Vale Dean Cogle

Visual Arts Writer

The Gold Coast artist was farewelled by a tight-knit creative community just days before his retrospective opened at HOTA, leaving a legacy of work that captures the soul of coastal culture.
Vale Dean Cogle

Dean Cogle with painting Miami Ice at Fibro Coast Exhibition 2014; photo We Are Gold Coast

Only days before Dean Cogle’s retrospective opening at HOTA – Home of the Arts – the legendary Gold Coast artist sadly passed away.

Described as a ‘stalwart’ of the Gold Coast’s creative community, Cogle’s photo-real images of the unique coastal architecture of the 50s, 60s and 70s are an invaluable documentation of a culture that is slowly being razed for development

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Cogle passed away with his family by his side on Thursday 9 May. His exhibition Dean Cogle: Beyond Nostalgia opened 11 May, becoming a celebration of his life and work.

It tracks Cogle’s 40-year career since moving to the Gold Coast in 1979, when within a week he started airbrushing boards for pro-surfers with the iconic Hot Stuff Surfboards.

During the 80s and 90s he created murals for the city’s live music venues and for eight years ran his own Departure Lounge, located in Koala Park, where he garnered a reputation for nurturing local artists.

‘Since that time, Dean had a hand in graphic design, art directing, illustration and print production. He’s painted silos and naked bodies alike, designed advertisements, hung exhibitions, founded art prizes and produced murals,’ Samantha Morris writes in her dedication.

‘Dean Cogle made a phenomenal impression on the city’s cultural landscape,’ she added.

Dean Cogle, Yarunga No. 63, not dated, acrylic on canvas, collection of Dean Cogle

It was a view shared by many in this tight creative community, including HOTA Gallery Director, Tracy Cooper-Lavery. ‘We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Dean. He was part of our Gallery family for more than 20 years through his graphic design, art installation skills, and of course his art … his incredible legacy will live on.’

Coper-Lavery added: ‘His work embraces a beachside vernacular, reminiscent of seaside holidays and first loves, all with a distinctly Gold Coast aesthetic.’

Philip Follent was the city’s inaugural architect, and he knew Dean Cogle for nearly 25 years. He told Morris: ‘His caricature depiction of the built environment gave a legitimacy to the Gold Coast’s quintessential holiday history in the same way that Geoffrey Smart made us look at the latent visual poetics of industrial and transport infrastructure.’

Dean Cogle, The Cecil Hotel 1993, acrylic on canvas, collection of Dean Cogle

Cogle is survived by his partner Sharyn and his children.

Dean Cogle: Beyond Nostaligia is the last foyer exhibition at HOTA, showing from 11 May to 30 June in the existing building, before development begins on a new $60.5 million gallery opening in early 2021. Read the catalogue essay for the exhibition.

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