Castlefield Gallery rather sticks its neck out in the claims it makes for artists who are given exhibitions – that when selecting shows what it seeks is work of the highest quality.
The large, brightly coloured abstract paintings and drawings in this exhibition are no exception.
Although Stephen Cooper and Mary Wood are not particularly well known – the former being more established after recent shows at the Ikon and Axiom galleries – their work is part of an important area of British painting and deserves critical and public attention.
Both artists are preoccupied with exploring the formal and emotive qualities of colour, with developing an expressive language of colour and tone. Yet they work in very different ways, especially in their handling of paint. This exhibition juxtaposes activity against contemplation.
Mary Wood’s paintings are thick, heavily worked, bold and energetic. She puts the paint on with her hands – colour over colour, so that finished paintings are rough and assertive. The length of time Stephen Cooper spends sitting in front of a canvas equals if not exceeds how long he spends actually painting. This results in the work that is measured and controlled. The paintings are much more open than those of Mary Wood; by carefully contrasting thinly painted areas against densely painted shapes, a sense of recession is achieved – as if one is looking deep into the picture through the veils of colour. The marks – taut, active lines drawn on the canvas with a brush – are as important as the colour in these compositions.
Private View Thursday 20th February 1987 from 6-8pm.
Stephen Cooper had 3 drawings in the recent Castlefield Gallery Contemporary Drawing exhibition selected by Tim Hilton. He has exhibited at galleries in Newcastle, Bristol, Winchester, Exeter, Cheltenham, Birmingham and London. He was born in London in 1951, studied at St Martin’s School of Art and the Royal College of Art; he is an associate lecture at Winchester School of Art and a visiting lecture at Belfast, Falmouth and Canterbury schools of art.
Mary Wood was born in Middlesex in 1959; after obtaining a first class degree at Winchester School of Art, she moved to Manchester to do a MA at the Polytechnic. Whilst here she exhibited at 2 Manchester Artists’ Studio Association exhibitions and in the first Castlefield Gallery Summer Show. Last year she exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Show.
20th February 4pm
A discussion with Stephen Cooper
The artist will be talking about his works in the exhibition, his recent change to using acrylic paint and the implicit subject matter in the paintings.
25th February 4pm
Acrylic Paint Demo – Sponsored by Daler Rowney