Part of a group of works focused on exterior landscapes, Planetarium (2019) is defined by a heightened sense of ambiguity. Despite being rooted firmly in reality, in this case, appropriated from the image archive of the artist, 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 have been removed, shaping a semi-fictional environment the relation to the reality of which can be found through the gesture of resemblance.
Cortesão’s engagement with the politics of representation and image construction scrutinizes the truthfulness of the image and its ability to translate reality or represent history. The origin of the depicted place remains concealed, creating a heightened sense of ambiguity. The circularity of the painting’s central form, the Planetarium, echoes many of Cortesão’s older works, introducing a play of geometry and heightening the mystery embodied by the futuristic architecture. We are trapped by illusion, where the idea of representation as something static is put under scrutiny and instead portrayed as a liquid entity. The uncertainty of what is depicted points to the shift in perception within the present digital age, where established categories such as truth and fiction and reality and artificiality have become obsolete.