Eileen Cooper’s large oil paintings and charcoal drawings deal incessantly with personal relationships. She says that her ideas tend to cone out in an unpredictable way through the activity of painting, but there is a fascination with the bond between mother and child through out her work. There is no narrative content, despite the obvious connection with the tradition of Madonna and Child paintings; feelings of intimacy are represented rather than incidents.
The strengths and complexities of family ties, of parental love, as well as the sexuality latent in a mother and son relationship are explored in these quite, still pictures. There is an extraordinary passivity, and curiosity, as a woman waits for her child to be born, as she watches its personality emerge, or as a child looks up at the world into which it has entered. Eyes and hands are all important in these compositions. The figures are drawn in by placid poses, with expressive gestures, gazing wistfully at the viewer. By exaggerating the scale of these figures, Eileen Cooper imagines how a mother appears to her child, and there is a powerful image of a child cradled in her huge hand. There is a symbolic element in the use of flowers and other images of fertility.
These paintings not only study basic human needs and responses, they also celebrate painterly, decorative values, with their flamboyant colour and richly impastoed surfaces. Her confident and harmonious use of the lavish hues is striking. The bold, rounded forms, the rhythmic lines echo the work of Paul Gauguin and the opulence of Indian temple sculpture. An elusive simplicity, which conceals the precise structure of these compositions, is comparable to the work of Marc Chagall.
Paintings and drawings by Eileen Cooper have recently been seen at the 1986 Peter Moore’s Liverpool Project ‘out of line’ selected by William Feaver at the Walker Art Gallery, and in the exhibition ‘ Love – Scared and Profane’ seen in Plymouth and Stoke-on-Trent. Born in Glossop in 1953, Eileen Cooper now lives and works on Brockley, South East London. She studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths College and went on to the Royal College Painting School. She teaches part time at St Martin’s, Byam Shaw and Camberwell Schools of Art.
A Press Preview Reception will be held on 23rd May at 5.00pm do come along and meet the artist and have a glass of wine.