Cacatúa [Cockatoos], 2014
Cacatúas, by Alberto Passolini
And all around the night sang out
(The Cure, 1987)
I enter Cynthia’s studio in darkness and in her absence. When the light invades the room, a choreography of monumental cockatoos is arranged with the grace and slyness of the first musicals in Technicolor. As a privileged spectator, I stop in front of each one of these cockatoos (they are actually oil paintings of some glazed-ceramic figurines representing these birds) and I recognize them, surprised, within the pin-up tradition: those images of girls posing provocatively or revealingly appearing, for example, on calendars.
As expected, “Varga Girls”, irresistible women skillfully portrayed by Alberto Vargas (Peru, 1896-1982) come flocking to my mind.
This great illustrator’s talent consisted in transmuting the spectacular carnal beauty of his models into paper. Thanks to him, American soldiers marching to the Second World War felt accompanied by these young ladies travelling with them represented on cards, magazines, and posters.
Somehow, sensuality became an amulet for good luck, in a protecting beauty.
Cynthia Cohen achieves the same alchemy with this series but reversing the process. First, she rescues images of small objects from a showcase that someone modeled reducing significantly the original scale of the gorgeous birds. Next, as a delicate token towards them, she expands such images obtaining such exuberance that provides them with the necessary confidence so that they can flirt with us from their canvasses. Because, clearly, they are now pin-up cockatoos.
Alberto Passolini, 2014