A Collection of works by ELIZABETH COPE11. Jan - 22. Feb 13 / ended Eleven Spitalfields
12 - 6 daily, weekends by appointment only
Elizabeth Cope is known for her exuberant colour, decorative power and expressionist spontaneity. She paints through what she calls ‘the chaos of everyday life’ - scenes from her home in rural Ireland - working in Edvard Munch’s studio - painting on the hoof in Somalia - hauling her canvases off to Beijing - sketching in the zoo - because for her there is no distinction between painting and living. Both are part of the same continuous creative process of being in the moment. That is why her pictures are so nervous with light and life and movement; that is why they often retain evidence of the process of their creation - sketch lines, dripped paint, canvas left bare, limbs alternatively positioned, a reptilian three-headed giraffe - because she must move on. That is why her still lifes whirr with energy and her figures and objects haven’t the least intention of staying within the conventional frame - nor indeed the frame of convention.
Combining a Mediterranean palette with a Northern sense of life’s brevity - her paintings often contain motifs such as measuring devices, skulls and mirrors from the vanitas tradition - Elizabeth also incorporates elements of expressionist grotesquery, which some find shocking. A recent American told her that the paintings had offended him. “Thank you,” she said. Anyone for Tennis? - its genteel title at variance with its contents - does indeed shock with its kinetic energy and imagery of sexual competitiveness, as does the surrealist Lobster on Nude, where you can feel the dark weight of oppression.
Elizabeth Cope’s out-put is prolific, varied and progressive. From sensitive observations of the nervy lives of animals, to the spaciousness of rural Ireland; from studies of nudes balanced in the equipoise of sensuous pleasure, to the expressionist exposure of vulnerability; from interiors busy with multifarious stuff, to a serene configuration of curved lines and blue tranquillity; from vividly orange and scarlet vibrations, to a quiet rainbow of greys - all sustained in balance by the ordering power of the artist’s mind and skills and humour. Elizabeth Cope has recently used a cut-out technique which adds an extra dimension to her work, emphasising the compositional potency of her paintings and interrupting the processional flow - something which goes against her usual practice.
But with Elizabeth Cope there is no such thing as usual practice.
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