Show 2 : Alexander Coco

Artist: Alexander Coco

Medium: Acrylic

Show: Vol. 2

I hail from a family of builders. Born to an engineer and the youngest of six sons, I was raised in an environment of making. From my father’s sketches, I learned the importance of looking. I began to recognize the integrity in drawing. I learned how to wrap my hands around something I had yet to make; to reverse-engineer my observable world.

My current work is about struggle, about search, and about learning how to build. Through struggle there is growth and growth is learning. Learning is like Brussels sprouts. In childhood, they were always there, but sat as contemptuous opponents to the mealtime experience. Meanwhile, the dog sat below, just out of view, with eager countenance willing to offer immediate solutions. Often times we made the offering, but it was in our most radical moments of brevity that we sought to redefine our experience at the dinner table and make discovery paramount to the benefit of our tastebuds. As adults, we favor the Brussels sprout, and have made malleable its preparations. We struggle further in search for compliments to its flavors and textures, if not for the benefit of our own cravings, then to illuminate the courage of our youth that sit within arms reach of superficial and effortless solutions.

This is the story of our country—of our humanity. In 1857, Frederick Douglass spoke of struggle, saying, “The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of struggle… If there is no struggle there is no progress.

Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will…” In the beginning, I demand everything from my paintings, because they have an infinitude of possibility, yet say nothing specific. To get at specifics, to build something that would buttress up meaning takes violent crashes of steel through earth, and bitter melon fruit with soured looks, and sticky-empty-heartless mockery. Yet, once that place is built, it houses the tables from which we dine, from which we uncover our most harmonious and our most dissonant moments with nature. I am building a vocabulary of marks from which I can orchestrate these energies, make them more parallel to my experience of the world, and somehow make palpable my understanding of it. This is what is at stake in my work. 

Alexander Gabriel Coco Masters of Fine Arts Candidate at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Facebook: A Gabriel Coco Instagram: