(Raúl Cordero interviewed by Alexandra Zagrebélnaia about his show “Words are wind / Le parole sono vento” at Federico Luger Gallery, Milan, Italy. Originally published at Milanweek Magazine).
When did your life as an artist begin?
Professionally, it was possibly when I had my first exhibition, back when I was 21 years old. I never intended to “be an artist”, though. Making art was always a fundamental need for me. It helped me be and it helped me understand the world, and I have never been able to stop. Eventually, society decides whether you deserve the status of an artist or not. This allows you to keep on putting on exhibitions, to live off what you create. That is what happened.
Why did you chose the title ‘Words are Wind’?
It is related to the idea that contemporary visual arts have used textuality in detriment of visuality for either conceptual or commercial reasons. Contemporary art has generally become an exchange platform for ideas materialized in less and less visually interesting objects. Nowadays, words are the only instrument we have to teach visual arts. The discussion of concepts has replaced the creation of important visual phenomena. To me, visual arts should make people think from a visual aspect. From a cultural point of view, visual arts have refined the world’s “appearance” to the present day. Which is why one is able to understand works from different periods and sources mainly based on their visual characteristics, from gothic to modernism. Words are not enough to express these visual phenomena, they only work in the domain of other ideas. As such, for someone like me, who is spiritually fueled mainly from what I see, words are wind.
Is there a special meaning to the signs you use?
They are shapes born from the visual interaction within the works themselves, from the mixture of abstract and figurative elements. To me, in the end, they are spots that interact among each other. Colors and shapes. I also use words in my paintings, I give them a visual solution that makes it difficult to read them and distorts their function, turns them into drawings. They are conceptual works that question the text both in its visual nature and how they are perceived.
I find your works with sailing ships very interesting. I wonder, have you ever thought where they are going? What harbor they’ll reach? Did you have a specific place in mind?
Anything neglected by contemporary trends immediately catches my attention. I believe in the symbolism of the obsolete. When things become socially dysfunctional, they become relevant mainly for their symbolic, ethic and aesthetic value. That is why I paint landscapes, maritime and pastoral paintings, sailing ships, and other painting genres that at first sight differ from the “contemporary spirit”. They are works where the “how” is more important than the “what”. They are based on human virtue, rather than on the need to talk about everyday things. Virtue is timeless. Discourse changes every day.
How do you feel about having an exhibition in Italy, a country with a major artistic tradition?
I feel very lucky to be able to show these works in Italy, the cradle of western culture. The dialogue set by my art between classicism and cultural validation is very related to the essentialist debates of the Italian culture history. The decision-making, imposition, and western culture validation systems were born in Italy, in the imperial times.
If you could share your studio with one of the classical Italian artists, who would you choose?
Canaletto. We would listen together to Tomaso Albinoni, in Venezia…