Brandon Cook: A Critical Review
by Shawn Rossiter
In a state known for its landscape painters, Ogden’s Brandon Cook could easily be mistaken for “just another landscape painter.”
A cursory glance at his work might convince one to label Cook exactly that -- just another landscape painter, accomplished in technique, but not much more. Nothing new. Nothing innovative. But a glance does nothing to absorb the complexity of Cook’s work.
Cook is in the process of developing a personal style that takes advantage of the best of the tools for paint application and pictorial conception developed over the last century. His one-man exhibition, currently at the Eccles Community Art Center, reveals a young artist who is coming into his own. He is developing substantial paintings of grandeur and grace, energy and enthusiasm. And he has laid down enough possibilities on his canvas to continue making such works for many years to come.
Cook’s works are much more than mere landscapes. They are explorations of what has always made painting a great art, a magnificent enterprise. Like the masters of the past century and earlier, Cook delights in the process of painting itself. His works dance that marvelous waltz between the second and third dimensions which makes painting so fascinating. They are primarily abstract works, dealing with formal issues and expressive moods. In the end, they may have very little to do with the landscape.
And that may be precisely because Cook never meant to be a landscape painter. Cook studied art at Utah Valley State College and the University of Utah. After graduation, he moved to the Huntsville valley, east of Ogden, where he planned to work on figure drawing and painting. To his surprise, the landscape of his surroundings quickly took over.
“The more landscapes I did, the more I liked it,” Cook says. “I tend to look at things very abstractly, as patterns and designs, and it seemed real easy to work that way with landscapes.”
His choice of landscape painting hides the fact that Cook seems to be a seriously formal artist. The elements of his landscapes are like any constructional elements – they could be apples, or a newspaper and mandolin—they are an excuse for him to work with his paints and his surfaces. The landscapes have become a vehicle through which Cook can explore his own personal visual medium, much the way the still-life was for Picasso and Braque and the figure was for de Kooning.
Cook’s work has much in common with these artists and other 20th-century masters, though not necessarily in individual stylistic elements. The most apparent influences on the “look” of his paintings come from more immediate sources, like Paul Davis and David Dornan, both of whom he studied with. But beyond his local training, Cook is an artist exploring the formal elements of his art. His is an exploration of form, color, and the physical qualities of paint.
Art Happenings--Salt Lake City
to the Streets
Linda Bergstrom & Lisa Oliver
Since artists first enlivened the walls of caves with their images,
the necessity to have a place for creative expression has remained a
continual quest. Oftentimes the magical properties of the Arts cannot
be contained in a mere building, behind glass, or upon one's shelf,
and so must explode onto the streets and open spaces, manifesting itself
in unorthodox forms of artistic exuberance and showmanship.
Such is the case of Utah's growing coalition of "Public" artists
- artists just as at home displaying their creations on the street corner
or park as in a gallery. In fact, most of these artisans prefer open,
public spaces for a number of reasons: creative control, freedom of mobility,
and -- most importantly -- direct contact with the public.
spray-paint artist John Long
on the streets of SLC
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