Dark Cliff

Gil Heitor Cortesão

Dark Cliff, 2022

Part of a new group of works focused on exterior landscapes, Dark Cliff (2022) is defined by a heightened sense of ambiguity. Despite being rooted firmly in reality, in this case, appropriated from a copy of National Geographic magazine, the nature of the depicted 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 cliff, have been removed, shaping a semifictional environment, the relation to the reality of which, can be found through the gesture of resemblance.

Characteristic of its framing and confrontational mode of depiction, where the subject depicted is portrayed as a barrier, the spectator is refused access into the context of the painting. Scale and proportion are concealed, as are the characteristics of the surrounding, resulting in an on and off play of illusion and depiction. The heightened sense of ambiguity is furthered by the double framing of the work, where Cortesão leaves behind rough traces of the painterly process juxtaposed against the sleek surface of the plexiglass sheet that is reminiscent of photography. Concepts of representation are placed under scrutiny and, rather than as something static, are instead portrayed as a liquid entity where the formation of subjects and their interpretation is in continuous flux.

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.