Some commentators have argued that, by hand rendering complex systems, Cooper re-humanizes them, both mitigating their oppressive impersonality and exposing their fragility, and thus the vulnerability of those who depend on them. This is a valid though somewhat reductive interpretation as it detracts from the inner logic of drawing. A more compelling way to view the relationship of the handmade and the systemic that incorporates the seismographic aspect of the artist’s hand is to think of the doodling, sifting, categorizing artist as a cog within a bigger machine, a cell within a pulsating organism, a spider in her web.
-Mappa Mundi: Diana Cooper at the Studio School, David Cohen, artcritical, 2018
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With Diana Cooper’s drawings and installations it makes more sense to speak of the construction of a visual language, rather than of abstraction. For her, language is not only oral, it is always present around us. She finds it is all the structures she mixes together: a ziggurat structure with an interior suggesting the blood system, a butterfly, and an abstract drawn form. The real is perceived as a source of different open possibilities but also as a repertoire of forms. The experience of perception takes the form of associations and telescoping of different systems that, due to the line’s trace, are organized into systems having a clear syntax defined by its rhythm and the connections it makes between different elements. The strangeness, impact, and sensuality of this work comes no doubt from connections and associations like these.
-Marion Daniel, “Systems that Make No Sense,” ROVEN, 2010
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This quirky, fiercely determined maker of “hybridized constructions,” as the artist refers to them, combines drawing, painting and sculpture into distinctively architectonic installations. Cooper’s approach to material, form and content originated with her incessant habit of doodling and an obsessive urge to multiply and repeat forms. She wants both to create chaos and to control it, in what amounts to a drawn-out act of sensuality, only partly sublimated, that is also one of cognition. Essentially three-dimensional drawings, these works suggest systems and circuits of all kinds–from the biological to the mechanical to the social, political and economic–that have been abstracted and schematized, but are based on real sources and real configurations of data.
…Cooper, with her absurdist playfulness and Orwellian intimations, appropriates for herself–and her hybridized, metamorphous creations–a unique place in contemporary abstraction.
-Lilly Wei, “Line Analysis,” Art in America, April, 2008
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Diana Cooper’s work looks like a lot of things—maps, flowcharts, circuit boards, diagrams, architectural renderings, and machine schematics are all commonly invoked comparisons. You could also add to that list fetish gear, mold, a candy store, and a view of the street through the windows of a car in the rain and still be within poetic license. The first list, though, has as a common denominator a series of systems for understanding something larger. If doodling reveals the mind’s rhythms that are a part of every thought, but not particular to any, abstraction can let us think about specific colors and forms in a way that piggybacks on their known uses, but is not tethered to them.
-Colleen Asper, “Feature: Diana Cooper,” Beautiful/Decay, Issue W, 2008
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