“Using a set of impossible perspectives, I try to make the perspectives possible again.” – Alika Cooper
Using additive layering techniques, Los Angeles-based artist Alika Cooper builds up fragmented portraits taken by some of the most famous fashion photographers of the last century. She dissects and rebuilds moments where women have been placed on the other end of the camera. The works simultaneously point to and slightly alter or break down the photographic work of Helmut Newton, Lisette Model, Umbo (Otto Umbehr) and Man Ray. Cooper deftly navigates the line between beauty and intrigue, often shifting the original composition’s angles and direction into an abstraction that bears a small imprint of the woman represented. The figures are no longer passive, but become slightly heavier and more foreboding when rendered in textile—with the gentle patterning of the fabric’s natural weft and weave bringing a grounded physicality to these works.
The material itself is an interesting choice for a figurative medium, especially since Cooper is recreating iconic portraits of women. Her reasons for working with the material have conceptual roots in the historically female connection to sewing, quilting, textile work and handicraft. The building up of negative and positive space is a more painterly approach to working with textile, yet the natural push and pull of the fabric when stretched across the visual plane perfectly echoes the tensions found in the dark, unsettling aura of her subject matter.
You can see Cooper’s work at Tracy Williams, Ltd. through April 25, 2013.