Artist Nigel Cooke returns to Hastings for new show at Jerwood Gallery

From January 19, Jerwood Gallery will premiere previously unseen and new works by critically acclaimed artist Nigel Cooke in an exhibition entitled Painter's Beach Club.

Wednesday, 2nd January 2019, 1:06 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 11:28 am
Nigel Cooke
Nigel Cooke

The 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 said: “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 added: “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.”

On display will be works previously unseen in a UK public gallery which the New York Times recently described as combining “magic realist illusion, post-apocalyptic fantasy and extreme shifts of scale.”

Cooke’s paintings, frequently on vast canvases, 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 will be found 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.

Growing up in the North of England, Cooke studied an art foundation course at Stockport College prior to pursuing a degree course at Nottingham Trent University. In 1997 he completed an MA at the Royal College of Art before being awarded a PhD in Fine Art from Goldsmith’s College, London (2004).

Today, Cooke’s work hangs in major collections around the world, including the Tate, New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Guggenheim.

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