João Gabriel was born in Portugal in 1992, now working and living in Caldas da Rainha. Often departing from pre-AIDS, 1970s gay pornographic imagery, João’s paintings deal with desire, loss and nostalgia. Disinterested in the contemporary ideals of masculinity and their portrayals, João turned to vintage gay pornography as a source material to address the male form. His near-obsessive revisiting of the pre-AIDS era speaks to a notion of inherited trauma, and a desire to question the boundaries of joy, fear and sexuality in contemporary queer culture.
Gabriel’s pictures are not the equivalent of their subject, but translations of it. As closely as they synch with their pornographic referents, they equally replace the unflinching directness of those films, with a more diffuse approach to image and subject. Their ghostly impressionism obfuscates salacious detail. At the same time, this same effect lends the pictures coy, flirty agency. They become echoes, emptied of descriptive subtlety but for that reason rich with another, stranger sonority.