Josie McCoy captures the here and the now to subvert the very nature of the 21st century’s celebrity culture. Her beautifully created works owe nothing to the supposed fifteen minutes clutched at by those on the periphery of fame. McCoy celebrates the virtual, those who do not exist, suspending our disbelief and drawing us in.
Laura Oldfield Ford writes about McCoy’s work: “To visit the parade of ghostly perfection in Josie McCoy’s exquisitely rendered paintings is to witness the markers of an interior landscape. We are hostages to these faces for they cannot be erased from the minds eye, to confront them is to experience a sense of unheimlich, the uncanny, I may not be able to name them but I carry the index of their image with me.” “The faces of the subjects, almost always women, are the smoothed over and unblemished masks of the global videodrome. There is something of the chimera about them, a haunting. They loom up from the canvas, floating glassy eyed, impervious to the world they cast their gaze upon. These are the blank stares of the undead, self renewing, waiting for the fantasies of the viewer to be projected onto them. They are the archetypes of female beauty in a shimmering heterotopia, they persist as a tide of eternal disappointment in what we are and what we aspire to be." “The seamlessness inherent in these paintings imbues them with a dream like, almost Lynchian quality. What we are being given is a sequence of glimpses, the imagination is left to construct the context. We are left to draw on mediated references by mining a store far more extensive than we might have imagined. These images seem familiar precisely because they have been settled within our psyches for so long. The spectacle does not carry us along, we carry it, it becomes suffused in our own subjectivity until we cannot disown it. It is no longer a glowing phantasmagoria that bewitches us but something deeply implanted and internalized, an inescapable part of ourselves.” [Laura Oldfield Ford, 2008] McCoy’s recent series of oil paintings are portraits of characters in Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar’s films. ‘Becky’ is Marisa Paredes’s character in High Heels; ‘Marina’ is Victoria Abril’s character in Tie Me Up Tie Me Down; and ‘Elena’ is Francesca Neri in Live Flesh. McCoy was drawn to Almodóvar’s films because of the fascinating array of complex characters which often revisit themes such as the power of female relationships, fluidity of identity and authenticity.
Josie McCoy enjoyed massive exposure in 2007 when her painting of Cindy Beale appeared throughout an episode of BBC1’s Eastenders. Eyestorm have a selection of oil paintings and limited edition hand made lithographs by McCoy.
McCoy is graduate of Central St Martin’s College in London. She has exhibited widely in London and throughout Europe, and her work has featured in many shows, including the BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery and Artfutures at the Royal Festival Hall. She currently lives and works in Valencia, Spain.