KCho Barcelona Galería Joan Prats LUIS FRANCISCO PÉREZ Until this show, the work of the Cuban artist Kcho was known in Spain only glancingly, incompletely, deficiently. People knew of his work, of course, but this knowledge never extended beyond the superficial of the commonplace and the facile equation of a sententious phrase and verdict of the vulgar sociology of art. Of
Untitled. Series Mirada, 2005 Mixed techniques on paper
course, the fidelity of the artist himself to a formal horizon of quick visual assimilation, and a no less quick aesthetic categorisation, have contributed to this perverse (and false) appreciation of a work which, beyond the socio-cultural contingencies from which it springs, is nourished, and develops, is amply endowed to enable us to essay an other approach, less dependent on certain historical urgencies. and more aimed, our commentary, at approaching other values and vectors which without denying any of what has up until now popularised “The Kcho brand” we do believe regard as opportune the need to search for other parameters, other windows, other fugues and perspectives. It could be said that with the very title of the exhibition Paso de los 130 · ARTECONTEXTO · REVIEWS
Vientos, [“Passage of the Winds”] Kcho intends, in part, to “drop the mast” on which had been hoisted old and current human shipwreck, as if he desires (again, only in part), to distance himself, in formal if not cultural terms, from drifting lifebuoys, stylish private yachts, and small boats full of immigrants heading for the wrong harbours. Naturally the elements mentioned are to be seen in this exhibition, but they are here (a very important point) as a visual correlate of an ethical and moral commitment that accompanies with the denunciation of their presence a couple of series that show us a Kcho of a magnificent formal and conceptual sophistication. We are thinking in particular of his dazzling group of works in graphite on cloth, and especially the disturbing mixed-media series on paper that is generically entitled Mirada [“look” or “gaze”]. In both series Kcho looks unblinkingly at the Western pictorial tradition, and does so with the unconcealed purpose of “interrogating” and “confronting” aesthetic realities sedimented by history with the “nonhistory” of the present moment, or, if one prefers, with the volatile, the liquid dimension of the present. Let us give some example. In the nocturnal works with graphite, “nocturnal” in more a semantic than an expressive sense, the artist invites us on a journey of initiation, a visit not so much to hell as to knowledge, but which retains the same ethical violence of many of his more touchily characteristic works. Infinite, Kcho seems to be telling us, are the ways of portraying the human devastation of every shipwreck. In paradoxical counterpoint, the series Mirada, more visually luminous but also darker and more hermetic in its conceptual intent, more sophisticated formally, but more perverse in its purposes, challenges us to experience ourselves as subjects in perspective, not now the central and overriding subject, as in the Renaissance, but the subject displaced from her own experience of life and history. They have the same tragic dimension that Conrad described in one of his more perfect and troubling novels, Under Western Eyes. But, magnificently Cuban at the end of the day, Kcho does not shrink from situating this impressive series in the baroque and sensual orbit of Lezama Lima, who wrote in his volume of poetry Aventuras Sigilosas [“Secret Adventures”] that “the first whirlpool is made by the adorned gaze; the second is fabricated by depth”.
Dossier: COMIC WORLD / MUNDO CÓMIC 2006