Nigel Cooke (British, b.1973) is an acclaimed figurative artist known for his large-scale fantastical scenes of decaying urban landscapes. Born in Manchester, England, Cooke’s first creative impulse came when he inherited his grandfather’s easel and paints. At first, he had no interest in art or painting, but decided to try it in memory of his grandfather, who had been an amateur painter. Cooke realized he wasn’t any good and was surprised at how challenging it was to recreate imagery through painting. This challenge became an addiction, a longing to discover. In 1991, he began his lengthy education at Nottingham Trent University where he received a BA in Fine Arts, and in 1995, went straight to graduate school at the Royal College of Art, achieving his MA in painting two years later. During this time, he began to make a name for himself as an artist with his series of surreal scenes showing a mixture of influences from Sublime images and 18th century landscape painting, to Contemporary ideas on entropy. Cooke then attended Goldsmith’s College in London, graduating in 2004 with a PhD in Fine Art.

In his work, Cooke aspired to represent all characteristics of painting, “from the retarded to the sophisticated,” as he said once in an interview. He described his work as a parody of the “doomed last painting.” Cooke’s paintings evoke images from the Flemish Renaissance, Contemporary Graffiti Art, and styles similar to that of graphic novels. A recurring theme in his work is the tortured artist, meant to evoke how physically demanding art had always been for him. This theme is seen in the suffering, isolated figures, which were originally based on the work of Vincent Van Gogh (Dutch, 1853–1890). Cooke labeled these figures “Van Gogh tramps,” which travel aimlessly in a decaying world. To Work is to Play (2008) was first exhibited at a solo show he did at Modern Art, London, entitled New Accursed Art Club, which references the role and persona of an artist. Cooke published his first book, Words, in 2012, which explores the influence of pop culture and mass media, the idea of painting reality, and the authenticity of painting in an era in which authenticity is often overlooked.

Timeline

1973
Born in Manchester, July 17th
1991–1994
BA (Hons), Fine Art, Nottingham Trent University
1995–1997
MA Painting, Royal College of Art
1999–2004
PHD in Fine Art, Goldsmith’s College, London
Lives & works in London
Collections
British Council, London
Tate Gallery, London
Dakis Joannou Collection Foundation, Athens
François Pinault Collection, Paris
Sammlung Goetz Collection, Munich
Astrup Fearnley Museet for Moderne Kunst, Oslo
Moderna Museet, Stockholm
Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland
Honart Museum, Tehran
Rachofsky Collection, Dallas (promised gift to Dallas Museum of Modern Art)
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Rubell Family Collection, Miami
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Guggenheim Museum, New York

Exhibitions

2013
Stuart Shave / Modern Art, London, England, October 16 – November 17 (solo)
2013
Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, Ireland, May 31 – July 17(solo)
2013
Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, Herzliya, Israel, Theatrical Gestures, January 26 – April 20
2013
Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, Mexico, “Paisaje 1969-2013 (Landscape 1969-2013),” April 25 – July 7 forthcoming
2012
Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York, NY(solo)
2012
Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague, Czech Republic, “Beyond Reality, British Painting Today,”
2012
KAI 10/Arthena Foundation, Dusseldorf, Germany, “Hidden Stories”
2012
Maison Particulière, Brussels, Belgium, “Struggle(s)”
2011
The Goss-Michael Foundation, Dallas, TX (solo)
2011
Blum and Poe, Los Angeles, CA (solo)
2010
"Night Crossing," Stuart Shave / Modern Art, London, England (solo)
2010
"21st Century: Art in the First Decade," Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
2010
"She Awoke with a Jerk," Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York, NY
2010
"Skin Fruit: Selections from the Dakis Joannou Collection," curated by Jeff Koons, New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, NY
2010
"The Future Demands Your Participation: Contemporary are from teh British Council Collection," Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai, China
2009
"We're Moving," Royal College of Art, Sackler Building, London, England
2009
Blum and Poe, Los Angeles, CA
2009
Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York (solo)
2008
Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London (solo)
2007
Moderna Museet, Stockholm (solo)
2007
Effigies, Stuart Shave Modern Art, London
2007
The Fractured Figure, Deste Foundation, Athens
2007
Dream & Trauma. Works from the Dakis Joannou collection, Athens, in collaboration with MUMOK & Kunsthalle, Vienna
2007
Guggenheim Collection: 1940s to Now – New York-Venice-Bilbao-Berlin, National Gallery of Victoria, Australia
2007
Imagination Becomes Reality, Museum of Contemporary Art at ZKM, Karlsruhe
2007
Fun de Siécle: Symbolism and Contemporary Art, Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal
2006
A Portrait of Everything, South London Gallery, London (solo)
2006
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth (solo)
2006
Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York (solo)
2006
Summer exhibition, Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London
2006
New Trajectories I: Relocations, curated from the Ovitz Family Collection, Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College, Portland
2006
Sherry and Joel Mallin’s collection, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, New York
2005
George Condo and Nigel Cooke, Blum and Poe, Los Angeles
2005
Chambres à Part, Sezz Hotel, Paris. Curator: Laurence Dreyfus
2005
Interested Painting, Gallery 400, University of Illinois, Chicago
2005
Strata – Difference And Repetition, Fondazione Davide Halevim, Milan
2005
Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London (solo)
2004
Art Now, Tate Britain, London (solo)
2004
Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York (solo)
2004
Monument to Now, The Dakis Joannou Collection, Athens
2004
Edge of the Real, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London
2004
Gewalt, Loushy Art & Editions, Tel Aviv
2004
Sodium and Asphalt: Contemporary British Art in Mexico, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City
2003
Works on Paper, Jack Hanley Gallery, San Francisco
2003
I See A Darkness, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles
2003
Dirty Pictures, The Approach, London
2002
Still Life, The British Council, London
2002
Melodrama, ARTIUM, Centro-Museo Vasco de Arte Contemporáneo, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain: travelling to Centro José Guerrero / Palacio de los Condes de Gabia, Granada
2002
Modern Art, London (solo)
2001
Tattoo Show, Modern Art, London
2001
A Sport & a Pastime, Greene Naftali Inc., New York
2000
Homage to the Budokan, Foyles Gallery, London
2000
Wooden Heart, Avco, London
2000
Nigel Cooke, CHAPMAN Fine ARTS, London (solo)
1999
Glory, British Council Window Gallery, Prague
1998
New Contemporaries 98, Camden Arts Gallery, London (Touring)
1997
Interesting Painting, City Racing, London

Public Collections

Rubell Family Collection, Miami
Sammlung Goetz Collection, Munich
Southampton City Art Gallery, Southampton
Tate Gallery, London
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles
Astrup Fearnley Museet for Moderne Kunst, Oslo
British Council, London
Dakis Joannou Collection Foundation, Athens
Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas
François Pinault Collection, Paris
Honart Museum, Tehran
Moderna Museet, Stockholm
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland

Literature

2008
Jones, Laura K. London Dispatch, Artnet.com Magazine, June 3
2008
Ward, Ossian. Failure is an Option, Time Out London, No. 1970, May 22 – May 24, p. 65
2008
Milliard, Coline. Welcome to the Rubbish Dump of the Real, Art Review, Issue 22, May, p. 70-79
2008
MacDonald, Vici. New Work: Nigel Cooke Q&A, Artworld, Issue 4, Pg 56-61, April – May
2008
Gleadell, Colin. Daily Telegraph, 22 April, p. 28
2008
Lack, Jessica. Show Preview, Guardian Guide, 19 April, p. 36
2007
Turvey, Lisa. Artforum, Issue XLV, No. 5, January
2007
Traum and Trauma, works from the Dakis Joannou collection, Athens, published by Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern and MUMOK, Vienna
2006
Paintings 01-06, Ingvild and Stephan Goetz, Suhail Malik, Darian Leader, published by Koenig Books London
2006
Imagination Becomes Reality, Part III, Talking Pictures, pg. 34-55
2006
New Art From London, published by Thames & Hudson
2006
Bourbon, Matthew. Review, Artforum.com, Critics’ Picks, October
2006
Granberyy, Michael. Creating What Hasn’t Been Seen, Dallas Morning News, October 21
2006
Le Marie, Nicole. Exhibition Review, Modern Painters, June, p. 118
2006
Kent, Sarah. Exhibition Review, Time Out London, May 10-17, p. 41
2006
Guener, Fisun. Nigel Cooke: A Portrait Of Everything, Metro, April 5
2006
Lubbock, Tom. Nightmare Visions, The Independent, p. 46-47, March 3
2006
Kunitz, Daniel. All the Painting You Need, Art Review, March
2006
Zenakos, Augistine. Dakis Joannou and the Deste Foundation, Contemporary, No. 80, 2006, p. 85-86
2005
Nigel Cooke, Art Review, December
2005
Honigman, Ana Finel. Nigel Cooke: Modern Art, Art News, October
2005
DETaIL, Sleek Magazine, Issue 05
2005
Sanders, Mark. Entropic Nowhere, Another Magazine, Spring/Summer
2005
Land, Wes. Interview, Tokion Magazine, March
2005
Transmission: Speaking and listening, volume 4: Provenance, Site Gallery Publishing
2004
Monument to Now, exhibition catalogue, Deste Foundation of Contemporary Art
2004
Sodium and Asphalt: Contemporary British Art in Mexico, exhibition catalogue, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City
2004
Now and Then, Art Now at Tate Britain Catalogue, Text by Martin Herbert
2004
Gewalt Catalogue, Loushy Art and Editions
2004
Garrett, Craig. Interview, Flash Art, May – June
2004
Ribas, Joao. Time Out, New York, Issue 449, May 6
2004
Northern Soul, Art Review, April 2004
2004
Cumming, Laura. Lost In The Small Print, The Observer, March 2004
2004
Sweet, Matthew. Making Plans for Nigel, The Independent Magazine, February 14 p. 24-26
2003
Korotkin, Joyce. Exploring Landscape: Eight Views from Britain, The New York Art World.com, March
2003
Wilson, Michael. Exploring Landscape: Eight Views from Britain, Art Monthly, March
2003
Williams, Gilda. Dirty Pictures, Art Monthly, March
2003
Rosenberg, Karen. Landscape, Secondhand and Otherwise…, Village Voice, 12-18 February
2003
Knight, Christopher. On the Underbelly of the Zeitgeist, Los Angeles Times, 21 February
2003
Smith, Roberta. Exploring Landscape, The New York Times, Influence Magazine, Issue 1, February 14
2002
Schwabsky, Barry. Nigel Cooke, ARTFORUM, May
2002
Coomer, Martin. Nigel Cooke, Time Out, April 10-17
2002
Ratnam, Niru. Bring Out The Chimp, The Face, April
2002
Quirk, Justin. Adolf 4 Eva: Another Art Controversy, i-D Magazine, April
2002
Summers, Francis. Big Scary Flashes of Perversity, Sleaze Nation, April
2002
de Ville, Nick. Entropy’s Cold Desert, Contemporary Art Magazine, March, p. 18-23
2002
Seymour, Benedict. When Worlds Collide, Frieze, March, p. 74-75
2002
Nigel Cooke, Modern Art publication, text by Jake Chapman
2002
Still Life, British Council, text by Ann Gallagher
2002
Melodrama, exhibition catalogue, Musee de Arte Contemporanea de Vigo
2001
Testino, Dutch Magazine, July/August
2000
Coxhead, Gabriel. Exhibit E: Nigel Cooke, Dazed and Confused, December
2000
Gleeson, David. Reviews, Time Out, 6-13 December
2000
Fallon, James. W magazine, December
2000
Hubbard, Sue. And Wilde Desires, March
1999
New Kids Explore Old Angst, The Times, August 18
1998
Sewell, Brian. How Dare They Spend Our Cash on This, Evening Standard, August 13
1998
Cork, Richard. New Kids Explore Old Angst, New Contemporaries, The Times, March
1998
New Contemporaries 98, Published by New Contemporaries
1997
Clark, Robert. Laddy in the Lake, The Guardian, July