Chema Cobo

Galeria Fernando Alcolea

Attracted by the possibility of showing the innumerable paradoxes of perception and vision, Chema Cobo’s recent work takes the figure of the joker and turns it into the protagonist of all his works. Before beginning a painting, Cobo writes fragments of phrases in one of the corners. The joker’s smile is the expression of the arbitrariness of the apparent. “Everything we see could be different,” and therefore, “absolutely everything we might have described could also have been different,” Ludwig Wittgenstein pointed out in his Philosophical Investigations, 1914–16. And Cobo assimilates the procedure of the philosopher’s logic, making unexpected, witty plays on words. Therefore, all of his paintings are titled, since for him words are as important as color. He often uses aphorisms in his work because their form bespeaks conviction, and it is perhaps the form of expression to which, as a plastic artist, he feels most attuned.

Cobo intends to reunite 5352 aphorisms, a number that coincides with his birthdate—5 March, 1952—under the unitary title “Amnesia,” which is born, according to him, of a simultaneous present later lost in memory. From amnesia to anamnesis there is only the distance of the “word,” the place where everything begins. His is an “I” constantly under interrogation, and in this way he establishes a multiple and generative dialogue, assuming the role of the provoker of subtle paradoxes. Cobo always says that he grew up among images, and that the problematics of the word that becomes image, and of the image that becomes word, has never stopped surprising him.

In Stage (all works 1992) the word on the wall ends by becoming a light bulb, the joker looks at the monkey, producing a simultaneous subjectivity that leads to an identity crisis: the “I” vanishes in the painting’s interior, also interpreted as a simulacrum of this external “I” which is made with the same painting for as long as its “performance” lasts. “I am my world,” says Wittgenstein, although his other affirmation seems to deny it: “every experience is world, and is not determined by the subject.” And Cobo does not limit himself to juxtaposing these two things, rather he articulates them, thinking that with one single word he can write a poem. The pictorial discourse is instrumental for him: discourse can only be given corporeality through painting and the word would thus be its skin.

Menene Gras Balaguer

Translated from the Spanish by Vincent T. Martin.