Nicole Cooper, energetic brushwork, vivid colors, layers of painted flesh
In my life-sized figurative paintings, I use energetic brushwork, vivid colors, and layers of painted flesh to explore humanity as a living, growing force. Through my work I see the boundaries of where we begin and end as fluid. We connect on a cellular level, on the scale of human perception, and on a larger field that stretches across humanity.
I seek out connections that break down time and scale as they relate to the human body. Our individual perspective exists with our own senses (scale) and lifespan (time). Our bodies have a memory of their own that has evolved forward as it simultaneously links back to the ancient roots of humanity. It is a biological code that constructs the systems that comprise our bodies. On a cellular level, our systems are a microcosm of motion, rhythm, transfer, cycle, and repair that work together to sustain the spark of life. Through these same processes, our bodies instinctively know how to regenerate. Flesh is only birthed out of flesh through this ancient process. We are connected to one another like a chain through generations upon generations of people.
Systems are to the body as individuals are to humanity.
To reveal this regenerative cycle, I present the core of the body as an active, blooming force. Hot oranges, reds, and yellows dominate the surface as fleshy, thickly painted forms grow up and out from within, pushing the boundaries of internal and external. During the painting process, varying layers of thick and thin brushwork evolve to build up the figure in the same way flesh is layered in the human body to evoke a dynamic, connected system.
The hips become a symbol for regeneration. New life emerges up and out from this ancient base as a blooming human entity in a constant state of creation. This allows the figure to transcend individual identity to reveal itself as a manifestation of generations of individuals.
In works with more than one figure I use multiple canvases as a tool to segment spans of time or the bodies of individuals. Through the painting process, they find connections despite the physical boundaries that the canvas imposes on them as human figures morph into one another and share systems. Veins weave around and through the fleshy forms, making the obvious connection of kinship through blood.
By creating these works life-sized, I want the paintings to confront the viewer, to make them aware of their own body in the cycle of life and flesh. I encourage interpretations on biological, emotional, and spiritual levels. My aim is to question our primal, physical connection to our own bodies and how flesh connects us to each other as a species.