Return to Articles


by Ray Zone

(Robert Savedra Gallery, West Hollywood) For Jorge Sicre, art is a “system of understanding the unknown.” In this survey of mixed media paintings, Sicre explores diverse materials in rendering brilliantly colored narratives based on the human figure. Sicre characterizes himself as a “Neo-Symbolist” painter and, like the Symbolist movement that prefigured Modernism a century ago, explores mythology and fantasy as a means of plumbing the human psyche as well as constructing visually dense images.

Chief among this varied collection of work is Passage, a large 1984 mixed media painting that uses a unique type of three-dimensional imaging that the artist calls “matrix perspective.” Over a red grid-like background made from air-conditioning filters, a massed array of sinuous human figures form a living canyon. Floating mid-air above this valley is a single human soul in transit, curled into the fetal position. Over the entire scene hovers a number of variously-sized glowing, green globes which could symbolize the souls of the yet unborn.

Metaphysics and mythology are major concerns of the artist. Pandora’s Box, a large 1996 oil and mixed media canvas, portrays that mythic female in calm contemplation holding a black box just moments before unleashing the fabled devastation. The background colors, swirling luminously up from an airy white and blue to a dense air of black and red about the figure’s head, seem to portend the fate that is impending. Paint has been squeezed directly out of the tubes to run as vivid cords about Pandora’s body and in the middle of her forehead, as a third eye, is placed a single real abalone shell, referencing the birth of Venus and the devices of love.

Pandora’s Box, like many other works in this exhibit, makes an intriguing use of reflective materials and objects. The swirling array of colors and forms is completely and intuitively at the service of the image and its implicit narrative. Shining gemstones and metals have long been associated with the mystical experience. The refraction of optical light has always served as a visual reference to looking within, a luminescence of the inner eye. Sicre, like the Symbolist painters of a century ago, uses reflection to reference the psyche.

Salamander, a large 1999 mixed media painting on a panel, similarly uses holographic paper, art paper and metallic impressions of leaves combined with oil painting to give a vibrancy to the image of a large figure in flames. Salamanders in folklore have long been associated with flames. They are an image of transformation, and in the ancient art of alchemy represented the transforming power of fire in creating gold from lead. In this painting, as well as alchemy, the fire and the reflective brilliance also represent a growth into spirituality from the rigors of the flesh.

“Pandora’s Box,” oil/mixed
media on canvas, 69 x 49”, 1996.

“Emotion," oil and mixed media
on canvas, 72 x 48", 1995.

“Gaia," watercolor, 18 x 20", 1997.

“The Dance of Shiva,"
o/c, 72 x 60', 1981-82.

Classic mythology is represented in the exhibit with Infant Orpheus, a large oil on canvas depicting the family of the famous musician. Here the infant Orpheus has arms outstretched to the viewer while securely nestled between the mother, a wood nymph, and the father, a river god. Two other works, Orpheus and the Muse, and Song to Eurydice, are vibrant representations of this myth. The artist has rendered the clothing of Orpheus as a patchwork of primary colors. “Artists are always wearing rags,” Sicre observes.

In the large painting Tree of Knowledge the human form is rendered as a large tree. The classic Jewish mystical text, the Kabbalah is referenced in this work and the branches of the tree are rendered as blood-red capillaries in an intricate network. Prometheus is a unique depiction of the mythic figure who brought the gift of fire to humanity. In this mixed media painting, the chained figure of Prometheus is consumed by the very flames he brought as a gift.

You don’t need a degree in art history to enjoy Sicre’s appealing Neo-Symbolism. It is eye-catching and luminous. But be sure to read the title cards to catch his references when you look at this work.