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Water Lilies by Isabel Cordovil
03.07 - 07.07.22 
Calçada do Marquês de Abrantes 95 R/ CD.


In Water Lilies, a new exhibition by Isabel Cordovil, curated and hosted by Lars, an organic selection of photographs intertwine with site specific installations at the Casa Abrantes. 
The exhibition came together through collaboration, between the artist, Lars and the homeowner resulting in a symbiotic relationship with the exhibition venue, which normally functions as a private home.
Throughout this process, it became clear how the works function as mechanisms for a romanticised visuality that relates directly with Isabel’s personal experiences. This is apparent in the way the artist navigates the materiality of her works and how these materials and elements relate to her language. 

Cordovil uses symbolism in her works, to demonstrate possibilities for love, freedom, or revolt against established institutions, that are spectres from her upbringing and the portuguese culture. By doing so with a slight hint of humor and a childish smile, it’s clear that her intent is not to be nostalgic but rather hopeful for the future.
Isabel’s works document spaces of intimacy. This gesture takes place in Brenda Cuervo’s most intimate space, the house in which she lives – that she designed herself. By consequence, these two strangers (the artist, the designer and owner of the space in which the exhibition unfolds) are forced to make a connection through their most intimate work – ending up drawing together a common emotional landscape.
In ‘Self portrait engraved, 2022’ we see a ghostly-looking face, sculpted and then photographed by the artist, in what seems to be a sandy rock. Another work, ‘Staircase behind the Opera, 2022’ shows a stair-like structure wrapped in tarp at the back door of the Grand Théâtre de Genève, where Isabel took her Fine Arts Master degree. In both cases, an interference with another body has changed the elements that were already there, without destroying them. On the opposite, they have only made them more ambiguous.
Certain properties of the materials have become essential in the way each artwork relates to the space. Cordovil pushes an awareness towards the density of the physical elements she intervenes with, and it’s underlining signs, not only in her own works but also within the house, through the use of glass, water, papier maché, cast iron, or even the tactile visuality of certain materials in her photographs. 
Transformation lies embedded in gestures throughout the exhibition, and how the exhibition has come to be. Through a poetic and enthusiastic articulation of matter, Isabel points to metamorphosis as a method for liberation and survival. A self-performative sun-clock shines down onto a bowl of re-assembled paper. This paper, which the artist and the owner of the house jointly have made from unloved books, come together their own version of a specific rite of Santeria - an African-cuban religion developed mostly in Cuba in consequence of slave trade, it’s believers often perform specific acts and ceremonies in order to obtain something from god - being this specific ritual ‘to make a person leave’.
Isabel Cordovil (Lisbon, 1994) studied Multimedia Art at Faculdade de Belas Artes da Universidade de Lisboa and completed a MFA at the Haut Ecole d’Art et Design Genève, Switzerland. Recent solo exhibitions include THE SUNLIGHT WILL BREAK THE PARTY, Rua das Gaivotas (2022), 28 DAY RAVE NATURE IS HEALING, Al-vista gallery, Zurich, Switzerland (2021); LIKE WATER IN WATER, AEGEUS, Lisbon (2020); CRYING ON THE TELEPHONE, Open Studio (2020), Lisbon; UNTITLED (A TALE OF TWO BODIES), OKO, Geneva, Switzerland (2019). 

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