Inspired by collecting found objects and then creating a narrative that derives from that object’s history, Cortes intuitively creates a richly unique and utterly personal world. Filled with colourful flowers, toy-like cars and vividly-attired characters this intimate and strange space hovers between dream and nightmare/fantasy and reality.
Such dichotomous impressions are especially evident in his works ‘In the Night Garden’ (the work from which the title of this exhibition derives) and ‘Man in Flowery Jacket’. These two works can be seen as archetypes of Cortes’ style as they incorporate many elements of his painting series and generate an innovative, surreal vision. ‘In the Night Garden’ in particular perfectly leads the viewer into the exhibition; along your journey you will come across each of the painting’s elements explored in greater detail, thus revealing the hidden depths that lie in every component of Cortes’ work.
Cortes’ painting technique is a performance in its own right: he uses his left hand to sketch out the work and completes the painting with his right. This technique brings about unconscious beauty within the unexpected results of the creative act, and acts as a method to enter the subconscious more effectively. It would be easy to say that the work of Cortes possesses child-like naivety and innocence due to the combination of the use of the left hand and the bright, bold colours. However, an eerie, warped undertone in the works, especially visible in ‘Scooter Man in the Limelight’ and ‘Praying Man’, consistently undermines this reductive definition.
Many of the characters within Cortes’ world are depicted with overtly humorous or empathetic expressions making his work immediately recognizable in an increasingly sedate and understating art world. The portraits especially are innovative and radical, daring to take the most easily recognisable human feature and distort and warp it until only a specific personality is recognisable. This is taken to the extreme in ‘The Man with No Name’, where the human subject entirely gives way to his forlorn and lonely depiction.
Join Cortes now on his journey, as he takes you deeper and further into the Night Garden, a twisting and turning path through a dark, contemplative and creative side of the artist’s mind.