"Su claridad nunca es escurecida
y sé que toda luz de ella es venida
aunque es de noche".

Cantar de la Alma. San Juan De La Cruz

Dark flame light.

It was the summer of the year 2000. Rome looked splendid in its glorified jubilee and every evening we watched sitting from the roof of the Academy of Spain, on the heights of the Gianicolo, an ecstatic and majestic Rome at our feet. And there, like children with their legs to infinity, playing in the background "Luz de oscura llama", by the great composer Pérez Maseda staying that summer at the musician's house, was when José Cosme and I established a friendship that has lasted almost two decades.

In those days, José Cosme was invited by the Vatican as an artist to participate in the Jubilee with the exhibition "The Being of Man". But what drew me especially to the attention of that project was not so much his work of informalist dyes, but that dialogue with theology and anthropology through postmodern art, which despite its plastic turn with time, has always been kept faithful. Today that Roman melody sounds again as I write these lines, that poetic evocation to Saint John of the Cross of the light of the soul in darkness. And that serves as a preamble to introduce this new Cosme project. "Everything and nothingness"

José Cosme searches eagerly for this world of the unexplored zones of the spirit, to give new expressions to old subjects or to focus the eyes of intelligence and sensitivity on transcendental questions inherent to the soul. In this sense, Cosme is a true agonist in the combat of art, going to the encounter of virgin sensibility, of the millenarian struggle of the human being between nihilism and faith. Attentive to the courageous debate of artistic works in search of a new meaning, a new way, a new contemplation of light.
For this, the artist uses a series of installations through which he tries to recreate the light as an allegory of the soul, to give it a new interpretation, to represent it plastically in another way. Appropriating a series of gadgets and objects whose symbology can lead us either by banal analysis or by the ways of the spirit as in any form of art. Works that evoke from the “The living flame of love”, by Saint John of the Cross to a mystical discussion about the unknown of the absurd "Waiting for Godot", by Samuel Becket: The footprints, the shoe, the brain, light bulbs or a series of cubes, all this imagery also used in theater, cinema, poetry or the plastic arts and that interrogate us about human existence, about the uncertain and the mysterious. Objects that are now re-appropriated by the artist in sake of m his own poetics.
For this reason, Cosme's installations produce, among many other effects, the most typical sensation that any art work that is launched by new channels, of any innovation, of any revolutionary attempt produces: irritation in front of the unknown.
Everything that moves the power of the soul, also inconveniences it. He knows it very well before addressing his work. He, who wants and fears at the same time the hour of spiritual search. The search is always anguishing and the encounter is, always also, liberating. After the meeting will come the most arduous path, the plastic representation of the mystical in the Proustian sense of the word, looking for other angles of contemplation.
To that end, he has resolved to connect the objectual language by reminiscences of the Fluxus movement and his admired Joseph Beuys with a transcendent dimension, a reality, legitimately known as religion, that art has not yet reflected with sufficient eloquence in its postmodernity. In "kilos of transcendence" he accumulates a series of cubes of white paint on which the word "transcendence" has been written. Know to transcend or Scire ad transcendere, since joy is not the only way of advent. Poetics of the subtle through an allegory of painting in all its dimensions; as a material with which man must begin to work to cover the world of spirituality, as a metaphor for the History of Art and its final simplification in Malevich, the purity of the white. And it is only by having an attitude of acceptance towards the sacred, that the contemporary man could overcome his limits to that fear towards the threatening transcendence through the temporal space rupture that could lead him to an "original feeling".
Symbols in which the constant trace of man becomes a path of connection with existence, by territories where our perception goes beyond the physical. This dimension entails a long path that is not exempt from a great problem, loneliness, human solitude in the world, a world in which to seek the meaning of life. That situation is that of the existence that has found its raison d'être in a man who knows himself to be instrumentalized, limited to the material. By placing the individual precisely in the object element through an infinite target, Cosme marks a new dimension. By placing the individual man in an image that goes beyond the human scale transcending the white color towards the immeasurable, towards the purity and possibilities of being, the artist indicates a new situation, a path.
We are standing in front of an artist rather than in front of a moralist, in the literary sense of philosophers like Montaigne. Nothing is left over or missing in each of these works. Everything is in place. Precisely from this attitude comes the restlessness that invades us. We are reflected and defenseless before an aseptic universe. The character is always the same, his self-portrait veiled in white and now covered with the Fluxus stamps, as a criticism that finally the being has also become an object of consumption in our contemporaneity. And as a struggle against our helplessness, our dependence on our own forces, our own creations that oppose us, indifferent to any desire, unable to give us any solution that we have not previously introduced ourselves.
Within the loneliness of today's man, this terrible loneliness in the company of what we do not seek, in an environment of "non-reflective" dépaysement, imposed for our own anguish, Cosme is an artist struggling with loneliness. For this he uses the action, the performance, the installation. But it is his, in the satisfaction of the completed work, of the denunciation made, of the beauty achieved in the moment that seemed to flee, a happy solitude: that "beata solitudo, sola beatitudo" of the motto of a lost Golden Age in which the first activity of men was to think. In his work each motif acquires different nuances and angles. And it is curious to emphasize it, because always - at least in this exhibition - humankind is represented as the ideal center in front of what they oppress. But around men - and that's the secret - shapes change, they structure with new nuances that endow the whole with great mobility, dynamism. The object constitutes the trace, the wounds of man in search of his being, which comes to prove that Cosme has great imaginative capacity.
And the experiences, as they manifest themselves in new contexts, reaffirm the surprising qualities of the artist, accompanied by that emotion that fills with intent the apparent frigidity of an intellectual coating art. Nothing is left to improvisation in this thoughtful and ambitious work, whose pretensions appear fully achieved by imposing a warm vision through the exaltation of the senses of the spectator. The air, the sound, the touch. Other times he chooses cotton as the material for his work, the fabrics that he carefully works to endow them with certain reliefs, plots and textures that could well symbolize a mystical path, and that will serve as a basis or counterpoint to the main motif of the work: man in his existential search. Miserably individualized, alone, lost in a society of waste, eradicated contact with other men through technology, plunged into a hostile civilization where what deprives are the representative elements or allusive to the consumerist man of an oppressive society.
And Rome, the mystical writers, the poetry, the sculpture and that melody of summer come back to my memory where on the nocturnal Rome it seemed to project a light of dark flame. Light on which José Cosme returns subtly with clarity and darkness, dawn and dusk, silent music and sound solitude, everything and nothingness.

Rosa Ulpiano Glasgow, January 28, 2018.

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