An evolution from Figurative to Abstract

“In the late 1980’s I took a sharp turn toward a more ‘fitting’ plastic realm in order to explore, unhindered by any storytelling, the abstract expressive possibilities of my chromatic and compositional tendencies. I decided to deconstruct my figures by submitting the forms to some synthetic process from which they would reemerge organized in a way that conveys believable moral concepts. I based my hopes on the assumption that form inherently contains the property to reveal some function; therefore, an association of concrete shapes in a chromatic dialogue will end up with an identifiable entity. In this marvelous journey I can see myself nearing a certain appointment with my older style as my figures resurface in a somehow preordained Arcimboldesque resolution”.


“In this series I imagine the paintings as emissaries to a future in which a society of nature lovers have banded together in the wilderness to escape the trappings of technology. And men and women will rediscover the “innocent nobility and awesome regenerative qualities” of the countryside and build a more authentic way of life.”


“I situate this show at a half-way stage toward some final definition. In the Spanish Folklore this is known as being “Entre Pinto y Valdemoro”, a mythical place between here and there. I am happy that the figurative clues revealed now in my works clearly shows a consistent and bold departure from the strict canons of the Abstract realm (If ever I was truly faithful to them…), pointing toward a new direction for a justified reencounter with the Figurative representation. This is not a retreat to the past as it would not make much sense to reunite with myself there (The Past), but rather a step forward to resume an old and dear mission with a renewed toolbox. The figurative expression has always been essential and present in my work, even during my most “figure devoid” moments they were always latent and persistently percolating. This is my sincere admission that I am venturing on a journey ‘back to the future’ hoping to fulfill the sacred symbolic mysteries of my personal ‘Ouroboros’ and achieve my conclusive artistic expression.”
Jose-Maria Cundin, July 19, 2017, Folsom, LA


“This collection of 12 Anti-Portraits represents a focused effort in search of my manner, or a unified formula of work; one that will allow certain elusive expressive overflows from the formal boundaries of the Abstraction into an unlimited subjective visual realm, where the plastic effects should become both the desired main fact plus the conveyor of nuances, codes, etc.,…and wherever intended plausible meaning. This, of course, is very much like “looking for three legs on a car”, which is a beloved and recurring Utopia in the Spanish order of things.

In this arduous task I found some encouraging point of departure by reading Hans Hoffmann’s essay: The Color Problem in Pure Painting–It’s Creative Origin where he explains and proposes a protocol of chromatic action and recommends an ideal; there never was a scarcity of commendable references to follower to contrast in my lengthy process of achieving some rewarding result. Still my journey continues with the same magical astonishment that I perceived with the first brush stroke applied to my painting, Letter to Ignacio Arana, New Orleans, 1989, a composition of 16 vignettes where I explored sequentially the possible transition from the representational styles that had occupy me for more than thirty years, into Abstract narrative context of this show.

In denominating this work as 12 Anti-Portraits I am not aiming for moral explicitness in the characters, but rather towards what I wish to accomplish: the persistence of expression before and beyond the “ensemble” of forms, masses, weights, directions, forces and color, a qualifying condition of such a mysterious nature as, for example, Murphy’s Law.”


“Folsom Blues, Reds and Yellows (Portraits, Self-Portraits, Anti-Portraits and Pseudo-Portraits)” is a dramatic evocation, an extrapolation based on the famous concert of Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison in California. It happens that I happily live and work in Folsom, our free and peaceful village on the North Shore, and where the only known jail around could be my studio. This coincidence was very provocative and, therefore, I came up with the lyrical title; the Reds and Yellows were added as a very necessary and pertinent chromatic compliment. The sub-title in parenthesis explains my difficulty in establishing what a portrait is and which deserves to be one, considering that I am handling plastic formalities (form and color) in a self-explanatory abstract fashion with little or no regard for figurative association. So, I leave open for discussion which one is a Portrait, a Pseudo-Portrait, etc., in a situation very much like the one that arises when confronted with the robot samples that are produced in the Police Precincts when in need of the mysterious physiognomy of an elusive perpetrator.”