Despite being born into a repressive communist regime, Magdalena Cooney was destined to become a painter. Growing up in a children’s puppet theatre, her parents provided a magical cocoon, creating an alternate world marked by whimsy, fantasy and larger-than-life characters. Self-taught Cooney credits her parents and their cadre of artist friends as her first and most important teachers.
Her father, a set designer and puppet maker, and her mother, a graphic designer, influenced Cooney’s ability to create amidst a culture of censorship. The theatre was always Cooney’s “happy place,” and she believes it is the reason her paintings lean towards the evocative, non-objective rather than specific. From an early age, Cooney was acutely aware of the competing forces of dark and light at play in her life. These contrasts are apparent in the opposing hues seen in many of Cooney’s paintings. Her choice of color palettes also reflects her two homes: one echoes the famous red and orange rooftops of her birthplace, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic), and the other is inspired by the cool grey and blue tones of her current home in Seattle, Washington. The contrast in colors moves through Cooney’s paintings as she expertly blends and layers to create fascinating, sensual swirls of emotion and texture. She loves working in series where she has the ability to try different techniques and color palette going from a textured one full of bright colors to a smooth one in neutral colors. But one thing remains constant in all of Cooney's work and that is her subject matter which is nature in an abstract form. In some of her pieces her mountains and sea are more realistic than others, but they can be seen in even the most abstract pieces of her work.
Not interested in shock value, Cooney says her paintings feel like home, a place in your heart that is precious and where you feel most like yourself.
She lives in Seattle with her husband and two children.
“Art enables us
to find ourselves and
at the same time”