Raúl Cordero presented in Milan Words are wind, eight new oil on canvas paintings in different sizes, some of them organized in the classical layout of diptych or triptych. It is an exhibit conceived for his first solo show in Italy after having accepted the invitation made by the Venezuelan gallerist Federico Lugo, active in the city since 2005 and who recently started sharing his own exhibition seat with Gallery Pack, in a common project named Spazio22.
Cordero’s exhibition, opened to the public until May the 28th, 2017, was located in a secluded salon, enclosed and with thick walls that used to be the vault of a well-known antiquarian. The artist’s works therefore profit from a more reserved and intimate enjoyment, because they are also isolated acoustically from the rest of the adjacent salons that gather works from other authors.
While I was waiting for Cordero to arrive, I studied the canvases attentively. More than ten years have elapsed since our first meeting in Havana and since then I have only been able to follow his trajectory from a distance. At that time I was carrying out some research on the Cuban production of artistic videos and Cordero was among the most prolific authors of his generation. However, no video accompanies this exhibit because since 2006 the artist decided to devote himself exclusively to painting: “the primary language of art”—he points out. Our conversation started with this statement, and Cordero continues: “Many technologies can be taken as a means of artistic expression, but only drawing, painting and sculpture are born with this specific purpose.” In the past, when comparing the characteristics and limits of audiovisual expression in relation to the pictorial image, the artist recognized that he still saw in painting a wider range of possibilities to be explored and what is as important, a greater arbitrariness in its interpretation.
(…) Being a coherent and mature artist, his personal reference points are quite solid. A conceptual legacy is, for example, to include the text in the work, a recurrent procedure in his production. In his works there is always something to read: the written word, which can be presented isolated or as part of a proposal of a finish sense, sticks out in his painting, is enhanced in the video and goes together with the photographic installations. Besides, the word assumes various communication genres such as comic strip stories, film close-captions, neon signs, solutions to games or puzzles, list of instructions, etc…
“In these new works, and for some years now, the written word interests me as a subsequent graphic element, having an abstract character that is superimposed over a figurative image in an accumulation of meanings.” The text, that also constitutes the title of each canvas, is not easy to read because the characters are traced with a series of dots painted with polyester resin so separated from each other that they do not permit an immediate identification of the letters.
In the titles of the eight new paintings that were displayed each phrase ends with ellipsis (three dots), and that makes the spectator wonder if those discourse fragments could acquire new meanings according to their different combination. On the other hand, his fondness for the linguistic game has been one of the distinctive features of the artist’s work, who even today prefers to elude a univocal interpretation of his pieces, leaving them open to more options without the help of a theoretical explanation. Cordero has always been interested in researching the additional information that the written word may give the image, the manner in which the two languages can be integrated or can clash, abandoning any juxtaposition of a descriptive character. The text does not necessarily clarify the meaning of the image, while the image is no good for illustrating the text. The two sign systems rather than completing each other, remain separated like water and oil. This impossibility of amalgamating them evidences problems of a perceptive kind instead of immersing us into a narrative.