Nigel Cooke has too problems: he got too comfortable and he is represented by Stuart Shave. I am saying this because with the exception of Katy Moran, whose career he ruined for pushing too fast too far too soon, Shave tends to represent that sort of post-minimalist artist who usually work with the fragmentary, leaving to the viewer the completion of the scene. This required‘composition of place’ appears as a pre-requisite for the viwer not to have a nervous breakdown in front of the rather silly works of art that are shown in that gallery (Modern Art).  Until now, this was not part of Cooke’s strategy…until now.

This new show is comprised of four large new paintings, all made over the course of the past year. In these big canvases, there is a contradiction between the ambition of size and theme. These are gigantographic still-lives without any narrative or theoretical challenge. From that point of view they come across as derivative and pointless. The fact that they are organised in two very flat orthogonal planes does not help either. They work as stage decoration for a play that should be happening but is just not there.

According to the press release ‘Cooke’s new paintings create layered images of atmospheric landscapes with suggestions of architecture, vegetation and abstract shapes, inhabited by ghostly figures and closely painted objects that include books, watches, eyeballs, and decaying fruit. Cooke’s paintings use techniques and motifs that often articulate references to painters and painting’s history. Throughout his work, Cooke depicts an open narrative of intellectual pursuit, creative endeavor, and human folly’. The reference to the past is not clear. There is no allusion and there is no homage but the illustration of a repeated theme that, at this point, bores us all. Until now Cooke depicted an atmospheric world where the background was foil for a rather loose foreground and maybe that is the reason for someone like George Michael to have many of his works in his collection in Dallas. Now the relationship has been inverted and his flaws as a painter come to the fore. I am sure George is going to buy them though. A very and I mean…very disappointing show. Just a thought.

Nigel Cooke at Stuart Shave

Until November 16