Artist profile: Jason Cordero

Gallery 1855 is celebrating the work of six South Australian artists with five distinct and dynamic exhibitions.

Two of these exhibitions feature paintings by Jason Cordero and Talia Dawson.

Among all these works, there seems to be a common theme, or curiosity in nature, and exploring that curiosity, whether real or imagined.

Jason has kindly agreed to be profiled. His gigantic sky landscape paintings are bold and spectacular – including his 3m-long painting, Bridge of Shadows.  Self-taught and painting from his imagination, they invite the viewer to imagine the story behind the image.

We hope you can see Jason’s spectacular paintings at Gallery 1855, on display from now until Saturday 24 September.


 Jason Cordero 

Can you start by providing an introduction about yourself and your professional background? What or who has made a great impression on you?

I am an Australian painter who lives and works in Adelaide and studied at the South Australian School of Art. I don’t really consider any one person a particular influence, but have just looked to my innate love of the natural world. I essentially taught myself how to paint; I haven’t ever had any “this is how you paint” lessons. University was about thought; technique was not considered. I do, though, have a love of 19th century history painting – I have an interest in people like Waterhouse, Alma-Tadema, Leighton. I also have particular interest in ancient history and architecture. These influences are more obvious in my most recent work.

Currently on exhibition at Gallery 1855 are several of your landscapes. Can you tell us more about these paintings? Are you referencing a particular place?

These works have been developing over a few years and were first shown together at BMG Art in an exhibition titled The Mountain. I was interested in the idea of wilderness and the sublime; not place as such but the narratives and sensations places can generate.

The sky is a major feature in your landscapes. A lot of your focus is on the expanse of sky, the light, the shadows and its dominance over all other elements. Is this intentional?

The sky is indeed the major feature. I’ve always been fascinated by the atmosphere and its emotive power. Just from a physical point of view it fascinates as it provides such an amazing display simply from the diffraction and diffusion of light through colourless gasses and liquid. I do intentionally draw attention to the sky and its dominance (certainly as far as scale goes) over the other features of the landscape; after all a mountain top can be an inviting place one moment and deadly the next depending on the movement of the air. Of course, all is intertwined as mountains often create the conditions for dramatic atmospheric phenomena. For example, just this past week has seen here in Adelaide some beautiful orogenic clouds along the hill face – at Tea Tree Gully we had a prolonged heavy down pour with the sun streaming in from the cloudless west. Very beautiful.

Everyone is talking about your colossal painting, The Bridge of Shadows. It looks like a glacial dreamscape. Does it all come from your head? Or is it a combination of places you’ve seen and then reimagined?

The Bridge of Shadows is in form entirely imaginary. It started as gestures in a little sketch with the sweep of the clouds and the impossible peak. Though not a real place, it is none the less playing with memories and experiences of my travels in Australia; just expanded and developed to create something else. Like most of the work from this series, it suggests a narrative, that something is about to happen – what, I can’t say.

Jason Cordero
Jason Cordero, The Bridge of Shadows (detail), oil on linen, 122 x 305cm.

What have been some of your career highlights?

My highlights, I suppose, were the winning of some prizes – the John Leslie Art Prize being the most significant. I also enjoyed the opportunity of having a solo exhibition at the Gippsland Art Gallery – indeed, Bridge of Shadows had its first outing there. It’s been reworked in the meantime though. Of course, I mustn’t forget this year’s three-month Redgate Residency in Beijing; that was an extraordinary experience and I do intend to go back.

What would you love to work on in the future, or is there anyone you would like to collaborate with?

As for the future, I’ve started to incorporate figures and the built environment in my work. My most recent exhibition presented work very different to any I’ve done before. I also want to start producing some sculpture. On a different tack, I’d love to collaborate with the State Opera of South Australia in stage design and there has been some movement in that direction. In the same vein, I’m also exploring the possibility of stage design with the State Theatre – I think it would be a fascinating collaboration.

Gallery 1855 is open from Wednesday to Saturday, from 12-5pm and is located at 2 Haines Road, Tea Tree Gully.