For his third solo show at moniquemeloche, Justin Cooper transforms the gallery with his sculptural installation Ooze, utilizing readily available materials such as PVC pipe and trash bags to create volumetric "drawings in space." Field, a new series of Cooper's signature large-scale drawings, rounds out the installation.
The exhibition's title is tactical, not descriptive, a playful primer for engagement with the work on view. The word "board" evokes the logic of the homophone, a linguistic term for a word pronounced the same as another but differing in meaning, despite differences in spelling. As Cooper explains, the word board, when spoken, has the "distinction of being simultaneously a noun, verb, and adjective. Each time the title is said aloud, the interlocutor must make a cognitive effort to distinguish whether it's referring to a plank of wood, taking a seat on a vessel, or being in a state of disinterest. It could also refer to a panel of experts or trustees or directors." By way of metaphor, the homophone logic alludes to the multivalence of Cooper's sculptural, photographic, drawing, and performance practice, while stressing the possibility for seemingly distinct categories to simultaneously apply to it. Cooper's work finds ways to be at once instinctual/ formal, physical/psychological, everyday/extraordinary, and mundane/otherworldly, occupying the overlap of a Venn diagram.
Cooper's drawings on paper are built up through the repetitive act of mark making to suggest a phantom, imagined microscopy at various degrees of magnification. These color drawings can seem at odds with the massive snaking installation, a stark black-on-white volume taking over the space. Here, the homophone also operates as a metaphor for the spatial, formal, and pictorial relationship between the installation and the drawings. Cooper immerses his audience in the "mental gymnastics" of creating meaning from the seemingly unconnected title Board, the installation Ooze and drawings Field in the exhibition space. As described by the artist, "Ooze can be read as a 3-dimensional companion to the drawings, but a feisty one, complimenting and opposing in equal fashion. Ooze serves as a direct formal link to the visual action at work on paper. But this formal train is derailed soon enough, as the color has been drained from the sculptures as if sections of Field attained volume and promptly died, leaving behind their skeletal remains."
Zany, offbeat, bizarre, every possible adjective to describe the non-normative has been assigned to the impossible to categorize work of Justin Cooper, and yet his materials could not be more mundane. Cooper's spirited, performative intervention in the use of everyday materials reassigns these goods to props in his frenetic performances and drawings in both two and three dimensions. Once again, Justin Cooper utilizes the moniquemeloche gallery space to undertake spontaneous forms of serious play.
Justin Cooper (American, b. 1976, lives NY) has an MFA in sculpture, performance, and video from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2005), a BFA from the University of Colorado (2003), and studied at the Sorbonne, Paris (2002). He had a residency at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine (2007) and was included in the 2003 Colorado Biennial at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. Cooper has performed and exhibited worldwide, in Hong Kong, Berlin, Rio de Janeiro, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, London, Los Angeles, Mexico and Sweden. In 2012, Cooper and long-time collaborator Ross Moreno performed at the Sculpture Center, Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens, NY; Synchronicity Space, LA; Dixon Place, NYC; and RedLine, Milwaukee. Since his last solo show at moniquemeloche, Cooper has had solo exhibitions at Beta Pictoris, Birmingham, AL and the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, Denver, CO. Recent group exhibitions include Afterimage at DePaul Museum of Art, Chicago, hi*a*tus at Grand Rapids Art Center, MI, and Under Construction curated by Omar Lopez-Chahoud at Hotel Particulier, NY. He will present a solo project at Hotel Particulier later this year, and will be among the three artists presented by moniquemeloche at the UNTITTLED. Miami Beach art fair this December.
Performance by Justin Cooper and Ross Moreno
Yeti and Firebush, Friday, November 2, 10:30pm
Gallery Cabaret, 2020 North Oakley Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
CLOSED Dec 25, Jan 1
Open by appointment only Dec 26-29