Sydney 2010

CIRCLING THE BLOCK.Slot 2010.This installation of painted panels and screenprints has an apt connection to the gallery’s location amidst traffic congestion – echoing roundabouts and traffic lights. Cooper has long used the signs and symbols of our urban environment – road markings and asphalt surfaces for example - as visual vocabulary with modernist overtones. While somewhat ambiguous, Cooper leaves it to the viewers to construct their own responses to his metaphors. This satellite exhibition coincides with Cooper’s solo exhibition at Annandale Galleries, which pushes the work in new directions through shaped canvases.


Slot 38 Botany Road Alexandria NSW

March 15 – 18 April 2010

CIRCLING THE BLOCK. Slot, Alexandria NSW 2010. Charles Cooper has long been interested in the language of the road – speed bumps, pedestrian crossings, round-abouts, carpark marking – symbols and forms we intuitively read. They locate us within an urban environment. This installation of silk-screen prints and painted panels does just that, connecting with SLOTs location amidst traffic congestion and asphalt.

The three central paintings on panel act as an axis to the installation – directing between left and right, top and bottom – it is an easy jump to their traffic light motif. Painted in 1993, they were originally exhibited in a window along King Street Newtown for its week-long fair, however, in this combination for SLOT they take on a more layered reading.

Paired with Cooper’s ‘Round-about’ screenprints (2009), the circles play off each other. Their precise geometry has modernist overtones, allowing us to easily place them within Western art history, and yet, the mottled birds-eye view of Cooper’s roundabouts directly relates to the kind of mapping of the landscape we find in Aboriginal painting.

In the same way that the red, orange and green panels can be read as a traffic light, they also have a cosmic connection, their luminous flare on a black background reminiscent of a lunar eclipse. Furthermore, both allude to that retinal burn we experience when caught in a spotlight, blinking to regain focus, it is a world of pixelated purples, white lights and black spots.  The articulation of the circle becomes diffused.

On another level, this installation can be enjoyed for its playful bounce between chaos and order. The geometry and choice of colours of the prints are extremely controlled but their arrangement on the wall is totally random, activating a kind of shimmer between the elements and markings. Again we are reminded of Aboriginal painting and its use of signs and symbols to imbue spirit in their surfaces.

Clearly, Cooper’s artworks are ambiguous. He leaves it up to the viewer to construct a response to his metaphors. Like the road they are shared space.

Charlie Cooper’s screenprints were printed at MARNLING PRESS in Chippendale. This exhibition coincided with Cooper’s solo Peak Oil Paintings at Annandale Galleries, a new body of shaped canvases that seemingly lift off the wall.

– Gina Fairley, March 2010