Chema Cobo
Spain, 1952
Chema Cobo was one of the youngest individuals to join a movement launched by painters and other artists living in Madrid in the early to mid-1970s. He became one of the adherents of Madrid’s New Figurative Art Movement, the vast majority of whose members, including Guillermo Pérez Villalta (1948) and Manolo Quejido (1946), were Andalusian. In fact, these artists never really formed a uniform group or articulated a set of core ideas; the main principle they shared was the notion that painting was a conceptual practice. At the time, Cobo’s interest had three main focal points: first, Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) and Francis Picabia (1879-1953); second, Luis Gordillo (1934); and third, certain Italian Futurist painters and a few difficult-to-categorise figures, including Charles Lapique (1898-1988). A skilled writer and illustrator, Cobo set many of his ideas down in writing and has continued to author essays for independent books and exhibition catalogues. Saltando de la Metafísica a la Patafísica was completed in 1982, the year he went international, travelling first to the United States, with a preference for Chicago, and several years later to Belgium. The work illustrates the main characteristics of his painting during that period, starting with the importance of colour, and its apparently arbitrary distribution. Rather than performing a straightforward representational function, colour appears to be used in a way that reflects intellectual and emotional considerations. The piece also illustrates an approach to composition that destroys Euclidean perspective while simultaneously taking advantage of the possibilities it offers. Cobo achieves this by repeatedly simulating mirrors and their duplication of images. Both the title of the work and the figural composition point to a certain conceptual paradox or proposition that guides the viewer’s response; in this case, proposing a leap from the purity of accepted thought into the Jarrian absurd. Cobo later took an interest in different narratives that intercalated the past and present of history, centring his attention on the Strait of Gibraltar and collusion between cultures. He also made increasingly penetrating statements and propositions in both aphoristic and visual form. In recent years he has explored the practicalities and possibilities of representation and investigated the real, visual and discursive substance of images.
Mariano Navarro