By Michael Aushenker
He’s a humorist and an ironist who creates seemingly naive paintings that convey black humor and a morbid streak. Now Maxwell Coppola is applying that sensibility to a new artistic format — collage — for his first-ever solo show, which continues through Sunday at the Trunk Gallery in Mar Vista.
The exhibit’s title — “I Went to Collage for the Wrong Thing: A Pop Show” — pretty much sets the tone: Coppola’s playful art does not take itself too seriously, even as he is serious about his fine art career.
“Saturated with obviousness, mental inertia, clichés and bad jokes,” according to the gallery’s website, Coppola’s collages include a giant hamburger with each layer (bun, patty, tomatoes) made up of miniature photos of said ingredient, and a condom built by various images of the prophylactics. Another new piece, “Rainbow,” features color stripes made up of photos including lemons (for yellow), broccoli (green) and the “Sesame Street” character Elmo (red).
Opened in late 2011, the scrappy Trunk Gallery previously exhibited emerging or mid-career artists as Michael Hoffee, Sara Biersteker, Roman Deingruber and Danee Schiffer.
Born and schooled in the Northeast, Coppola headed west that year to work in Los Angeles, home of his favorite artists, Mark Ryden and Gary Baseman. The influence is evident in Coppola’s pop culture works on canvass — paintings such as a disappointed little girl next to her decapitated Care Bear or a pudgy, diapered baby boy before a Tower of Babylon made of Hostess Twinkies.
Coppola said he was doing online image research for paintings when it struck him to do collage.
“I feel like it’s a good platform; it’s so open,” Coppola said of his collages, which he’s now also using as a canvass for his painting, a la Gerhard Richter and Jeff Koons.
“I Went to Collage for the Wrong Thing: A Pop Show” has an opening reception from 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday and continues through Sunday at Trunk Gallery, 12818 Venice Blvd., Mar Vista. Call (310) 483-7221 or visit trunkgallery.org