SAN FRANCISCO, CA.-Mark Wolfe Contemporary Art presents new paintings and works on paper by the Oakland-based artist Alika Cooper, on view July 19 - August 30, 2007. Cooper’s new exhibition merges two seemingly disparate bodies of work. The show combines a series of portraits depicting Hollywood actresses with a series of rural landscapes. The portraits are intense, psychological, and difficult. Working with film stills taken from American movies released between 1950 and 1980, Cooper takes a “hyper-glamorized” image of femininity, and renders it grotesque. The landscapes, meanwhile, Cooper describes as landscapes of poverty. Poverty, she notes, is considered “ugly,” an aesthetic judgment that also contains implicit judgments of value and morality. “Ugliness” forms a key theme in Cooper’s recent work. Ugliness, and disgust, threaten to burst through the surface. Each image carries a threat, a sense of potential disruption, of psychic, or perhaps even social, unrest.
Born in Guam, Cooper grew up in Southern California, residing in both San Diego and Los Angeles. Her paintings share something of the “sunshine noir” aesthetic that marks the work of fellow Southern California artists. The phrase is often used to describe an earlier generation of artists, such as David Hockney, Ed Ruscha, and John Baldessari, whose works deliver light and shadow in equal measure.
Cooper graduated from the M.F.A. program at the California College of Arts in 2005. Her work has appeared at the LightBox and Black Market galleries in Los Angeles, at the Aiden Savoy and Jen Bekman galleries in New York City, at the Lobot Gallery in Oakland, and at Triple Base, 111 Minna, and Varnish galleries in San Francisco. Cooper’s illustrations frequently appear in national publications, such as the New York Times Sunday Magazine. This is her first solo exhibition.