Throughout her career, Eileen Cooper (born 1953) has made figurative paintings that encompass themes of fertility, sexuality, motherhood, life and death. A Keeper of the Royal Academy for almost a decade, Cooper’s work offers up a prescient and insightful magical realism evoked through bright colours and graphic outlines.
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Early Life and Training
Eileen Cooper was born in 1953, in Glossop in the Derbyshire Peak District. She studied at Goldsmiths School of Art from 1971 until 1974, before completing an MA in painting at the Royal College of Art in 1977.
Cooper rose to prominence as an artist in the 1980s, during which time she also held teaching posts at both St Martins School of Art and the Royal Academy Schools. Throughout her career, Cooper has made figurative paintings that encompass themes of fertility, sexuality, motherhood, life and death. As well as the female figure, animals and objects enter Cooper’s compositions, often playing symbolic or totemic roles.
Her motif-filled imagery has often been described as magical realism, although she has cited Indian, Persian and Egyptian art as influences on her paintings. Her rich and sometimes expressionistic use of colour, as well as her use of strong and simplified line has been likened to the works of Henri Matisse and Paul Gauguin, as well as to Expressionists Emil Nolde and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
Selected Exhibitions and Collections
Cooper became a Royal Academician in 2001 and served as Keeper of the Royal Academy between 2010 and 2017. She has had numerous international exhibitions, including solo exhibitions at the Royal Academy of Arts and Dulwich Picture Gallery, London. Her work is held in several important collections including The Arts Council Britain, the Victoria and Albert Museum and The British Museum, London.