Quodlibet and Cortesia: Alastair Gordon’s Painterly Debates with Art, Nature, and ‘the Real’

Andrews, Jorella G.. 2023. Quodlibet and Cortesia: Alastair Gordon’s Painterly Debates with Art, Nature, and ‘the Real’. In: Jorella G. Andrews, ed. Alastair Gordon – Quodlibet. London: Anomie Publishing, pp. 13-23. ISBN 9781910221488 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

This is a commissioned essay for the first major monograph of the work of London-based painter Alastair Gordon (b.1978, Edinburgh). Gordon's work is notable for the ways in which it "speaks to some of the most enduring questions art proposes: illusion, lamentation and the power of images to shape perceptions of reality. Gordon’s paintings bring the historic languages of genre painting and the quodlibet into a contemporary discourse that pushes boundaries of realism, figuration and illusionism to celebrate everyday moments" (Publisher's description). The book includes over 160 paintings, drawings and documentational photographs, along with notes by Gordon himself.

In this essay, I describe the influence of Gordon’s time on a research residency in the former studio of Paul Cézanne at Les Lauves on the outskirts of Aix-en-Provence. His experiences there proved pivotal to the direction of his practice, in which both the ‘visual misdirection’ of quodlibet and the qualities of wood have become central. In order to illuminate and contextualise Gordon's practice, I bring art historical texts and works of art into conversation with this paintings, making comparisons between subject, form and approach. My text further details the recent synthesis of two sides of Gordon’s work: precise illusionism combined with looser observations made in the natural landscape.

Item Type:

Book Section


quodlibet painting, trompe l'oeil, cortesia

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


27 January 2023Accepted
23 May 2023Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

12 Apr 2023 13:57

Last Modified:

31 Jul 2023 15:40



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