Showing posts with label Independents. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Independents. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Julio Pomar - Abstract Expressionism

Born in 1926 in Lisbon, and set up in Paris in 1963. Currently lives and works in Paris and Lisbon. Attended the School of Decorative Arts Antonio Arroio and the Schools of Fine Arts of Lisbon and Porto, in 1942 and participated in a first group in Lisbon, and made the first solo exhibition in 1947, in Porto. Devoted himself particularly to painting, but his work also includes works of drawing, engraving, sculpture and "assemblage, illustration, ceramics, tapestries and scenery for theatre.

Has, also, works of decorative tile mural for the station in the Windmill High Lisbon Metropolitan, (1983-84), the Circus of Brasilia (Gran'Circolar, 1987), the Station of the Metro Jardin Botanique in Brussels (1992) the Court of Moita (“Justice of Solomon ', 1993) and the train station of Corroios (1998). Participated in the Biennale de São Paulo, 1953, and also in the editions of 1975 and 1985. The Gulbenkian Foundation in 1978 organized the first retrospective of his work, which was exhibited in Lisbon, Porto and Brussels. In 1986, a new retrospective exhibition was presented by the museums of the Gulbenkian Foundation in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia and also at its headquarters in Lisbon.

Camões, 1988

Other exhibitions anthology of thematic scope took place in 1990, works with themes of Brazil, in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Lisbon, in 1991, with paintings and drawings on literary subjects and portraits of writers (Pomar et la Literature), in Charleroi, Belgium

Edgar Poe, Fernando Pessoa e o Corvo, 1985

in 1997 with work on the theme of D. Quixote, in Cascais, and paintings on the Indians of Brazil, in Biarritz, France. Other anthologies of paintings were presented in 1999 and 2000 in Macau and Beijing, in 2001, in Aveiro (Recent Paintings), and in 2003 in Istanbul. Published in 2002, the volume of tests "and then painting?" And in 2003 the poem "TRATAdoDITOeFeito. Exhibited new paintings (Méridiennes - Meres indienne), in 2004, Patrice Trigano Gallery, Paris, and the Sintra Museum of Modern Art - Berardo Collection presented a retrospective of his work organized by Marcelin Pleynet under the title "Autobiography", where out the first part of a series of sculptures in bronze. Also in 2004, the CCB has set out an anthology of recent works entitled 'Human Comedy'. The first two volumes of the catalogue "raisonné 'of works of painting, sculpture and assemblages of iron were published in 2001 and 2004, the Éditions de la Difference, Paris.

Gadanheiro, 1945

Orchard has become a strong opponent to the fascist regime. Joined the Movement of Democratic Unity (MUD) and participated in student fights, which cost him the expulsion of ESBAP. The political activism is also reflected in his work. In painting, in works such as The Gadanheiro, exposed in 1945 the National Society of Fine Arts, the texts published in newspapers, which advocated a neo-realist aesthetic, and the promotion of the 1st Exhibition of the spring Ateneu Comercial do Porto in 1946.

Almoço do trolha, 1946

In 1947 organized the 1st solo exhibition of drawings, in Porto. However, the mural that runs the Cinema Batalha was ruined by the PIDE.

Cegos de Madrid, 1957

Soon after leaving the port, returning to the capital. There was jailed for four months and saw your picture in the Resistance be confiscated II General Exhibition of Plastic Arts of the National Society of Fine Arts in 1947.

Maria da Fonte, 1957

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fernando Lanhas changed the art scene at the end of the 2nd War

Fernando Lanhas, (born Oporto, 16 September 1923) is a Portuguese painter and architect. He studied architecture but became known as the leading name in Portuguese abstract painting. He started painting in 1944, influenced by music, astronomy, and the international abstract movement. Since then, he's been one of the most innovative and original Portuguese painters.

In the years spent in Oporto School of Fine Arts was a student attentive and engaged. In this institution addressed the Group of Students of Fine Arts. Had Colleagues such as Nadir Afonso, Manuel Pereira da Silva and Julio Pomar, with whom talked about art. He began painting figurative paintings, which quickly turned into abstract works. Involved in the organization of the Independents Exhibition, in 1944, and collaborated on the page "Art" of the daily newspaper of Oporto, "The Afternoon" in 1945. Shortly travelled to Paris, where he visited and enjoyed the Art of major events such as Sallon des Réalité Nouvelles, in 1947.

In the field of the drawing, he is in the large family of modern design, combining the ability to express the virtuosity of form.
Pure Design, in search of an asceticism which always renders, the drawing as a mean and end in itself.
Stripped of any accessory, its design leads us through a firm registration, but with a ductility open to higher sensitivities. The fascination leads us to believe that the design is where does not exist!

His called abstract painting, reduced to a few colours and minimal shapes, carries the same fascination and meditation on the same scales of time and space that Fernando Lanhas. research in the scientific field. Some canvas came from graphic compositions, other, denser and unexplained, more metaphysical then geometric, pursuing the movement of natural forces and forms, the dimensions of the cosmos. Sometimes symbolic representations cease guess: sun, tree, bird.

His involvement with the Independents Exhibition, who changed the art scene at the end of the 2nd War, promoting the debate on the abstraction along with the first neo-realistic statements. At 45, working with J. Lanham Pomar and V. Palla in the organization of the page 'Art' of the daily 'The Afternoon', of Oporto (which is itself listed in the catalogues of 49-50), where the future Surrealists Cesariny, Oom and Vespeira also defended the 'useful arts'. Lanhas then publishes studies for Drums (Old with Handkerchief) and Old White, which forms the set of paintings, is now exposed. Later works are abstractions and provide the first evidence of the ambitions of the painter and the debate about the social implications of art, which is represented by The Artist Abstract (only shown in photo) and Catherine (The Magnificent ugliness) of 46; Lanhas visit Paris on 47 and returns to abstractionism.

Honorary member of the National Academy of Fine Arts, a man of rare culture, has acknowledged taking a journey of original demand of rationality in art. In a time of tension in encysted cultural crisis of the subject, has been able to understand it as a learning experience for the integration of man in the world, the inevitable game of ephemeral passions and affections.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Arlindo Rocha, a pioneer of the abstract sculpture in Portugal

Arlindo Rocha and Manuel Pereira da Silva.

Arlindo Rocha, 1921 - 1999
Graduated in sculpture at the School of Fine Arts of Porto, in 1945.
In 1953 he obtained a scholarship from the Institute of High Culture, for Italy, and in 1959, a fellowship of BCG to Egypt and Greece and visits the major museums of Europe.
Was a member of the Oporto Group "Independents" (years 40).
Was awarded a silver medal at the Universal Exhibition in Brussels (1958).
Has works in public places - schools, palaces of justice, gardens, etc. Egg in Setúbal, Oporto and Viseu.

Oporto Bishop.

Arlindo Rocha is considered a pioneer of abstract sculpture in Portugal, among with Manuel Pereira da Silva, Jorge Vieira, and Fernando Fernandes in the emancipation movement of the sculpture from his vocation statuary. The pieces "Woman and Tree" in 1948 and "Science" of 1961, this one was radical abstract, are milestones in Portuguese sculpture of the last century.
His work tended to be geometric inevitably absolute. However, in recent years returned to a hard Figurative, with orders to local authorities.

Setúbal: The Poetry, The Sea and The Earth.

The abstraction, true the School of Paris, in two parts, sometimes more geometric and in other moments more lyrical. The most relevant national figures were: Maria Helena Vieira da Silva, exponent of the "Ecole de Paris", and here, in Portugal, Fernando Lanhas, Nadir Afonso, Manuel Pereira da Silva and Arlindo Rocha.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Bust of Fernando Fernandes made by Manuel Pereira da Silva

1946 Bust of Fernando Fernandes made by Manuel Pereira da Silva.

Born on 11 April 1924, in Braga. In 1949, concluded the Course of Sculpture in the Oporto Academy of Fine Arts.

In 1952, participated in the exhibition at Modern Art of the National Intelligence with the work Piet. The logic and syllogism, in 1953, the first abstract sculptures presented in a school, getting the classification of 19 values.

The logic and syllogism.

After finished the course, Fernando Fernandes attends the School of Fine Arts in Paris and the Slade School of Art in London. It had a fellowship of the Institute of High Culture and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Represented Portugal in the II and V Biennial of Modern Art of São Paulo in 1953 and 1959

Fernando Fernandes was colleague and fiend of Manuel Pereira da Silva in adventurous stay in Paris in 1946 and 1947, along with the Painter Júlio Resende and the Sculptor Eduardo Tavares who came to be user of the Manuel Pereira da Silva studio, which also occurred later, with the Sculptor Aureliano Lima and the Painter Reis Teixeira.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Henrique Moreira - Sculptor

In 1991 the sculptor Henrique Moreira was honoured by the land that he was borne, Avintes.
On the centenary of his birth, the Board Council of Avintes decided to erect this monument, the work was made by the sculptor Manuel Pereira da Silva.

Monument to the Sculptor Henrique Moreira in Avintes.

Henrique Araújo Moreira (Avintes, Vila Nova de Gaia, 1890 - 1979) was an important Portuguese sculptor.
He had study in the Oporto Academy of Fine Arts, where he was student of Master António Teixeira Lopes; Henrique Moreira left us a remarkable work, recognized in numerous awards, including those of gold medals that were awarded in exhibitions in Lisbon and Seville.
In his vast work, which perpetuates the legacy of naturalist Eight hundred, there is already an updated recipe for the emergence of Art Deco aesthetics, such as denouncing the decorative buttonhole, “The Boys” in the Allies Avenue, Oporto, it is obvious the convergence of a natural harmony of lines and volumes, this naturalist expression gives to the artworks an immense serenity.

The Boys, Allies Avenue in Oporto.

“The Lady Nude” Work of Henrique Moreira, was held in 1929 and is on Allies Avenue, Oporto. Represents a naked woman, seated, with arms supported on a plinth which four faces with masks throw water into a small tank.

The Lady Nude, Allies Avenue in Oporto.

“Tenderness” in the S. Lázaro Garden, Oporto.

In Carlos Alberto Square, a monument to the Portuguese killed in The Great War of 1914-18, Oporto.

The Unknown Soldier, Carlos Alberto Square in Oporto.

Priest Américo (1959/61 - Bronze) in the Republic Square, Oporto.

The Garden Antero de Figueiredo is a small garden located in front of the Foz Market, predominantly consisting of beds of flowers. At the centre there is the bust of the writer who gives name to the Garden.

Antero Figueiredo, Foz Market in Oporto.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Independents, Oporto artist group

The abstract art is historically linked to the Portuguese Independents exhibitions, its main organizer and coordinator, Fernando Lanhas, coincidentally is the central figure of abstractionism.

After the I exhibition in April 1943, in the of Fine Arts School of Porto, with sculptures of Altino Maia, Mário Truta, Arlindo Rocha, Serafim Teixeira, Augusto Tavares and Manuel Pereira da Silva, the Independents exhibitions will be place outside the school and several times outside the Oporto, a first example of decentralization, does not avoid a certain marginalization of Oporto artists on events and initiatives for greater visibility and impact of the capital.

The II Independent Exhibition shows, in February 1944, at the Atheneum Commercial of Oporto, with sculptures of Altino Maia, Arlindo Rocha, Eduardo Tavares, Joaquim Meireles, Manuel Monteiro da Cunha, Maria Graciosa de Carvalho, Mário Truta, M. Félix de Brito, Manuel Pereira da Silva and Serafim Teixeira. It will be from there that the action of Fernando Lanhas will be felt in the consistent quality of the catalogue and exhibitions, as well as persistence in keeping alive the initiatives.

The III Independents Exhibition takes place in the same year, in the hall of the Coliseum of Oporto, with sculptures of Abel Salazar, Altino Maia, Antonio Azevedo, Arlindo Rocha, Eduardo Tavares, Henrique Moreira, Manuel Pereira da Silva, Mário Truta and Sousa Caldas. In the catalogue of the exhibition, that goes to Coimbra, Leiria and Lisbon, in 1945, states that the name of "Independents" is not a name at random, but involves the awareness that art is a heritage of humanity and hence the "Our presence varied, it being understood that this should enable it to build the future, can not be denied the right to remember the past (1).
For Fernando Lanhas the "Independents Exhibition" of Oporto is a significant historical moment in our painting and sculpture. First, because together painters and sculptors of different training (the reason for the word "Independents" has no affiliation of an "ism" particular), also engaged in a collective action and immersed in the same enthusiasm. Second, because there appears, without pre-concepts or complexes, this original and fruitful abstraction. And thirdly, because they escape to the centralized voracity of the capital.

Between 1946 and 1950, there are four more independent exhibitions in the Bookstore Gallery Portugála, in Oporto, on 46, 48 and 50, and one in Braga in the 49. From 1943 to 1950, exhibited in almost all expositions the painters Amândio Silva, Aníbal Alcino, António Lino, Chambers Carlos Ramos, Dordio Gomes, Fernando Lanhas, Júlio Pomar, Júlio Resende, Nadir Afonso, Rui Pimentel and Vitor Palla.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Nadir Afonso - Painter

Nadir Afonso, (1920, Portugal) is a geometric abstractionist painter. Formally trained in architecture, which he practiced early in his career with Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer, Nadir Afonso later studied painting in Paris and became one of the pioneers in Kinetic art, working alongside Victor Vasarely, Fernand Léger, Auguste Herbin, and André Bloc.

Aliados Square, 1943. Early works: Nadir Afonso already displays a preference for urban themes, which he will extensively develop in the Cities series.

As a theorist of his own geometry-based aesthetics, published in several books, Nadir Afonso defends that art is purely objective and ruled by laws that treat art not as an act of imagination but of observation, perception, and form manipulation.

Nadir Afonso achieved international recognition early on in his career and currently holds many of his works in museums. His most famous works are the Cities series, which depict places all around the world. As of 2007 he is still actively painting.

Évora Surrealista, 1945. Surreal period, denoting a drift to abstractionism at age 25.

Formative years
Nadir Afonso Rodrigues was born in the rural, remote town of Chaves, Portugal, on December 4, 1920. His parents were Palmira Rodrigues Afonso and poet Artur Maria Afonso. His very unusual first name was suggested by a gypsy to his father on his way to the Civil Registry, where he was due to be registered as Orlando.

By the age of four, he made his first "painting" on a wall at home: a perfect red circle, which anticipated his life as under the signs of rhythm and geometric precision. His teen years were dedicated to painting, earning him his first national prize at age 17. It was only natural that he was sent to the bigger city of Porto to enroll in the School of Fine Arts for the art (painting) degree. However, at the registration desk, he took the advice of the clerk, who told him that his high school diploma allowed him to enroll in Architecture, which was then a more promising career. As he later admitted, he made a mistake by listening to that man.

Composition, 1946. Iris period: first purely abstract works.

Still, Nadir Afonso took on the challenge and completed the graduation in Architecture, but he had to flunk the third year because some of his professors could not accept Nadir Afonso's artistic style. Settled in Porto, he started to design houses and industrial buildings, while at the same time painting the city around him under his other surname, Rodrigues. As a member of the artist collective "Porto Independents", he took part in all their art exhibitions until 1946 and became a favourite with the national critics. His oil A Ribeira was purchased by the Contemporary Art Museum of Lisbon (the country capital) in 1944, when he was only 24 years old.

Deux Styles, 1952. Egyptian period (and Baroque period): looking for the geometry imbedded everywhere and in every object.

Art and architecture
In 1946, Nadir Afonso left Porto for Paris with a number of unfinished works from his iris period, and changed his signature with the surname Afonso. There, a Brazilian painter Candido Portinari helped him secure a scholarship from the French Government to study art and painting at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. He resided at the Hôtel des Mines in the Latin Quarter and spent his time regularly at students hangouts. Nadir Afonso recalls this period of his life as the first time that he was in contact with the great world of Art. Because his scholarship lasted only one year, Nadir Afonso worked until 1948 (and again in 1951) with the architect Le Corbusier who, knowing his passion for painting, gave him the mornings off without cutting his salary. He also worked for a while, with the artist Fernand Léger.

Espacillimité, 1954. Espacillimité series: still and moving paintings resulting from the pioneering Kinetic art studies.

While working under Le Corbusier in Paris, Nadir Afonso gradually developed his own style of geometric abstractionism. His new fundamentals of aesthetics reoriented his concepts of the origin and essence of art that resulted in his 1948 research thesis controversial to his architectural work, Architecture Is Not an Art. "Architecture is a science, a team elaboration", and therefore a means of expression that cannot satisfy a solitary soul like him. In 1949, Nadir Afonso leaves Paris and for a while immerses himself fully in his paintings. He goes through a period of inspiration in the Portuguese Baroque, followed by an Egyptian period.

Venice, 1956. The beginning of the long-running Cities series, still very connoted with the Espacillimité series.

From December 1951 to 1954, Nadir Afonso crosses the Atlantic to answer an invitation to work with the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer; it was three years of "necessary architecture and obsessive painting." That obsession forces him to return to Paris, looking for artists researching Kinetic art. He joins the group of the Denise René Gallery, connecting with French-Hungarianpainter Victor Vasarely (father of the Op-art), Danish painter Richard Mortensen, French painter Auguste Herbin, and French architect André Bloc, culminating in 1958 in the public showing, at the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, of his animated painting Espacillimité (now on display at the Chiado Museum in Lisbon). His first book, La Sensibilité Plastique, is published the same year with the support of art critic Michel Gaüzes, patron Madame Vaugel and Victor Vasarely. In 1959, his first anthology exhibition takes place at the Maison des Beaux-Arts in Paris, while initial exhibitions of his new style in his native country fail initially to raise as much interest as in the early expressionist years.

Occident, 1966. Cities series: the geometric alphabet devised by Nadir Afonso expands beyond Espacillimité.

Full-time painter

Paris is the world center of the arts but the fierce competition between artists proves too much for Nadir Afonso. In 1965, conscious of his social inadaptation, he moves back to his hometown of Chaves and little by little takes refuge in isolation and accentuates the orientation of his life towards the creation of his art. He terminates the architecture practice and pursues his aesthetics studies based on geometry, which he considers the essence of art. Once in a while, he leaves his hideout to return to Paris and meet with friends author Roger Garaudy, painter Victor Vasarely, and critic Michel Gaüzes. By indication of Garaudy, he travels to Toulouse to meet aestheticist Pierre Bru, with whom he reviews the syntactic form of his studies, before publishing Les Mécanismes de la Création Artistique (The Mechanisms of Artistic Creation), the book where he introduces his original theory of art as an exact science.

Port of Copenhagen, 1975. Painting city by city, Nadir Afonso's style will get more abstract in years ahead.

In 1974, he makes a solo exhibition at the Selected Artists Galleries, in New York. U.S. critics acclaim him as "one of the first proponents of geometric abstraction in Portugal [and] one of the new generation European artists."

Living in reclusion, Nadir Afonso defined himself in 2006 as "Portuguese and a son of the inner country. I learned from tradition to be humble, to praise the masters, and to live these eighty-six years with the simplicity that my lowly status has always guaranteed me. To do a balance of my existence and of my work now is absurd." He has spent the last three decades painting, exhibiting, and writing with regular and growing comfort. He is twice married, with five children, born between 1948 and 1989.

Nadir Afonso exhibits regularly in Lisbon, Porto, Paris, New York, and all over the world, and as of 2007 is still active at work. He is represented in museums in Lisbon and Porto (Portugal), Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo (Brazil), Budapest (Hungary), Paris (Pompidou Center), Wurzburg and Berlim (Germany), among others. He has formed a foundation bearing his name, to which he donated his personal artwork collection, and has engaged Pritzker Prize-winner architect Alvaro Siza to design its headquarters in his hometown of Chaves.

Dresden, 1985. The geometric alphabet is still evolving.

International recognition
The recognition of Nadir Afonso's talent came early in his career, both in his home country and internationally. Aged 24, an oil of his, A Ribeira, had already been purchased by the Contemporary Art Museum of Lisbon and the Portuguese government invited him twice to represent Portugal at the São Paulo Art Biennial. By the age of 50, he was well known and regularly exhibited in New York and Paris.

However, his reclusive personality and the memory of his first attempt in 1946 to show his paintings to an art gallery in Paris, which was snubbed and left him humiliated, have since meant that he shies from publicity and no exhibition has ever been promoted by himself. Victor Vasarely, the father of op art, had already noticed it in 1968:

"This artist I have known for over 20 years is undoubtedly the most important Portuguese contemporary painter and his work is unjustly little known across the world."

Moscow, 1995. A colorful period in the Cities series, even though Nadir Afonso declares that color is secondary and an afterthought.

Personal aesthetics theory
Art is usually conceived as subjective, but for Nadir Afonso it is purely objective and ruled by laws. "Art is a show of exactitude", "a game of laws in spaces but not of significations in objects". From these axioms, his own personal theory of geometry-based "rational aestetics within an intuitive art" evolved, which he published in book form, alongside his philosophical thoughts on the Universe and its laws. These works are the key to understand the artist and his art, and are summarized by himself in a few words:

"Searching for the absolute, for an art language in which shapes possess a mathematical rigorousness, where nothing needs to be added nor removed. The feeling of total exactitude."
Because of his rationalism, Nadir Afonso confronted Kandinsky, the father of abstract art, and criticized him for subduing geometry to the human spirit instead of making it the essence of art. This "geometry of art" is not however the "geometry of geometrists", as it is not about symbols nor anything in particular; rather, it is the spatial law itself, with the four qualities of perfection, harmony, evocation, and originality.

His work is methodical, because "an artwork is not an act of 'imagination' (...) but of observation, perception, form manipulation." "I start with shapes, still arbitrary. I put ten shapes on the frame; I look at it and suddenly a sort of spark ignites. Then the form appears. Color is secondary, used to accentuate the intensity of the form." Nadir Afonso does not renege on his early expressionist and surrealist works: "An individual initially does not see the true nature of things, he starts by representing the real, because he is convinced therein lies the essence of the artwork. I thought that too. But, as I kept working, the underlying laws of art, which are the laws of geometry, slowly revealed themselves in front of my eyes. There was no effort on my part, it was just the daily work what led me to that result, guided by intuition." The illustrations of this article are a chronological representation of the evolution of Nadir Afonso's style and thought towards the original geometric alphabet with which he creates his artworks, as explained in his books and seen most prominently in his Cities series.

Tile panels on the Lisbon Metro (1998)

Aesthetic Feeling

Nadir Afonso
A) We can feel emotion before an object:

1) Because it reminds us of another object (evocation).
For example: we feel emotion before the tree trunk that reminds us of somebody crucified; before the cloud that suggests an eagle, the garden that appeals to our childhood, the portrait that evokes a loved one;

2) Because the intended function of the object satisfies a need in us or responds to our notion of need (perfection). For example: we feel emotion before the utensil, the glass, the chair, the table, the machine, the functional, practical, light, portable, comfortable vehicle;

3) Because the object presents to us special features (originality). For example: we feel emotion before the black flower, the elegant giraffe, the polar landscape;

Ribeira, Porto (years 50)

B) We can feel emotion before a law:
Because the space itself contains metric laws pertaining to geometric form (harmony). For example: we feel emotion before the lunar circle; before the hexagon of the quartz crystal; before the skyline over the sea.

Paris (years 70)

C) “The creator tries to convey emotion to us”... and it is here that the first aesthetic conflict is born! How can man convey emotion (which comes to him sometimes from a pure feeling of love) when he paints, for example, the portrait of a “loved one”? This emotion is intransmissible! If the artist considers that his picture of the “loved one” is a work of art (because it arouses his emotion), so can the critic consider that it is not (because it does not arouse his emotion) … The same work cannot be declared “artistic” by some and “inartistic” by others!

Brussels (years 70)

But there’s more. When the art critic is a “renowned authority on aesthetics” he classifies, for example, the picture of the “tree trunk” under works of art (because it suggests to him, as to the artist and the like, a crucified being) and does not classify the picture “loved one” (because it does not suggest any loved one to him). And if we are careful enough to look into the illusion under which both the art critic and the artist fell, we will see that the same mistake extends to all significations inherent in all objects.
Conclusion of the aesthetic conclusion: it is not in the representation of objects that the characteristics of a work of art lie. Meaning evolves through the environment, the time, the race, the people, according to function, need, belief, culture, affection… and everything that depends on them is an incidental, transitory, individual emotion. Only the laws of space, independent from evolution, contain accuracy, and only they can reveal eternity and universality to us – the absolute to which every true work of art aspires.

Madrid (years 90)

Of course, to counter this statement, traditional aesthetics have an argument they consider an inevitable “check mate”: “not all works of art represent geometries – “lunar circles” or “crystal hexagons” and many of the works that represent them cannot help being, despite that, mediocre products”! The answer is right in terms of reasoning and wrong in terms of perception: the laws of space have their most evident expression in the simple forms of Nature: the circle, the square, the equilateral triangle, the hexagon... and in the act of making the work of art this data and its intermediate components becomes more complex according to structures that obey a correlative law: integration and disintegration which we call morphometry. It is these structural rules that weave this factive feeling of perennially and accuracy as if represented things were revealed to us full of “mysterious meanings”. Such a structuring norm is, however, irreducible from intuitive mathematics to constituted sciences and only accessible to the faculties of perception.

New York (years 90)

Only thus is it understandable that elementary forms – the circle, the hexagon, etc. – do not make in themselves a composite set, as it is understandable that a composite set does not present to scientific reason these primordial geometric elements. Hence, in the same order and sequence, it is understandable that, in the aesthetic view of those who do not grasp these principles, the illusion is formed that the sense of artistic creation emanates from a “revelation” of meaning inherent in objects.
My major concern has been to mark the existence and set out the rules of integration and disintegration of spaces: unsuspected morphometric laws of traditional aesthetics and keystone of my whole work. In particular, my work Le Sens de l’Art seeks essentially, from the first to the last line of text, the natural norms of this geometrisation.

Rio de Janeiro (years 90)

Aesthetes do not agree with me because, if it were as I say, “art would have no mystery”.
Nadir Afonso

Seville, 2007. At age 86, first oversized painting (176x235 cm), using his full geometric alphabet.

Nadir Afonso has produced mainly paintings and serigraphs. His current preferred materials are acrylic paint on canvas (bigger works), and gouache on paper (smaller works, often studies for bigger works). His best-known and most distinctive work is the Cities series, each painting usually representing a city from anywhere in the world.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Júlio Resende - A great painter

The vision of the place

"The accumulation of folders and drawing pads, records of experiences (so many!) awoke in me the need for a dispassionate reflection on what their fate should be.
Distance in time and space allowed me to judge the consistency of material in the light of a course that befell me by obscure laws – and I felt no “pain” at destroying a large number of these drawings; the old muffle in the studio would bear witness to this had it been able to speak....
I was relieved to observe that as soon as the hesitations along the way were eliminated, that course, that started in the 1930s and covered 60 years, and whose main Expressionist characteristic necessarily matched my own nature as a man, would become clearer.I confess that in my mind there was a desire to maintain the integrity of the collection and that would be enough for me. My friends did not agree; they argued that this material could set an example, amongst many others, perhaps worthier, and they would find a way, and a space, for it. Hence the creation of “Lugar do Desenho” and the Foundation with that institutional weight that has always been alien to me. However, if “Lugar do Desenho” corresponds to the aims I have always striven towards, so be it! Let Drawing be understood in its widest sense and not simply restricted to the Plastic Arts but to all creative attitudes of Man. It is not the monopoly of a particular time or a society. Drawing is the expression of a consciousness that distinguishes it "


"... But, actually, I wanted to be a painter!
Maybe fate offered me the first step. Aurora Jardim, a known figure in literary and journalism circles in Oporto, spoke to the painter Alberto Silva who, in turn, negotiated with the Silva Porto Academy so that I could attend painting lessons there.
I bought my first “serious” box of paints, and learned how to mix them on the palette, according to the rules."

"... At school, during classes, I would await with great anticipation the critical opinion of Master Dórdio, the possible referential “bridge” with what we understood as our geographical boundaries... A nonconformist movement was taking shape among us, comrades, against the passivity of the town. It was to oppose this situation that the idea of forming the “Group of Independents” arose. “Independent” in stylistic attitude; “dependent” in terms of a commitment that would turn into the awakening of the collective awareness of reality."

"... Maestro Dórdio Gomes headed the “National Fine Arts Academy Aesthetic Mission”, which was held in Évora. Some of the members of the “Independents” met there."

"... In the middle of winter, particularly harsh this year, I began my acquaintance with Paris, looking for every opportunity for revelation. In order to understand the teaching methods and, above all, to evaluate kinds of critical analysis, I attended the School of Fine Arts and the Grande Chaumière Academy."

"One morning, in a heavy snowfall, I went to the window of my room in a small hotel overlooking a cemetery, and saw an old woman trudging through the whiteness of the snow.
She was just a silhouette of pain held up by two filaments ending in huge boots. Without wasting any time, I rushed to the studio of Pierre Dubois, and did this painting in a breath."

Júlio Resende in Paris 1947/48

It was a pivotal period in the life of the artist, fitting in an ever timely way into the educational aim that is a relevant historical constant in a post-War period in which France and the World were seeking to re-establish Peace. The painter Júlio Resende had finished the course at the Fine Arts School in Oporto, and was making his first contacts with the theories and practices of the aesthetics resulting from the movements at the end of the 19th Century and beginning of the 20th, of which Paris was the cultural centre.

1947, Paris.

Drawing in Two Times


History and Society have a duty to speak about the past. The works exhibited here had a specific context in my career and they should be analysed in that context. Various limitations, in particular those resulting from the political regime and world conflict, not to speak of the vaunted loneliness of a country enclosed in specific geographical conditions, would explain the cultural anachronism of the environment, often taking refuge in an outmoded mythology.
One of the works, dating from the 1930s, marks a passage along this path through the desert of ideas and unawareness of the real world beyond our borders. For me, this exhibition shows how much life has evolved in six decades.
Short of another, it will at least have this merit.

Drawing in two times.

Júlio Resende – the years 1940/90

In confession mode

The object of my search? Perhaps the reconciliation of two things apparently irreconcilable.
To discover the form that suits "feeling" and "reflection".

The truth is that the analysts claim that my work reveals a lyrical expressionism. The person who first said that was a Flemish crític, 36 years ago.

If the expressionism in me is not deliberate, maybe the lyricism occurs for reasons underlying a whole people, viewed as submerged in the Atlantic mists, as seems to be the case for Portugal.

That’s probably it.

Ambivalence in feeling and reflecting, is certainly to blame for many hesitations along the way, but it is really justifiable in creative research that is based on a desire for authenticity which I have never moved away from, and do not relinquish now.

The proof is in the fact that I missed out on neo-realism (1940s), abstractionism (1947/48) and all others “isms”, not arrogantly, but always faithful to the feeling and aesthetic thinking that were born with me.

I accept, therefore, to be placed in the "Index" of a contemporaneity marked by the lack of definition of “ephemeral”, “minimalist” things, even if credible, and even by all the resulting humbug of consumerism. I also accept the aesthetic testimony of this contemporaneity, despite its vertigo making it difficult to establish time boundaries. Would a week not be enough for the contemporaneous to cease being so?

The History of Art analyst will respond later.

It is very clear that I do not speculate with painting, although I accept and can understand that others do.

I am only a plastic painter.

The Drawing on the Wall

The role of the plastic artist in society is largely understandable and requires no justification. In an urban space its function is to enhance rather than intervene. Something felt rather than seen. A sufficiently encompassing feeling in the overall space which remains latent throughout time. Thus, it seems that one should require from the artist the humility to acknowledge the right moment to participate in the movement outside his studio, indeed the space of experimentation.
The painter, should he really be the one operating through the plastic medium (…), requires a physical support, its nature and sturdiness depending on the characteristics of the place.
The wall has always been for me a kind of obsession, especially since 1947 when, for the first time, I travelled through Italy. Then, on my return to Paris, Duco de La Haix taught me the potential of "mortier", “discharging” me so I myself could erect a wall for fresco painting. Everything has a story and mine comes from afar and is marked by a commitment to murals. Not always straightforward, I recognise that. Over the long period of 50 years between the first and the last mural, the world was shaken up, the winds blew strong and men degraded themselves endlessly. The signs of art have not gone unheeded by them.
How to understand straightforwardness in this so-called evolutional sense? However, the decoration of a mural is always a consequential reference of a time, like the Berlin wall, or of a faith, like the Wailing Wall. A wall in itself always has a meaning, either physical or psychological. The former remains a reality, the latter is submissive, not because it is sidelined, as it is part of a unity resulting from both realities.
The mural artist faces many questions of a technical, aesthetic, functional and other nature. My purpose over this period of time was to answer them, a purpose to serve a society deeply enslaved to the hands of the clock, to traffic jams and to the anguish of having lost the meaning of life. In my view, mural art, rather than emphasising the status quo that numbs society should, on the contrary, awaken it by the new harmony that is the responsibility of today’s artist to find.

The drawing on the wall.

The Face of the Sea

The works collected together under the title "The Face of the Sea" resulted entirely from a direct contact with those whose life depends on such imponderable factors: such is the struggle of the Sea.
Expressions, gestures and faces shaped by the unbroken waves. Of course! What I am showing are not doctoral theses (!...), but simply recordings (and some of their developments), in the unique circumstances of convergence that facilitates them. They are, after all, mostly drawings that seek a truth conforming to my feelings. They date from different times. Another aspect that I believe the exhibition shows is the contribution of the geo-human situation to the expressiveness of drawing. The Atlantic was, in a way, the great accomplice of my small, yet enormous, adventure! From the northern Portuguese coast to the north-eastern shores of Brazil, passing through the islands of Cape Verde, the same Atlantic. Only the men are different because the expressions, the gestures and the faces are different! The awareness of this difference is always an invaluable challenge for feeling alive!... A drawing made in Póvoa de Varzim bears an emotional charge of a very different nature from another made on some Pernambuco shore.
Even though this is just an aspect of a much wider issue, maybe it is enough to highlight the importance that I give to emotion in the act of drawing.

The face of the sea.

Drawing at the Time of Dance and Theatre Illustration

I do not conceal the paths that life has so often made me tread.
They are part of a long journey and rightly make sense of it.
From the publicity drawings of the 1930s to the tile panels of "Sete Rios" spans a long bridge...
From one bank, already lost in the mist, to another that is awaited… The world, like Art, develops at a maddening pace.
So long as man is not lost, all is well.
This exhibition is thus a “presence” from the past. I only wonder what interest it may arouse in the vortex of modern time.

From comic strips to illustration and costumes, one foot here and one foot there, from Dyas to the Resendes, maybe I lost my bearings!...
This is a doubt, amongst many others, that will always be with me, though I keep a smile on my face that explains the two small lines on it.

1949, People of the sea.

Recurrent Watercolour 1946//1989

Watercolour was Resende’s favourite technique during his various travels, mainly in the 1940s and ‘50s, and it regained its importance in the 1980s when the author became a strong admirer of the Black Forest and the northeast of Brazil.
Some of these works and many others of mixed technique, originals of which many have never before been displayed in public, belong to the Lugar do Desenho collection, and the moment has come to show them, in accordance with the foundation’s statutes.
Dating from different times, the exhibition will help the viewer to see and reflect on the evolution of the painter, an analysis that will offer periodic cultural conclusions, one of our constant objectives.

Recorrent Watercolour.

The Flight of the Palette

A significant number of works by Júlio Resende have been born out of the painter’s many travels, on which he encountered reasons for constant evolution in terms of structural space and means. In his understanding, these works are records, and it is as such that they should be perceived. The experience of the senses corresponds to the instantaneity of gesture. Amassing these works under the title “Flight of the Palette”, the geographical reason behind them becomes immediately clear, as well as the emphasis the author gives to the manifold factors from which he departed and, above all, the diversity of sources of tropical culture: Continental Africa and the African Islands, South America and Asia.
Beside others, this seems a subject to arouse not only the viewer’s sensitivity but also his thinking. It has indeed been a rule of these exhibitions to provide didactic materials supplied by the author to accompany the original work, which we include in this edition. (…)

The flight of the palette.

Gazing on the Immediate

"Do you know what will happen to you as you practise pen and ink drawing? You will become more clever, practical and able to draw a lot inside your head."

The material exhibited should not be regarded as the product of a thesis, a final result of reflexive/emotional understanding. As a principle, it is material safeguarded by its own “intimacy” which few would agree to reveal.
The title of the exhibition, “Gazing on the Immediate”, explains from the outset the instability pertaining to the record and the emotion put in it.
The movement of the tool translates the feeling of experienced vision, though expectant and unique, given credibility by the cortex but respectful of the thalamus. Drawing thus becomes a reliable testimony to a vital experience of the being at a given moment.
This exhibition comprises many of these experiences, some of which were fleetingly recorded but no less relevant for it in my life. I recall Turner, acknowledging that many of his late watercolours were sketched in a very schematic drawing to be watercoloured later. His capacity for emotional memory would respond to the particular chromatic solutions in question.
By showing these works in an attitude of apparent indiscretion, I will make myself known, not as an example, as a model… I am just one amongst many!

Gazing on the immediate.

Woman and Drawing

"A considerable part of the work of Júlio Resende has an insistent motivation in the female figure, not only isolated, but inserted in groups in subordination to the compositional structure.

During the course of a decades-long career, the painter’s expressionism rarely submits to viewing in woman the fragile ornamental figure of conventional beauty, rather the contrary, in her silhouettes, she radiates an earthy image, a vital essence that ennobles her.

This path is one of the reasons for this exhibition, taking the viewer to diverse places, from the Oporto riverfront to the Atlantic shore.(...)"

Woman and drawing.

Drawing Techniques

I dare state that in art, technique goes unnoticed. Lest I am misunderstood, I shall add that all statements are valid in themselves, and this also means that I do not belittle the ability to externalise this statement.
Technique is a means of …
For some reason, I find myself resistant to the exhibitionist techniques of a Paganini, although he is recognised as having been the greatest of virtuosi.
In principle, the painter has no violin, but rather various methods that require as many techniques, which he uses according to circumstance. Watercolour, pastel, gouache, pencil, China ink, etc, are “quick” techniques that I use in my frequent ramblings. I rarely used photography, believing that the use of a pad of paper would bring advantages to emotional annotation.
Other techniques, let’s call them “studio” techniques, such as engraving, monotype, collage, mixed technique, form the reference link to oil, acrylic techniques, etc. It is easily perceived that the former result from what I call in loco experience, while the latter are subject to a state of mind.
They all have variable relevance according to the aesthetic profile of the technician, and can even be considered useless for their association with other creative proposals such as those that are based on a performance project. So it should be said that these are the works that are part of the collection exhibition. It will be up to the visitor to make the small effort of telling them apart in terms of the purposes that generated them. Let it be once more stated that they are not conclusive works but rather personal records, fragments which in the circumstances were grouped here for the overall understanding of a whole.
I was moved by no other purpose, when exposing these bits of paper, humble physical presences, than to account for a life of searching, through the dim mists of doubt, with the hope of glimpsing a light that might correspond to the supreme objective of my painter’s conscience.
This search will make no sense without being shared as a brotherly sign of a hopefully universal Harmony.

Drawing Techniques

A House in Korntal

Family circumstances meant frequent stays in Korntal, a few kilometres from Stuttgart, where my daughter Marta and my only grandson Daniel live. Korntal is a word derived from two others, which means “Valley of Wheat”, and explains the nature of the place in topographical terms. In fact, from Stuttgart to Korntal, we can imagine continuous forest surrounding the Solitude Palace without any difficulty. The forest, of which Germany is proud, is maintained with natural discipline by all who accept and defend it. Korntal, therefore, is a small urban zone which is almost disguised in the landscape since the buildings do not extend beyond the houses surrounded by gardens carefully tended with visible pride by their owners at weekends. The small town obeys the rules of social composure of a class linked to the automobile industry.
But Korntal stands out socially for another reason: a “sect” with a moral ideology and “pietist” religion had its base there for many years, which still today is reflected in the collective behaviour of the residents.
In one of my stays, as I walked along the immaculately tidy streets, I inadvertently dropped a scarf.
The following day, when I noticed it was missing and took the same course, I found it carefully folded and placed on a low garden wall. This is Korntal.
This is where Marta’s house is, where Daniel is growing up. My memories are naturally in the company of my grandson to whom I taught the first Portuguese words and who, as he grew up, walked with me to the forest, making his small watercolours.
It is normal for the private gardens to have no walls to stop passers-by seeing in, and the owners relish their gardening. Although with the passing of time, Marta has become part of this social scene, her garden is not exactly like the rest.
Perhaps it is such a subtle matter it is impossible to explain.
My expressionist temperament, as if "pacified" by the scenery of this house, accepted an “intimacy” I am not used to. The atmosphere of a harmony of images and sounds, not only captured at first hand, but emanating from the surroundings, proved propitious to recording these notes.

A house in Korntal.

A river that is left to die amongst us

Far from wishing to speculate on a matter of such obscure reflection as the fate of living things, it is true that the title found to group the works in this exhibition lent itself to my perception of the possible analogy of the character of a river and that of man. "A river that is left to die amongst us" deserves every risk.
A river without a history is just a watercourse in the hydrographic scheme of the earth’s crust.
Unlike most, perhaps, the River Douro experienced in geological adversity the traits that made it the scene of epic memories, but also of others more soothing such as a requirement of what is vital. In the fearsome terraced layout, man turned the rock into the womb of miracles for sustenance and breathtaking works of art. As it ends its laborious course the Douro reflects on its banks a ravishing beauty that recalls in us the final chord of a Mahler symphony.

A feeling of involvement dominates the powers of absorption, making us a part of a whole.

The river, like a body, reacts to the physical confrontations of a vital space. To the average observer, this contemplation will be devoid of significance.

Painting is not an entertainment. It results from the intent to respond to a kind of provocation of a phenomenon. The response is at the risk of the painter, who recognises in advance that this response will not be entirely satisfactory.

A river that is left.