A Love Story: Cooper Cooper

Cooper wears Song for the Mute's faux fur jacket.

Cooper Cooper's particular brand of contemporary polymathy has captured hearts and imaginations across Perth's creative community. At times an oil painter with a reserved intellectualism, at others a DJ with a wild streak, Dilettante sits down for a glimpse of the real Cooper on set for Ashley Brockman's Love Story.


What are you most interested in capturing when you make a painting?
I try to capture a likeness without clutching too dearly to photographic realism, I capture emotion through colour, I am obsessed with juxtaposing imagery, realism with abstraction.

Left: Cooper wears Song for the Mute's boxy purple top over the Issey Miyake fur-print micropleated turtleneck. Right: Cooper in Christian Wijnants' plum floral print top.

What makes a good portrait subject? Do you have a dream subject?
Connection and trust, when you paint someone you are responsible for representing everything that comes along with them, their identities often their traumas and their dysphoria. It often makes it hard to tread within my lane and I love to know someone well enough and have them know me well enough to collaborate. That said I feel like Arca would make an amazing portrait!

How has dissecting your own identity affected your practice/perspective as a portraitist?
I view portraiture as an age long cultural documentation of the dominant values of a time. Now that we are living in a time of visibility, change and identity, it is a really important time to be a portrait artist. As a queer DJ who is deeply involved in Perth’s underground community I have a lot of access to the passion and the intimacy of my community. There is something really validating about making an image of a queer person in an age old medium such as oil painting.

Left and right: Cooper wears the Rick Owens tie top and bias-cut skirt in honey tones with the Baserange raw silk apron dress.

How do you mediate your own identity through clothing and fashion?
As a Non-binary person my identity is constantly ping ponging between the pressures of cishetronormity put upon me by straight society and also from internalised homophobia within the community and my inner trans feminine pull. With clothing and makeup you can capture an entirely different reading and treatment from people. The act of dressing yourself can signify so many things about you, ward certain people off, invite certain people in, tell so many stories and leave people with so many questions from a single glance. Most of what I wear is situational, usually evoking a certain energy and disrupting it with an opposing energy; masculine with feminine, distressed with composed mundane with high fashion.

You're quite the DJ - you kept us dancing all day on set. Can you share a few of your current favourite tracks with us?
Barker - Paradise Engineering (Lush Ambient Techno)
Bufiman - Hoolock Rock (Wonky Housey Banger)
Alex Cortex - Emergence (Poolside After-Hours Overstimulation)

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See the full Love Story with Ashley Brockman here.

Photography: Tülay Dinçel.
Creative Direction: Ashley Brockman.
Hair: Pauline McCabe for Rock, Paper, Scissors.
Makeup: Ashley Brockman and Shana MacKinnon for Artists@Play.
Model: Cooper Cooper.
Production assistant: Stuart Williamson.
Hair assistants: Jodie Woodhall, Jasmin Montaut, Elle Rose Corby, Halle Crawford.