19 Jan. // 7 Avr. 2013

ANTÓNIO QUADROS FERREIRA | cosmogonies

Sala de Exposições Temporárias | Temporary Exhibitions Room

ANTÓNIO QUADROS FERREIRA, THE PASSION FOR RIGOR
by Diogo Alcoforado

“(...) It is with traits of unusual rarity that the plastic work by António Quadros Ferreira (AQF) erupts and declares. Heir to a long figurative tradition, Porto’s painter seems to emerge today as one of the most consistent Portuguese examples of an option for the combinatorial schematics with a geometrical nature, unrelated to any representative or symbolic dimension. Distant, irregular, or perhaps even abandoned, some projects from other authors that, in the stages of their paths, developed similar research lines, FBAP’s professor had the task to maintain a continuous exercise within this field and there create a work of silent and blaring difference.
Significantly, in the catalogue for his first individual exhibition, AQF wrote: “These essays, ‘Base sequences’, being exercises of structures and having been originated in a previous study of the relation bidimensional shape–spatial integration (specific case of a triangle), are a direct and logical sequence of an entire work of a research-type nature, whose methodological process is entirely connected to mathematics and that works as a constant of all basic schemes. ‘Base sequences’ therefore result from a series of deliberate articulations of some base elements, previously analyzed, which, apart from the schematic content that lies in their genesis, have differentiated composition factors, thus allowing them to reach a wide dimension of set and granting them an autonomous functioning and visual reading.”
Explanatory and programmatic introduction… from the start – this was 1973 – the text clearly and succinctly enounced the project to conduct: no transfiguration effort that, from the surrounding reality, coming to originate more or less geometrized shapes, via reducing and ‘clarifying’ schematics – but rather an exercise (from the triangle and over it) where one tried to develop aesthetical potentialities by the spatial integration and from virtues that the figure itself carried and allowed. Building foundation in the “connection to mathematics”, each structuration obtained has, therefore, the challenge to become the possible demonstration of a ratio that determines the shapes to be materialized – a ratio that is simultaneously a metric proportion and awareness and control over that proportionality – whereas the aforementioned discipline, traditionally assumed as the limit construction of a rule-creating rationality and that finds, in formalization, its shine and all operational virtues, comes forwards as a prestigious foundation of many plastic elaborations that will be produced. Needless, perhaps, to think of any kind of relationship marked by esoteric numerology or a propaedeutic concern for new disciplines with a eschatological profile; what is developed here is the work over a space of an irreducible intellectual dimension - and that, therefore, bears a differentiator character of unfathomable appeal: the result of the affirmation of power that privileged structures demand for their access and that afterwards impose peripherally.
Thus, the optical character of the set, resulting from spatial constructions marked by the bi-dimensionality and constituted from neutral elements tends to not have a reverse side: it is the pure presence that is proposed, while each produced set continuously challenges the appearance of new sets, each one of them appearing as another possible moment in a series that is virtually inexhaustible. And since the establishing action waives, if not a specific and almost virtuosic technicality: the one that stems from a hyper-controlled execution capacity and that always allows to perform with a flawless rigor without fail the most complex compositions, while denying any individualization through gestures of a “romantic” nature – this is a project that might, in principle, be developed without limitations from an accepted assumption: that production is not meant to explicit an I, in its emotional and affective singularity and of the problem implied by that experience and respective display, but rather of a formal ideality, to which the artist embodies, detached from any circumstances.
Integrated within a lineage where constructability from elementary shapes is the central and binding core of all production, the work of AQF is presented as being necessarily distinct from the one of great names that started and developed it. In fact, and to a certain level, this work attempts to take to the last consequence Cézanne's statement that "Art is a harmony parallel to nature", but definitely pulling away from all the heroic realism that, through the figurative equivalents, and the intention of being classical by nature, the master of Aix sought; the fact is that, and all at once, the abstracting dynamics from stable geometric forms refuses the entire idea of __adequacy – or equivalency, or equipotentiality – that representation always introduces. Now and here, “the parallel harmony” is the one bursting out as an autonomous expression of the compositive spirit, being proposed at different levels that no concrete reference may arouse, disturb, or change; and the entire path is the one being developed in a closed field or, perhaps, overly open: the one serving the free operability of the intellect acting over unchangeable shapes. And if the lineage to which AQF belongs to spans across the entire 20th-century, from Cézanne to Mondrian and from the multiple ways of the abstracting constructivism to Vasarely, what is being discussed here, mainly from the Cubists, is the gradual removal of all 'carnality' and 'accident' in the plastic invention and construction, so that it assumes the status of 'aseptic' and 'full' of pure realization: that which, in many and distinct moments, and for many painters, will lead to an effort as radical as ambiguous – the achievement of plenitude by the access to the formal and structural essences, which can only be said or shown in corporealities that are taken as examples.
Project still and for that reason metaphysical? If the exposed path necessarily comprises this dimension – and between Cézanne and Mondrian, such type of problem is evident – another side tends at least apparently to forget it: the one that, in the relation between art and science, is extended, while the concern for social insertion may constitute a privileged field of (immediate) reflection. And this is the path, by which the Neo-Impressionists tend to connect painting to contemporary science and that almost necessarily disconnected from the Cézanne’s matrix and from its main vectors, with it is found in the common demand for order, solidity, permanence – the one that with AQF’s work, I think, establishes a more deep connection, even if the direct connection may remain hidden. Effectively, to the previously mentioned names, one should add, at least, those of Seurat and Signac: the fact is, inside the constructivist quest, one finds on these two French a radical methodology of productive practice, with the subordination of gesture to the systematized elaboration, with the contention of all projective and emphatic impulses, as to achieve an ideal construction. And if, at that time, the realization followed a program of conciliation of the representative dynamics with painting originating in scientific matter, the representable reality – and as chosen representable – was subdued to the principles established, in a limit quest for reasons and grounds of pictorial plasticity: those that resulted from the application of the optical-chromatic minimal units, in a determined sequence and that are therefore created as being able to generate a specific and necessary answer on the spectator. But if this program also conciliated, in an extreme attempt to safeguard the reference as non-questioned demand, the most clear drawing with painting and if, avowedly, it sought to keep alive the sacred laws of art – it would be condemned to developments that, maintaining the plastic dimensions of the project, are drawn away from all representative or illustrative concerns, for which other means now appeared with more marked gifts.
(…) It is, alas, on the affirmation that “the method elucidates the result” that this brief reflection ends. Contrary to what is generally believed to happen and what is demanded, to some extent, by the instinctual privileges, here the production seems to be commanded and anticipated by the set of theoretical positions and derived options, able to determine effective results. It is useless to wait for surprises – except those that the combinatory possibilities carry inside a predefined field. Now, to a free imagination but dependent of the underlying and unutterable human organization, the one created through a computer may succeed – only subjected to the rules consisting of a ruled but invading order: hyperfast, draining. And the compositional dynamism may be worked and amplified by mechanical contributions – or as simple as that, taking advantage of its impulses, the painter retreating in thinkable schemes and that a precise technique will keep up-to-date. But if the conscience of the unlimited character is exposed by it and also the random is revealed, in an ambivalent tension: that each set insidiously witness. And here, the more extreme linearity becomes circularity: each intermediate point continually raises the consideration of limits, without them allowing not even to be sensed – in a process that only thought will attempt to complete the appropriation of all sizes, and moments and instances, that it carries…
… And the work, meticulous and careful, continues; and if it happens over a new support, it appears as a witness of something that escapes, still and here, to any coldness or measured calculation: a passion to explain rigor itself, demanding it, giving it no respite.”
Porto, 1996 (unpublished work)

facebook Lugar do Desenho