Prospero's Book at The Gherkin: Carlos Cortes

4 January - 27 February 2016


Carlos Cortes latest exhibition takes it’s title from one of Shakespeare’s well known characters. For the first time in his career Carlos uses an existing literary reference as a starting point for a group of works. The characters in the Tempest have played an important part in his collection.


These references, however, are not a literal interpretation and new additions to the original cast make clear that we are in parallel reality, where Carlos Cortes own world mingles with Shakespearean narrative to deliver some unexpected twists...Caliban’s cousin takes over his place, alongside Ariel and Prospero. Sigmund Freud turns up as a visitor, an old friend of the witch, Sycorax. This is just an example of how all those elements weave an exciting tapestry of well known stories and new hybrids that bring them to life adding a different perspective.


Many of Carlos’s works in this show specially conceived for the Gherkin exhibition are like little treasure boxes. They line up in the viewing gallery, alongside some small sculptures,  with a theatrical feel emphasized by the geometric patterns of the frames.  The characters are hiding behind closed little doors: they wait for the spectator to open them and to give them the chance to tell their story. Each one on it’s own stage, each one within it’s own little world.


These are worlds defined by found objects, bits of old timber, fragments of furniture...not far from what could be the remains of the shipwreck, which opens Shakespeare’s play.


Many critics regard “The Tempest” as a kind of testament, a farewell work where the illustrious bard lays bare the bones of theatrical writing.


Coming from his recent and very successful retrospective at the prestigious CDAN, in Spain, Carlos has also taken this opportunity to reflect about his practice. He too, lays now bare some of the tricks of his trade...His latest characters appear straight out of the wooden surface in which they are painted. No background, not a landscape to be seen. Just the figure and the object, limiting the illusion to its basic elements. It’s the concentrated essence of a character,  of which we want to know more.


Installation Shots:

Photos by Carlos Dominguez, photographer specialised in Architecture and Interiors