He was one of the most influential abstractionists
Portuguese painter Nadir Afonso was born 99 years ago today
Nadir Afonso was a recognized Portuguese geometric abstractionist painter born in the rural, remote town of Chaves, Portugal, on December 4, 1920. His parents were Palmira Rodrigues Afonso and the 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. After completing secondary school in Chaves, he moved to Porto, in 1938, to enroll in the Painting course at the Porto Fine Arts School, but was then convinced by a school clerk to forget about Painting and choose Architecture instead, as it was more prestigious.However, he never lost his love for painting. Nadir continued to paint, and in 1940 he began to exhibit his work. In 1943, he wrote the first studies on the phenomenon of Optics, which had interested him for quite some time. Two years later, he sold the painting “A Ribeira” to the Museum of Contemporary Art of Lisbon, and then began his rainbow color period. He settled in Paris in 1946, where he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts, on a scholarship granted by the French government, which he obtained through the Brazilian painter Portinari (1903-1962), and collaborated in the workshop of the famous architect Le Corbusier (1887-1965). In 1950, while still in France, he worked once again with Le Corbusier. In the following year, he moved from Europe to Brazil, where he worked with the architect Óscar Niemeyer (1907-), namely in the commemorations of the 4th Centenary of the city of São Paulo. Four years later, he returned to Paris to paint, prepare architecture projects, research on kinetics and engage in innovative studies which he called “Espacillimité”. In 1970, he published “Mécanismes de la Création Artistique”, was the subject of a retrospective exhibition at the Centre Culturel Portugais of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Paris, repeated later at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, and exhibited his work at the Centre de Culture TPN, in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. He traveled to the United States in 1974, participated in exhibitions in New York, and published “Aesthetic Synthesis”. In 1983, he published “Le Sens de l’Art” and in 1996 produced the panels for the Restauradores metro station in Lisbon. Nadir’s paintings are showcased in museums in Portugal and abroad. The plastic artist and thinker, who lived in Cascais with his family, died on December 11, 2013, at the age of 93.
By Ken Warren, 2017/18
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