Self-taught Argentinian artist and Latter-day Saint convert Jorge Cocco Santángelo has caught the attention of art lovers around the world with his new artistic style called “sacrocubism”—portraying sacred and religious events with post-cubist features. We asked him a little more about his creative process and what he loves about the gospel of Jesus Christ.
What is your spiritual process for painting scenes from the scriptures?
I don’t start a new process at the time I start a new piece. The spirituality I need to depict a sacred event has been incorporated into my lifestyle, and so it is manifested spontaneously when I work on a new piece. I consider not only the spiritual aspect but also my knowledge and understanding of the scriptures and the feelings the passage conveys when I read it as well as the artistic skill I have developed throughout my life.
What is a hobby you have that most people don’t know about?
I am usually identified as a religious painter, but I also paint other styles and am a sculptor as well. I have a passion for archeology and classical music, which are important sources of inspiration. I have also been a designer, author, and educator. In my youth, I led an artistic roller-skating troop for which I designed the costumes, scenography, and choreography.
How do you get past a creative block?
The quantity of images in my mind overcomes my capacity to paint. I can’t paint fast enough to paint all my ideas. However, changing activities and putting things temporarily aside helps me come back into focus [so I can] refine many of my pieces.
What is your favorite color to use while painting and why?
The colors in a painting come naturally and are dictated by the subject matter being depicted. I do color exercises, mixing and pairing warm and cool colors. Colors convey feelings and meanings. Currently, I use a wide array of blue tones, which represent the ethereal, spiritual, celestial, and infinite spaces. I pair the blues with earth colors, which represent the physical—such as our mortal existence.
Who do you look up to?
There are many artists who touch me deeply, and I have an open mind to be sensible to the artistic merits of others, no matter the artistic style they have chosen. Some of the artists that I have studied and that have taught me with their works directly are Henry Moore, Botticelli, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Mondrian, Pettoruti, Picasso, and Tintoretto, to name a few.
Where do you find the most inspiration for your artwork?
My major inspiration comes from the scriptures. The scriptures that make a stronger impact in my life are the ones that I can better visualize and then paint. There are other elements that help me disconnect from the day-to-day activities, like music, which also becomes a source of inspiration.
The year 2020 marks 200 years since the First Vision. What does the Restoration of the gospel mean to you?
The Restoration marks a change in paradigms in the history of our world. It was the beginning of the fullness of times and a time when heaven and earth were connected again.
Lead image courtesy of Amiel and Jorge Cocco
Find this interview in the March/April 2020 issue of LDS Living, or find Jorge Cocco's work on deseretbook.com.