Born with crayons in hand, Michael Cook has pursued the elusive, mythical art beast throughout his entire life. Winning an honorable mention award with his first entry in a juried art museum show at age 16, Cook won first prize in painting the following year with his second museum entry. Now, after exhibiting his paintings in over 70 galleries and art museums throughout the United States, Michael Cook's work is represented in numerous private collections around the world.
In art that traverses and integrates a wide spectrum of styles from contemporary realism and surrealism to lyrical abstraction, Michael's focus is nevertheless consistent÷presenting the elemental and spiritual essence of the natural world, from traditional landscapes to metaphysical investigations. Michael Cook's art is not concerned so much with specific motifs, but with the larger gestalt, the connectedness of it all. As Michael puts it, It is communion with Essential Mystery that propels us forward as a species.
Statement From Michael Cook:
The primary objective of my work is to convey the essence of the natural world.
Within the structural patterns of nature, there is an astounding complexity - and an elegant simplicity. Both extremes are just different aspects of the same thing, and it is within this paradox that we all exist.
At various points along this continuum, I stop and try to distill the essence. These paintings are the result.
On one level, the paintings could be considered archetypal landscapes, either in a primordial state, or one shaped by human interaction. It's difficult for me not to respond to the edgy relationship between man and nature, between man and woman, between mankind and all the other members of the biosphere; or for that matter, the relationship of the human species to the physical universe at large.
This wide perceptual swath inevitably results in a somewhat eclectic approach to art, because in seeking to articulate the connectedness of everything, presenting "the big picture" becomes more significant than the various paths leading to it, or the myriad components that comprise it.
I work in a representational mode because it's important to me that the paintings are visually accessible, and I find the landscape genre best suited to these explorations. So in addition to being intimate studies of light, atmosphere, color and tonal value, etc., the paintings can also hopefully serve as metaphors and questions - allowing all the other diverse implications, undercurrents and strata to emerge subtly, beyond the scope of a cursory glance.
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