“I want to have an adventure, and that means I want to be free to make art in any way, shape, or form that is art to me. So, that’s what I’ve lived.”

Ron Cooper in conversation with Rebecca McGrew: Taos, NM, 17 December 2009


Franklin Parrasch Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of recent works by New Mexico-based artist Ron Cooper. Not keen to indulge the expectations of others, Cooper is a true Renaissance man: artist, homesteader, producer of superlative mezcal, vehicle enthusiast, lone wolf. It’s no wonder his work deftly rides the fine line between the “Light and Space” and “Finish Fetish” monikers, both conceptually hard hitting and eye candy-tasty. Cooper – like his contemporaries Robert Irwin, James Turrell, and Doug Wheeler – is fluent in the uniquely Southern Californian minimalist visual language; yet he does not limit his art making to any certain boundaries.

Cooper emerged into the Los Angeles art scene in the mid-1960s following study at Chouinard Art Institute with fellow students Mary Corse, Allan Ruppersberg, and Wheeler. At this time, Cooper directed his focus upon two geometric forms: the square – shallow, poured-resin constructions he named “Light Traps”, and the rectangle – exaggerated “Vertical Bar” forms made of Plexiglas, upon which smooth, translucent mica-laden pigments were applied “like the exhalation of a breath.” Impelled to make pieces relating to a human scale, and inspired by the full-swing growth of 1960s SoCal tract housing developments, Cooper conceived of these bodies of work with stock building materials in mind. The “Light Trap” pieces consider the depth of 2×4 framing with standard drywall facing; the “Vertical Bar” series, the actual measurements of the common 4×4 lumber stock.

These bars, acknowledged early on by visionary gallerist Richard Bellamy, were first exhibited in a group show entitled “Arp to Artschwager” (cur. Bellamy at Noah Goldowsky Gallery, 1967); soon thereafter, they were the focus of a solo exhibition at Los Angeles’ ACE Gallery. The current grouping of Vertical Bars in this exhibition recall the proportions and structure of the early bars; in this series, however, Cooper has employed contemporary surface pigments that allow greater potential and range in their chatoyant properties.

Ron Cooper will be on view January 29 – March 13 at Franklin Parrasch Gallery, 53 East 64th Street, New York. An opening reception will take place from 6-8p on January 29; the artist will be present. For images, biography, or further information, please contact the gallery at info@franklinparrasch.com or at 212-246-5360 during business hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10a-6p.