Will Cooke’s new exhibition, The Future Projects Light, takes as its title part of a quote by Irish architect Eileen Gray, who wrote: ‘The future projects light, the past only clouds’.
Cooke’s intention is to create a sensory experience for the viewer, “through hue, composition and chromatics.” In this aspect, he can be linked to the art movement ‘relational aesthetics’, which consciously takes into account the whole of human engagement with a work of art or with an exhibition space.
The artist is keenly aware of the ways in which the viewer interacts with his paintings - how they initially take in the paintings from afar, and then move across the gallery space for a closer observation, inspecting the layers and the surface details. He states: “How can I engage each viewer differently? How can I manipulate each viewing experience?”
Cooke here presents a series of clusters of dots, which hang, shimmering, in their painted spaces. Some are two-toned; some are flat; some are formed by the metallic sheen of the aluminium base which has been allowed to shine through. And each painting is enclosed by a particular-coloured frame which ‘activates’ the space inside the work enabling the dots to hover.
Cooke has chosen aluminium as a painting surface, and this allows him to leave areas of the bare metal to cut through the paintwork. “The surface shimmers,” he says, “which often makes it difficult to focus on a desired area of the painting.” For the viewer, there is a continual shift between what the painting suggests, spatially, and its actual appearance up close. There is a satisfying tension between the flatness of the metal and the illusion of the spatial depth that surrounds it.