The Body in Bloom


My life-sized figurative paintings use energetic brushwork, vivid colors, and unfurling layers of painted flesh to explore humanity as a living, evolving force.

I visually break down the body to reveal the spark of life—from the interweaving of systems that sustain a single person’s life to the connections between individuals across generations. Life is woven through us on these micro and macro scales.

To represent life’s regenerative cycles, I envision the core of the body as an active, blooming force. Vibrant colors dominate the surface as fleshy painted forms grow up and out from within. During the painting process, I apply layers of thick and thin brushwork to build up the figure in the same way bones, muscles and flesh shape the human body. Forms are pushed beyond anatomical rendering to inhabit a life of their own and imply growth and change. In this way, the painting process itself embodies evolution. I emphasize the structure of the pelvis as the cradle of regeneration. It is a portal from which new life emerges, and is often presented as the source of an emanating glow.

In works with more than one figure, multiple canvases enable connections despite the physical boundaries of each rectangle. Figures morph into one another and share systems. Woven veins represent connections of kinship through blood. Works often compositionally flow in a circular or forward momentum as life is gifted to the next generation from figure to figure.

Though my paintings are based in anatomy, evolutionary biology and science, they allow for interpretation on emotional and spiritual levels. What really ignites my curiosity is the human relationship with the life that mysteriously inhabits us. We experience life from our own cycles over one lifetime. However, it is connected across vast size and time scales. Consider tiny living cells that come together by the billions to construct our bodies. Similarly, each human is like one cell among the expanse of humankind. It even stretches beyond to an origin of all life on earth. At what point does life truly begin and end with this vast perspective?

Human connection is at the core of my work. The figures are life-sized so the viewer stands among them in the gallery space. My aim is to invite the viewer to think compassionately about their relationships with others and the surrounding world on a basic human level.

I want to inspire and share respect for life.


Nicole Cooper. Fulcrum (diptych) oil on linen. 48 x 58 inches, 2015.