Les Is No More (Les Coleman, 1945—2013)

Les Coleman (Geary’s Guide, p. 28) died on January 17. He was a kind and witty man, endlessly alert to the surreal and Dada-esque aspects of real life, which he translated into his visual and aphoristic art. I was fortunate to get to know Les over the past few years and on one visit to his South London home bought a work I treasure: a drawing of two goldfish swimming in separate compartments of a water-filled hourglass. “Les Coleman was a rare bird,” according to his friend and fellow artist Patrick Hughes, “a fine artist who devoted himself to comedy. All through his career Les stuck to his vision of art evoking laughter, a grim smile or a subtle grin.” That profound, absurdist comic vision is plain to see in Les’ wonderful aphorisms, of which I’ll never get enough…

A thorough inspection of the birthday suit revealed a number of holes.

True deception goes unnoticed.

Wind supports all flags no matter what the flag supports.

A bridge has no allegiance to either side.

The distance a goldfish swims is not controlled by the bowl.

Audience: play watched from the stage.

The more a ball bounces the less it bounces.

Puppets go to sleep the moment they break free from their strings.

Each page in a book knows its opposite page by heart.

Glass is silent until broken.

Headstone: death’s bookmark.