SMILE FOR THE MONKEY MAN 2001/2002
Nigel Cooke (1973 – )
- 243.8 X 182.8 CM
- OIL ON CANVAS
- Accession number
In Nigel Cooke’s recent painting ‘Smile for the Monkey Man’ , minuscule disembodied human and animal heads are littered amongst the urban detritus and graffiti that forms a narrow band of focus along the bottom edge of the painting. The predominant section of the canvas reads firstly as a sky to the horizon line of wasteland but vague areas of implied texture and evidence of structural scale and miniscule fenestration correct this perception to suggest a vast plane of man-made construction, a walled penal complex or a futuristic citadel. A complex web of wires links the tiny windows along which simian creatures seem to navigate the surface of the structure and perplexingly a vast rainbow, symbol of promise, links the potentially comic scene above and the carnage below. But even the severed heads rendered in morbidly microscopic detail have a grotesquely humorous appearance, with their celebrity musician looks, their sunglasses and cowboy hats. The title of another recent painting, ‘Catabolic Vanitas’, suggests an admonitory reading of these ambivalent works and the essentially dystopian vision Cooke presents bears analogy with the Christian visualisation of hell.
Still Life, British Council 2000