José Cori’s artworks are a blast of colorful sensations. By picking his subjects in the vast repertory of Art History, he offers to the viewer a vibrant show whose themes call into our own pictorial culture. Henri Bergson used to say “Art aims to imprint feelings in us, rather than to express them”. These are really deep feelings that we experience towards the Chilean artist’s work. Through the use of a corpus of XIXth and XXth century’s masters paintings – Vuillard, Hockney or even Matisse – José Cori rethinks the history of classical painting thanks to a different medium, colored pencils.

The Chilean painter uses the tools he has : color, shapes, lines, in order to create a flat and decorative pictorial surface. He explains that the image should be made “only through color, line and contrast”. It comes with no surprise that José Cori should then revisit some of Henri Matisse most famous pieces, as the french master himself was a painter of the pictorial surface, and he considered that “when a painting is flat, it is the imagination that gives surface and depth to the canvas”. The myriad of patterns used by the Chilean artist allows him to conceive an artwork whose evenness and simplicity form an admirable result. Jose Cori truly is a great colorist. He wields tones and shades in order to produce vibrant colorful chords. The color patches free him from the limitations of volume and depth.

For this new series exhibited at sobering galerie, the largest part of the pieces refer to master’s paintings, just like the appropriationist artists did. We think about Eight Golden Fish Soup Cans by John Baldessari or Bellagio Hotel : Still Life With Reclining Nude by Roy Lichtenstein, in which both XXth century artists freely inspire themselves from Matisse. In his own way, José Cori pays tribute to the famous french painter by reusing some of his most well-known artworks : La Danse II (1910), L’Atelier Rose (1911) or Les Poissons Rouges (1912). Besides, he also celebrates nabi artists from the end of the XIXth century, by picking up the memorable White Cat by Bonnard or Vuillard’s Dressmakers, as well as more contemporary artist, as an example by paying a tribute to the Splashes of David Hockney. This series is thus offered to the viewer like a game in which one is invited to recognize the artwork from which the artist drew his inspiration from.

However, the Chilean artist chose to include some traps, by making works whose reference is only his own memories. The colorful vibrance, the funny dimension as long as the tribute aspect allows the artist to create an imperceptible link between the artist and his public, by offering it the ability to see Art History through his own eyes and imagination.

José Cori’s work invites us to a colorful journey through history, but not only. He does not limitate himself to imitating meaningful artworks, he also truly understands their lesson. The pattern-saturated surface is purely decorative, and gets, just like in Matisse’s paintings, an object-like aspect. The striking and almost unnatural shades give a poetical and lyrical aspect to the drawing, just like nabi landscapes. The abnegation of perspective and illusional space are lessons he got from the cubist painters that inspired the whole of modern and XXth century art. Henri Matisse pursued these researches, just like David Hockney and other pop artists.

José Cori understands and interprets various modern art masters lessons, and he mingles “high” and “low” culture by crossing both noble subjects (the painter’s studio, landscapes) and popular images, as an example by revisiting a scene from the famous cartoon Tintin.

The Chilean artist offers a bright and colorful work and emotions, whose seeming simplicity underlines a concentrate of modern art theories.


Inès Molière

José Cori portrait