The new paintings of Gil Heitor Cortesão (b. 1967, Portugal), maintain the aqueous dimensions and his signature corrosion of subject and image present in his past works, but the decay is deeper this season.
Cortesão‘s figures were once wraiths in the background, the figures now stand boldly in their corporal domination of the scenes. They are the vision of decay and the subject of undulating plains of existence. Like water, the figures endlessly move within their form, never fully contained or still.
Ideas of the uncanny – the everyday in a strange, off putting and sometimes mysterious – way makes us look at the panels closely. At first, one at a time and then altogether in an attempt to put together some psychological puzzle that is just outside of comprehension. We are presented with a known scene, albeit maybe you or I have never lived it, but we understand the tableau through a collective unconscious thanks to global commercialism and advertising. Yet the picturesque moments and the people are decomposing. As photorealistic and precise as Cortesão is with brush in hand he smears, drips, and masks the pristine image underneath. The edges are fraying and people are cut in two as an ominous air begins to envelop the work and we are left with an atmosphere of the end of time.
Questions of the status of the image, but also of the fabricated memory are challenged. This never really was a status quo or “real”, yet “I am nostalgic for a moment that I have never lived”. His representations are on the edge of decomposition, as if it were no longer possible to extract anything else from them other than the sight of their implosion.
Cortesão choice to paint onto acrylic (plexiglass), a transparent material often used as a substitute for glass, creates a layer of liquid dimension and separation from his works. The painting that the spectator sees is an image on the other side of the acrylic (plexiglass). The surface we look at has never been touched by the artist; we are on the outside looking in. Much like a window each panel provides, us, the voyeur, with a coveted chance to see someone else while remaining unseen ourselves.
Each image is a snapshot, an alternative existence, fading away into time.