Fis 2008

Celebration of Irish Culture in Liverpool
Curated by Eamon Colman and Derek Culley
The Novas Centre, Greenland Street, Liverpool
25th July – 7th September, 2008

Reviewed by Sandra Gibson

[Selected excerpt – full article here]

[ In another masterly decision, the monumental paintings of Elizabeth Cope are placed near those of Eamon Colman as counterpoint. Elizabeth Cope’s work is abrasively shocking, combining as it does the domestic with the brutal, wild movement with areas of bright hot colour: sex, death and hoovering. There is a strong element of black humour in these visceral paintings that address threat and vulnerability. In one painting the earth mother/domestic goddess performs a circus act with a broom whilst manacled by the omnipresent red lobster whose soft parts are protected by shell. In another work, Teats, the figure has twenty breasts encompassing her chest and extending over her head and as far down as her open vagina. Threat exists in the teeth of the hedge cutter and the various items of DIY and the whole mood of hysterical abandonment/lack of control is underpinned by zany diagonal striping.

An additonal curatorial decision has placed three of Elizabeth Cope’s paintings in their own enclave. In Dee with Lobster the pinkness of flesh is clouded by oppression and the teats have lost their brightness in this rather dark portrayal of sexual submission, the lobster squatting on the figure’s back. Skeletons and Lobsters introduces the idea of vanitas and has a decorative picture within as well as the recurrent menacing motifs of scorpion and measuring tape. The most savage painting is full of sexual and competitive violence. A male figure with some skeletal features holds six tennis racquets, creating a frenetic sense of kinesis with balls all over the place. The figure he is grinding into the ground has hold of his blood-red scrotum and all is over-looked by our lobster who is doing a pretty poor job as umpire. These are seriously powerful paintings full of energetic movement and strong imagery whose intensity is alleviated by areas of decorative power within the figurative pieces – more fully explored in her still life works where the influence of Matisse is keenly felt – and her sense of humour. ]