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NOVEMBER 23

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The impulse to view Joe Coleman’s paintings is akin to the compulsion to smell one’s own poop—it’s somewhat stomach-turning yet privately rewarding. Likewise, Coleman’s work reeks of the irresistible scent of decay. Whether it’s his biographical series on serial killers or his numerous self-portraits as a tortured Christ, each painting is sexually perverted, sickly sensory-overloaded, and laden with twisted Christian icons. Meanwhile, in an equally perverse sense, he has become a public savior by dwelling on the dark side full-time so we don’t have to. This is a man who seeks out suffering: With a one-hair brush he painstakingly explores the canvas, searching out boils and dismemberment on nearly every form in his large, vibrant monuments to society’s underbelly. To be sure, this persona becomes heavy-handed when he portrays his adopted son Junior (a pickled fetus), or his toothy alter ego’s penchant for snapping off the heads of mice. But is that really cause to pass up his book tour for Original Sin, which includes essays by Jim Jarmusch, Harold Schechter, and John Yau? Can a person deny his own stench? Not bloody likely. At 2 p.m. at Tower Records, 1601 Rockville Pike, Rockville. FREE. (301) 468-8901; and 5 p.m. at Tower Records, 2000 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. FREE. (202) 331-2400. (Anthony Keats)