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Exúvia by Filipe Cortez, at Galeria Acervo in Lisbon

Exuvie, which derives from the Latin, means “shirt” or “empty skin”. This is the name given to the skin or shell dropped by insects, crustaceans, arachnids and reptiles during the moulting period. The need to release the exuvie follows the growth of each being, unlike human skin: the latter is elastic and adapts to human growth.

On this carapace, in addition to the size and morphological traits of each species, its scars and marks of accidents or deformations are crystallized. The exuvie preserves, besides the memory of a body left behind, the memory of the living being that inhabited that body. It personifies a stop in time.

Filipe Cortez, at Galeria Acervo in Lisbon, presents several works whose process follows this notion of fixed memory. In the exhibition Exuvia, we encounter pieces that fix memories related to certain architectural bodies. He uses different techniques to register elements of spaces whose memory he intends to preserve through the crystallization of their plastic and formal characteristics.

His action unfurls in function of memory, of time, of the mutation of a certain space over time, of its ephemerality. The notion of ruin structures the work of Filipe Cortez. “When a space ceases to be inhabited, it quickly begins to age, its skins begin to give in and the memories of its experiences start to become visible”, the artist claims.

Filipe Cortez’s work is the personification of the dissection of space imbued with a time – the wall surfaces are transposed into latex “cloths”, which retain debris from the wall’s constituent elements: Plaster blocks, directly moulded onto the studio floor, carry layers of pigments and other substances that crystallize the experiences of that space; vivid, constantly changing paintings on canvas refer to an idea of a surface in ruin, materialized in a process of adding layers and their subsequent subtraction through abrasive substances.

Over time, the pieces are transformed by the action of aging. The imperfections and cracks, deliberately open in the painting, through processes of condensation or chemical reaction of the substances used, become larger, allowing one to foresee the larger area of the lower layers. Debris from the upper ones is released and falls due to the force of gravity. The latex “skins” become thinner and begin to crack, turning into bricks through its compaction.

Filipe Cortez explores and challenges the ephemerality of the art that is subject to different processes of restoration and conservation, with the intent of ensuring its perpetuity. The idea of memory, associated with ephemerality, is based on the fact that memories themselves are transformed over time, whether by forgetfulness, or by a mental addition of details to those memories. An ephemerality that materializes a feeling of longing.

Fascinated by the idea of transporting a space, or a memory of that space to another space, Filipe Cortez, after his return from New York, found in Portugal a regeneration of cities, where much heritage has been lost. Therefore, through his work, he intends to “create a kind of reliquary, a kind of last shroud, a last memory of those spaces that have been disappearing”.

The exhibition Exúvia by Filipe Cortez, the last one in the current space of Galeria Acervo, which will be relocating soon, can be seen until 31 January 2020.

Joana Duarte (Lisbon, 1988), architect and curator, lives and works in Lisbon. She concluded her master in architecture at Faculdade de Arquitectura of Universidade de Lisboa in 2011, she attended the Technical University of Eindhoven in the Netherlands and did her professional internship in Shanghai, China. She collaborated with several national and international architects and artists developing a practice between architecture and art. In 2018 she founds her own studio, concludes the postgraduate degree in curatorial studies at Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas of Universidade Nova de Lisboa and starts collaborating with Umbigo magazine.

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