Date(s) - 01/02/2019
Long admired for his meticulous and exacting approach to painting and his use of old fashioned techniques, Austin artist John Patrick Cobb has created renderings of Biblical imagery for more than three decades. Cobb studied at the Rhode Island School of Design before spending an extended period of time backing on a Vespa through Europe. He eventually returned to Austin and earned his Bachelor of Fine Art’s degree from St. Edward’s University.
Cobb’s works are inspired by his travels throughout Europe and the religious paintings he encountered in European chapels. He employs gold leaf and egg tempera, classic methods that date back to Byzantine iconographers, to create paintings of Biblical characters and scenes that resemble early Renaissance portraits.
Cobb’s works, however, subvert Eurocentric biblical iconography, centering Mexican and Mexican American subjects in his particular renderings of holy imagery. The Chapel Shrine series of paintings features both friends from the Austin community and people. The painting of Mary as a Child (the Mother of Jesus) depicts Mary with her Grandfather Joachim in spiritual preparation for their flight into Egypt with Joseph and the baby Jesus. Mary is represented as a young Latina girl from East Austin and St. Joachim is a man from Durango Mexico, who John worked with in farmer’s fields near the Colorado River east of Austin. Cobb encountered in his day-to-day, effectively calling attention to the divine, not as an abstract concept, but as encountered in a real-world context.
The exhibition features 19 paintings that fill an 11ft by 16ft handmade wooden chapel housed inside Mexic-Arte Museum. Individually, the works highlight distinct subjects while together they invite visitors to immerse themselves and meditate on themes pertinent during the holiday season. A series of essays by Dr. William Y. Penn Jr. serve as a meditation tool to aid the viewer in reflecting on the paintings.