The corrosive art of Louie Cordero thrills and cuts. Known for his acid-candy colours, fine line work and beautiful-grotesque imagery, he has been called the progenitor of the Philippine lowbrow, though he is, at the same time, the recipient of top art awards since his nascent days of art practice. Here, he displays his mastery of the acrylic medium, not least in the atmospheric portrayal of depth and dimension. However, as the poet Allan Popa had observed, "(H)e doesn't utilize his technical proficiency to make living room-friendly derivative landscapes or portraits. Instead he provokes thought by summoning darker truths that might have crossed our minds before guilt made us want to sleep better."
Indeed, Cordero's characteristic 'bite' makes its mark on the proliferating sugariness in the painting. The fecundity of the scene filled with lush greens and swollen peony flowers intoxicates the senses. With greenery fading into the mist, this ideal landscape enveloping three children is, at the same time, strangely pregnant with desires and fantasies of the psyche. All too-perfect bunches of blackberries and candy-coloured balls frame the scene, reminiscent of the artificially-flavoured sweets of childhood consumed clandestinely. A large bat attracted to the honeyed juices of the berries hovers over the landscape, but appears more like a decorative object; a childhood totem with powers to hold at bay the things that one fears.
It is well-known that Cordero takes inspiration from B-horror movies and comics that entertained him as a boy. Dwelling on the loaded potential of our childhood cults, he recreates a world buried beneath the heavy layers of socialized adult behaviour. Rather than depict cherubic children with glad, glowing faces in a carefree, cohesive world, Cordero reveals a surreal, 'unofficial' sphere of childhood where deep fascinations and irrational fears exist, and where attachments to distinctly unsavoury things are formed. Not only does his work prompt our dim memories of childhood's visual culture and enchantments, it subverts our saccharine and ultimately nostalgic visions of childhood innocence – with a dose of humour.
The painting bombards visually with an excess of detail, colour and forms arising from the artist's formal investigations into kitsch and decoration. Such aesthetic is fostered from interests moving in the direction of Philippine jeepney art, Hindu devotional imagery, Mexican retablos, Thai movie billboard paintings, ethnic African sculptures and Chinese propaganda art. But there is nothing sweet and bland about Cordero's innovations. They harness the powers of appropriation, amalgamation and transformation such that, while revealing painting as artifice, they advance possibilities for its continuation and for exciting image making. His arrestingly beautiful and acerbic art provokes complex and labyrinthine sensations, summoning forth an unwilling attraction.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.