Trying to Figure out the Art of Feminism; Second Skin/Totally Tactile Sculptures/Wolverhampton Art Gallery Genetica/Light House, Wolverhampton

By Grimley, Terry | The Birmingham Post (England), July 28, 1999 | Go to article overview
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Trying to Figure out the Art of Feminism; Second Skin/Totally Tactile Sculptures/Wolverhampton Art Gallery Genetica/Light House, Wolverhampton


Grimley, Terry, The Birmingham Post (England)


The 1980s brought an international revival of figurative painting, with results which in some cases already look seriously dated.

Eileen Cooper's paintings reflect this period in their combination of deliberately crude or childlike drawing and strong, resonant colour. They are also part of a broad feminist stream which has spanned a wide variety of styles over the last three decades, dealing in elemental themes of sexuality and motherhood.

Second Skin is a selection of her work, subtitled Eileen Cooper in the 80s and 90s, which is being toured by the London commerical gallery Art First.

Some artists gain from having their work seen in depth, but in Eileen Cooper's case a little goes a long way. Seen in numbers her paintings look under-convincing as well as over-priced.

It surely isn't enough simply to decipher their iconography, as Sue Hubbard does in her catalogue essay. Over and above its content, form and colour, art needs some clinching argument that makes it bigger than the sum of its parts, and I could not find one here.

Just three "totally tactile" sculptures by Jan Niedojadlo occupy two galleries, but then they are big. So big, in fact, that you can climb inside.

Made of recycled materials, with soothing lighting and pleasant aromas, these science-fiction-style, pod-like structures are seductively comfortable and I am sure young visitors to the gallery would love to take one home. I wouldn't mind one either, though I would want to programme my own choice of music.

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