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José Pedro Cortes at Galeria Francisco Fino

José Pedro Cortes is opening a new exhibition on 27 January, at Galeria Francisco Fino. Planta Espelho [Mirror Plant] shows 25 photos that reveal the modernity and the uncertainties and contradictions of a volatile, always changing time, and of an infinite progress.

The big themes of contemporary photography are there: the urban landscape and the natural landscape, the meeting of both and the ambiguities they generate; the architecture; the scenes of daily-life and the small details; the form and gestures of the body; the human and mechanized fluxes; the suspension of time before the end or the reaching line; the wandering and inquisitive gaze. In this sense, the exhibition is a thorough achievement of the main leitmotifs of contemporaneity, in a vast and global vision, in territories way broader than our own. This is basically a visual essay about “the state of things”, as the artists argues, about how “the world grows without the will of mankind”.

According to the artist, the concept wasn’t planned. The accumulated work and the later reading of the unveiled pictures are what kick start a coherent discourse slowly weaved in dialogues, relations and intuitions. Planta Espelho is an exercise of a curatorial gaze which selects, interrogates, suggests and confronts. A gaze, in short, that reveals, that “validates the chance of pictures transforming into new pictures”. In other words, in the accumulation, this is the gaze that dictates what can and cannot be an image.

José Pedro Cortes establishes a proximity with photography that the digital hyper saturation compromises. In a way, the exhibition teaches how to see and how to scan the silhouettes, the movements, the natural forms, the apparently natural forms and those constructed by the human genius. The show materializes a weight, a dimension and an atmosphere that in some other way would be hard to access.

There’s also something rather intuitive in the exhibition and in the photos. The artist, questioned by how intuition plays its part on photography, underlines it, mentioning the two moments where it manifests: “in the unplanned part” of shooting, when suddenly “our consciousness opens itself by merely watching” and there’s an urgency to crystalize that moment; and, then, in the moment of curating the show, when decision are to be made. Sometimes a picture is chosen through an internal feeling that overcomes rationality; a uncertain and fragile justification that occasionally adds tension and curiosity and expands the possibility of an inner vision, changeable, subjective.

Planta Espelho may be seen until 1 March, at Galeria Francisco Fino, Lisbon.

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