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Raúl Cordero

Raúl Cordero, born in Havana, Cuba, in 1971, studied art in his native city at both the Academia San Alejandro and the Instituto Superior de Diseño, and in the Netherlands at the Graphic Media Development Centre, The Hague, and the Rijksakademie Van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam. He has held visiting professorships at the Instituto Superior de Arte ISA in Havana, in the USA at the San Francisco Art Institute in California and the Art Academy of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Cordero lives and works in Mexico City. His works are in the collections of several leading institutions such as the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles. Mai 36 first showed his work in the 2012 group exhibition IB6621 alongside that of fellow Cuban artists Flavio Garciandía and Michel Pérez Pollo. We are now delighted to present Raúl Cordero in a solo exhibition – and to be the first in the German-speaking region to do so.

Raúl Cordero’s paintings are rooted in an awareness that the medium of film, with all its possibilities, has a far greater effect on present-day perceptions than images like photographs have. Consider, for instance, the immediacy of the internet. Indeed, video art was an important focus of Cordero’s work for some ten years, before he shifted his attention to painting instead.

The paintings presented here, under the title Transient Poetry, reflect this approach with their flickering, streakily blurred appearance redolent of individual images captured on TV screens. At the same time, they also play with, and within, the tradition of painting, which can only ever show a single image, no matter how much that image might contain.

It is precisely this aspect that Cordero typically explores, further underpinning it with added comments and statements which lend the images a self-reflexive subtext. And it is here that the poetic element comes into play, relativising the image once more while at the same time defining what the picture actually says and, with that, what its topic is – namely, the relativity and transience of a passing thought – in spite of, or perhaps precisely because of, the visual references to historical paintings or other, older visual sources. Cordero thus highlights a much broader cultural context. For example, by invoking the landscape in paintings of the seventeenth century Dutch artist Meindert Hobbema as an enduring theme in art. This play on visual references is evident, for instance, in his work Untitled (Curators pick...-after Hobbema), 2015, in which Cordero uses a succession of three images to parallel the tradition of the tryptich.

Cordero’s paintings are based on a fundamentally conceptual approach and, yet, at the same time, they reflect his love of melancholy, introspective painting. His interest in the point at which a work actually begins, and the processes and ideas it undergoes on the way to becoming an artwork, is expressed in the descriptive annotations and multilayered references to other media and artworks, which the frame of reference in his painting keeps in constant motion, without end.

(Text: Axel Jablonski)

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