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Andrea Rosen Gallery: Nigel Cooke
Gallery 2 : Constructivismes - (A visual essay)
- 24 Apr 2009 to 13 June 2009

Current Exhibition

24 Apr 2009 to 13 June 2009

Andrea Rosen Gallery
525 West 24 Street
NY 10011
New York, NY
New York
North America
p: 212 627 6000
f: 212 627 5450

Nigel Cooke, Experience, 2009
Oil on linen, 86 1/2 x 86 1/2 x 2 inches (220 x 220 x 5.1 cm)
© Nigel Cooke
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Andrea Rosen Gallery

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Artists in this exhibition: Nigel Cooke, Matthias Bitzer, Burgoyne Diller, Akira Kanayama, Barbara Kasten, Kazimir Malevich, Katja Strunz

Nigel Cooke

April 24 – June 13, 2009
Opening reception, Friday, April 24, from 6 – 8 PM

Nigel Cooke has always possessed an innate passion to evolve and his new work wonderfully demonstrates this honed excellence in spades.

There is a consistently abundant amount of energy and support around Cooke’s work. This has partially been attributed to his complete uniqueness and, of late, an awe of his tireless reworking of each painting, even at the expense of obliterating entire layers. All of what he knows fuels him to continue to evolve his practice. The revolutionary bravery of reworking has transformed now into a new type of risk that derives from making some smaller paintings in one sitting. A new and equally intense act of labor now exists and the results are ripe with a purity and deftness that has been informed by Cooke's experience with immediacy. This physical making of the work is one significant leap that Cooke has taken and yet there is a second; the role of the image has also transformed. These parallel progressions simultaneously unfold.

Ever known for his rigorous intellect, Cooke describes his investigation as having grown from a question of “where is painting?” to “who is painting”? This evolution of subjectivity springs from Cooke’s newfound reckoning that he and the paintings are made of many states, not all of which may be within his control or active consciousness but retain the accumulation of years of thinking about and making paintings. In a series of large canvases, expansive jewel tone washes lay behind lone male figures. Occasionally propped against trees or striding over grassy hills, sporting wild beards and bandaged heads, these artists or philosophers appear with examples of their work nearby. Those familiar with Cooke’s past work will see a visual continuation of his language and subject; however a radical progression has occurred that has been nearly indescribable for Cooke. Throughout his work, the figure has had a presence although always a metaphorical one. First a ppearing as graffiti or drawing, then progressing into anthropomorphized vegetables and then into ghost-like figures – these were intellectual symbols of a universal past and Cooke’s identity as an artist. No longer symbolic, the depicted figures now have their own life born of a direct relationship with painting itself. The immediacy of making these paintings has forced Cooke to disconnect his eager subjectivity and the figure is allowed to emerge as something bigger than Cooke's own intentions. He has expressed: Some of the characters have painted their own paintings. What does an internal painting represent in a world made of paint? Is their painting better than the one they are living in? Have they created a better image than the one they themselves consist of? Can I do two paintings at once? If paint can describe a tree and a man, then what happens when it describes a painting? These questions of authorship and duality in the past were brought up by the graffiti element in my work. This is more self-reflexive. The figures describe a creative state of mind through their own actions. It’s both them and painting itself that stare back at Cooke as he is sorting out the making. Other paintings like “Blind Snake” and “Dead Owl” depict a breed of outcast fauna, which are perhaps distant cousins of the men and confront a similar cataclysm of identity and place.

Cooke’s practice has expanded beyond painting and drawing; the new show also includes a series of small bronze heads. These charred effigies made from wads of clay, wire wool, plastic food, cigarettes, pipes, baseball caps, fat clown noses, bones, brains, toys, bandages, and blobs of paint are amazingly compelling, disturbing, and humorous. Shamelessly absurd, splats of blue paint over blackened bandages can combine with a bright slice of tomato as an ear. There is the impression that these men were disinterred from the world of the paintings and then vandalized. The heads represent a further expression of Cooke's newly manifest fluidity and amplify the psychological sport he orchestrates.

The constant whirring of Cooke’s mind combined with his physical talent has again provided a challenge and an opening for the viewer to expand consciousness as well. That he has allowed his thinking-self to surrender control has only deepened the complexity of the experience. This exhibition marks a simultaneous culmination and crossroads for Cooke, which we are excited to witness.

This is Nigel Cooke’s third solo exhibition at Andrea Rosen Gallery. He was born in Manchester, England, in 1973. He holds an MA from the Royal College of Art and a PhD from Goldsmith’s College, London, and now lives and works in Kent. Cooke has shown at Tate Britain and at the South London Gallery. His work is in the collections of the Tate, MoMA, The Guggenheim, and LA MoCA.

For additional information and images, please contact Renee Reyes,

Gallery 2 is pleased to announce
Constructivismes - (A visual essay)

Matthias Bitzer, Burgoyne Diller, Akira Kanayama, Barbara Kasten, Kazimir Malevich, and Katja Strunz

April 24 - May 30 2009
Organized by Olivier Renaud-Clement

Opening reception, Friday, April 24, from 6 – 8 PM

Spanning nearly 100 years, the works in this exhibition offer insight into the shape of our culture and the movements of inspiration—moments in time radically altering the course of history and the present forever constructing the past. Constructivismes - (A visual essay) originated with a specific interest in the rare geometric drawings of Russian Supremacist Kazimir Malevich from 1914 through 1917. Malevich was an activist for a new visual environment to bring about a change in perception. His revolutionary style left an indelible impact on the future of art. Following Malevich the artists of the Constructivist movement were early pioneers of applying new technologies to art making and the development of an industrial and angular visual language.

Each work in this exhibition, in relationship to Malevich's drawings, will illustrate how remarkably influential the motifs of these two movements have been and continue to be. This exhibition brings together a compelling constellation of works that share an underlying purpose, whether that is social, process oriented or the representation of a formal language.

Akira Kanayama is best known as a key member of Gutai Bijutsu Kyokai (Gutai Art Association), based in Osaka, Japan, in the late 1950s. Kanayama's minimalist works pay conscious attention to the edges of the picture. His conceptual practice and participation in the avant-garde group exemplify the Constructivist model. Lesser known American artist Burgoyne Diller began exploring constructed and architectural forms in his unique drawings and collages from the 1960s, which were later to transform into painting and sculptures. Throughout her long practice, the veteran American photographer Barbara Kasten 'documented' her own ephemeral constructions and assemblage. Her early black and white photograms from the late 1970s are examples of this process which she then retouched with color.

The most recent works in the exhibition are from two German artists known primarily as sculptors, Katja Strunz and Matthias Bitzer. In a series of letterpress prints, Strunz has collaged aged paper, which purposefully creates an ambiguous origination date, into geometric forms. Bitzer deconstructs figures and then using formal language an image is reconstructed to the edge of abstraction. We are delighted to continue our ongoing focus of exploring dialogues between historical artists and the current generation.

For additional information and images, please contact Renee Reyes: r.reyes @

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