Josiah Koppanyi is a Winnipeg-based painter, illustrator and muralist whose work explores nostalgia and faith. He shares his home with his wife, Vanessa, and Caesar, a pet lizard affectionately known as Cease Bees.
Koppanyi works from his home studio full-time and says his father influenced his eventual career.
“My dad was an artist. I always looked up to him,” he says. Koppanyi started by sketching the world around him at about two years old.
“I started drawing little things,” he says. “It was always just this comfortable place I would go to, and I could create basically any kind of reality with that.”
Koppanyi says art allowed him to explore his creativity. “It was a bit of escapism, (to) just go and escape in this world,” he says, mentioning that his early doodles helped build a foundation for the intricate and imaginative art he creates today.
He started exploring the use of colour while in high school. Although Koppanyi says he dabbled in videography and other creative outlets, painting captivated him.
“Painting is where I communicate and connect with God. It’s a communication, and, a lot of times, it’s those feelings that I get when I see two colours side by side that I really like,” he says. “It’s like God communicating to me and saying ‘This is good.’”
Koppanyi’s creative process is an intimate dialogue, where meaning and purpose imbue each stroke and colour choice.
“It’s a lot of listening. It’s about listening to the colors, patterns and strokes. It’s about recognizing when something feels right or needs to be adjusted,” he says.
He recently illustrated Winnipeg author Stephanie Stanley’s picture book Two Tickets to the Moon and designed bold, colourful murals for Magic Sushi and Honu Poké restaurants.
Koppanyi says his art is a testament to his faith and his connection to God. His paintings fuse emotion, colour and spirituality. The Magic Sushi mural, for instance, incorporates a Bible verse.
“The more I trusted in God, the more my paintings became cheerful and full of joy,” he says.
“Before, my art was broken and destructive, but now it’s the opposite. It’s more cheerful and happy, showing the positive impact of trusting God and letting go.”
“Vanessa and I are reading The Return of the King. We’ve watched the movies, but Vanessa said (I’ve) got to read the books.”
Vintage feel (left)
“I love all the old woodwork in these homes. That was part of the pull of getting us to love this place: all the character in it.”
Trying something new (right)
“I refinished this table. I’m learning how to do stuff like that. I never used to be a handyman, but now I’ve got this house, I try to work on stuff.”
Custom paint job
“I just think it makes the apartment nicer and easier to spend time in. I can’t imagine whoever moves in after us will want to paint it over.”
Published in Volume 78, Number 02 of The Uniter (September 14, 2023)