Melissa Cooke’s accomplished powdered graphite on paper works explore themes of beauty, fantasy, violence, vulnerability and identity, with the artist casting herself as subject in a myriad of thematic scenarios.
” I take photographs as I paint and pour liquids onto myself, using my face as a canvas. The photo shoots reference the practice of drawing and painting; then the final graphite drawing references photography. The boundaries between the mediums are broken down and the processes are interwoven.
The images depart from the framing of traditional portraiture. The viewer is not given an entire bust of the subject; rather the frame zooms into up-close sections of the face. The cropping pushes the face to the surface of the paper, making the figure more ambiguous. Flesh becomes abstracted: obliterated by paint on the skin, distorted by the eye of the camera lens, or smeared by the glass of a Xerox machine.
Photographs are used as inspiration for drawing and mark making. The drawings are made by dusting thin layers of graphite onto paper with a dry brush. The softness of the graphite provides a smooth surface that can be augmented by erasing in details. Gestural marks are apparent, while still creating dimension. Textures are given precedence over portraying a likeness to the figure. The act of drawing becomes the focus.”