domingo, 10 de junio de 2012

Cuenco Taino II

                                         "Cuenco Taino II"
                                         Oleo sobre lino


Abil Peralta Agüero
Critic of Art and Curator
Member of the International Association of Critics of Art, AICA-UNESCO and Secretary General of the Dominican Association of Critics of Art

Translated by Maximo Encarnacion

Faith is an inner bet that transcends time. It is the intemporality of doing. It is also the visible number of what is transitory and its perennity in time because the art that does not bear the mysterious seal of the communication of what is human, even being it an act of celebrating life, is doomed to an imminent death. On the other hand, if it bears the signs of what is transcendental, even having being created as a phenomenon of the denial of its own existence, it will transcend and will break the walls of history the way it happened with the enigmatic artefacts and objects of creation of the Dadaists, who, as part of their aesthetic-philosophical-ideological Manifesto, bet the whole artistic arsenal created by the artists grouped together in that trend, on the signification of non-art, provoking, on the contrary, in the course of history, the most defensible fundamentals for all that has been the philosophical-psychological thinking that is directly related to the concept of modern art.

As I look at the works of the Dominican artist, Jorge Checo, I think of painting as a ritual-intemporal act, as an outstretched entity of the being an artist, but not as an object of creation that proposes and interacts with time and visible space departing from a particular thematic formulation founded on the still life painting genre, as it is his case. Why? Because his aesthetic thought is not defined by the normative reasoning of the exterior spectacle, on which minor art bets in general. As a creating artist, however, his painting, in spite of the linguistic-visual codes that support it, is conceived as a spiritual event that emerges from his own reason. Being his faith attached to painting as a means-medium and to the quality of the profession as a reason for honesty, Jorge Checo feels he travels through non decadent historical paths. The same way, in recent years, some postmodern aestheticians and thinkers, have referred to painting as an expression which is not adjusted to dynamics and economic, cultural, social, or political dialectics. Checo, departing from still life on the table, associates his art to one of the most antique aesthetic expressions recorded by the universal artistic tradition.

Not only the conceptual proposal of the representation of foods as a celebration of life, disposed-served on the table under the attention of the participatory look dates from the extraordinary mystic formulation of “The Holly Supper” (1495-1498) by Leonardo Da Vinci, but also there was an iconographic approximation that was less transcendental in terms of artistic-theological substantiation that had been produced with “The Last Supper” (1445-1450) by Andrea del Castagno which is in the Santa Apolonia Convent in Florence, Italy.

It is observed that, as a strictly artistic-mystic variant, in the work of Leonardo, the visual sense makes the mystic order of the foods on the table prevail, but on the contrary, in the piece by Andrea del Castagno, the foods are not emphasized in order to concede artistic supremacy to the modelling of the human figure expressed in the figure of Jesus Christ and his apostles.

¿How can we deny, then, the omnipresence of the foods in art due to they are an essential part of an entity that is integrated in the mere genetics in human existence? Foods are part of a celebration of nature and life; and thus the artist, Jorge Checo has structured it in the language of his painting, exactly the same way its antique periods such as the Romanic, it is represented by the Beyaux Tapestry, installed in the Beyaux Cathedral in France.

The validity of still life painting as a resource of aesthetic expression has been kept along the whole historical evolution of Western painting, and it is assumed as aesthetic thinking and a visual word by artists of such dimensions as Juan Sanchez Cotan, “Bodegón del Cardo” (“Still Life of the Thistle”), 1903; Frans Zinder, “Bodegón con Sirvienta” (“Still Life with Maid”), 1836; Francisco de Zurbarán, “Naturaleza Muerta con Naranjas y Rosa” (“Still Life with Oranges and Rose”), 1633; Chardin, “La Raya” (“The Ray”), 1728; Vincent Van Gogh, “Florero con 14 Girasoles” (“Vase with 14 Sunflowers”), 1888; Paul Cezanne, “Naturaleza Muerta con Cesta” (“Still Life with Basket”), 1888-89; up to the rationalist proposals with a cubist structure that Pablo Picasso and Juan Gris proposed us.

In Holland, the forerunning scenery of still life painting as an aesthetic and conceptual expression and manifestation meant a transcendental historical event. Culturally speaking, in the said country, it reached the category of superior language due to its social, ideological, and cultural meaning for it was the painting of a genre directly related to the social ordering of the aristocracy. In this type of painting, great still life artists such as Pieter Claesz, Jan de Heen, and Jean Batiste Oudry stand out.

Still life painting is an aesthetic-sociological phenomenon that extended up to the France of the XVIII century and up to England due to the iconographic typiphication that historiography had been assigning to it along its historical evolution as a modelling aesthetic means with a high sociologic-psychological value within the signet repertoire held by circles of power.

Jorge Checo`s works reveal a rediscovery of painting as a possible substance for the psychological stimulation of the senses: sight, taste, smell, touch, and sounds of nature expressed in fruits and in objects grouped together or individualized on the clothing surface. There is the mystery of the seducing capacity of sight. There is the secret of the visual temptation that summons the intellectual memory, provoking the transcendence of this artistic genre, which constitutes a phenomenon that, associated to the exceptional quality of its production, assumes the challenges of the art that is exhibited as an agent of change in the postmodern present times.

The rigor of the compositional sketches of Jorge Checo’s paintings tells of the condensation of visual representation. Checo does not intend to found nature in his art. He assumes it in each of his canvasses. He takes possession of its mystic and aesthetic sense and celebrates it with us and before us, as offerings of memory, as a calculator of beauty. As a thinker, in clear tune with the most advanced philosophy of present times who bets on the life of the planet by celebrating the enigma and materiality of nature, he speaks the language of the most radical ecologists, formulating an expositive-non pathetic-but-symbolic-reflexive naturalism.

He obtains artistic accuracy through a composition that denies the classic modulation, approaching, without reaching the limits of compositional anarchy, formulations that are close to the memoristic orderings of archaeology. Above all this, when in the rational sense of his poetics, he knows how to associate fruits and objects of our rural-agricultural tradition with conceptual rigor and semantics. Or else, interrelating vanitas elements subtly with the almost-esoteric purpose of meaning the momentariness of mere life contrary to the perennity of nature in spite of the damage and challenges to which, daily, the hand of progress, since ancient times, has been submitting it. The canvasses of this Dominican artist are a compositional kingdom where textual excellence and the clean and sedative brushstroke with sensual rhythm prevail. He is the forger of a sensible volumetry that assimilates light as a manifestation of great aesthetic value and splendour, not as a forced exposure within the compositional system of his paintings. Checo assigns the design of his works a rational architectural proposal in which the fantasy provided by his grammar of color stresses the value of nature in its mystic sense. This is always associated to art as a pantheist extension of its own entity-subject of divine creation as it is well recorded by aesthetician and historians of art from ancient times to the present. Above all, from the domain and the look of those who still have eyes to see and feel the marvel, the fantasy, and the inner joy that the visual corpus of good painting has always, always provided.

Cuenco Taino

                                         "Cuenco Taino"
                                         Oleo sobre lino


By Gamal Michelén
Member of ADCA-AICA

Translated by Maximo Encarnacion

We live in a hallucinatory universe where we can experience the bleak sensation of positioning ourselves before the vastness of space with its galaxies and systems or place ourselves under the dark canopy we call sky and contemplate absorbedly a starry night. The same one that made Neruda feel that the absence of the beloved woman made her more immense; and also, we can marvel with the perfection of a rose, a snail, or the simple leaf of a herb like the one Whitmann baptized as “the child of creation.”

If we still keep the capacity of being amazed in spite of everyday tedium and the hurry that modern life imposes on us, we have to reach to the conclusion that God is an artist who has placed us in a spectacular creation and that he has given us the creative impetus that helps us to do what we call art. That is to say, the bungling that transcends what is utilitarian and delights itself in the spiritual pleasure of doing art for the sake of art.

Since ancient times, the elements of nature have been an inspiration for artists. That is why, in the Franco-Cantabrian zone, we find the richness of rupestrian paintings which, apart from the conjectures set forth about their motivations by the history of art critics, let us see an intelligent community full of that creative impetus and that represented their environment in those animals that provided them with leather for the cold weather and food for their subsistence.

Contemporary art, at times, is inspired in the creation that surrounds us, in those elements that belong in our everyday life like a rich source of materials that evolve into art. Not only the affirmation of Picasso, which states that we can never represent nature exactly the way it is, is true, but also that it becomes an excuse to make a composition. And a big part of the magic in painting lies in the placement of elements. For that reason, for Cezanne, an apple or an orange in a still life was just a motivation to place a circle. This way, he became the forerunner of cubism, which reduced the shapes to their simple geometry.

Musically speaking, an adequate composition makes sense when the sounds are arranged appropriately in tempo. That is why we do not call it noise, but music. Even in poetry, we dare to state that its magic lies more in the arrangement of words better than in the mere meaning.

When contemplating Jorge Checo's work, we expose ourselves to a painting of excellent invoicing with respect to its cleanliness, the perfection of the objects represented, and the care for the volumetry of objects; but above all this, the artist’s concern for the composition of the elements that constitute the painting calls our attention.

Objects of everyday use acquire a special value and become the suitable excuse when Checo places them creatively and with daring freedom on canvas, but at the same time, without disrupting the sense of harmony and balance, which makes the work produce emotional delight in the person who looks at it.

It seems as if a sort of complicity were produced among the fruits, tubers, containers, mantles, and baskets in order to engender a true work of art assembled with simple and everyday life themes such as a truncated cassava torte. In fact, this subject matter makes us observe a raggedly Dominican painting in which the artist is affected by what surrounds us daily, showing, this way, a sensibility towards those things that we see commonly, but that, all of a sudden, acquire a special value in those canvases. The artist attempts to stimulate us in the valuation of what we have, having us to reinterpret the world of the things that surround us and assigning them a special meaning.

In this artist’s painting, we perceive a special dedication in the harmonic combination of three elements: the lines, which provide sense of direction; the mass, which provides a sense of balance in the relationship of one element with the others; and the tones, which refer to the higher or lower luminosity of the objects that are represented. About this last element, we can point out his care for light, taking into consideration that it is a fundamental part in a well structured work.

We stay, then, as spectators before the challenge of contemplating these pieces and let an emotional alliance be established among the universes that dwell trapped in the mind of the artist and the visual judgment which is stimulated when Jorge Checo gives us the opportunity to expose ourselves to these excellent paintings.


                                         Oleo sobre lino


By José Antonio Pérez Ruíz
Puerto Rico 2007
Translated by Maximo Encarnacion

The Centro de Arte Espinal presents a new collection of Checo´s still life paintings. His hyperrealist style, which is tinged by a verism that derives from a special vision, is stressed. The subtleness of his brushstrokes brings towards our eyes agricultural products in a state of perfect ripeness. Each piece constitutes an acknowledgement to the diverse productivity of the land, just as each presentation seems to be inhaled in utopian environments. He exalts the goodness of the fruits and vegetables that complement the Creole table. In other occasions, he concentrates his work in the tools that are indispensable for their processing; in those cases, their verisimilitude acquires strong accents of immediacy.

Jorje Checo is a gifted draftsman and an excellent colorist. His ample domain of both disciplines is an indispensable attribute in the painting that transcends. The power of attraction of his canvass comes from the accuracy with which he appeals to what is sensory and the strength that his classic lines fix in our minds. It is necessary to point out that in the compositional aspect, his rapprochements are impeccable. Formats with pyramidal organization prevail in his realizations. Other times, he organizes them in angles as if they formed imaginary triangles which permit our look to slide rhythmically over the surface. It is evident that the rhythm in the ocular movement of the spectators is ruled by the artist.

In many occasions, the presence of tablecloths is used by Checo on purpose. For he knows how to play with the alterations of lights and shadows provoked by the folds. These agitate the optics and, in this way, inject mobile touches that move like surges that act under the rigidity of the integrative elements in each work. Another aspect he takes care of when conceiving each piece is the quality of the textures in the main agents. This fact permits him move the desires of the spectator. The long list of items that serve him as models, constitute a stock of nutrients, whose cultivation requires care. His work constitutes a permanent message about how much we can loose if we drop our guard on the efforts for keeping the ecological balance.

Jorge Checo brings up temporary affairs to public concern. Thus, he indicates the human needs of all times. For this reason, the still life painting is what we call a simple painting of genre, which is valid through history. The presence of the delights that spring up from our lands tells us about the unlimited potential of the Caribbean soils. It is important to note that art, in each culture, has left material and artistic evidence of their diet. We cannot forget that the primitive man accompanied his dead people with the tools and the necessary nutrients to undertake a new life with ultra-worldly characteristics. In the Babylonian representations and in the hieroglyphics in the pyramids of Egypt, there are processional representations of characters that offer foods to the pharaoh and his gods. In all epochs, they have recognized the personal, social, economic, politic, and spiritual importance of the table for human development.

The Caribbean still life paintings conceived by Jorge Checo are typical in the Caribbean region. In lands where there are not climatic limits for crops. These paintings become conceptions that show a constant affluent of fruits, whose presence is not altered by seasonal changes.

Ceramicas Tainas

                                         "Ceramicas Tainas"
                                          Oleo sobre lino


By Eduardo Marceles
Critic of Art and independent curator established in New York City where he works as the Cultural Editor and Director of VIDA, the art an entertainment weekly publication for HOY newspaper

Translated by Maximo Encarnacion

Jorge Checo`s painting shows a determined exaltation of nature. His still life paintings with tropical fruits such as bananas, custard apples, coconuts, honey berries, papayas, avocados, or the appetizing watermelons and the delicious mangos are shelled on a table like coming out of a cornucopia of abundance. They are eloquent symbols of the fertility of the land, a generous mother who permits our subsistence in the middle of everyday vicissitudes. His compositions are a summary of balance and a singular taste for the vivid and iridescent colors of the Caribbean tropic transformed into humble tools for farming or in the ingredients for the preparation of an appetizing sancocho. In his work, one perceives a precise and careful draftsman who knows how to take advantage of the sensual roundness or the succulent pulps, and also of those rough or smooth peels of the fruits in a luminous atmosphere.

Furthermore, he assimilates the birds, be they the talkative small parrots or the modest hens from the backyard, which with their bright colors, provide a domestic dimension to his still life paintings. Of course, his works actualize a subject matter that has found the favour of numerous artists throughout the history of art. Still life painting dates from the most distant antiquity when artists, whose names have been lost through the passage of history, made the first illusionist compositions on the mosaics found in the ruins of Pompey, for example, in the full effect of the Roman Empire. This tradition disappears, as many others, in Medieval Times when just religious ideas prevailed, up to when, in the Renaissance, it emerges again, either as part of the decoration of a portrait or as an autonomous discipline divided by diverse trends.

Right after Luther`s Reform, in the XVI century, the moralist conception became popular in the countries of Northern Europe. This emphasized the so called vanitas vanitaes (Vanity of Vanities), and in visual arts this is translated into still life paintings, whose nucleus is a selected collection of objects for reminding the observer the brevity of life such as clocks, skulls, butterflies, books, candles that melt as life itself, or flowers as symbols of ephemeral beauty. The meaning of these still life paintings transcends its nominal value in order to insinuate a complex network of associations of religious nature such as bread and wine to represent the Eucharist, even though later, still life paintings that vindicate their decorative nature are developed in vases or in appetizing fruits, which emphasize the painter`s virtuosity.

According to the epoch, still life painting took different ways in the personal interpretation. In the XVII and XVIII centuries, for example, an ampler vision in kitchen interiors was developed in France by prominent painters like Oudry and his hunt animals, or Chardin in simple compositions of domestic utensils or ingredients for the preparation of foods. Contrary to the prodigal and lustful still life paintings of Flamencos, let us remember Pillen Claesz or Pieter Aertsen, the Spanish painters of the Baroque such as Sánchez Cotán or Zurbarán are examples of austerity, even though they have visual forcefulness in the handling of the still life painting theme.

The advent of the neoclassic period decayed, but for the academics of the XIX century and the beginnings of the XX century, it was a mere technical exercise. It was not so for the impressionists who exploited the luminous effects of color in vases overflowed with tulips, roses, sunflowers, abundant fruits like the famous apples of Cezanne, whose chromatic sensuality had a later influence in the development of Cubism. It is exactly in the full cubist peak, towards 1912, when Picasso enters in still life painting with a rattan background and sisal frame, which he systematizes later, together with George Braque in the so called “collage” , paper or pasted wastes, sometimes repainted on a canvas surface.

In a more recent epoch, during his whole life, the Italian painter, Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) kept loyal to the simple still life paintings with bottles in sober tones close to the monochrome. In Colombia, it has been the favourite theme for acknowledged painters like Fernando Botero, David Manssur, and Dario Morales in sculpture. At the same time, in Puerto Rico, it was a recurrent theme in the painting of Francisco Oller and Cesteros, one of the most celebrated still life painters of fruit arrangements, bottles, teapots, and domestic elements.

In the “in front of the mirror” trend that was propelled by the Biennial of Venice in one of its recent versions, that is to say, the artistic manifestations, which in present times, reflect the art from the past. Now the idea is rejuvenating that valuable heritage that has always been an artistic patrimony of humankind, and Jorge Checo is one of its sharpest exponents in the Caribbean. In fact, we refer to a painter who delights himself with the lively colors of his land and wants to share the admiration that derives from his love for nature with the world.

sábado, 9 de junio de 2012

Santos de Palo

                                                 "Santos de palo"
                                                  Oleo sobre lino


By Dr. Laura Gil Fiallo
President of ADCA
Chairwoman of Investigations at the MAM
Translated by Maximo Encarnacion

When Octavio Paz referred to Latin America as a continent where catholic people from the times of Pedro Ermitaño live together with men from the year 2000, he referred, doubtless, to all aspects of life and culture, and for that reason, to art. But he forgot to mention an aspect –the domain of what is intemporal. It is where artists like Jorge Checo move. He, with impeccable technique, not only recreates the topics of classic and baroque still life painting, but also assures, in addition, within what is illusory and what is tangible, a space in the land of nobody, where what is real and what is apparent intersect.

Checo is, all in all, a colorist, and the joy with which he rhymes the complementary colors in a still life painting with peppers in it is indescribable. Red, green, red again and green again. They succeed with the simple and irrefutable harmony with which the Circassian rhythm and the passage of the seasons of the year do it. This adapting to the sequential truth of the Cosmos is what provides Jorge Checo´s images the so relaxing and intemporal aspect, which takes us away from the hustle and bustle of the moment and provides us, with naturalness, with a moment of beauty and everyday ecstasy, in the very heart of simple living.

Simple abundance is recreated in the fruits of the land and their tangible and concrete naturalness. Barthes itself discovers still life painting in the baroque, but it also has some sort of fetish. Above all, in those tools of farming, which, in a moment of abandonment, fuse the strangeness that implies the descontextualization of the domain of what is pragmatic with the stop of the instant that is connatural to the aesthetic experience in order to enlighten a little bit the mystery of what is existent, of the simple magic of what is tangible, of color, and of light.

Profoundly sensual and pensive, the artist recreates himself in the details, and in the linear rhythms. Just the way Zurbaran and Michelangelo Caravaggio did centuries ago. But the fruits and the tools of the Antillean world, the cassava and the fruits from the Caribbean, in a sensual registry, obsessed by the turgid shapes, by the curve, by the intense and illuminated color, which strongly evokes the aroma, the restrained passion, the fertility and the joy with which the love for the land, for the soil that nourishes and supports us, whose conscience we are; as much as showing her and its fruits, we also identify with the way of islands, the luminous archipelago, which, like to her sons and daughters, she saw us and made us.

martes, 26 de octubre de 2010