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Johnnie Cooper, Saatchi Gallery

17 April 2019

April French Furnell

A major survey of work by the acclaimed British artist Johnnie Cooper will take place at Saatchi Gallery, London, opening 19 April 2019.

Entitled throe on throe, the exhibition comes at a time of heightened interest in the artist. In 2018, as part of its initiative to re-evaluate key twentieth and twenty-first-century artists, art publisher Black Dog Press produced a monograph documenting Cooper’s 50-year career; and this eagerly-awaited presentation – his first in London in three decades – will be complemented by further shows in the U.K. and America.

Displayed across two galleries, the show is comprised of more than 50 paintings and sculptures, including works from the 1970s – a time when Cooper appeared alongside Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth with his own solo exhibition to mark the Wakefield Silver Jubilee Festival – and culminates with his most recent atmospheric large-scale oil and acrylic paintings.

Cooper describes his approach to painting as three dimensional; accordingly, this exhibition begins with a collection of his early sculptural works. Chained to the Nest (1974), which depicts a newly-hatched bird struggling to extricate itself from a womb or nest, illustrates his attraction to, in his own words, ‘the physicality of the surface’, a quality evident in all his paintings.

Since the late 1980s, Cooper has tirelessly investigated the formal limits of painting, experimenting in many genres at his rural Worcestershire studio. throe on throe tracks this progression with examples primarily drawn from five bodies of work: Longdon Marsh (1996 - 2006), A Long Series Of Events (2014), Continuums (2011 - 2016), The Levant Series (2018 - 2019) - up to the present day, with a suite of spectacular paintings entitled The Listener Series realised between 2018 – 2019, works that display broad gestural brush strokes and reflect his love for the natural landscape.

Says Peter Murray, founder and executive director of Yorkshire Sculpture Park: “Cooper has devoted himself to the investigation of painting through colour, texture and gesture. At times his paintings have seemed to be an extension of his love of the English landscape with the flavour of English artists such as Ivon Hitchens. At other times, the influence of American Abstract Expressionists and Colour Field artists can be sensed, but always his work has an independent and expressive power of its own.”

Says Saatchi Gallery Director Philippa Adams: “While this exhibition looks to the future, embracing a new chapter in Cooper’s journey, it also reasserts him alongside his peers as an important British artist.”

 

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