Experiencing Architecture through Baroque Image: Gonçalves Sena, Painted Architecture as Architectural Space

By João Cabeleira.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

By placing perception as a central problem, Baroque culture induces the viewer into a conflict between real and illusory, as witnessed in Quadratura painting (perspective architectures) by confronting tectonic facts with simulated space. Illusion shaped by Baroque Quadratura, results from a full understanding of optical phenomena that, assimilated by perspective science and converted into image, enable the deception and disillusion of seeing, as explored by the Portuguese Jesuit mathematician Inácio Vieira in his treatise (Óptica, 1714; Prospectiva, 1716), according to coeval perspective speculation. The employment of perspective rules and procedures into space illusion established Quadratura image as architectural instrument, making it possible to overcome nature limitations, whether we speak of architectural space transformation or of visual rhetoric. By intertwining two-dimensional images and three-dimensional reality, we witness the triumph of art over nature, celebrating a metamorphosis of appearances in which projected image into architectural space becomes a structural fact conditioning understanding and perception of tectonic truth. The structural complexity of total Baroque space, in which different arts are integrated as part of a unitary mechanism, combines real and illusion in a continuous event challenging spatial boundaries perception integrating symbolic in the spatial tectonic box. From these considerations the proposed paper regards the Quadratura by Gonçalves Sena, at the altar’s vault in Santarém’s Cathedral (Portugal), which, under the Roman model of Andrea Pozzo, transforms real space organizing the relative distance between divine and believer. The link between terrene and celestial is accomplished through virtual architectures that push construction limits opening interior space into infinite sky. This whole artistic complex, intertwining constructed and represented architectures reaches a cohesive unity between the various elements in which the viewer has the feeling of being integrated into the same space inhabited by the divine figuration and not just admiring them by distance.

Keywords: Optics, Perspective, Baroque, Architecture, Quadratura, Illusory Space, Portuguese Scientific and Artistic Acknowledge, Portuguese 18th Century Culture

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp.119-134. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.945MB).

João Cabeleira

Assistant, School of Architecture (EAUM), University of Minho, Porto, Guimarães, Portugal

João Cabeleira (1978) is an architect and Geometry lecturer. Holds a degree in Architecture granted by the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto - FAUP (2002). Completed a Masters degree in Architectural Heritage at FAUP (2006), and, since 2008, develops his PhD research at the School of Architecture of University of Minho (EAUM) under the designation Imaginary Architecture: Real and illusory space in Portuguese baroque. The research looks into architecture and perspective treatise searching intersections between science and architectural design processes seeking the recognition of imaginary architectures. Licensed as architect at the Portuguese College of Architects (2003), worked in António Madureira’s studio, participating into projects developed in partnership between architect António Madureira and architect Álvaro Siza (2001-2009). Worked as Monitor of Project II course at FAUP (2002-2003). Since 2006 is responsible for the course of Geometry at the EAUM. Related with is pedagogical activity and investigation presented communications such as Le Modulor: Experiencing measure”; “Architecture: knowledge at the construction of the architect; Imaginary Architecture: Drawing investigation, and recently Inácio Vieira: Optics and Perspective. Instruments towards a sensitive space, at the Nexus conference 2010.