Between the Cat and the Smile Exhibition by Chema Cobo, AlCultura

Rosario Pérez · Photos: Fran Montes

Between the Cat and the Smile Exhibition by Chema Cobo at AlCultura

“I like to invite the viewer to accept chance and uncertainty in life”

“I always had the feeling that I am at best, a transmitter of other voices, it is somewhat ghostly…”. The theme of an artist as a “pretender”, as a hidden face or voice behind a mask – is consistent in Chema Cobo’s work – it is the key that connects his almost 40 pieces together.

He has structured into a three part series called ‘Between the Cat and the Smile’, an exhibition being held by the artist from Tarifa through July and August at the AlCultura red containers, in the Dársena del Saladillo in Algeciras.

Between the Cat and the Smile, AlCultura Chema Cobo

Through this, the cultural association thus pays tribute to one of its most internationally recognized artists; an outstanding member of the artistic movement ‘Nueva Figuración Madrileña’ that turned the world of art upside down nearly 40 years ago.

Cobo is also the creator of an extensive and very personal array of art, loaded with nuances, which are on display at some of the most significant collections and museums around the world.

Chema Cobo (Tarifa, 1952), who became part of a group of artists that came together at the Buades Gallery in Madrid in the 70s (including Guillermo Pérez Villalta, another universally recognized artist from Tarifa), currently resides in Alhaurín el Grande (Málaga).

From this corner of the world he continues to create what can only be described as philosophical art – posing uncomfortable questions that “force” viewers to reconsider their current ways of thinking.

Chema Cobo

It has been a while since Cobo held an exhibition in the Campo de Gibraltar, so with his return, Cobo has decided to pay homage to the concepts from Alice in Wonderland, the legendary story by Lewis Carroll, with a three part series of paintings revolving around three different ‘characters’: the masked man, the ventriloquist and the joker.

“The spectator is free to interpret a painting in itself, but I put my exhibitions together so they have a general meaning, each work is like a sequence from a film”.

The artist explained at the opening of ‘Between the Cat and the Smile’, stating that if he shies away from anything in his art, it would be obviousness.

“I tend to walk on ‘quicksand’ in a way and I ask myself many questions. I like to invite viewers to accept that a great portion of life is down to chance and full of uncertainty, and this is often difficult for many us to face.

“Art is complex, as is this human being, and that’s precisely why art must escape the obvious” warns Cobo, who says that artists have a responsibility to treat those who approach contemporary art as adults, and not as children. Therefore, “it’s not a matter of simplifying things in order to reassure them, but of forcing them to think.”

Cobo, who is connected to international movements such as Neo-Expressionism and Trans-avantgarde in the 1980s, has since participated in prestigious exhibitions and art fairs, both in Europe and the United States, including the noteworthy ‘Recent European paintings’ exhibition at the Salomon R. Guggenheim in New York, and the Zolla Lieberman Gallery in Chicago.

Between the Cat and the Smile, AlCultura

He has also hosted solo exhibitions in Seattle, Boston, Milan, Rome, Madrid, Bern and Nagoya (Japan).

During the 90’s, while holding exhibitions in American galleries, he was also a guest professor at the North-western University of Chicago, the Chicago School of the Arts Institute, and the New York School of the Arts. He has also carried out numerous exhibitions throughout Europe.

Among those held in Spain, it is worth highlighting the one entitled ‘El Laberinto de la Brújula’, at the Andalusian Centre of Contemporary Art in Seville and the Circle of Fine Arts in Madrid.

In the 21st century, his exhibition ‘Out of Frame’ at the Contemporary Art Centre of Málaga (CAC) marked an important milestone. It was followed by a series of exhibitions held at galleries and museums that reflect lines of research latent in his more than 40 years of work.

His most recent work was for the Galeria II Ponte Contemporanea in Rome, where he inaugurated the exhibition ‘Exit Strategy: Via di Fuga’.

Between the Cat and the Smile Exhibition by Chema Cobo at AlCultura

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