© Nigel Cooke, courtesy Pace Gallery Photo: Robert Glowacki, courtesy the artist

Nigel Cooke
220.0 x 369.9 cm
oil on linen backed with sailcloth

A British painter Nigel Cooke is known for decadent and subliminal landscapes in huge canvases with dynamic strokes. A view of a decayed city in the background, this painting depicts the skulls, debris, and human figures swallowed into the swirls of brushstrokes, which implies an uneasy narrative foreseeing the world’s end is about to happen. At the center of the painting sits on the ground Siren, a creature half bird and half woman appeared in Greek mythology and a recurring motif depicted as a nude figure seducing males in Britain during the Victorian era. She turns around at us in an uncanny calm manner as if she belongs to another world from all her chaotic surroundings.

Cooke intervenes in the conventional expression of paintings through his usage of traditional subject matters as well as his depiction of nature with rough strokes reminiscent of J. M. W. Turner. At the same time, he updates the realm of contemporary painting by incorporating in his artworks the motifs of mass consumption society of today such as sneakers and vulgar gossip magazines along with the traditional elements.

(Commentary & Translation: Tomoya Iwata)