Eileen Cooper: life laid bare
Eileen Cooper is a painter and printmaker and Head of the Printmaking at the Royal Academy Schools. Her unique style is one that penetrates the mind and stays with you long after you have visited an exhibition of her work. See life laid bare as we view naked women neither to skinny or to fat going about their daily lives, doing what women do, putting on make-up, relaxing, stretching, dreaming, unfolding before our eyes seemingly without any hang-ups. Her art is lyrical: it sings. Its theme is herself, her experience of life and her reflections on its meaning – though this already begins to sound too philosophical.’ ‘Daydreams, Freud thought, are wishes and wishes are a way of correcting reality. In Eileen Cooper’s paintings there are usually a number of realities happening at the same time in the highly imagined worlds and fractured timescales she creates.’
For the past 30 years Eileen Cooper’s work has been concerned with change and innovation unafraid to explore and develop an imaginative narrative. Through her distinctive expressionism she reflects various episodes in her own life bringing archetypal themes and mythologies associations into the everyday.
Expressionistic and primitive qualities in the work evolve into dream-like narratives drawing inspiration from different world cultures. The use of vivid colours sometimes jarring can make the work seem fierce and unexpected animals appear (mainly tigers) as if from nowhere. Through the use of undulating markings she constructs playful works that challenge and question our creativity and have an emotional and spiritual content. These are both semi-autobiographical and universal at the same time which also can be a mechanism for us all to question our everyday experiences. In her own words Eileen Cooper states ‘Lots of people’s lives are thrown together in my pictures, but there is also a strong sense of separateness. I find it fascinating that, in the busy lives that everyone leads, people have a sense of their own time, their own moments of reverie.’
Togetherness and separateness moments in time and reverie seem ever to be woven through her work. Are there deeper insights and hidden agendas in it which may or not lead us to think about other ways of being/seeing/doing? Take a look at the fabulous retrospective of 30 years of her work on her website and decide for yourself.