Coco Capitán: Naïvy | Maximillian William

This young artist, who also pays the bills as a fashion photographer, is very obviously going places. Still a couple of years shy of 30, she has a rock-solid aesthetic across photos, paintings, (hand) writing and found objects, which are all on show at Maximillian William right now.

The exhibition is based around a garment that could be militaristic, cute or camp: a sailor suit. The actual suit is draped over a schoolroom-style wooden chair, its hood carefully appliquéd with white-stitched daisies. It features in vintage photos in another corner of the room. And in photos, being worn by the artist and her models.

lost sailor

Most arrestingly, it’s in this painting, Lost Sailor Prepares to Die. Painted on pumice - never heard of that before - a stoic sailor stands on the same wooden chairs that the exhibition visitor can sit on. His hands are blotchy streaks, like seagull shit. He’s inexplicably whole, both of himself, and with all the objects around him.

The sailor alone at sea represents individual freedom, yet, as part of the navy, becomes part of the collective. His military uniform could represent death dealing and destruction, or gay dress-up.

I was so struck by Capitán’s expert and artful organisation of all these objects, all that work, into a single coherent statement of intent. Her (slightly misspelled) navy of art. Don’t be fooled by her handwriting, with its sloping s’s and backwards lettering: it masks a pure will to power. She tells us so in Painting of Blue Sky Falling into Blue Ocean: I AM & I WILL BE & I AM BEING NOW & FOREVER & AT THE MOMET FOR THE PRESENT & THE FUTURE…

painting of blue sky

It’s just the opposite of the deliberately slapdash Jamian Juliano-Villani show across town at Massimo de Carlo that I viewed last week: this is a militaristically organised multi media assault. And I loved it!

Coco Capitán: Naïvy is at Maximillian William (London). 11 September - 30 October 2020