The creator of a unique body of work that was constructed within the context of international art and possessed a consistently pioneering spirit, Nadir Afonso is one of the most important Portuguese artists of the twentieth century. In the year in which he reaches his ninetieth birthday, this retrospective exhibition examines the first half of his artistic career, which took place between 1930 and 1960. It was a path of personal learning and empirical evolution, during which he completed his education and established himself as a professional in the field of architecture. Drawing turns out to be the strong link in this dual relationship, the foundation of his studies and the means by which he expressed himself on the support.
Arranged in thematic groups following a chronological order, this selection reveals the surprisingly contemporary nature of his work in relation to the surrealist aesthetic, or kinetic art, and the break which was brought about through geometric abstraction. For the first time, around one hundred works are being brought together, a great many of them unknown to the general public, as well as an extended series of studies and documents that make it possible to analyse and gain greater understanding of the artist’s creative process, namely, the way in which he simultaneously developed different periods. Throughout the exhibition, it is also possible to gain insight into the interconnecting elements of Nadir’s methodology, namely, repetition and inversion, in accordance with the dialectical basis of thesis, synthesis, and antithesis, indispensable components in the purifying of forms.
This process is sustained by unengaged reflection and theoretical-philosophical analysis, formulated by the artist himself, through which Nadir defends the geometric essence of art, the pre-conscious or intuitive skills used to order compositions, and practical work as a guiding thread to a rational methodology. His is a phenomenological aesthetic with a humanist face that presupposes the following: the immutable relations of geometric laws, universal laws which exist in nature and are essential to the attainment of harmony, and the changeable relations of the functions and requirements that allow perfection to be reached. These are the phenomena through which the “art [that] purifies the spirit and dignifies mankind” is accessed.
Organization and production:
Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea - Museu do Chiado (MNAC-MC) Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis (MNSR).