Gil Heitor Cortesão

Rift, 2021

Part of a group of works focused on exterior landscapes, Rift (2021) is defined by a heightened sense of ambiguity. Despite being rooted firmly in reality, the nature of its place remains concealed through fragmentation, time, and digital manipulation. Employing digital postproduction, followed by a painterly process of applying oil paint on the reverse side of a plexiglass sheet, many of the attributes of the so-called original image, in this case, a close-up of a rock in an unknown landscape, have been removed, shaping a semi-fictional environment the relation to the reality of which can be found through the gesture of resemblance.

The ambiguity of the image is furthered by the crack of the rock, a fine line in the centre of the vast looking object, the scale of which, like the scale of the rock, is left unclear. The absence of a figure, or any object, which would offer a sense of spatial relation creates an unsettling feeling of uncertainty of what, and at what distance is being seen, surrendering the viewer to the powers of illusion, which so frequently is the case of Cortesão’s paintings. Despite employing objects familiar to one’s memory, the work suggests instead memories absence, total amnesia, where the feeling of familiarity provokes a desire to remember, subject however to repeated failure. Instead, we are trapped by illusion, where the idea of representation as something static is put under scrutiny and instead portrayed as a liquid entity where the formation of subjects is subject to continuous change.

The work of Gil Heitor Cortesão is included in the collection of Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, Fundación Helga de Alvear, Caceres, Spain, Fundación ARCO, Madrid, Fundación Pedro Barrié de la Maza, La Coruña, Spain, Museé d’Art Moderne Grand–Duc Jean, Mudam, Luxemburg, Salsali Private Museum, Dubai, Museu de Arte Contemporânea Armando Martins, Lisbon, Coleção Fundação de Serralves, Oporto, Portugal, Coleção António Cachola, Elvas, Portugal, Coleção Associação Industrial Portuguesa, Lisbon, EDP–Electricidade de Portugal, Lisbon, Coleção Arquipélago, Azores, Portugal, among other.