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Hard Work Trumps Inspiration - Cecil Cooper on Art and Life

Cecil Cooper

Inspiration is over-rated, explained Cecil Cooper. He was speaking at a media event for his current work on show at the Mutual Life Gallery, Oxford Road. Cooper was about to present a painting to theatre’s treasure, Leonie Forbes when he pointed out that the worst, and yet most popular, question one could ask an artist is what is his inspiration. 


“Art is about work, not inspiration,” he said. Cooper described artists as some of the most hardworking people, explaining that they often face the difficult reality of working on a piece for long periods of time and then having to destroy it because turned out mediocrity. He explained, that when one invests in an artwork, the investment is really in the artist and his body of work over time.

Autumn by Cecil Cooper

So not surprisingly, one of the central pieces of the exhibition is the Curtain Series, which explores Cooper’s past, present and future. This triptych piece (acrylic on curtain) comprises ‘Autumn’, ‘Lost Time’ and ‘Rising’.

“It’s kind of talking about where I am today, having just retired from teaching, and looking back and looking forward,” he told Susumba. ‘Autumn’, the first of the three, explores those things that have influenced Cooper, making him the man that he is in the autumn of his life. ‘Lost Time’ explores the present while ‘Rising’ looks to the future.

Cooper also explained that while the exhibition was about the content, and the issues he explores, it is also about the process of producing art. He noted, that while many people in the rest of the world look toward the Caribbean for new ideas, we often do not understand what it is that we have to offer.  He pointed out that ‘New World Fusion explores those things that hinder our progress.

“I believe that the future really belongs to us if we can just settle down and push through,” he said. 

The exhibition opened on October 4 and comprises 20 pieces, largely acrylic on canvas. Cooper explained that in many ways, the pieces in the exhibition continue to explore idea he’s been dealing with throughout his artistic life. Additional pieces in the exhibition include ‘Altered State’, ‘Friends’, ‘What’s Her Secret’ and ‘Longing’. ‘Longing II’ was raffled to a member of the media.