Jorge Cocco Santangelo: Mormon Artist
Jorge Orlando Cocco Santangelo is an artist who works with painting, sculpture, lithograph, etching, and ceramics. Painting is his preferred medium. He also is skilled in washi zokey, art created with handmade paper. He paints in a new artistic style he calls "Sacrocubism," which he says portrays sacred events with several features of the Post-Cubist movement.
He was born in Concepción del Uruguay in Entre Ríos, Argentina. As a boy, he would sleep with a pencil in his hand and by morning his blankets and sheets would be covered with pencil markings. He won his first art award at the age of nine. He has lived and worked in Spain and Mexico and maintains studios in Argentina and the United States. He has exhibited in one-man shows in the North and South America as well as Europe and Asia and has shown his work in fifty group shows worldwide.
Cocco Santangelo has taught for six years at Universidad de las America in Puebla, Mexico. He has published five textbooks. From 1992 to 2004 he was a professor of art at College “Cesaseo B. de Quiros” de Concordia, Entre Rios, Argentina. In 1995 he taught art history courses at Universidad de Belgrano, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and was a faculty member of the Architecture Department. In 1996 he taught courses in washi zokey and ceramics at Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes Regina Pascis de San Isidro, Buenos Aires, Argentina. From 1999 to 2000 he taught art history courses at Colegio Superior J.J. de Urquiza de Concepción del Uruguay, Entre Rios, Argentina.
He was founder and director of “Casa Arte” at Concepcion del Uruguay, Entre Rios, Argentina (1997–2004).
Cocco Santangelo is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When Latter-day Saint missionaries stopped at his home shortly after his marriage in 1962, Cocco had questions for them. He was intrigued by their answers during their first visit and the Spirit he felt, and he continued to meet with them. He and his wife, Myriam Verbauwen, were baptized on June 9, 1962; they were the first members of the Church in Concepción del Uruguay. Cocco has created many pieces reflecting his belief in Christ and the Book of Mormon.
- Cocco entered his sacrocubist painting "The Call" ("El Llamado" in Spanish) in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' 10th International Art Competition. Laura Allred Hurtado, global acquisitions art curator for the Church History Museum, was struck by the painting.
- “It didn’t feel like an obvious choice," Hurtado said in a previous Deseret News article. "It felt new and it felt fresh."
- From that first painting, The Church History Museum commissioned a series of 21 works, comprising scenes from the life of Jesus Christ, from his baptism to his ascension to heaven. Each painting is accompanied by a scripture reference. The works are now on display at the museum as "Jorge Cocco Santangelo: Sacred Events from the Life of Christ," through Oct. 9.
- Cocco called his style "a little more musical" than traditional cubism, stating that sacrocubist paintings "awaken a sensible fiber that is hidden inside of us." By viewing these paintings, "we draw closer to God, we get purified, we get healed, we get refined," Cocco said. . . .
- Painting is a spiritual practice for the artist. He said he receives inspiration for his subject matter.
“I don’t choose them. They come to me," Cocco said. "I wake up with more ideas than I can paint.”
His Art on Stamps
Six Christmas stamps created by Cocco are featured in the United Kingdom's Royal Mail Christmas 2021 stamp collection. The six designs in his sacrocubism style include: Joseph leading the donkey that Mary is riding; Mary and baby Jesus; shepherds; a trio of wise men riding camels; angels blowing trumpets; and shepherds visiting Mary and baby Jesus.
Cocco worked with Supple, a studio based in Bath, England, to produce the stamps, according to designweek.co.uk. The studio’s officials found Cocco, who will turn 85 in December, through his Instagram account. (View the stamps here.)
“It had exactly the right feel, contemporary but also very respectful of the subject matter,” Jamie Ellul, studio founder, told Design Week. The studio’s instructions for Cocco were to “tell the Nativity story without words — and to create jewellike, colorful stamps that feel very celebratory.”