After a refurbishment, Côrte-Real Gallery unveils its latest collection of ethnic décor pieces and invests in new artists
It looks like a brand new art gallery. After refurbishment, Côrte-Real gallery, in Paderne, Albufeira, now has new exhibition rooms and bright white interiors, as well as a new collection of pieces inspired by the African continent, besides the traditional oil and acrylic canvases, among other mixed media. “Ethnic, tribal and vintage pieces for interior decoration,” explains Michael Roberts, one of the gallery’s founders, along with Pedro Buisel Côrte-Real. “We don’t know any other shop in the Algarve that has such a diverse range of ethnic décor at the moment. This new home-décor collection is the big highlight of the season.”
Among the many items, there is a clear emphasis on lampshades made from different types of African wood, pillows, chandeliers, lanterns and several ceramic bowls and plates with a myriad of colours. “In the past, we wouldn’t have bet on a collection like this,” he says. And there is a simple reason. “The demand made us look for this type of pieces to answer to our clients’ interest and needs. We decided to substantially expand our home-décor offer.” But they have not forgotten that the strong suit of Côrte-Real has always been painting: “We still feature many new painters.”
The new line came after the pair visited some of the biggest decoration fairs in Paris, Frankfurt and Milan, where they first met small representatives of several collectives of African artisans. “Even though there are countless renowned brands on the international scene, our focus was mostly on the amazing work developed by small artisans from the north of Africa. We found stunning handmade lampshades using materials such as cane, rattan, straw, bamboo, among others, but also ceramics and furniture pieces, and decided to support these small collectives that create very interesting works,” Michael recalls. Thus, across the gallery’s many rooms, there are pieces with “different styles and materials, that at first you wouldn’t think were compatible but work surprisingly well together”, he states. Still, the cofounder of Côrte-Real stresses that “the gallery continues to work in close collaboration with many Portuguese artisans, especially in ceramics”.
Other new items include the fun and dynamic Danish lampshades, Mr. Wattson. Michael describes them as “mad lamps”, handmade using ash wood and with an integrated LED lamp. This item was inspired by vintage cars’ headlights, which gives it a unique and empathic expression. Its flexibility and adaptability allow you to change its position, giving it plenty of personality. Available in seven colours, this is one of Michael’s favourite pieces from the current collection.
However, “the gallery has always stood out for the painting works on display,” which are “the main focus and business”. Therefore, aside from the resident artists, who have been part of Côrte-Real for a long time, Michael and Pedro are preparing to exhibit the works of new and promising artists, such as Nicky Chubb.
The Brit paints blossoming trees and rural scenes from the inland Algarve landscape, which stir emotions of “hope and happiness”.
Another British artist, Jo Quigley, finds her inspiration in wildlife and seascapes. Other artists include Tracey Ross who is inspired by the Algarve west coast; Magdalena Morey, with her oil-canvas paintings where she dares to try different mixed-media techniques; and even the sui generis ceramics by Ian Roberts, created using an ancient Japanese ceramic-casting technique named raku; among other artists, such as Sally Stafford, Inger Lise Adolfsen, Michael Sanders and Carlos Martin Jimenez.
In addition to the new artists on display, Côrte-Real also showcases a vast selection of fine art, with canvases that restored the zeitgeist of an Algarve from the past, with depictions of the typical façades of Algarvean homes, wooden doors, angled rooftops and platbands (mouldings) that have been part of the region’s identity for centuries.
Sixteen years after its inauguration, visiting Côrte-Real is like entering a new art dimension, with works that will surprise those who are not familiar with the space, as well as those who have been before.
By Sara Alves