Arboretum

Gil Heitor Cortesão

Arboretum, 2022

The increasingly blurred boundaries between the real and the artificial, truth and fiction, can be considered a crucial subject in Gil Heitor Cortesão’s practice. Known for a unique painting technique on the reverse side of a Plexiglas sheet, the sleek and seductive surface of Cortesão’s works resembles photography, leading to a heightened sense of ambiguity between what and how is depicted. Working with appropriated yet heavily modified images, Cortesão’s paintings gradually remove themselves from reality, creating a continuous uncertainty between portrayed subjects and the way these subjects are perceived.

Arboretum, 2022, a polyptych composed of seven panels strikes by its scale. The impossibility of grasping the image from one viewpoint changes the relationship between the body of the spectator and that which it depicts while introducing pictorial rhythm and movement into perception. Although seemingly abstract, Arboretum is a window view into a forestall scenery. Blurring the boundaries between the inside and the outside, the sense of the spatio-temporal is lost, suggesting rather to an artificial construction of nature and its contextualization within architecture. Combining areas of dark green with areas of bright light, the work invites into a forestall environment, allowing for the eye to wander and lose itself in the wilderness of nature. At the same time, however, through its physicality, the work functions as a barrier. Like the surface of a screen, Arboretum is a play illusion, appearance and disappearance, pointing to the impermanence of the image within the present digital age and our shifting understanding of what is considered truth and what fiction.

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.