Seán Cotter

paintings and charcoals

Helen Carey Essay


Sean Cotter’s work has an aesthetic that draws people to his painting, they are beautiful.  After some reflection, the perceived understanding that the painter has revelled in the texture of the canvas and in the multiple layers of paint, the elements of colour and ‘the bird’ that locate the work in the landscape tradition – is replaced by uneasiness.  The darkness of the landscape, particularly when evoking the corvid – the crow – image quickly brings the potential ravaging of landscape to mind.  Darkly moral tales of nature draw up notions of solitude and isolation, of the bleakness of the landscape that can summon up demons of the interior.  Where lush and thick, the paint is disarming; sometimes the paint and colours look delicate and thin but the slashes through them can be painful if fleeting. 

Cotter’s work draws on landscape painting, bringing to mind the Cotman East Anglian skyscapes, with the darkness and lightness jostling on the canvas.  However, the descent into abstraction is driven by gravity, the composition is scientific; the steely hard edge is evident, what was a soft colour becomes infused with darkness and coldness.  Cotter’s paintings are beautiful but cool exercises, using the landscape idiom but drawing the viewer into an interior world of contrasts that can be beautiful and infernal.


Helen Carey

Centre Culturel Irlandais
5 rue des Irlandais
75005 Paris



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