The label New Romantic sits somewhat uncertainly with Jason Cordero, an Adelaide artist whose moody, ethereal landscapes have won many accolades over his 16-year painting career. No, Cordero doesn't spring from the big-hair and puffy-shirt 1980s pop music scene, but he has been lumped in with a group of disparate Australian visual artists whose work appears infused with a sense of melancholia or yearning for the sublime.
The John Leslie Art Prize and Heysen Prize winner featured last year in art historian Simon Gregg's book, New Romantics: Darkness and Light in Australian Art, along with such diverse compatriots as Dale Frank, Louise Hearman, Bill Henson and Petrina Hicks.
Gregg's book sought to chart Romantic art from its origins in European philosophy to Australian colonial art and its reinterpretation by a new generation of Australian artists.
In Perth for his first exhibition in WA, Cordero says such assessments are for others to make. "I just do the paintings and whatever they are, they are," he says.
But he does seek to give his landscapes a psychological resonance, to make manifest an inner world. Although they are based on sights from trekking around Tasmania and his native South Australia, his landscapes are fabricated wonderlands that seem unattainably remote but archetypically recognisable.
"I always consider them mythological, like creation myths, but of nothing particular. They are based on the real world, something familiar, but nonetheless do go to the intangible and the unknowable.
"They are landforms that I really like and that really do something for me. Whether it be the shape of a mountain or the way a particularly gully erodes, it is just something I find part attractive and like to use."
Cordero, 39, graduated from the South Australian School of Art in 1995 and has works held by Artbank, Federal Parliament House and various private collections. He describes the process of painting as like making a model of an emotive state. "I am using landscape in a way I can't explain. It is not a portrait of a place. It is very hard to describe because that is the whole point of paintings. They are not verbal things. It is an instant thing. You look upon a painting and you either have a visceral response or you don't. It is very much inexpressible."Jason Cordero — The Unspoken is at Mossenson Galleries, Subiaco, until November 3.
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