Artist profile: Fran Copeman

CSM alumna Fran Copeman, 25, is a London-based conceptual artist who has exhibited locally and internationally. She is now preparing for Nord Art, the international annual exhibition of visual arts that takes place from June-October, in Hamburg, Germany.

Fran Copeman's artworkSo I am just supposed to accept it, am I? (No.1) by Fran Copeman. Photo Fran Copeman

Nord Art 2011

Nord Art is one of Europe’s largest annual art exhibitions and last year’s exhibition displayed the works of 245 artists from 55 countries, selected from 1,400 applications.

Copeman has been busy doing a series of back-to-back exhibitions, most recently completing an artist residency at Exchange Studios and previous to that she had her solo exhibition at The Bunker in Hackney. Last year she also exhibited at UK Young Artists and ZOOart 2010 in Italy.

In her studio, she is sorting which pieces will be going to Germany. With wall-to-wall ongoing development, it is chaos: pieces that are in progression, pieces finished, and work for other projects.

Copeman’s latest artworks

Copeman’s work mixes hyper realism and abstraction and often depicts disfigured and restricted bodies sunk in a thickly painted landscape.

“Generally I’m interested in relationships, and our relationships with each other. Obviously, that gets much more complicated when you’re living in such a busy place,” Copeman says.

Fran Copeman's artworkSo I am just supposed to accept it am I? (No.15) by Fran Copeman. Photo Fran Copeman

A running theme through Copeman’s artworks is the frustration of being confined. She says: “When I left university I wanted a lot of things — but that didn’t really happen. A lot of people seem frustrated like that at the moment. I was also interested in frustrating the aesthetics of the piece to the point of distortion, and that got me looking at what makes something look distorted; ugly.”

Copeman chooses to make her figures look ugly: “It’s always a nicer challenge to make something that isn’t pretty,” she says, referring to her work as “pretty ugly”.

“The image itself I find quite beautiful because of the detail created by the restraints of tying people up and getting them to release themselves,” she says.

Copeman sees the figures in her paintings as being at “a specific place where someone has seen their restriction and is now at the point where they’re trying to break out of it. My hope is that they’re at a point of rebellion against their limited channels of expression.”

Copeman will be exhibiting at Nord Art 2011 from June 4-October 2 at Kunstwerk Carlshütte, Hamburg, Germany.