A painting that is done
To say that a painting is done seems like a tautology. It is obvious that for a painting to exist there must be an action that traditionally involves very defined elements: a support, pigments and utensils that allow the former to be related to the latter. However, making a painting for Mateo Cohen Monroy seems more like an exercise in awareness of that doing, which is nothing else, than questioning the conditions of what we call painting by bringing into play these three fundamental elements and perhaps an additional one: the space.
The procedure is simple but laborious: for the small paintings exhibited in this exhibition, the painting does not appear by addition but by subtraction. A surface that was previously painted with layers of paint of different colors is revealed as the layers are removed, producing an almost random image. In addition, it becomes evident that many of the small fabrics were not intact surfaces, but rather pieces that were fired. Thus, the paintings are not the evidence of the artist's subjectivity, much less a spiritual search as a manifestation in an abstract image. They are, if you like, the very image of the painting as a trace. What is significant about all this is that the subtraction procedure makes evident not so much the colors but the support on which they depend. Like the gray and brown plasticine balls that manifest their material condition by recombining colors, Cohen Monroy's paintings show that the support is already paint, even when the action of painting is undone. The color then depends on the material conditions of the substrate-paint relationship.
For the larger square, an exercise is carried out in which the same relationship is stressed but in a different way. Several coats of paint are applied to a painting and then that matter is carefully removed. Then, the fabric that has served as a support is unwoven and the weft is converted into threads. The paint is then rebuilt by firing those threads through the removed paint. The canvas, now converted into support lines, appears behind and in front of the painting, holding the painting as a support but at the same time allowing itself to be supported by the pictorial matter. In this way, a painting that can literally be traversed gives an account of its material condition and not of its representative capacities; and a support that can be undone but still supports, pushes the very understanding of the surface to the limit. Furthermore, as it is hung from only two corners, the work folds forward and reveals its back, inverting any relationship between the inside and the outside: the painting is pure exteriority because everything is already in view, although by the very nature of the planes there is always a back and a forward which are, in this case, interchangeable. Pictorial pornography if you will.
The result of these procedures is the evidence of painting as an image, as a matter and as a support. It is the revelation of a series of procedures and elements that are always interrelated when painting. But that conventional painting never makes manifest. Cohen's painting is not a painting that is painted, but rather a painting that is made.
Daniel Montero Fayad
Pespuntes y decomposturas , complete text by Fernando Uhía on the exhibition.