DISTANZ

João Gabriel

João Gabriel

Desire, Trust, and Intimacy


The paintings of João Gabriel (b. Leiria, 1992; lives and works in Caldas da Rainha) are defined by nimble and animated brushwork. In homage to the Old Masters of the Baroque, he bathes his works in a virtuoso play of light and shadow. Gabriel’s main motifs are male nudes, lingering in instants of intimacy and enacting affectionate encounters: a kiss, a hug, or something in between.

The genesis of the paintings is as fascinating as the resulting works on canvas: Gabriel’s art is inspired by old gay porn films from the 1970s—a golden age of initially timid public visibility of queer culture, the same decade during which the global LGBTQIA+ movement formed, and before the AIDS crisis grew to terrifying dimensions. His paintings and pictorial studies are based on an abstract appropriation of these erotica and tap a deep chromatic scale. On Portuguese beaches, in lush gardens, or in public cruising spots: the scenes suggest tenderness and trust, showing bodies that surrender to sensual pleasure without guilt or prejudice. Always suggestive, Gabriel’s works transcend the act of representation and contribute to the flourishing of queer and homoerotic narratives in contemporary painting. This is his first monograph.

 

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