My favourite things

João Gabriel


The exhibition My Favourite Things by João Gabriel displays a selection of paintings on canvas and paper, produced by the artist over the last three years and almost all previously unseen: Together they present a study of painting, which manifests in various fronts. His work is concerned with various aspects and situations drawn from homosexual pornographic films of the 1970s and 1980s, with a particular interest in the visual and pictorial qualities of the landscape, domestic, architectural, mundane or bohemian, lyrical and obscure, anatomical and human as well as intimate settings that gave shape to this controversial, forbidden world of contemporary images. Is this a welcome pretext for a renewed critique of daily life? For a renewed critique of the image? Each painting by João Gabriel thus constitutes an event, a privileged moment, most often fortuitous or circumstantial – a sort of fast eroticism? – which triggers within the realm of painting and tactility a reflection on painting, its time and everyday life. And it does this from a unique perspective: by questioning the attributes of the images contained in homosexual pornography in defining a broader visual culture. Since the History of Art is itself a narrative made of desire and eroticism, how is it that this artist’s images convey and introduce new dimensions and possibilities of feeling and seeing today? In what way do they alter our relationship with the body?

In a recent text about the artist, published in Público newspaper´s supplement dedicated to promising artists in Portugal, Nuno Crespo states that João Gabriel “finds bodies in porn films, which desire one another, and which succumb to attempts to fulfil their desires – yet he also finds elements of narrativity and visual composition in the films which are important for the way in which he approaches painting”. Crespo emphasizes, in addition, that João Gabriel’s work “makes a huge contribution to gay culture and, in this respect, whether [we] like it or not, his paintings serve as important elements for the renewal of museums and galleries, in the political process of integration and recognition of real communities and their positions of difference which contradict the prevailing normativity.”

One of João Gabriel´s favorite is the well-known song My favorite things’ in the version performed by John Coltrane. The title indicates the artist’s main obsessions, because the richness of the symbolic content is combined with the precarity of the original material, deriving from the confluence between erudite culture and aspects of so-called mass culture.

– Sara Matos and Pedro Faro, curators

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With text by
My favourite things
Sara Antónia Matos e Pedro Faro