Rebours Gil Heitor Cortesão
Gil Heitor Cortesão: À Rebours
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The CARBON 12 gallery in Dubai presents À Rebours (“backwards” in French), Portuguese artist Gil Heitor Cortesão’s solo exhibition. It features his new artworks created using his signature technique – reverse painting on plexiglass. The show will end on February 20, 2023.

Cortesão’s artworks are inspired by 1960s and 70s architecture, using numerous images (postcards, photos, pages from interior magazines) he has collected; the images are usually those of spaces with clean hard lines and no human presence. The artist selects a picture and painstakingly reproduces it onto glass, starting with the details and painting the background last. Then, the artwork is covered with a layer of white paint on the side that is painted, so the direct painting work remains inaccessible; the work thus creates a painted reflection of the artistic process itself. After that, Cortesão lays a piece of plexiglass over the top.

Gil Heitor Cortesão, À Rebours (installation view). CARBON 12, Dubai, 2023

The artist’s plexiglas technique encourages a distance and focuses on atmosphere instead of narratives. His artworks depicting empty private apartments or liminal spaces. What makes the paintings strange is something disturbing Cortesão insinuates into the depicted spaces: furniture which is difficult to identify, for example, or a huge dark patch in the middle of a meeting room. This strangeness is emphasised by the overall appearance of the image that looks like an old slightly damaged photograph.

The artist paints melancholic ruined environments, once futuristic and now retro, in which the viewer feels like an observer who is not allowed into these spaces but only permitted to witness the ongoing events from outside. The view of the everyday in an odd way makes one look at the panels closely, and he or she becomes a part of the painting as a moving reflection, even if he or she feels like an exterior witness.

Gil Heitor Cortesāo, Entrance, 2022. Oil on plexiglass. 130 x 247 cm, 51 1/4 x 97 1/4 in

Cortesão’s works are full of a feeling of a dreamscape which utters familiarity while offering a sense of mystery and tension. They leave the viewers to wonder whether they are invited into these spaces or they are just an unknown spectator.

About the artist

Gil Heitor Cortesão (born in 1967, Lisbon, Portugal) is a contemporary artist who resides in Lisbon. In 1990, he graduated from Universidade de Lisboa (Lisbon) with a BA degree in Fine Arts-Painting. In 1991, he received a grant from Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian and studied at Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti di Torino, Italy.

His artworks have been displayed at multiple solo and group exhibitions such as The Crossing, Suzanne Tarasieve, Paris (2020); Outside In, Ala da frente, Ala da Frente, Galeria Vila Nova de Famalicão, Portugal (2018); If I had a Magic Carpet, Sismógrafo, Oporto, Portugal (2017); Second Nature, Suzanne Tarasieve, Paris (2015); Living Art – leben mit Kunst, lebende Kunst, Kunstclub 13, Munich, Germany (2020); Helga de Alvear: Coleccionar libremente, Sala Vimcorsa, Cordoba, Spain (2019); Arte em São Bento. Obras da Coleção António Cachola, Residencia Oficial do Primeiro-Ministro, Lisbon (2018); and many others.

Gil Heitor Cortesão, Neighborhood (diptych), 2019. Oil on plexiglas. 51 1/5 × 78 7/10 in | 130 × 200 cm

Cortesão has his work featured in several collections, including Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (Lisbon); Fundação ARCO (Madrid); EDP–Electricidade de Portugal (Lisbon); Coleção Fundação de Serralves (Oporto, Portugal), and others.

To learn more about À Rebours, please visit the event’s official web page.

You might also be interested in visiting MRK Contemporary Art Gallery in Dubai.