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  • Provenance

    Stuart Shave Modern Art, London

  • Exhibited

    Los Angeles, Blum & Poe, Black Sculptures and Black Paintings (with George Condo), 15 October–3 December 2005

  • Catalogue Essay

    “I am trying to make images that stick in the mind, in a good way, something that you can’t get rid of, that actually affect the way you see things.” NIGEL COOKE

    Manchester-born artist Nigel Cooke is best known for his large-scale paintings of dark landscapes. At first glance, Cooke’s Drift from 2005 comes across as an epic black monochrome but on closer inspection, the painting reveals the suggestions of landscape.

    The dark wasteland in Drift recalls the story of creation in Genesis: “the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.” Cooke’s black paintings investigate the contemporary exterior and how our culture redefines the way we experience the world. As abstract as Kasimir Malevitch’s Black Square (1915) and as gestural as Van Gogh’s Starry Night over the Rhône (1888), Cooke’s works encapsulate the history
    of painting from the European masters to present-day graffiti art, of which the artist is highly aware: “The job you have when you pick up a paintbrush is to reinvent something that is as old as civilization, and that is the addiction, the challenge” (F. Shaw, ‘Nigel Cooke’s Night Crossing’,
    Dazed & Confused, May 2010).

    “But also, there is something about that isolation and complete commitment to the visual image [in van Gogh’s paintings] that is attractive and true, so it is about the idea of a rather compromising stereotype having a great truth. I am always attracted to images which are negative and positive in one go.” (Nigel Cooke)

    With his meticulous technique and conscientious attention to detail, Cooke documents every layer of the painting’s production and stores it in an archive. A canvas is usually reworked several times before it comes to rest. In Cooke’s words, it is his desire to create “paintings with memories”, and claims that his works “pretend at being total paintings, or painting extreme-overloaded, high octane, all the painting you’ll ever need” (L. Turvey, ‘Nigel Cooke, Andrea Rosen Gallery’, Kasimir Malevitch, Black Square, 1915, The State Russian Museum, St Petersburg Artforum, January 2007).

35

Drift

2003
oil on canvas
221 x 371 cm (87 x 146 1/8 in)
Signed, titled and dated 'Nigel Cooke Drift 2005' on the overlap.

Estimate
£150,000 - 250,000 ‡ ♠

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

10 October 2012
London