Allison B. Cooke
“You could not step twice into the same river, for other waters are ever flowing on to you.”
Quoted by Plato in Cratylus
My paintings celebrate the interplay of past and present, imagined and tangible, that which is lost and what remains. I have always been drawn to the physicality and evidence of transformation as a unique presence in the passage of time. The patinas that build up where architectural structures and atmospheric effects coalesce are especially interesting to me. Surfaces with a built up history of shifting colors and mark making, whether random or intentional, carry a visual and poetic resonance. While the fragments of ancient walls and fading frescoes in Italy are a particular favorite, moments from my everyday life are just as influential. The ever-malleable nature of layered paint and its unpredictable qualities simulates the changing nature of experience, and is conducive to the creation of my open-ended abstract works.
One of the most prevalent and compelling influences in my work originates from spending the last decade in Florence, Italy teaching in the summer at the Santa Reparata International School of Art. While there, I encounter an abundant palimpsest within the juxtaposed kaleidoscope of imagery. I find inspiration in the aging architecture, time worn paintings and sculptures, and other world-class art treasures existing side by side with realities of present day street culture. These overlaps, intertwined with memory and invention, continue to inspire ideas when I return. However, I constantly seek influences in other unexpected places. Wherever they may be, I am drawn to the stories suggested, but sometimes overlooked, in both urban and natural environments.
I find pleasure in the experimental nature of mixed media combinations and thrive on unfamiliarity when making an image. Most of my paintings are made on braced panel with oil paint, beeswax, and other things such as powdered marble, dry pigment, gold leaf, and varying drawing tools. The process includes adding and subtracting paint, excavating, scraping, printing onto the surface and improvisational calligraphic mark making. The presence of my drawn and written marks sometimes reference the ideas found in Asemic or illegible writing. This approach to painting seeks connections between recognition and suggestion, specificity and chance. Ultimately, I am interested in creating works that evoke materiality and meaning from a free spirited studio practice – with no preconceived notions of what may happen.