Nigel Cooke is an English artist who explores the way that 21st-century painting can enter into dialogue with, and possibly change, the trajectory of art history.Read More
Nigel Cooke divides his time between London and Kent. He received his BA in Fine Art from Nottingham Trent University in 1994, an MA in painting from the Royal College of Art in 1997, and a Ph.D in Fine Art from Goldsmiths, University of London, in 2004.
Nigel Cooke had his first solo exhibition at Chapman Fine Arts Gallery, London, in 2000, but only four years later he gained international attention with Art Now: Nigel Cooke: a solo exhibition at Tate Britain. The paintings he exhibited were vast landscapes that told a tale of dereliction, decay, and horror.
Drawing on the epic tradition of 19th-century landscape painting, in which majestic vistas were almost unaffected by humans, Nigel Cooke's early landscapes were instead overly desecrated by travellers until they were nothing but toxic wastelands littered with skulls, car husks, and graffiti. In 2005, he claimed that his landscapes suggested 'a cultural frontier between the edge of one civilisation and the beginning of another'.
Nigel Cooke has gone on to show his work across North America and Europe, at institutions and galleries including the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, the Museo Tamayo in Mexico City, Blum & Poe in Los Angeles, and Andrea Rosen Gallery in New York.
As his audience has increased, Nigel Cooke has continued to expand the language of painting, stating in Interview Magazine in 2012 that 'Abstraction for me is almost like a fundamental principle of organization in painting. In a way, all paintings are abstract. The conflict between abstraction and figuration is really a 20th-century art historical narrative.'
Over time, Nigel Cooke's formerly tightly detailed landscapes have become more diffuse, not only verging towards abstraction, but also losing their intricate detail. His most recent work is entirely abstract, composed of single colours painted in dense, gestural brushstrokes on raw linen canvasses. They explore the endless potential of the line as a means of expression. He cites artists such as Willem de Kooning and Francis Bacon, as well as Spanish painting and Chinese silk painting as influences.
In 2014, Nigel Cooke became represented by Pace. As a result, he has exhibited at their galleries in London, Hong Kong, and New York, and his work has been included in group exhibitions in locations such as Cape Town, Vienna, and Santa Barbara.
Nigel Cooke's work is in a number of permanent collections, including those of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate, London; and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
Biography by Ocula | 2020
Galleries have reported stronger than anticipated sales at Frieze New York's Viewing Rooms, which opened to VIPs on 6 May. The online event, initiated after the physical fair was cancelled due to COVID-19, opens to the public from 8-15 May.
Since the beginning of his practice, Nigel Cooke has tried to bring figuration and abstraction into the same conversation. At Pace Gallery and Pace Prints in New York, two exhibitions demonstrate Cooke's shift towards total abstraction.
While in London next week for Frieze, don’t forget to get out of the fair tents and explore the many exhibitions on view at galleries and museums around town. Here is a non-exhaustive but selective list that should keep you busy. William Eggleston Portraits at The National Portrait Gallery in Covent Garden July 21-October 23 This...
Ahead of his first solo exhibition at Pace Prints, we sat down with painter Nigel Cooke to discuss his first body of work in the monoprint medium and the companion set of etchings that he created for the show. Cooke also describes adapting his practice to this new medium, the ideas behind his work, and what representations of humans and animals...