25 Jan. 2003 // 2 Mar. 2003

Aesthetic Feeling

Nadir Afonso

Sala de Exposições Temporárias | Temporary Exhibitions Room

A) We can feel emotion before an object [1]:
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;

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.

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!
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.
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 [2] which we call morphometry. It is these structural rules that weave this factive feeling of perenniality 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.
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.

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

Nadir Afonso

[1] We say “before the object” for the sake of simplification. In fact, it is before the relationship that links us to the object (i.e. before the quality we sense in it) that our emotion is aroused.
[2] Les Mécanismes de la Création Artistique, Éditions du Griffon Neuchâtel; Le Sens de l'Art, Imprensa Nacional, Lisbon.
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