Ain Cocke’s lurid and flamboyantly “traditional” portraits of male World Wars I and II era soldiers recall Rococo artists such as Boucher and Fragonard as well as the Neue Sachlikeit painter Christian Schad. These two historical points of reference—pre-Revolution France and 1920s Weimar Germany—give context to Cocke’s painfully pretty pictures. “These periods of history and art history interest me,” says Cocke. “They were strange times for painting and life. A new time is coming and painting is transforming again as we get closer to the event.” With intimations of radical change, Cocke addresses the current cognoscenti’s suspicion of painting by pushing hard on the very buttons that irk it the most: the decorative, the figurative and a seemingly kitsch nostalgia. He creates a kind of Neue Rococo style for a world about to fall apart, again.
Ain Cocke, an artist currently based in Bejing, received his MFA from Yale University and his BFA from California State University, Long Beach. His work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in galleries in New York City and Los Angeles and museum exhibitions at The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA, The Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FL and in other venues around the world. His paintings consider the nature of portraiture and the anonymity that overtakes subjects with time.