Cooper’s fractured paintings of road surfaces can be seen as a type of future archaeology. Their fragmentation correlates to damage caused to roads and other structures by storm surges, floods, land slippages etc., the increasingly familiar results of extreme weather events. His shattered road assemblages can be seen as evocations of the sublime, the sense of awe in the face of nature’s fury. The title of the series ‘Sea Change’ alludes to damage brought about by rising sea levels. It also refers to a shift in thinking that now affects most of humanity with regard to the future.
Cooper’s work from his time in Rome in 2012 engages with another type of archaeology, in which cobblestones (‘sanpietrini’), common to the road surfaces of the old city, have been employed in a series of miniature ‘forced perspectives’ to echo both structures from classical antiquity and the spatial illusions favoured by Baroque architects, including Borromini in the Palazzo Spada . These bits of road and their clay replicas have become building blocks in various reconstructions of ancient edifices, the vestiges of an empire in collapse.
“The road has been central to my work for over twenty years. In common with many painters, musicians, poets and filmmakers, I have found it to be a continual source of formal and symbolic possibilities. One way or another, everyone shares the roadway.”