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Inner and outer worlds collide

by Youmna El Halabi October 9, 2018
Inner and outer worlds collide

The artistic meets the spiritual in a Concordia graduate’s first solo exhibition

After showcasing a collection of his work with FEAT Management from late August to mid September, Alex Coma took up an entire gallery for the first time in his artistic career. From Sept. 26 to 30, Coma’s first-ever solo exhibition, Inner, Outer World,was on display at Le Livart Gallery on St-Denis St.

“It’s amazing to have all the creative direction,” Coma said. “I could just arrive here with my work and create my own world. In a collective, you don’t have this control.”

Even though the responsibilities of a solo show often weighed on him—especially the stress of getting the installation and art works set up on time—none of it mattered once the show began. “At the end of the day, it really was worth it to do it all on my own, because I could curate every bit of it,” he said. “I’m really happy to have put my whole vision to life.”
Coma’s work engulfs viewers and forces them to look within themselves to understand the world.

I wanted to inspire people to dig in their inner worlds… to find out how much of what goes on inside your mind has a direct influence on your outer world, or how you experience life.”

Before deciding on the name, Inner, Outer World, Coma brainstormed several ideas. The exhibition was almost going to be named Macrocosm and Microcosm. Either way, Coma said, the names would have been a perfect fit to his theme. Inner, Outer World stems from an ancient philosophy close to the artist’s heart: the belief that the outer and inner worlds are connected, if not the same. He said he believes the same energy produced by stars and planets is present in our inner selves.

When walking among his collection, it is inevitable to witness Coma’s personal journey through spirituality and his evolution as a painter. Initially, Coma’s chosen practice was not painting, but photography. After graduating from Concordia in 2014 with a bachelor’s in fine arts, majoring in photography, he became engrossed in the art of painting. He said the medium allowed him to express his passion for quantum physics, philosophy and esoteric themes in a far better way.

“This series [is] my evolution to time, to knowledge, through also mastering the painting techniques,” Coma said. “You can clearly see the evolution from the beginning which is just me wanting to do the series, to the second [painting] which is bringing everything from the first one to consciousness, to the last one to wrap up the six other paintings into one, to wrap up and collect everything I learned through my journey in spirituality.”

Inner, Outer World starts off with a preview from Coma’s next collection, with a piece called Venus Fruit. Just under it, a deck of tarot/business cards are scattered on a high table for the audience to choose from and get a peek at their inner worlds.

Following this welcoming set-up is a collection of Coma’s photographs taken in 2014 and printed on large canvases.
“So after the tarot cards, you get the photos and get a journey through time; my evolution from photography to the paintings at the end of the corridor,” Coma described.

Venus Fruit welcomed visitors to Alex Coma’s first solo exhibition. Photo by Youmna El Halabi.

According to the artist, the series aims to present the viewer with steps leading to recovery and spiritual enlightenment. Coma believes that one must identify one’s problem in order to be more aware of it and begin walking the path of recovery. The culminating point of this journey is expressed in Coma’s last painting, exploring the spiritual depth one eventually acquires to grow out of the soil they are stuck in.

When asked if his previous collection, Wormhole, had any relation to the work presented at Le Livart, Coma nodded eagerly.“Wormhole was in the beginning of my career, my spiritual evolution,” he said. “For me, I started with the scientific world because it was accessible, and my evolution brought me to question more through spirituality. [The pieces in Wormhole and Inner, Outer World] are all linked to my personal journey as an artist, a human being.”

In parting words, Coma expressed his gratitude and how he is proud of the progress he has made as an artist. He revealed that committing full-time to his art and tackling the obstacles that follow makes his solo show that much more worth it. “It’s a big evolution for me,” he said. “This show is like the completion of a major cycle in my life.”

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Coma is working on another solo exhibition set for January 2019.

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