Glass chats to contemporary artist Cooper at his debut exhibition in London’s Maddox Gallery

THERE ARE very few artists that can say they have cultivated an interest amongst the noise quite like Andrew Cooper. At a time where modern art is not niche but rather a trendy background to our online aesthetics, the fight for artists to break into our spheres is difficult, especially when so many are focused on the names we all know. But despite the hardships in the art world, American visual artist Cooper has quickly become a name on everyone’s lips as he comes to London to present his first exhibition to date at Maddox Gallery Westbourne Grove.

Cooper Wild Noise Maddox GalleryExterior of Maddox Gallery Westbourne Grove

Rendering far from most of his contemporaries introduction to the international audience of buyers, critics and academics, and notably opening during Frieze Week, the artist was given nine months to create 34 pieces – all selling out on opening night – and is now firmly cemented on everyone’s radars. Though his career until now may be described as nascent, there is an underlying, shared feeling felt by all those around him and all those that meet him as he radiates an unwavering devotion to his canvas clarifying the notion his trajectory is set to rapidly expand.

Meeting with Cooper at Maddox Gallery just before he jets back to America, he talks to Glass about his exhibition, entitled Wild Noise, how this partnership came about and details his process from thought to finished product.

Cooper Maddox Cooper

Let’s start with the title

The title is Wild Noise. 29 paintings and 5 cactus sculptures. The title is really about the wild world that we living and trying to find a rhythm that exists within it. I started that on January 2nd and I worked for like nine months and then just finished the last painting three weeks ago so everything has been back to back. It has been a really chaotic year but this is my first exhibition ever.

Cooper Wild Noise Maddox Cooper Wild Noise Maddox Wild Noise by Cooper at Maddox Gallery

Talk me through the first painting.

This is the first piece I started. There’s this Hi-Fi stereo, you’re going to be seeing in a lot of the artworks. That is really a personal symbol and subject matter that I paint coming from my childhood. It’s a memory and feeling, like at my grandparents house they had one in their basement and that was sort of the prize possession – like nobody touched it, it was from 1966.

My grandpa would come and put records on for like Christmas, Easter, only special holidays when all the family were round, otherwise it was like ‘don’t touch that’. It was such a warm feeling with all my family there, so that really is the backstory. Most things you’re going to see come from a personal feeling. I really paint from my heart and soul.

Cooper Wild Noise Maddox Wild Noise by Cooper at Maddox Gallery

And in general in terms of all the paintings here, are these fragments of your imagination or are these like actual places in your home?

There are touches of art history and artists who have inspired me, like Warhol, or some of these carpet marks right here is a little touch from Van Gogh’s landscape drawings – this is just more of a modern version. Everything else is just kind of what is around me in the studio while I’m painting, like these oranges, because I normally have an orange for lunch everyday, maybe like Warhol had the soup.

The books and records I use those really as a chamber to explore patterns and colours, like you can put two colours together but when you add a third it is just a whole different thing.

So looking at your first piece to what the last piece you painted was, how do you think you evolved as an artist in terms of the techniques that you used, or do you think it was pretty fluent throughout?

I think it was very fluent here. And then in the middle, I tried to get very detailed, and when I show you the last piece, it is actually the piece I tried to be most simplistic with.

Cooper Wild Noise Maddox Wild Noise by Cooper at Maddox Gallery

So these three are similar, not the same, but they have a similar vibe, was that because you were like this is amazing I love doing this, I’m going to do a few more?

Yeh. So, this was the first one that I did, in March, and my birthday is in March, on St Patrick’s Day so everything is green, but I started calling these my speaker stacks because, I’m painting all day so I am listening to music all the time. It’s just everywhere, it is a subject matter that is never going to go away. I get up at like 5:00 am, listen to music and paint for two hours and then I’ll head downstairs, eat some breakfast and like play with the dog for like 30 minutes and then come bac upstairs.

So that was the first speaker stack, I’m calling these speaker stacks, because of the music and everything. When I first sort of took that in and stepped back, it was really just a rhythm and meditation or zen-like feeling I was getting from it, because I’m just using simple universal patterns. If you look at everything it is all circles or squares or rectangles, it’s really simple, but musing different colours to play with in that. Then adding the wires to kind of give it that 3D effect and add another layer to that.

Cooper Wild Noise Maddox Wild Noise by Cooper at Maddox Gallery

And looking at these three, this one is very colourful, that one isn’t quite as colourful and then this one is quite to some extent monotone compared to the rest, is that to do with the music that you are listening to?

I think that they are probably very effected by the music, and the energy I am taking in, I would definitely say so. But a lot of it is because there was so much work I had to do this year, I wasn’t really thinking about anything, until the paintings were done.

Was there a song you probably listened to more than any other song, during the whole process?

Yeh. I really like MGK, Machine Gun Kelly, a little rap a little rock. It kind if gives me that aggressive feeling to just take over the canvas and just not be afraid, especially when no one has seen them and you have a big show, you just have to be confident you know.

Cooper Wild Noise Maddox Wild Noise by Cooper at Maddox Gallery

So, as an artist, even since you were a kid was colour a big deal with how you wanted to express yourself?

So now that you said that, my mum always said, if the house caught on fire go to Andrew’s room and get his shoe collection. Because I had all of the Michael Jordan shoes, and I went to a Catholic school, so that was really the only way I could express myself. Jordans are like $150 – $200, and in fifth grade wearing $150 shoes, that is insane looking back I don’t know why she did that for me. But that is really funny you mention that because I never thought about that, but that was a way to express myself – the colours on my shoes.

Were you always inclined to be very arty as a kid?

So my mum had a book when I was seven years old, and I drew a picture of me as a stick figure, painting a canvas on an easel, and I titled it ‘Andrew, seven years old, I want to be an artist when I grow up’. I think that intuition, subconsciously I was showing interest then and knew.

Cooper Wild Noise Maddox Wild Noise by Cooper at Maddox Gallery

Were there pieces of art that stuck with you and triggered that thought as a kid?

It’s interesting because in Indiana where I am from, there is not a lot of art, or a lot of other artists and you’re not exposed to it in school really. So, it is interesting how that might have come about, but the biggest thing was my grandma who lived in Texas would send me art books, and I would just sit outside under a tree just drawing for hours. That was my only exposure because there are no exhibitions around – it’s the Bible Belt so art is definitely looked upon very differently there, and artists in general.

Well the sort of art you’re exposed to is probably very different to this.

Yeh exactly, it is art in churches, all about God and a statue of Mary.

But I guess churches have stained glass windows, so I guess you were exposed to all of those super colourful Biblical depictions.

That is very true yeh, they were very colourful. And we went to church every Sunday so I would have seen all of that colour, and been very drawn to that.

Moving forward, how are you going to take this series of paintings and then evolve as an artist?  

Definitely keeping the same colours, maybe even going more wild but definitely keeping the speakers and the stereos. I think one big thing is going into flowers and flower fields in a more contemporary way as right now, in my style, it hasn’t really been done. But anything is possible and right now I won’t know until I’m painting. That is just kind of how it is, I show up and work comes out but I’m excited to find out myself.

by Imogen Clark 

Wild Noise is open until 20 November 2022

Maddox Gallery, 112 Westbourne Grove, London W2 5RU

Tuesday to Sunday: 10am – 6pm,
Monday: Closed