Robert Cottingham — Fictions in the Space Between

Exhibition

Drawing, painting

Robert Cottingham
Fictions in the Space Between

Ends in about 1 month: November 8 → December 21, 2019

«The visual pollution that suffocates us day in and day out, in which the images circulating on the Web and social media now direct our way of seeing and being seen, is not unrelated to the new interest in Photorealism shown by a young generation of artists. Pop Art and then Photorealism, which emerged at an interval of only a few years, both initially met with a very cool response: was this a critique or a celebration of the kingdom of consumption, of generalised ugliness, of urban sprawl? Both were discredited by the “lack of professionalism” of the artists concerned: after all, didn’t these painters simply “copy” objects and/or photographs, doing no more than blowing them up in size? What at the time was taken for cynicism strikes us today as incredibly fresh; what was interpreted as copying has since been celebrated as painting whose complexity and formal virtuosity we are now rediscovering.

That is why we need to look more closely at these canvases that look like photographic images but are, from close up, very much paintings.

[…] Far from being simply contemporary, [Robert Cottingham’s] motifs evoke the world before World War 2, the world of his childhood, as well as many a nod to modern art and its commonplaces — the relation between the image and the photograph, between the word and painting, being one of the great modernist questions. To go beyond the subject and reach painting, including abstract painting, via photography, is a complex way of doing things,and one that he accepted more clearly than other painters in the same “movement.” His approach, which is at once conceptual and photographic, allows room for content that is much more literary and human than at first appears. In his painting we can see as much abstraction as we can representation.»

— Camille Morineau