The Paradoxical Image: Francisco Afonso Chaves (1857-1926) — guided tour and catalogue launch
The Paradoxical Image: Francisco Afonso Chaves (1857-1926)
This exhibition is part of a trilogy dedicated to the Azorean naturalist Francisco Afonso Chaves. The two other are the inaugural exhibition at the Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea – Museu do Chiado, in Lisbon, since 2016, and the closing exhibition at the Carlos Machado Museum, in Ponta Delgada, Azores, from 23 March 2017.
All three exhibitions address the singularity of Afonso Chaves photography. Almost exclusively developed using stereoscopy, his work explores a rare interaction – even fusion – between art and science, combining scientists’ curiosity with photographers’ sensibility.
Here at MUHNAC, the exhibition is focused on Afonso Chaves’ multifaceted work as a naturalist, particularly his contribution to meteorology, and how photography became inseparable from his scientific exploration and research. The national and international reputation he acquired, together with his extensive scientific network, would position him as one of the most important personalities in research and dissemination of the natural sciences in Portugal.
Images captured by Afonso Chaves between 1901 and his death, in 1926, reveal a scientist who found in the stereoscopic process an essential component of his observation, documentation and archival practices. He played a prominent role in the establishment of the Azores Meteorological Service, and later in the international meteorological service, projecting his reputation nationally and internationally. He was also the first director of the Carlos Machado Museum, in Ponta Delgada, enlarging its collections, from an initial core of natural history, to art and ethnography.
Afonso Chaves received his education at the Lisbon Army School and the Lisbon Polytechnic School and he was a scientist fully integrated in his time. However, his approach to science had a rare forthcoming dimension, both in his technical sensitivity and his poetic and philosophical representation of the natural world.
Images presented in this exhibition address the subject of science, although they also reveal Afonso Chaves’ fascination with the tellurian and ancestral force of the Azorean landscape, the cosmopolitan nature of travels and contacts with prominent members of the international scientific community, and his profound knowledge of Western visual culture.
The exhibition is a production of the MNAC – Museu do Chiado, the National Museum of Natural History and Science (MUHNAC) and the Carlos Machado Museum (MCM), with the support of the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Lisbon (Belas-Artes ULisboa), CIEBA and of the FCT.
Victor dos Reis