Opening of the Exhibition "Under the Same Moon": Celebrating Lebanon and its majestic cedar trees
Letitia Gallery held the opening of its inaugural exhibition "Under the Same Moon" for British artist Eileen Cooper, who came to Lebanon for this special occasion, and in the presence of art collectors, art lovers, and friends.
Annie Vartivarian, Co-founder and Director of Letitia Gallery said “We are delighted to be welcoming Eileen Cooper to take part in our inaugural exhibition. With the opening of this new space we aim to widen Beirut’s already burgeoning art scene to include critically acclaimed international artists.”
The exhibition “Under the Same Moon” showcases a series of new and existing canvases and print works by British contemporary artist Eileen Cooper OBE RA. Cooper drew inspiration for her new works from her perception of Beirut’s position as a safe harbor and Lebanon’s history as a country with a depth of cultural heritage and rich natural beauty. Her canvases offer an exploration of Lebanese myths amidst a landscape bathed in the diffused light of the warm, visceral Middle Eastern sun.
When Eileen Cooper visited Lebanon, she was inspired by the lofty cedars. An artist whose work has long drawn on the symbolism of and mythology associated with trees, she was struck by their beauty, size, and stability.
These new works sit in conversation with a selection of Cooper’s existing works that showcase her legacy as a magic realist artist exploring the transformative nature of a single moment. Her work comes from an unapologetically female perspective, resulting in work that is simultaneously bold and tender.
Eileen Cooper said: “I feel very lucky to have met wonderful people who gave me the unexpected opportunity to visit Beirut. After a short but intense trip, I knew I wanted to make a group of paintings as a response to this experience. I was left with an overwhelming sense of the history and beauty of Lebanon. In particular the extraordinary landscape, the magnificent Cedars and ancient mythology.”
Born in Glossop, Derbyshire, in 1953, Eileen Cooper drew from an early age. At 17, she went to the nearby Ashton-under-Lyne College of Further Education, where she undertook a Foundation Course in Art and Design, after which she journeyed south to London, where she studied first at Goldsmiths College (1971-74) and then at the Royal College of Art, under Peter de Francia, graduating in 1977. She was elected a Royal Academician in 2001 and, a few years later, was appointed as the Head of Printmaking in the Royal Academy Schools. In 2011, she became Keeper of the Royal Academy (the first woman elected to the position since the RA began in 1768), a post she held until last summer, with full responsibility for the Royal Academy Schools. Cooper’s swansong as Keeper was to curate the Royal Academy’s annual Summer Exhibition 2017, a salon-style open exhibition, this time with a focus on the international.
Alongside developing her practice as an artist, Cooper has taught part-time as a visiting artist and educator in numerous institutions including St Martins School of Art, Royal College of Art and the Royal Academy Schools.
Throughout her career, Cooper has remained true to figuration. From her roots in objective drawing, particularly in the life room, the female figure has always been central to her practice. In her early works, this strong and assertive protagonist was usually unclothed, dressed, Cooper likes to say, in colour. Often alone, the figure – many have interpreted her as a self-portrait, but Cooper insists she is as much you or me as she is her – contorts to fill the space, dancing, climbing, balancing. Her props have included ladders, swings, boats, paint brushes, even a spade. The subject is usually equipped for work, yet sometimes she sleeps – here the potential to dream becomes the focus. Cooper’s work, while rooted in the real world, remains full of imaginative possibilities and has often been described as ‘magic realism’.
About Letitia Gallery
Based in Beirut in the vibrant Hamra neighborhood, Letitia Gallery is a contemporary art gallery, founded by Mohamad Al Hamoud and Annie Vartivarian. It is focused on encouraging global engagement with contemporary art in Lebanon through the contextualisation of both local and international artists and their work in the global art environment.