Coco Capitán and OK-RM discuss the making of the artist’s new book, Naïvy
Having exhibited a show of the same title at London’s Maximillian William gallery, the book captures the essence of the show for anyone who couldn't attend physically.
- Jyni Ong
- 16 February 2021
You may know Coco Capitán for a number of reasons. Her evocative photographs or atmospheric paintings are grounded in an inherent understanding of form. Her signature typeface, on the other hand, is instantly recognisable in its unconventional, hand rendered personality. An aphorism previously seen on the site back in 2019, when we met Coco’s football team, Whippets FC with said typeface used across its kit. Straddling realms of fine art and the commercial, the London-based artist who graduated with a master’s in Fine Art from the Royal College of Art in 2016 has also produced a number of editorial and fashion collaborations. Gucci, Paco Rabanne, Maison Margiela are just a few of these collaborators, and to top it all off, her work has been shown in the likes of The New York Times Magazine, Vogue and Dazed too.
Her latest venture was a solo show at London’s Maximillian William gallery where she showed a collection of photography, paintings and found objects, bound together by the artist’s fascination of the sea. Titled Naïvy, the exhibition undulates between mediums, complementarily flowing from one piece to another and united through elevating wooden frames. One of these pieces is a painting called Something Deeper Baths Ltd, created in New York two summers ago. Coco tells us about the work, a piece that can be viewed in detail in a new book of the same title, capturing the essence of the show and designed by the London-based design studio OK-RM and published by its imprint, InOtherWords.
“I first intended to paint Cristi (the sitter from the painting) floating in the middle of sea,” explains the artist. “We were staying in a hotel and I took some picture of her in the bath, with the intention of later using these pictures as a guide to illustrate her floating in the sea.” Upon reflection of these initial images however, she recognised a line of thought that gradually became more appealing. As Cristi is wearing a sailor jacket in the photograph, Coco started to like the metaphor of a sailor sinking in a bath. The end painting is an ethereal depiction of Cristi soothingly suspended in water, the swathing fabric captured mid-movement in a painterly expression of water.
She tells us about another painting titled Swimming Pool in Boat. “I think the title is quite descriptive,” Coco comments. “I was on a sailing trip with my friends in the Caribbean and the kids were just playing with a bucket, which to them seemed like a swimming pool inside the boat. I very much admire children’s imaginations and I wanted to capture this feeling.” In a similar way, the new book of Coco’s work attempts to reproduce the feeling of the show through print. But instead of crisp white walls, InOtherWords translates the gallery experience into a book. The respected design studio known for its work in the cultural sector is more than familiar with bringing a show directly to the viewer through books.
Rory McGrath, co-founder of the studio says of this philosophy: “The conception of InOtherWords ties into a broader philosophy of OK-RM, one based in the constant questioning of the boundaries of our practice into a propositional position that operates across disciplines and into culture at large.” Though the studio continue to pay tribute to the “treasure history and tradition of craft,” InOtherWords pointedly acknowledges the “emerging structures and opportunities that our context presents,” and in turn, the chance to design this potential.
It’s imperative for InOtherWords to work closely with the artist or collaborator in question as it directly informs the final book. In this case, the intimacy and authenticity of the work is beautifully framed through the understanding of the exhibition space and how the artworks interact with each other. Not only is collaboration important, but if it’s directed around “a shared vision of set values,” this is where communicate can really flourish. While InOtherWords put its own spin on the sequencing of the pieces through the book design, it still stays true to the wayfinding of Coco’s exhibition. “In general,” Coco finally goes on to say, “I love sequencing my books and my photography series.” And it is through this process that the artist creates a unique story, by the turning of a page or the corner of a winding gallery hall.
Coco Capitán, Naïvy, 2021 (Copyright © InOtherWords, 2021) Designed by OK-RM. Published by InOtherWords. Photos: Shen Tan. Image courtesy of Maximillian William, London.
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.