by Hannah Jo Uy
Photos by Pinggot Zulueta
“In letting yourself explore,” says Sacha Cotture, “you can reach unexpected places.”
In the old adage “trial and error,” Cotture places greater emphasis on the importance of “trying” over concerns on possible “errors.” It is of no surprise that an aura of sincerity prevails within the artworks of the painter. The canvas serves as a safe platform. In this space, in which his extemporaneous outpouring of emotions is reflected in dramatic silhouettes, there is complete detachment from judgment. His artwork is distinguished by its ability to relay raw intent. Every piece says so much by saying so little and each work stems from the artist’s pursuit of an intimate connection and self-understanding. In essence, his artworks are a visual representation of the highly-regarded eastern philosophical concept of “flow.”
Growing up surrounded by the idyllic snow-capped mountains of Switzerland, Cotture’s interest in art started at the age of 12 when he found himself deeply touched by the works of Swiss painter, sculptor, and print maker Alberto Gicometti. “The way you can penetrate into his paintings moved me,” recalls Cotture.
Though he indulged his love for the visual arts, he was not able to pursue it full time. “Where I grew up, it was not an option to become an artist,” he says. Instead, he became an architect. For many years, he channelled his creativity toward notable large-scale and mixed-used developments across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, but he found himself exploring ways to break free from the rigidity required of his work as an architect. “I started to paint late,” he admits. “But I believe it was inside of me, always. During my architectural studies, historians and teachers shared their love for art and its history.”
Deeply fascinated by Japanese and Chinese masters, Cotture explored the material in what came to be a modern assimilation of an ancient visual tradition. The painter was enamored of a people and a culture halfway across the world, and felt a strong special kinship with Asian ink painting, which would play a dominant role in his creative process.
“Calligraphy is an extension of nature and its forces and hence, in my opinion, boundaries should not apply,” he says. “What attracts me most to this very simple material [Chinese ink] is that it is very liquid and without textures. We are able to create and reproduce very rich patinas and other natural elements.”
His deep appreciation for the East eventually led him to move to Hong Kong, and as part of his commitment to further pursue his art, he later moved to Manila, where he now resides.
Though he is heavily influenced by Oriental aesthetics, Cotture takes special care to tread carefully and ensure that inspiration does not lead to appropriation. He added that in this ever-more connected world with massive amounts of information on classical traditions and on art widely available to the public, artists must ensure that the voice they are cultivating is theirs and theirs alone. “When I paint, I try to be inside of me and set external influences aside, including all that I have studied, all the images we are bombarded with these days. I find my inspiration inside and what surrounds me. Social media and the Internet can influence and limit your natural, inherent sense of creation by limiting your spirit to established works and images.”
Cotture continues to juggle both disciplines, letting the contrasting nature of art and architecture strengthen his love for spontaneity and freedom. “[In architecture] every project, along with the products, is developed as a result of a long process. These products have to be efficient and in tune with the market. As we spend so much time on it, we try to conceptualize [in order to] reach a single theme or expression per project,” he says. “But when I paint, I have the freedom to try many things without any constraints. I have to say that this freedom to experiment is changing me as an architect and as a man.”
Cotture’s journey as an artist serves to document his spiritual explorations. “The more I grow as an artist, I realize my works are becoming very simple in expression. Compositions are, in a sense, becoming secondary as the effort is spent on impressions and feelings. This work is generally done through textured effects, effects that we again find present in nature. There is also a greater appreciation of the material I use to paint, discovering and learning the matter—and letting [it] speak on its own.”
Cotture celebrates the vibrations of nature through paintings that showcase elegant, minimalist yet deeply moving elements in broad strokes. This is most expressed in “Moments de Creation,” his latest exhibit, which was unveiled to the public early last month.
The 18-piece collection explores the concept of time as each work serves as a frozen record of creation. Most important, the exhibit continues to showcase Cotture’s drive toward knowledge. “I believe that we have, in us, many more memories, feelings, and sentiments,” he says. “I try to let all of these things express themselves and [in doing so I] realize that all of it is natural and in tune with the elements.”
‘Moments de Creation’ is currently on display at Galleria Duemila 210 Loring St., Pasay City