Nadir Afonso Contemporary Art Museum, Chaves

Av. 5 de Outubro nº 10, Chaves
Norte, Portugal
Email: mac.nadirafonso@chaves.pt
Phone: +351 276 009 137
Website: https://macna.chaves.pt/
closed on: Mondays, January 1, Easter Sunday, May 1, December 24 and 25
Museum Type: Art
Nadir Afonso Contemporary Art Museum Chaves, Alvaro Siza exterior 1

The Nadir Afonso Contemporary Art Museum (Portuguese: Museu de Arte Contemporânea Nadir Afonso) is a museum in Chaves, northern Portugal, designed by famed architect Alvaro Siza and dedicated to abstract painter Nadir Afonso.

Nadir Afonso
Born in Chaves, a medium-sized city about 150 kilometers/ 90 miles east of Porto, Nadir Afonso (1920-2013) is regarded as one of the most important Portuguese artists of the 20th century.
Trained as an architect, Afonso worked with preeminent international architects, such as Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer, before engaging full-time in painting in the mid-1960s.
As a visual artist, Afonso was interested primarily in the relationship between aesthetics and geometry and became one of the most notable geometric abstraction painters in Europe.
A notoriously reclusive artist, in 2010, Afonso commissioned Alvaro Siza the design of the headquarters of the foundation he had founded shortly before with the aim both to present his work and promote Portuguese contemporary art.

Nadir Afonso Contemporary Art Museum Chaves, Alvaro Siza exterior 2

Nadir Afonso Contemporary Art Museum, Chaves; view from the west © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG.

Siza’s building
Completed in 2015, the museum designed by Siza is a two-story elongated building parallel to the banks of the adjacent Tâmega River.
Located on the outskirts of Chaves, the building’s white concrete form stands out on the surrounding landscape, marked by large lawns lined by trees and shrubs of various indigenous species and dry stone walls. To achieve the seamless relationship between architecture and landscape he wanted, Siza raised the entire building on a series of thin walls, pointing towards the river at various angles.
Overall, both the exterior and the interior of the building – the latter filled with natural light and clad in wood, white plaster, and natural stone – transmit a sense of calmness and encourage a relaxed pace.
With a total floor area of 16,658 square meters / 179,300 square feet, the museum building accommodates a lobby, two galleries for the permanent exhibition, one temporary exhibition gallery, a library, a 100-seat auditorium, an archive, workshops, educational spaces, administration offices, storage areas, a shop, and a cafe.

Nadir Afonso Contemporary Art Museum Chaves, Alvaro Siza aerial

Bird’s eye view © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG.

Nadir Afonso Contemporary Art Museum Chaves, Alvaro Siza ground floor plan

The ground-floor plan of the museum shows the sequence of concrete walls on which the main level of the building stands; the Tâmega River is outlined in the lower part of the picture.

Nadir Afonso Contemporary Art Museum Chaves, Alvaro Siza second floor plan

Nadir Afonso Contemporary Art Museum Chaves, Alvaro Siza longitudinal sections

Second-floor plan, and longitudinal sections.

Nadir Afonso Contemporary Art Museum Chaves, Alvaro Siza aerial 2

Aerial view © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG.

Nadir Afonso Contemporary Art Museum Chaves, Alvaro Siza exterior 5

Nadir Afonso Contemporary Art Museum Chaves, Alvaro Siza exterior 4

Exterior views of the museum building © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG.

Collection and permanent exhibition
The collection of the Nadir Afonso Contemporary Art Museum in Chaves comprises about 100 paintings on canvas and 100 works on paper – created by Afonso between 1937 and 2012.
While the artists’ early works are clearly influenced by Cubist artists such as Picasso and Leger, starting from the 1950s, Afonso developed a personal interpretation of the geometric abstraction artistic language; afterward, from the 1970s on, Afonso’s paintings also investigated the union of figuration and abstraction.
The permanent exhibition of the museum, entitled Nadir Afonso, Between Local and Global,  presents a selection of 90 works from the museum’s collection – 30 paintings on canvas, 24 gouaches on paper, and 36 drawings – which cover the entire career of the Portugues artist.

Along with works by Afonso, the collection of the museum also contains works by other notable artists, mostly Portuguese, including Carlos Barreira, Carlos Pinheiro, Cristina Valadas, Ema Berta, João Cutileiro, João Machado, and João Ribeiro.

The program of the Nadir Afonso Contemporary Art Museum also includes special exhibitions of art, conferences, talks, educational courses, film screenings, live performances, family activities, and special events.

Nadir Afonso Contemporary Art Museum Chaves, Alvaro Siza permanent exhibiton gallery

Nadir Afonso Contemporary Art Museum Chaves, Alvaro Siza interior 1

One of the two galleries dedicated to the permanent exhibition, naturally illuminated through a large skylight, and an interior view of the museum; photos © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG.

Nadir Afonso, geometric composition, painting, 1950

Nadir Afonso, Geometric composition, 1950. Oil on canvas. Image courtesy of Museu de Arte Contemporânea Nadir Afonso.

Nadir Afonso, composition rouge, noir et blanc, painting, 1959

Composition rouge, noir et blanc. 1959. Oil on canvas

Nadir Afonso Contemporary Art Museum Chaves, Alvaro Siza exterior 3

The museum, view from the garden.

Cover image: exterior view of the Nadir Afonso Contemporary Art Museum in Chaves © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG


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