Johnnie Cooper (b.1950, Wolverhampton) spent his early years in Saint-Eustache, a suburban town near Montreal, Quebec, where he was immersed in Native American visual culture, before returning to the UK in 1960. In 1970, he undertook studies at Staffordshire College of Art, advancing to the inaugural sculpture course, which was convened by the renowned cosmopolitan sculptor, Stuart Osbourne. Further postgraduate study followed at Bretton Hall, Yorkshire, where from 1976 onwards he was mentored by Peter Murray, Principal Lecturer in Art. Murray, now Chief Executive of Yorkshire Sculpture Park, organised for Cooper to exhibit works at the college in conjunction with the 1976 inaugural exhibition of Yorkshire Sculpture Park (located on the grounds of Bretton Hall). The following year, Murray invited Cooper to organise a solo exhibition of work to coincide with the 1977 Wakefield Silver Jubilee Festival, which featured sculpture by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. This opportunity led to media exposure and served to launch his career.
An intense period of formal experimentation ensued, leading Cooper to turn to painting in 1984. His first paintings were exhibited at the Crucial Gallery in Notting Hill, London.
Cooper has worked in art education throughout his career, appointed as Head of Art at Bredon School, Gloucestershire and lecturing at Oxford Tutorial College. In 2004, he was invited to lecture on European Romanticism for the Art History department at Kellogg College, Oxford University. In 2007, Cooper spent three months in Shanghai working as artist in residence and cultural ambassador for Oxford International College.
Cooper has shown work in Dallas and Shanghai. He has exhibited with the Free Painters and Sculptors Society, at the Manchester Academy of Fine Art, The Mall Galleries, and at the Royal Academy. His work features extensively in private collections. Cooper continues to investigate the formal and conceptual limits of painting, developing new processes that reprise motifs of his early sculptural practice and reflect his love for the natural landscape.