Acrobatic bodies, dismembered heads and elongated limbs stack, twist, and slide among one another to create complex human compositions. The new paintings by Richard Colman are now on display in his solo exhibition, “Faces, Figures, Places, and Things,” as the inaugural exhibition for San Francisco’s Chandran Gallery. The colorful artworks apply both subtle and obvious, real and fantastical instances of human behavior to explore the intricacies and curiosities of human relations. Coleman’s use of minimalist forms and color blocking guide one to focus on the content of his paintings as opposed to their surface aesthetics.
As sociological studies, the paintings suggest humans occupy a space between confrontation and passivity. For example, in “Four Heads,” a woman balances in her outstretched hands, two upside down heads with candles coming from their necks. Her legs form a rigid geometry with a man who stands on one upturned head and holds another head in his hand, this one turned away and topped by a three-pronged candelabra with one flame extinguished, suggesting something sinister. The figures are suspended, supported by their strength built through interconnectivity alone. Despite the dynamic buoyancy of the work in which a narrative of social hierarchy, politics, and community building unfolds, each face stares ahead without emotion. Furthermore, despite the cheerful color palette, the eyes are painted with pupils of opposing colors in the style of a classical villain. In this way, Colman suggests human nature may not be entirely good and relationships not always honest.