Francisco Fino Gallery is delighted to present the first exhibition of José Pedro Cortes in our Marvila space. Planta Espelho brings together 25 recent photographs of such different territories as Dubai, Tokyo, Algarve or the artist’s studio in Lisbon – an essay on an unstable and beautiful world in constant mutation that enunciates the need to always keep learning how to take a fresh look at the known.
Planta Espelho creates a suspended reality resulting from the confrontation between images that originate in the studio and travel observations. Cortes looks at architecture, vegetation and the human body to reflect on the relationship between a world of hybrid energies: a man-made, fabricated force brimming with artefacts; and another, natural force free from the subject’s control impulse. Alluding to the notions of limits and boundaries, José Pedro Cortes’ photographs depict the confrontation between natural and built landscape, or the relationship between the study of the body in the studio and the evidence of the physical effort felt in the legs of sportswomen. In this dialogue of tension and dichotomy, Cortes reinforces one of the central questions in his work: in a world in constant transitoriness, how to create a discourse on the matter and form of our time?
‘The time of my images is like our time, a time of constant doubt: fabrication or impulse; vulnerability or strength; surface or perhaps something more’, wrote José Pedro Cortes for his exhibition ‘Concreto Armado’ (Vila Franca de Xira Biennial 2016).
Cortes’ approach to photographic practice, an affirmation of his position as image creator at a time of visual saturation, reinforces his belief in the world that surrounds him as source of a discourse about the contemporary moment, thus creating an emotional space inhabited by tension and doubt. Ultimately, like collective memory, photography is marked by failures and approximations to a truth.
Between 2008 and 2015, José Pedro Cortes’ production focused on three different bodies of work: Things Here and Things Still to Come, perhaps his better known series, shows the city of Tel Aviv and the private world of four Jewish women who had done compulsory military service; Costa [Coast] is a very personal approach to the vegetation and landscape of Costa da Caparica; while One’s Own Arena, shown in 2015 at Lisbon’s Electricity Museum, focuses on the Japanese city of Toyama. In these three moments, Cortes explores the central themes of his work – the model-photographer relationship and the fragility of urban landscape fringes.