The aesthetic debate of artists and intellectuals of the twentieth century was marked by arguments of tendency in favor of abstraction in the plastic arts or pro in relation to the most figurative languages, with their multiple variables.

The post-war moments were particularly fruitful in this discussion, maintaining the presupposing actors of civic and political intervention in society, with artistic creation as a fling weapon, reflection and diffusion of ideas and points of view about a world in deep context of change.

At various moments, abstract art is considered as a petty-bourgeois manifestation and considered hostile to a more direct communication with the masses, of realistic and neo-realist apology. However, the artists of early abstract movements defended the supremacy of the means of painting over its representative function. Maurice Denis (1870-1943) states in 1890 that “a painting before being a horse, a naked woman or any story, is essentially a flat surface covered with colors with a specific disposition”. The French, especially for his theoretical work, is considered one of the first proponents of abstract painting and a compositional system, painted shapes and colors, which are not guided by references of the outside world.

Around 1913, although with a plurality of perspectives, Europe went to the abstraction in painting with protagonists like Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), Kazimir Malevich (1878-1935), Robert Delaunay (1885-1941) or Frantisek Kupka (1871-1957), whose actions, although of very small immediate effect, had as epicenter Munich, Moscow or Paris, respectively.

However, the assertion of abstraction as the universal language of the Art is due to the reorganization of the market map of the sector as a result of the world conflict of 1939-1945, which draws attention to eternal Paris and places in the USA, particularly New York, in partly due to the flight to Nazi persecution of a large group of artists to this continent during the war. The year of 1958 will mark, nevertheless, the affirmation and the moment of diffusion of the denominated “new American painting” by Europe. Jackson Pollock (1912-1956), Willem de Kooning (1904-1997), Franz Kline (1910-1962) or Mark Rothko (1903-1970) are on the path of this convention break, with a painting of powerful gestures on monumental canvases, which affirmed themselves as a symbolic expression of the free individual spirit, whose universality created a belief in homogeneity that had never existed in earlier movements in search of abstraction. It will be this theoretical and artistic heritage of the 1950s that continues to keep present Abstract Art in the options of artists and art lovers, little interested in art as a representation of reality, but rather in its dimensions of art through art, of an aesthetic whirl which places the decision on the observer.

This will continue to be the motivation and the concept that preserves the fidelity of artists such as José Augusto Castro, Gil Maia, Francisco Santos or Pedro Bom, from the new and seething 21st century of Liquid Art and the anti-classification or categorization of styles and their authors. Nevertheless, a closer look at their proposals allows us to understand similarities of artistic practice, even with individualized languages that make them certainties in the new abstract, secure investment and timeless art.

Helena Mendes Pereira
chief curator da shairart