved.
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