Cecilia Cubarle paints. She makes bold claims for painting and the pleasure of the “act of painting”. She enjoys the sensuality and the materiality of paint as a plastic resource; yet, at the same time, you feel that she is paying tribute to the masters of the history of art that have been shaping the iconography of her imagination. With her profoundly self-referential body of work, Cubarle forms part of the generation that began working at the dawn of the new millennium, at the moment when the western world felt that all its certainties had been undermined. If, towards the end of the 20th century, the collapse of the grand narratives of history laid bare the fragility of existence, then the start of the 21st century brought with it the sensation of permanent uncertainty and the establishment of a new world order for which the user’s manual is yet unknown. For Cubarle, painting is her refuge, the space in which her fortitude can flourish. It is a place from where she can make herself heard, from where the artist can articulate her message using a language of plain colours, of almost graphic directness, that resorts to “ready-made” images, and that sometimes even flirts with pop imagery. A simple and effective language in which she comments on, questions and discusses certain aspects of contemporary life with which she feels less than comfortable. In her paintings the artist appropriates, copies, amplifies, translates and replicates with obsessive meticulousness everything that captures her attention. A butterfly, an old Singer sewing machine or traffic signs, can be the point of departure, the trigger for any of her series. With her penetrating gaze, Cubarle critically metabolises her surroundings. Her anger at man’s exploitation of man and the subjugation of the rights of the citizen are the origin of the series on Les Droits de l’Homme (the Human Rights) from 2004. Cubarle has demonstrated similar commitment in dismantling several of the myths of our consumer society: from a Marilyn “to cut-out” to a “look-but-don’t-touch” Madonna, from a Superman knocked out by the global crisis to a Bin Laden converted into merchandising. From glamour girl to material girl, from superhero to supervillain, her characters file past in a biting commentary on the state of our contemporary world. For Cecilia Cubarle the history of art is an enormous “collection of figurines” that she ransacks to stock her own collage of images. She freely uses the most sacred and historical works of art, which she decontextualises with total abandon to put into a new context. In her series Art & Market, it’s all about dealing the artist ponders the question of how works of art are valued: for their aesthetic value or for their market price? She reflects on the phenomenon of financial speculation that is now associated with the market, and the mechanisms that regulate it. At the same time she parodies the very lexicon of the medium: Estimation and Conditions to buy and sell Art are some of the titles of her works. Displaying her personal universe, Cubarle’s painting carries a heavy existential load. Early in Cubarle’s career, her drawing teacher, Pablo González Padilla, observed, “Her work involves her and commits her both artistically and morally”. Through images that at first sight seem carefree and cheerful, the work of this young artist from Córdoba, Argentina, now settled in Paris, transmutes into a gigantic question mark that unrelentingly interrogates the spectator. Cubarle gives no respite.

Behind the decorative appearance is revealed a profoundly humanist body of work, of great ethical commitment, in which the artist is permanently asking what her place is in the scheme of things. But, more significantly still, for her the overriding question is: “What is the place of contemporary humankind at this historical crossroads where we are fated to live?”

Clelia Taricco (extract from Cecilia Cubarle moments)