Gallery

Monica Cook


Many figurative painters would choose not to work from photographs. There are many differences than working from life, you are capturing the sitter, cropped, in one exact moment, the depth of field is blurred and light and color are flattened.

Issue 17 (3/2006) • december 31, 2006 • wersja polska »»


Monica Cook

Monica Cook
Born in Dalton, Georgia in 1974, Monica Cook moved to Savannah, Georgia to pursue a bachelor's degree in painting at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Since graduating in 1996. Cook recently completed a residency at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, where she currently resides, continuing to work as an artist.

Her paintings have been included in numerous solo and juried exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad. Selected exhibitions include the King Bridge Biennial at the Columbus Museum in Columbus, Georgia (2005), Migration at the Pinnacle Gallery in Savannah, Georgia (2005), and Art Link at Sotheby's in New York, Amsterdam and Tel Aviv (2000-2003).

Her work is featured internationally in numerous private and corporate collections and is included in the current issue of New American Paintings no. 58.

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Monica Cook online:


Self portraits


Monica Cook


Over a decade ago I began painting self portraits out of convenience of using myself as a model. Although the paintings are somewhat autobiographical I have rarely considered my "self portraits" a portrait of me. I try to allow the character to evolve on its own and not become trapped by expectations or likeness.

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After many years of feeling confined to painting self portraits I would catch myself trying to memorize others features, like the shape of some ones hands or the color around their eyes to bring back to my portrait in the studio. Over time I had grown tired of solely painting myself and of the limited pose I had from painting from life through the mirror, so I began to use photographs as reference. Like many artists I enjoy working alone, becoming comfortable with use of a photographic reference made it possible to paint others without the distractions of having a model in the studio.

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Many figurative painters would choose not to work from photographs. There are many differences than working from life, you are capturing the sitter, cropped, in one exact moment, the depth of field is blurred and light and color are flattened. With all of these difficulties I don't consider any of them as problems, in many ways they add to the piece. The photograph I begin with has a completely different life from what it becomes as a painting. It is exciting to see a photographic image translated into the language of paint, in which every move is intentional with no boundaries to reality.

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Painting has always been a source of self exploration for me. Now that I am painting other people I think it is even more so. I thought it took a lot of courage to expose myself in a painting but realized it takes even more to expose someone else. Having my friends as models was extremely nerve racking at first, with self portraits you really only have yourself to answer to, painting others you have their physical concerns.

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I found myself frustrated and confined by the ideas of how people want to be portrayed, in painting them, like my self portraits, they are also not meant to capture the sitter, I want the real subject to lurk behind the painted version of themselves. It is too overwhelming of a task to capture the person posing and, as the painter, it could become laborious and boring, I prefer the surprise of the unknown.

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I am often carried away with the details, using the paint to describe a near-cruel, sometimes disturbing, objectivity of the figure, heightening various textures on the body, the translucency of the skin, how the veins surface and receed, the subtle sheen of the lips and slickness of the eyes.

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I love to paint flesh, fascinated by how history is trapped in the skin, the stories told in lines etched into faces, bruises and scars from their past. I find myself heightening the details on and in the flesh, which enhances the mortal presence of the sitter and creates a tension between the psychological complexity of the person and their raw humaness.

© Monica Cook