American, born 1944
Don Cooper’s work belongs to the “fantastic realism” school of Southern American art. In his allegorical paintings, he aims to create “something I’ve never seen before—something described by its difference . . . the mystery of the space between reality and the imagination.” During the 1980s, Cooper executed a series of paintings in which Stone Mountain, Georgia, serves as the geographical backdrop. In these mystical images, he explores the history of mankind’s complicated connection to nature, often deconstructing the binary relationship between animals and human beings. Room with a View—A Return to Nature portrays two elegantly dressed men and a woman in the woods alongside wolves and bears. The sunlight dazzles through the trees, creating a neon-washed atmosphere that is simultaneously enchanting and disconcerting and in which some type of sacred occurrence is taking place. The figures are placed to form a triangle; significantly, the number three is sacred in many religions and traditionally symbolizes unity. This shape is repeated twice more by the baying wolves at center and the two bears and a wolf in the background.
Label from Menagerie: Animals on View, March 11–June 4, 2017