In The Studio: Richard Cook, painter

'There is a force that has to emerge untouched and that is the painting'

Richard Cook initially moved to Cornwall to get more space to paint. He was living in a flat on Hampstead Heath, studying at the Royal College of Art, when he found a house in Newlyn where he and his partner, fellow painter Partou Zia, now sadly deceased, could live and work together.

The house is tucked away down a back street of Newlyn, and would have a great view of the sea but for a large painting that obscures the window – a view of the Black Mountains in Wales. It's a subject that Cook has often returned to: "I did a series of drawings there and the painting happened three or four years later. It's not thinking, it is engendering, and the thing comes out when it's ready." Cook is someone who chooses not to go looking for new places to observe, preferring, he says, to plough his furrows more deeply, returning to "his" fields over and over.

Cook's studio is upstairs; the floor, studded by years and years of paint, is uneven and difficult to stand on. The walls are lined with still-wet paintings, while books and sketch-books lie open nearby, some revealing rapid pen and ink drawings, others showing more finished and muscular watercolour studies.

We have been talking about Courbet and he points at some drawings he had made from Courbet when he was last in the National Gallery, as well as an open catalogue from Courbet's show under an easel. "I could not have set this up," he says, laughing. "I love Courbet. There is a poetic understanding of the world that I feel at one with. All painting goes back to Courbet and Manet. It is a passing on of a sort of truth and knowledge."

While studying with Leon Kossoff, Cook recalls when Kossoff approached him sketching in the library and said, "They are very good but can you be a little more primitive." "He released something in me and became a sort of father, but then I had to go my own way. I have set myself free from that."

The confidence and insight that Cook expresses about his own technique may help explain the making of the works. The actual execution of a large painting can be extremely fast, taking only three, four or five minutes. "I paint with my hands. I don't look. There is a force that I have to allow to emerge untrammelled and untouched and that is the painting".

The canvasses reveal the speed in which they were created by their spare use of paint and large gestural brushstrokes. They have an unmistakably raw energy. His self-assurance comes through as he proclaims, "I am not really a Cornish painter, I am Richard and I am a painter and I have a lot of belief in what I am doing."

Arts and Entertainment
By Seuss! ‘What Pet Shall I Get?’ hits the bookshops this week
Books
Arts and Entertainment
The mushroom cloud over Hiroshima after Enola Gray and her crew dropped the bomb
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Elliott outside his stationery store that houses a Post Office
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Rebecca Ferguson, Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible Rogue Nation

Film review Tom Cruise, 50, is still like a puppy in this relentless action soap opera

Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams in True Detective season 2

TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

    I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
    Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

    Margaret Attwood on climate change

    The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

    What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
    Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

    The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

    Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
    Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

    Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

    The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
    Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

    Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

    The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
    Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

    Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

    Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

    Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
    Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

    Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

    The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
    10 best waterproof mascaras

    Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

    We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
    Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

    Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

    Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
    Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

    England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

    The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
    Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

    Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

    British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'