Townly Cooke (1949 - 2016) was a highly accomplished painter and photographer. His quietly resonant paintings meld figuration with elements of abstraction to explore emotional experiences drawn from the artist's personal memories and family history. The elusiveness of the act of seeing is a recurrent theme - the artist suffered from problems with his sight for many years.
Townly Cooke consciously positioned his paintings in the broad sweep of the Western tradition from Chardin, Turner, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism through to American Abstract Expressionism. His work often make direct references to figures in art history such as Degas and Van Gogh. He felt a particular affinity for Degas, because of the French artist's near blindness in his later years. Yet despite all the allusions to art history, Townly's Cooke's art remains resolutely contemporary - a profound interrogation of what painting should mean in the twenty-first century.
Little known in his lifetime, this important artist deserves to be more widely appreciated.
Installation views of Townly Cooke's exhibition at the Lewisham Arthouse Project Space, London, 2017
Darkroom Tent, 1990, acrylic and oil on canvas, 115 x 100cm
All images © copyright the Estate of Townly Cooke