14 APRIL – 31 MAY 2023
The gallery is pleased to present the first solo exhibition in Europe of Gabe Cortese, following our previous collaboration in 2022.
The show explores the theme of vulnerability in all its aspects, always depicting Gabe’s boyfried as main muse and subject. Inspiring the title of the show, the artist says: “When a wood carver decides where he is going to etch, he avoids the knots in the tree as knots are harder calloused wood from past trauma, but instead he finds the softer wood to dig the knife into. And I like the idea of vulnerability in a body and how in a lot of these paintings and drawings the vulberability of two bodies (primarily) is being explored in subtle or very extreme ways”.
Interestingly, the artist speaks about two bodies for this series: the one of the lover and the one of the tree. These have a deep connection in every work: an erotic penetration in “Harvester (bouquet)”, a shadowing shelter softly touched in “Pareja (Soft Spot)”, a playful support for swinging or napping, a complementary body in “Pareja (under you)”. The artist wants to tell us about a love relationship, intending love in its wider definition.
Vulnerability can be then intended both in a physical but mostly emotional meaning. The knives and axes are a recurrent subject in the series and in the artist’s practice, always depicted in a precarious balance (over the sleeping lover or between the legs) remarking a potential hurt. As well as the broken branch in “Swing (Trust fall)”, where the joyful moment is compromised by the eventuality of a tragedy. Being hurt – phisically or emotionally – is a natural fear for humans (we are biologically programmed for survival), but is just accepting this eventuality that we can enjoy life and love in their whole potential.
Indeed, the artist accepts it and use his knives to crave hearts and flowers on the tree trunks: the purest and oldest declaration of love. The lover assumes indeed a sacred aurea, as an object of devotion. This is particularly clear in “Pareja (Soft Spot)”, where the composition of the laying body is inspired by the Christ depicted in the painting “Il Lamento”, by Italian master Ludovico Carracci (ca.1502).
To conlude, is interesting to see how the artist builds a very coherent body of work with a clear topic, exploring it succesfully with different techniques. The charcoal on paper – meaningfully titled “Sacred conversation” or “The Craver” – are referring to the origin of his practice, rooted in drawings. The artist has been able though to develop his skills by exploring the use of shaded pastels on paperworks for the human figures (similar to the canvas language), complementary to the charcoal used for the other body (the tree). Playing with this duality, Gabe showed us an unexpected developement of his language. Building a brilliant bridge between canvases and drawings, he created an extremely vibrant and inspiring series for this show as proof of his mature growth as an artist.