Eileen Cooper: Short Stories | Sims Reed Gallery
27 February – 29 March 2019
Sims Reed Gallery is delighted to present new work on paper by Eileen Cooper in our first exhibition of the year. This solo exhibition by British contemporary artist Eileen Cooper OBE RA will take place from 27th February to 29th March 2019. With an illustrious career as an artist, well known for her strong and passionate figuration, she was the first woman to be elected as Keeper of the Royal Academy of the Arts in London (2010-17) and to have held this post since the Academy’s foundation in 1768. Eileen is a prolific painter, draughtswoman and printmaker.
Eileen’s bold and distinctive imagery brings a refreshing female perspective to her subject matter. Sometimes described as a magic realist, her vision is allegorical and storytelling a foremost theme. The figure of a woman plays a leading role as a heroine, goddess of myth, lover, mother and dancer. Eileen brings sensitivity to these strong, female forms; her concerns and experiences are as relevant and timeless as those of the human spirit itself. Her strong drawing with fluid simplified lines and colourful compositions make her work immediately recognisable.
These striking images draw on movement and Eileen’s interest in the female body in motion. Inspired by Akram Khan’s contemporary choreography from the iconic ballet Giselle, she captures the power and energy of Khan’s style – a unique fusion of classical ballet and Indian Kathak dance – but places her strong female protagonist in a new setting, creating her own vision of the story.
“I’m always motivated by the female experience and many of these new collages are closely linked to my experience of drawing at the English National Ballet during 2016-17.”
Weaving storytelling throughout her work in Short Stories, the figures portrayed evoke Eileen’s memories of tales and fables. The landscapes are imbued with colour-streaked skies, the passing of days with rising dawns and fading dusks.
The show focuses on collages, which has been important to Eileen’s practice for over twenty years. Unlike some artists who use found material to create collages, the source of the material is always derived from her own work, with elements of figures and landscapes from past linocuts including Rosa Solo (2018) and the Giselle series. This technique has now become part of her practice. For her, the process of cutting, tearing and assembling allows her to work in a more abstract way, using flat areas of colour to build a scene.
“In thinking about a body of work for Sims Reed Gallery, bearing in mind that it is an established print gallery, I was keen to use a low-tech, print-based approach, linking these collages to print and drawing, a little removed from the meticulous way that I work towards editions. It allowed me a little bit more movement and playfulness, which I find liberating and expressive. I chose not to use a print studio, rather preferring to make the work in the more intimate space of my painting studio. It feels like exploring printmaking on the edges or the margins of a subject. I also introduced a monoprinting element – a new feature to the collages.”
All works are available to purchase, with prices ranging from £800 to £5,000 . An e-catalogue will be available featuring an introduction by Sarah Lea, Curator at the Royal Academy of Arts, London.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Eileen Cooper (b. 1953) was born in Glossop, in the Derbyshire Peak District. She studied at Goldsmiths College from 1971—1974 being in the cohort of students who were selected by Jon Thompson. Senior members of staff at that time included Bert Irvin RA, Basil Beattie RA and Michael Craig Martin RA. She went on to study Painting at the Royal College of Art under Peter de Francia, graduating in 1977 and soon began to exhibit her work.-During the 1980s she became a major figure, well known and regarded for her strong and passionate figuration. Cooper has always taught part time in numerous institutions including St Martins, Royal College of Art and the Royal Academy Schools. She became a Royal Academician in 2001 and served as Keeper of the Royal Academy of Arts between 2010 and 2017, making her the first woman in the history of the Academy to do so. She curated and coordinated the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy in 2017. Recent exhibitions include Till the Morning Comes, The Fine Art Society, London (2017) and Under the Same Moon, Letitia Gallery, Beirut (2018). Her work is in collections including the British Museum, the Royal Collection, Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Arts Council of Great Britain.
Sims Reed Gallery is located in the heart of London’s St. James’s. The gallery specialises in modern, post-war and contemporary original prints and works on paper. Founded in 1995, the gallery has since grown to hold an extensive inventory of works by leading 20th-century artists alongside contemporary artists including Joan Miró, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney and Bridet Riley. The gallery is a member of the Society of London Dealers (SLAD) and the International Fine Print Dealers Association (IFPDA).