Excerpt from Jennifer Complo,
McNutt Curator of Contemporary Art, Eiteljorg Museum
Waddell's paintings are a combination of rough marks; thick paint; transparent elegant strokes; and, on a few occasions a slow, hard line scratched into the canvas. You can feel the movement of the paint throughout the paintings but the subjects are frozen. They are not frozen as a stagnant object but captured as a solitary image. Captured, interpreted and enveloped in the landscape. They are carved out of, or laid onto the green and grey-yellow of the spring and summer, or the white canopy of winter. And sometimes there are ghosts in the paintings, the faint image of what has changed in the piece or decays in the pasture. These ghosts refer to Waddell's interest in life and death and our own mortality. They are metaphors for the struggle and change that is constant in life. In his artist's statement he says, "The understanding of death brings about a feeling of wonderfulness and appreciation of life and just how fragile and magical it all is."
James Cook exposes himself to diverse environments that inform his aesthetic views. Inspired by nature and the world around him, his canvases are powerful evocations of nature’s majesty. Cook’s work has been described as monumental, but the essence of his paintings (whether it is a cityscape or landscape) is contained in the singular brush stroke, line, and mark he orchestrates. Each stroke, each line, each mark is a distinctive note contributing to a chorus that echoes and resounds in a grand symphony. The viewer may be inspired by the grandeur of colorful and untamed worlds created by Cook, but it is the radiance of the painted surface that invites one to plunge into the depths. There is a lush quality to the surface of the canvas that is visceral, and even as you are engaged in the ripples of still pools, the patterns of fall foliage, or the complex patterns of a city skyline, it is the thick impastos and scraped textures that engage the senses in the expressive temperament of the medium. It is obvious that James Cook is in love with paint. To experience his paintings is to comprehend the spirit of color, depth and movement. His love of beauty finds its way onto the canvas as he strives to create visual excitement. Cook compares himself to abstract expressionists in the way that he works, noting that there is a great deal of invention in the paint itself.
Connie Gibbons, Director Mulvane Art Museum.
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