Sacrocubism: A Conversation with Jorge Cocco
The month of July we are honored to feature Argentine artist Jorge Cocco. Jorge has spent years studying, painting, and teaching in Argentina, Spain, and Mexico. His work appears in museums and galleries across North, Central, and South America. We connected with Jorge to hear about his unique approach to painting the parables of the Savior.
Your paintings are unique as they merge cubism with sacred themes. Tell us about this style.
I created a new style called “Sacrocubism” portraying sacred events with some features of the post-cubist art movement.
I think it is a perfect amalgamation since the miracles, life, and plan of God are sometimes hard to comprehend in full, and in some ways they seem surreal to us; they are somewhat abstract. That is why I decided to paint in this style, because those events represent more than what the eye can perceive at first sight. Transmitting the deepness of the event is more important than representing the details of the clothing and surroundings.
Do you have a process for creating ideas or getting into a creative mindset?
Being in a creative mindset comes naturally to me. I am always creating something in my mind. In fact to me it is more difficult to leave that creative mindset to carry on with the daily and mundane chores.
Transposing an abstract idea to a concrete work is always a challenge. When I get a motivation to create something that could be a religious event, a personage, a spiritual experience or a psychological state of the mind, I get instantly one to several ideas like a flash. It is like opening a Pandora's box that will lead to even more concepts or ways to interpret such motivation. That is the initial creative process, but then I submit that creative idea to a rigorous rational test to make sure it expresses what I intend. If the idea does not conform a coherent microcosm then it does not function as art.
Describe your artistic process.
Generally I find myself with many more ideas than I can produce. There are occasions when I wake up with clearly feasible images. If I receive a commission, several options emerge in my mind immediately. I can elaborate in my mind an outline of the subject or scene and then draw the composition in pencil, and then I correct or give another point of view. Subsequently I make a more detailed drawing and a small study in color that later expand in the final piece with any necessary adjustments.
What brought you to painting?
I didn't have a moment in my life when I decided to become an artist. I always knew I was created to be an artist. Intuitively I was creating art since I can recall. As I matured, I just became more conscious about it. I could have never imagined myself in a profession not linked to a creative aspect. This does not mean that every artist has the same experience. Having said that, despite the natural gift one may have, the technique and dexterity to become a good artist takes discipline, practice and effort like any other field of work.
Linked to this concept, I must say that by my own initiative I explored all the artistic movements taking what was in harmony with myself and what would allow me to express myself with more authenticity. But all this is a never-ending process.
What obstacles have you had to overcome to become the painter you are?
Obstacles started with my upbringing, with an absence of a role model or mentor to guide me, in an adverse cultural and socioeconomic situation. The poverty in which I grew up was such that I had to make my own creative tools. As a child I started using the coal from the iron and drawing on wrapping paper from the grocery store. Then I had to settle or sacrifice my internal artistic expression and work in commercial capacities to get paid.
What paintings have been the most personally moving to you?
It is hard to define or make a list of spectacular paintings. The great works of the Renaissance or the works of Van Gogh, Leonardo, have made an impact for sure, but I have been moved by carvings made by primitive cultures or by an unknown person. I have been deeply touched by the art made by the inhabitants of the ancient American continent because of their great symbolic content.
What paintings do you remember from your family home? What paintings do you currently have hanging in your home?
Growing up there was no art hanging on our walls. But some paintings that have been around (of which many have been lost) are for instance the painting I did when I was nine years old and won my first art prize. I remember that piece and it would now be a great motivator.
The painting I did when I broke from impressionist nature painting to elaborate a more rational art with more artistic liberties is one that I keep dearly at home.
I also keep some iconic pieces from different stages in my artistic career; some made in Spain, others made in Mexico. For a good reason or not, many of the most important pieces I have created have been acquired by museums and collectors.
What do you believe is the role of art in the home?
In one sense, it has always been my livelihood; the family depended on art for physical survival. On the other hand, the family also depended on art for a wholesome, productive upbringing sensible to the highest values. Art sensitizes and civilizes. With this I am referring to all types of art, including music, letters, theater, etc. Modern art continues to propose bold and new expressive forms, but risky excesses frequently break the limit of "the good, the beautiful and the dignified." In this age of mass communication and bearing in mind the Chinese axiom that "an image says more than a thousand words", our work as artists contributes to a great extent to sensitize and connect the observer with the highest sense of life.
Join us Saturday July 8th for a meet-and-greet with Jorge Cocco. Jorge will be signing prints and sketching throughout the day.