Cooke’s paintings, frequently on monumental canvases measuring up to 6’ by 12’, feature somewhat dystopian landscapes, peopled by a variety of oddball and yet recognisable characters. Each painting demands close inspection as, among the weeds, stones and rubble we discover graffiti-like slogans, motifs and painterly references to his artistic heroes, such as Francis Bacon, Velazquez and Goya. Cooke likes to work at close range and at a distance, so it often seems like each painting contains many smaller ones within it.
In 2019, Jerwood Gallery will premiere previously unseen and new works by critically acclaimed artist Nigel Cooke in an exhibition entitled Painter’s Beach Club.
The Jerwood Gallery show is something of a homecoming for Cooke – who mixes music, the weather and memories of growing up in Manchester to create his work – as Hastings is where he first had his paintings shown as a professional artist.
Cooke says: “Coming back to Hastings after many adventures – in painting and the art world in general – to mount a show, has the feel of an odyssey. That’s the thing about painting; no matter how far you think you travel, you always end up back at the beginning.”
He adds: “A lot of my work has the shoreline as its location and, because Jerwood Gallery is by the sea, I wanted to focus on this aspect. Like all of us straining to get to the beach when the sun is out, I like to set my paintings at a similar frontier, an idealistic background that the painting can react to.”
In his exhibition Painter’s Beach Club at Jerwood Gallery, Hastings, Cooke will be showing works previously unseen in a public gallery in the UK that the New York Times described as combining ‘Magic Realist illusion, post-apocalyptic fantasy and extreme shifts of scale’.