Catalogue text by Sacha Craddock for 2018 solo show MOONLIGHTING at studio1.1 London
Carrying exactly the same material upon it as in real life, the turpentine, paint and stickiness dropped on the floor of the studio in ‘Out the Back‘ 2017, for instance, does not describe so much as become the thing itself. The glue that would have held up tiles in another painting is revealed as real, in some way, and so on. Domestic decay, generally invisible in real life, is still somehow comforting as the garish false bricks in ‘Domestic Death’ 2017, dominate the kitchen. Glowing and hard red at times, colour can flash across paintings, but it can also be absent - fading in and out of monochrome as piles of crumpled paper, pieces of rubbish and peeling paint arrive with as tenuous a hold on information as the faded photograph.
Stages of possible printing echo stages of painting, this for Cope is an essential part of the construction, building, or image. Showing how huge the difference between the verbal and the visual, the story and the place, he collages a hybrid sourced from broken memory and photographic evidence. By painting layers of resolution, he slices metaphorically through with a series of flat surfaces. Though place and space is painted on metaphorical ground the conflict between conveying everyday existence, and the inherent split second of photographic creation does certainly construct something strange. Understanding that the excavation is in layers we too find ourselves in an awkward place, both interior and exterior.
With the lucidity of the visitor and nonchalance of the regular gained whilst on an artist residency at the Cyprus College of Art in Limassol, Cope still looks back to there. In ‘Stealing from the Natives’ of 2017, his recently conjured place by the sea, the man in a chair within worn wall appears to have been there a long time. The area he inhabits is small, with plants and pots painted in a heightened and somewhat separate manner. Narrative and reality crash loosely together within a strange range of reference. The sea beyond is grey. Any figure tends to look like an actor in a toy theatre tipped in from the side; the man on the beach in ‘Hunter’ 2018, with an octopus in his hand, for instance, was never the main point, somehow, and yet he still seems to function for Cope as a timely, and tawdry reminder of something divergent.
The concentration on single elements; a plant, the thin striped towel, proves that the artist holds on to the reassuring anchor that the non-subject of still life can bring. Often, on returning to the studio, Cope will destroy what is there by chucking a wash over an area or working with a rag to set something back. Showing a lack of faith in miracles, true verisimilitude can arrive only with the humour and fact of the worked surface. Even the flapping awning outside a building has worn itself away. The rendition of the plastic wrapped surface in ‘El Paso’ 2017 suddenly gives way to a bumper rubbish bin. So while Cope’s attention to detail provides pinpoint flashes of information, the overall sense of the painting is of a shifting pleasure that fades and grows with time.
Copyright Sacha Craddock 2018