The Fine Art Society is pleased to present Eileen Cooper’s first solo exhibition at the gallery Till the Morning Comes. The show will feature new paintings and a series of life study drawings inspired by the English National Ballet’s recent production of Giselle choreographed by Akram Khan.
Throughout her career, Eileen Cooper’s bold and dynamic paintings have presented a dream-like vision of the world. Her stylised images of women, animals, and couples are full of energy and movement and often show her subjects dancing, floating, or flying in incongruous backgrounds. She has an abiding interest in the eternal feminine, in ideas of love, sexuality, and human relationships.
When the idea arose for Cooper to collaborate with the English National Ballet to create a series of works based on Akram Khan’s Giselle, it seemed a natural fit with her own artistic vision. In 2016, Khan was commissioned to choreograph a new version of this well-known classical ballet for the 21st century. Giselle is a much-loved repertoire piece for all major ballet companies. The story is a tragic one, about love and betrayal, revenge and forgiveness and features a strong and ferocious female protagonist.
Khan’s innovative choreography, which combines Indian kathak and contemporary dance styles with more traditional ballet vocabulary, produces dramatic, contorted, yet strangely beautiful shapes. Cooper studied these forms and movements over the course of several months, both while attending rehearsals for Giselle, and in her studio with dancer Madison Keesler of the English National Ballet acting as her model. The resulting paintings capture the power and energy of Khan’s choreography while remaining firmly situated within Cooper’s visual language. She has retained her signature black outlines and stylised figures, but has incorporated even more movement and a sombre colour palette that hints at Tom Yip’s costume and set designs. The effect is completely unique; the series evokes the mood of the ballet, yet stands on its own as a dynamic addition to her recent body of work.
Eileen Cooper was born in 1953 in Glossop, Derbyshire. She studied at Goldsmiths College and later at the Royal College of Art. Cooper was elected Royal Academician in 2000 and in 2010 she became the first woman to be elected as Keeper of the Royal Academy since its inception in 1768.