Peter Cooley | Through the Archipelago II | Online Catalogue

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© Martin Browne Contemporary © All images copyright Peter Cooley This catalogue is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of private study, research, criticism or review as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission. COMPILER: Hilary Perrett PHOTOGRAPHER: silversalt COLOUR SEPARATIONS: Spitting Image, Sydney PRINTING: Southern Colour, Sydney Cover Image: Cassowary 1, 2013, earthenware, 66 x 52 x 43 cm


Cassowary 1, 2013, earthenware, 66 x 52 x 43 cm (cover) Cassowary 4, 2013, earthenware, 62 x 52 x 46 cm Cassowary 2, 2013, earthenware, 43 x 42 x 43 cm Cassowary 3, 2013, earthenware, 60 x 63 x 40 cm Cassowary 5, 2013, earthenware, 36 x 39 x 21 cm Kites 1, 2012, earthenware, 44 x 28 x 28 cm Gang Gangs 4, 2012, earthenware, 42 x 28 x 28 cm Gang Gangs 3, 2012, earthenware, 36 x 21 x 21 cm Sugar Gliders, a pair, 2012/13, earthenware, 18 x 28 x 21 cm (each) Swans 2, 2012/13, earthenware, 45 x 40 x 40 cm Swans 1, 2012/13, earthenware, 29 x 47 x 47 cm Kangaroo, 2012, earthenware, 24 x 25 x 21 cm Tree Kangaroo 1, 2012, earthenware, 26 x 17.5 x 19 cm Sugar Glider, 2012/13, earthenware, 26 x 15 x 18.5 cm Lumholtz Tree Kangaroos, a pair, 2012/13, earthenware, 51 x 31 x 32 cm (each) White-Tailed Black Cockatoo, 2012/13, earthenware, 61 x 52 x 25 cm

THROUGH THE ARCHIPELAGO II: New Ceramics by Peter Cooley “I adore simple pleasures, they are the last refuge of the complex” Oscar Wilde. The attractive and simple beauty of Peter Cooley’s art walks a tightrope between the world of fine art and that of the Sunday artist. It is this perilous balancing act that gives his art enormous tension. A false step could see him plunge into the kitsch world of tourist souvenirs. In the hands of a lesser artist, Cooley’s treatment of the birds and animals of Australia could appear rather tired and clichéd. But it is Cooley’s technical virtuosity, his luscious painting, rich expressionistic surfaces, gorgeous lustres and sense of irony that saves his art and presents us with an artist at the peak of his creative talents, well aware of the risks his art takes. A child of Gold Coast culture, Cooley was born in 1956 in Murwillumbah in northern NSW, the year the nearby Lennons Broadbeach International Hotel opened, a “luxurious” oasis of “good taste” in what was to become Surface (sic) Paradise. Each day his Tweed Heads school bus passed by Johnny Mussing’s zoo of concrete animals made from chicken wire and cement. Nearby to his home, Cooley remembers a 50s house guarded at the gate by a life-size cement kangaroo and emu. These images have stayed with Cooley and in some way lie at the core of his current practice and its simplification of form. The Black Swan centrepiece in this exhibition openly refers back to the black rubber tyre sculpture/planters that dotted many Australian front yards in the 50s. At age 12, Cooley was sent to Mrs Helen Moffat’s Saturday afternoon ceramic group in Tweed Heads where he made his first pots. He has never looked back. In 2000, while in New York and finding little of interest in current painting, he was inspired through his repeated visits to the celebrated Garth Clarke Gallery to develop his ceramic practice. However, Cooley was not drawn to the refined aesthetic of Noguchi or Coper, but to a much earlier artist, the great 18thC Rococo porcelain modeller, Johann Joachin Kandler. Kandler is best known for his excessive Rococo tablepieces. Like Cooley’s work seen in this exhibition, he delighted in the use of decorative surfaces.

Other influences acknowledged by Cooley include the early 20thC German group Die Brucke (The Bridge) that gave birth to the art movement “Expressionism”. Their work, like Cooley’s, is known for its vivid colour, emotional tension, violent imagery and adoption of a “primitive” style. This current exhibition has the more recent influence of mid-20thC Italian art, exemplified by the ceramics of Leoncillo Leonardi (1915-1968). Leonardi’s work was part of the rebirth of post-war Italian art and part of the Italian economic miracle. The work of Leonardi differs markedly from American and English ceramic practice of the 40s and 50s, in that Leonardi’s work, with its simplified form, was more colourful, more abstract and more sculptural. It fitted perfectly within the post-war growth of Italian avant-garde art and design. The forms Cooley gives his animals are similarly simplified and abstracted. His Kites, Gang Gangs, Sugar Gliders, Tree Kangaroos, Black Swans and Cassowaries are reduced to their simplest forms, while the clay is hollowed out, flattened or expressively rippled to suggest the essence of these Australian animals. Cooley’s individual practice is in stark contrast to much contemporary art, but it is this contrast and his steadfast belief in the integrity of his art practice that makes Peter Cooley unique in Australia — and worthy of our serious attention. Richard Perram Director Bathurst Regional Art Gallery April 2013 This essay is in part based on an essay written by the author for the exhibition “Focused: Peter Cooley 1997-2009” at Bathurst Regional Art Gallery in 2009.

Opposite: Cassowary 4, 2013 Earthenware 62 x 52 x 46 cm Following Pages: Left: Cassowary 2, 2013 Earthenware 43 x 42 x 43 cm Right: Cassowary 3, 2013 Earthenware 60 x 63 x 40 cm

Cassowary 5, 2013 Earthenware 36 x 39 x 21 cm

Opposite: Kites 1, 2012 Earthenware 44 x 28 x 28 cm Following Pages: Left: Gang Gangs 4, 2012 Earthenware 42 x 28 x 28 cm Right: Gang Gangs 3, 2012 Earthenware 36 x 21 x 21 cm

Opposite: Sugar Gliders, a pair, 2012/13 Earthenware 18 x 28 x 21 cm (each) Following Pages: Left: Swans 2, 2012/13 Earthenware 45 x 40 x 40 cm Right: Swans 1, 2012/13 Earthenware 29 x 47 x 47 cm

Kangaroo, 2012 Earthenware 24 x 25 x 21 cm

Opposite: Tree Kangaroo 1, 2012 Earthenware 26 x 17.5 x 19 cm Following Pages: Left: Sugar Glider, 2012/13 Earthenware 26 x 15 x 18.5 cm Right: Lumholtz Tree Kangaroos, a pair, 2012/13 Earthenware 51 x 31 x 32 cm (each)

White-Tailed Black Cockatoo, 2012/13 Earthenware 61 x 52 x 25 cm

PETER COOLEY 1976-79 Diploma of Art, City Art Institute, Sydney 1974-76 Diploma of Fine Art, Brisbane College of Art SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS 2013 2012 2010 2010 2009 2009 2008 2007 2005 2005 2005 2003 2002 1999 1998 1996 1994 1993 1992

Through the Archipelago II, Martin Browne Contemporary, Sydney Through the Archipelago, Martin Browne Contemporary, Sydney Peter Cooley – Recent Works, Gould Galleries, Melbourne Peter Cooley Ceramics, Ray Hughes Gallery, Sydney Where we know, with Toni Warburton, Wollongong City Gallery Focused, Bathurst Regional Gallery Peter Cooley: Mixture, Gould Galleries, Melbourne Peter Cooley, Ray Hughes Gallery, Sydney Peter Cooley, Gould Galleries, Melbourne Peter Cooley: Jamison Valley Panorama, Ray Hughes Gallery, Sydney Peter Cooley, Gould Galleries, Melbourne More Tea Towels, Ray Hughes Gallery, Sydney Central and Northern Australia revisited (after the tea towels), Ray Hughes Gallery, Sydney Paintings from Central and Northern Australia, Ray Hughes Gallery, Sydney From Leura to Blackheath, Ray Hughes Gallery, Sydney Peter Cooley, Mori Gallery, Sydney Homemade and Slutty: Paintings and Ceramics, Mori Gallery, Sydney Paintings and Ceramics, Gallery Rhumbarallas, Melbourne Screen or Scream, Mori Gallery, Sydney

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS 2012 Picturing the Great Divide, Blue Mountains Regional Gallery 2012 Animal Human, University of Queensland Art Museum 2009 Sylvania Waters, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery 2007 Pots of Paint, The Delmar Gallery 2006 Living Treasures, Hawkesbury Regional Gallery 2006 Director’s Choice, Gould Galleries, Melbourne, no. 18, illustrated 2003 Home Sweet Home: works from the Peter Fay collection, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, illustrated 2003 Hung, Drawn & Quartered – 25 Years, 25 Artists, Tin Sheds Gallery, Faculty of Architecture, Sydney University, illustrated 2001 GOULD contemporary, Gould Galleries, Melbourne

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS (CONTINUED) 2000 2000 1999 1998 1997 1997 1996 1996 1996 1996 1996 1995 1995 1993 1993 1993

Australian Landscape, Ray Hughes Gallery, Sydney Thinking Aloud, Ray Hughes Gallery, Sydney Exchange, Ray Hughes Gallery at the George Gallery, Melbourne Swish, Casula Powerhouse, Sydney Ceramic Show, Ray Hughes Gallery, Sydney Queers Crossing, Ivan Dougherty, Sydney Group Exhibition, Craftspace, Sydney Recent Acquisitions, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Contemporary Australian Abstraction, Niagara Galleries, Melbourne Road to Love, Sarah Cottier Gallery, Sydney Ray Hughes at Doggett Street Studio, Brisbane Asia and Oceania Influence, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney It’s about time, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney Recent Acquisitions, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Rotary Collection of Australian Art from NGA, Touring Sydney &Melbourne We are Here, ACCA, Melbourne


Gold Coast International Ceramic award

SELECTED COLLECTIONS Australian National Gallery, Canberra British Museum, London National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Phillip Morris Collection Art Gallery of Western Australia Macquarie Group Wollongong City Gallery University of Queensland Art Musuem NRMA Gold Coast City Art Gallery John McBride Collection Artbank Peter Fay Collection Allens Collection


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