Will Cooke’s work deals with nostalgia and memory. He is interested in the ways in which cultural forms and ideas from one era get recycled and reprocessed down through subsequent eras, and the ways in which fashion, technology and design endlessly repackage tropes from earlier times. This is a fact of postmodernism and the results are evident all around us, every day. In music, for instance, it is now commonplace to hear sections sampled from earlier songs, or pieces of recycled old vocal tracks inserted into new pieces. Cooke’s own interest in music has been of major influence in this new body of work. His studio resonates to the sound of classic disco and the repetitive beats of Chicago house music. There is a nostalgic suggestion of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s to the resulting pieces in this exhibition, but they are also tempered by the uncompromising, cool awareness of an artist looking back, from the perspective of working in the mid-2000s.
Across the flat surfaces of the paintings Cooke has placed intersecting dots, which merge in and out of registration, producing a throbbing, ‘wave-like’ aura that suggests musical rhythm and beats, allowing us to almost ‘hear’ the pictures. These dots seem to hover just under the surface and they activate the spaces within each work, so that we are able to float down inside the various planes within.
Painted upon sheets of cool aluminium, which has been allowed to break through the matt paint in sections, the works have a seductive, metallic lustre, which combines ideas of the industrial as well as hedonistic pleasure. In this regard they perhaps conjure up images of old New York, before its gentrification; in fact, Cooke’s previous exhibition was held in that never sleeping city – the birthplace of disco, and the home of the legendary, decadent Studio 54.
Text by Steve Cox