Jonathan Delafield Cook
In his new body of work Jonathan Delafield Cook creates fine charcoal drawings of flowers in that moment of extreme opulence, just before the flower finally gives itself up to the pull of gravity. Working on his most ambitious drawings to date, Delafield Cook's flowers appear to envelop the viewer into their languid forms. His method of erasing the charcoal to create the image adds a textural subtlety that makes the work feel impossibly poised in time.
Despite the photographic quality of the work this is not photorealism, but rather an eroticisation of the flower on the paper. The fine powdering of charcoal settles, leaving an apparition, as if the solidity of the object has been removed leaving only its fragile imprint. It is clear that these are not flowers that are cut and arranged for decorative pleasure, rather these are spiritual bodies hovering with their petals spread open like botanical Vishnus, making our own corporeal selves seem cumbersome by comparison. Playing with the British tradition of botanical classification, taxonomy and natural history, Delafield Cook focuses on the particular qualities of rare varieties of Anemones and Magnolias, but his stylised and generic treatment of the subjects belie this initial impression - suggesting the broader concerns of a master draughtsman attempting to capture something beyond superficial beauty.
Having worked for architects from the radical social reformer Riken Yamamoto to the new traditionalist, Norman Foster, Delafield Cook draws from nature knowingly, shifting between observation and construction. The work conveys a memory of the Far East – the tops of Magnolias resembling temples and the petals folding like fine silk with marks influenced by Zen calligraphy. For Delafield Cook, who works both in the English countryside and the very different climates of Australia and Japan, the flower is a universal symbol of life and culture in its transience, budding, flowering and decay and its ability to captivate its beholders.
Jonathan Delafield Cook was the recipient of the Darwin Scholarship at the Royal College of Art, following his training in Japan, where he won awards for his architectural drawing. He has exhibited extensively in Sydney, Tokyo and London, and recently exhibited in Flower Power at the Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery, touring to the Millenium Galleries Sheffield, with artists Marc Quinn and Zoë Walker. His work is in numerous private and public collections including Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and the Prudential.