Critic

Chenco: Rebel in the Mirror
By Carol Damian Ph.D.
Florida International University

Since the dawn of twentieth-century Modernism, art has been dominated by a formalist context that looks to simplicity and abstraction in its move toward Minimalist aesthetics.  Chenco's work defies anti-form theorizing.  Its noisy abundance of pattern, decoration and inherent content challenges the over-intellectualizing self-reducing process of painting shepherded in to the art world by Cubism and its followers.  More in keeping with Matisse and the Fauves with their proud attention to brilliant colors, patterned cut-outs, and decoratively applied details; Chenco dares to use abstraction in his own search for a vibrant style of painting. Just as Matisse had synthesized the decorative with naturalism and abstraction to produce sumptuous paintings notable for their emancipated color, Chenco justifies his approach to the creation of art with the same determination.
In paintings that draw their imagery and techniques from a personal, quite baroque, sensibility, Chenco's dynamic subjects express his own response to life and his surroundings.  It is an interpretive naturalism that relies on the real world for its components in what may be described as a mirror image related in paint.  We, the viewers, are invited to look at this mirror image, but we must also determine what side of the mirror we are on, and what side is the subject.  As each image preens before our eyes, lovingly described with sinuous lines and beguiling patterns, a ribbon path traces fascinating designs onto the work's surface to further complicate its composition.  The profile of a woman emerges in decorative splendor from its stained-glass environment to strike a popular pose.  Animals are transformed into a child's puzzle of shape and color.  Everyday reality is given a pleasurable substance.
Chenco's technical diversity is entwined with the complexity of his subjects; one compliments the other.  Using not only a cacophony of colors, patterns , geometric shapes, dots, and signs, but varied surface textures , he imbues every work with a dynamic vitality that reflects life's experiences, if only as he understands them.  He must see the world through that enigmatic mirror that preoccupies so many of his subjects.  Perhaps it is his erudite education, which included the study of law and psychology, which has provoked such an obsessive attitude about real life and compelled him to reconstruct .his sources as vivid works of art. At the same time, could it be that the same psychological intuition has driven him to taunt us, the viewers, with a puzzling array of signs and symbols surrounding the surprising revelation of his forms and figures?  Despite the recognizable aspects of his imagery, there is also something faintly disconcerting about his approach to the world around him.  At times it appears witty and playful, · while at other times there are elements of the sarcastic and destructive that supersede the capricious.
The vibrant works of Chenco are painted mosaics of decorative patterns, color, contour and natural forms set in a dizzying ornamentation.  His obvious delight in the process of painting reveals itself in a myriad of subjects that resonate with the energy of the artist's brush.  Through reflection and refraction, each image is transformed and distorted to become a unique stylistic interpretation, and an invitation to step through the artist's mirror.