22.6 – 16.7 2022
Eileen Cooper:Somewhere or Other
22.06 – 16.07.2022
For her second solo exhibition at Huxley-Parlour, British artist Eileen Cooper will present 11 new works on canvas for her exhibition: Somewhere or Other. Whilst encompassing enduring themes of sexuality, creativity, fertility, and relationships, the works in Somewhere or Other recognise a darker side of Cooper’s remit by considering desire and isolation, mortality and conflict.
Painted over the last two years between London and Suffolk, this latest body of work continues Cooper’s interest in autobiographically inflected narrative. With characteristically bold, lyrical, and emphatic line, the works in the show are influenced by the landscape, folklore and the timeless atmosphere of the Suffolk coast and countryside, whilst drawing particularly on its reputation as archaeologically fertile. In Somewhere or Other, paintings suggest ancient habitats, vanished communities, the romance and threat of the North Sea, and the timeless rituals of civilisations both distant and present.
The title of this body of work – from Christina Rossetti’s poem, Somewhere or Other – is fitting for a series which delights in cryptic figures, symbol, and allegory. Present in the work, too, is a subtext of cross-generational relationships, ageing, and inevitably mortality, as Cooper reflects on her creative journey, her own multiple roles as painter, mother, and draughtsman, and confronts new ambitions at this stage in her career. In much of Cooper’s work, the exchange and conflict between a woman’s life and her artistic journey is always present. In this exhibition, watery surfaces become mirrors that reflect an economy of presence and change in this landmark body of work.
B. United Kingdom1953
Eileen Cooper makes figurative paintings that encompass themes of fertility, sexuality, motherhood, life and death. Cooper produces work from an unapologetically female perspective, often containing a strong autobiographical element. Her vision encompasses a wide emotional range, with an allegorical approach. 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.
Cooper studied at Goldsmiths School of Art from 1971 until 1974, before completing an MA in painting at the Royal College of Art in 1977. She 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. She became a Royal Academician in 2001 and served as Keeper of the Royal Academy between 2010 and 2017.
Cooper has been the subject of numerous publications, including Eileen Cooper: A Woman’s Skin by Meredith M Hale and Philip Lindley, and Eileen Cooper: Between the Lines by Martin Gayford. She has had numerous international exhibitions, including solo exhibitions at the Royal Academy of Arts and Dulwich Picture Gallery, London. Cooper curated and co-ordinated the Royal Academy of Arts’ 249th annual Summer Exhibition in 2017. Her work is held in several important collections including The Arts Council Britain, the Victoria and Albert Museum and The British Museum, London. In 2016, Cooper was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her services to Art and Art Education. She is an Honorary Fellow at Murray Edwards College at the University of Cambridge, and the Royal College of Art; and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Southampton Solent University in 2014.
On 10 September 2022, Parallel Lines: Eileen Cooper and Leicester’s Art Collection opens at Leicester Museum & Art Gallery. This major survey exhibition brings together – for the first time – works created throughout Eileen Cooper’s career presented in conversation with paintings, drawings, prints, ceramics and sculpture from Leicester Museum & Art Gallery’s permanent collection.
She lives and works in London.