Cook is a painter who is in love with painting, with the feel of paint, with its smell, with its application, with its color, with its movement on the canvas. He paints quickly creating richly colored and exciting surfaces. Indeed, his bravura use of paint is akin to the Abstract Expressionists; unlike them, however, he provides the viewer with a recognizable reality, ordered by his own personal vision and controlled by his technical mastery. In subject matter and the interpretation of that subject, Cook’s is an American vision which owes much to tradition, but it is tradition that is, in the artist’s hands, fully redefined taking on a new, personal, but very important meaning.
The landscape paintings of James Cook are in the tradition of American landscape painting going back to the earliest painters of our country. But Cook’s paintings are not repetitions of those earlier works; they are uniquely his own and are part of the world today, stated and presented in the artist’s own dramatic and deeply felt terms. The paintings are also a consummate demonstration of years of hard work, of looking at and, literally, inhaling the landscape and rendering it in a sure and dramatic way. These are the paintings of an artist totally in control of his medium and totally sure of what he does. In them he achieves that elusive goal for which all artists strive: he realizes his personal artistic vision in dramatic and uncompromising terms when he presents that vision to us and we comprehend its meaning and intent.
Robert A. Yassin,
Palos Verdes Art Center, 2001