April 4, 2019
Writer: Virginia Henry

All the way from Argentina, Jorge Cocco Santángelo has brought his unique artwork to the campus of BYU-Idaho. Cocco’s exhibit is called, “Sacred Events from the Life of Christ.” It will be on display at the Jacob Spori Art Gallery from April 5 through May 30.

The opening reception will be held April 4 from 7 to 9 p.m. You can meet Cocco as well as enjoy light refreshments.

Cocco had a passion for art since he was very young.

“If I talk about myself I will have to connect all of my life events to art,” Cocco said.

As a child growing up in Argentina he would practice drawing all by himself. He explained, his culture and his family weren’t very supportive of art.

“I looked for it on my own,” Cocco said.

He taught himself because there was no art school or teachers where he lived. He worked on his skill through a system of trial and error in order to learn.

“There were no art stores so I had to make my own art utensils and everything I had to make myself,” Cocco explained.

He said he would go to the river with a canvas that he made himself and would just paint what he saw.

Cocco won a competition in his home province in Argentina when he was young. This competition had many competitors who were more professional. Cocco said that after he won the competition he was told to move to Buenos Aires. There he was able to learn more about art and visit museums.

Eventually he moved his family to Europe where he continued his art education. Cocco said he took himself on a tour of art around Europe. He didn’t just get to focus on painting though because he still needed to pay the bills for his family. They lived in Europe for seven years.

Cocco explained that he had a fascination with the history in Mexico so he moved his family to Mexico. He was hired by a university in Puebla to teach even though he didn’t have a degree.

“My point of view as an educator was very particular,” Cocco explained. He was selected by the students as a best teacher in graphic arts department several years in a row while he worked there.

Eventually he moved back to Argentina with a desire to give back to his country. He worked on his own personal art part time and continued to teach art.

“Which is what I feel passionate about,” Cocco said.

Cocco has since developed a unique art style he calls “Sacrocubism.”

“When I was converted into The [Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] I never quit painting. My first paintings related to the gospel were almost like illustration that the Church uses a lot. I was always researching new techniques and styles,” Cocco said.

Cocco said he was divided between painting scenes from the gospel in a traditional style and trying something new and modern.

“Three years ago I made the decision to break this barrier,” Cocco said.

He combined modern techniques and with traditional scenes of the gospel which resulted in Sacrocubism.

“This gave me an opportunity to make a spiritual connection between the art and the religion,” Cocco said.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints uses Cocco’s art in its “Come, Follow Me” manuals as well as Church magazines.

“It’s a precious gift,” Cocco said. “It’s also a great surprise to me that the Church of Jesus Christ and its members were already prepared to receive this kind of art.”

Cocco hopes that when people see his art they will enjoy an aesthetically pleasing experience. But, he doesn’t want it to be viewed as a chronicle or a report of what happened in Christ’s life.

“But that they may be able to catch the essence of the events,” Cocco said. “When I strip the art from the informational art the observer is searching for himself and then the observer will make a connection with the miracle of faith.”

To learn more about Cocco's artwork visit jorgecocco.com.