Christopher Cook has worked in monochrome for twenty years, having developed an idiosyncratic medium from graphite powder and resin. These works have been the subject of many international solo exhibitions including at Heidelberger Kunstverein Germany, Yokohama Art Museum Japan, Today Art Museum Beijing, Memphis Art Museum USA and Ryan Lee Gallery New York, as well as in the UK at Towner Art Gallery Eastbourne, and the Ferens Gallery Hull. His work received a prize at John Moores XXI and first prize in the New Light exhibition 2017-18, and is held in major international collections, including Cleveland Museum USA, Minneapolis Museum of Art, USA, Yokohama Museum of Art, Japan, Yale Centre for British Art, USA, the British Museum UK, Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge UK, and four works in the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York.
Cook appreciates Odilon Redon’s position that “one must respect black, nothing prostitutes it. It does not please the eye and it awakens no sensuality. It is the agent of the mind far more than the most beautiful colour of the palette or prism”. He also speaks of connections between the use of greyscale and early photography, and of how his process combines aspects of both drawing and painting.
His current graphite images are based on 17th century Dutch Still Life painting, a preoccupation that began with simple transpositions of major paintings, but has now become an important series. Of these works Cook says:
“A clear intention of the Dutch genre is as display of wealth and power, and the closer I looked, the more the genre seemed to represent colonialist expansionism and a ‘coming of age’ of capitalism and materialism. This invited the insertion of elements to explore contemporary implications of the tradition, elements suggestive of capitalist discord: exploitation, conflict, protectionism. I want to maintain a balance between reverence for the original works and this destabilising tendency”.