Again the critique | Óscar Tenreiro Degwitz

Other times I have written on my first impression of the Gothic architecture, in Chartres, during a juvenile trip. One summer evening I entered to the cathedral his principal portal. To live through the immense space bathed by the light of the west one leaked through the vitrales of the front, at this hour shining in all his brilliance, there was for me one of these touching, exceptional moments, which the great architecture can provide. It had heard speaking very much as student of the Gothic architecture and certainly it had an image of her. He was thinking so that “it” “knew” her. And this evening me dí account of that this bean knows been a bookish exercise, only a pale reflection of the reality. It is what today, I happen some century later, I call the academic vision of the architecture, which only it announces without understanding completely to the subject with which it deals.

La Tourette | Photography: Óscar Tenreiro Degwitz

Another analogous experience, on which also I have spoken, I had it in The Tourette a few years later when it was living in France in times of post-degree. There it was waiting for a fundamental lesson on the relation between landscape and constructed volume, proportion, use of the materials, control of the natural light, the keys of the use of the color and the one that has looked like to me always a singular virtue of the architecture of Le Corbusier: austerity and distance of any refinement in the subsidiary thing, the superposed, which one adds. Of the ornamental thing it might be said if it was not for the difficult thing that proves to define the ornamentation.

Already to have been in Ronchamp, where I experienced what his author in a poetical take-off was called a “unspeakable space” it had been an initiation in a way of seeing the architecture that has been for my later life a constant reference.

Could these experiences have be replaced with the photography and the two-dimensional representation? Or for any other type of representation for advanced that had been? Clear that not. What I learned there already knew it in the platonic sense, in which all the persons know, from the unconscious one. And my of Caracas experiences were showing it to me: nothing can replace the tour of the architecture, live through it. Everything else, since I mention in the today note, is an anteroom, prologue, preliminary.

As well as there are photogenic persons or not, there are also architectures. Two well Latin-American teachers illustrate this: Oscar Niemeyer and Carlos Raúl Villanueva. Many of the Niemeyer’s most significant buildings aspire to the formal purity, whereas this it never seems to have been an essential worry for Villanueva, except in the Pavilion of Venezuela in the Fair of Montreal of 1967. With this last case Villanueva there deals the paper icónico that is inhaled have these fairground, ephemeral buildings, destined to call the attention. “It” decides then “to “speak” by means of the volumetric abstraction, a resource that one does not think in any of his other works, that they disdain the conception of the architecture as object. Niemeyer nevertheless, particularly in and after Brasilia always it looked that his buildings were read as pure forms. Up to in case of a theatre, since in the theatre of Brasilia, buildings in which the complexity of the relations between his components close to the diversity of requirements of use they make difficult the adoption of an unitary bundle, it did it. And there is this, certainly, one of his worse buildings.

These attributes in every case can lead us to saying that Niemeyer’s architectural universe is caught in a more immediate, more decisive way, for the photography. Maybe even for the alone one. Whereas it remains short, it needs of others, of comments, of some written additional information, to carry the message of Villanueva’s buildings. Because of it I use the similar one of the fotogenia: a nice face dresses from many angles versus an interesting face favored only in some. Both undoubtedly demand to know them, but there is one that wakes a more immediate attraction up. In both cases the experience of his architectures is indispensable, since already we have said, but the “hook” of the photographic image is much more effective, more definitive, in one of them.

In Venezuela in the fifties the great photographer of architecture, in black and white with extraordinary whites in the surfaces and almost black skies, characteristics that were demanding and highlighting from themselves specially the volumetric value of the building, was Paolo Gasparini. Very requested for few architects who were acting here by then and who were publishing his works in the very well remembered Integral magazine, of impeccable quality, which was connecting us in a very efficient way with the exterior world. In certain way the knowledge that was had of what here was done rested on the instrumental paper of the skill of this photographer.

And it is that, of being a field that the photographers were exploring in a conscientious and awkward way of this then, one has come the photography of architecture turning in a speciality almost of exclusive court; resting much of the summit of the publishing means. It cannot surprise then that in the countries where more it publishes the best photographers have arisen. And inversely, that the best photographers are those who help to promote the high levels of quality of the magazines and books of these countries. A scene that has been typical of the central countries because it works in circular form: a factor leads other one and vice versa, fundamental reason in order that in him the participation of the peripheries, of us, is only tangential.

In spite of the initiatives that have arisen to remedy this situation, the architectures of out of the rich world scarcely take part of the world of the architectural marketing, and if they do it must play with the rules that there prevail. A condition that affects particularly the critique and the critics: if there do not arise the instruments that provoke the interest neither, there will be “development” in the sense that I mention in the note. Saying in other words, there will no be desire to know better an architecture, of crossing it, of understanding it better, if there have not appeared the instruments that call the attention towards her. The critique at the time will be restricted what knows closely and only will deal marginally with the distant thing.

And what does happen with the critics of here? Something that can explain in a simple way: they are a part of a general situation of stagnation that has become particularly sharp strictly between ourselves and has begun to excel in the rest of Latin America. Here it publishes badly and in a sporadic way; the commercial interests any more to the hand do not give the necessary support to support the selectivity (quality) in what it publishes; the public sector looks the revolutionary navel and it is enough to him to see the architecture with ideological lens; and the institutional public architecture is in hands too much limited by the political and intellectual narrowness. The little that exists, and it is the valuable one, resigns itself one to live academic already of for yes very diminished.

The things will be better, we wait for it.

Óscar Tenreiro Degwitz, architect.

Venezuela, May 2013,

Entre lo Cierto y lo Verdadero

Óscar Tenreiro Degwitz

Es un arquitecto venezolano, nacido en 1939, Premio Nacional de Arquitectura de su país en 2002-2003, profesor de Diseño Arquitectónico por más de treinta años en la Universidad Central de Venezuela, quien paralelamente con su ejercicio ha mantenido ya por años presencia en la prensa de su país en un esfuerzo de comunicación hacia la gente en general de los puntos de vista del arquitecto acerca de los más diversos temas, entre los cuales figuran los agudos problemas políticos de una sociedad como la venezolana. Tenreiro practica así lo que el llama el “pensamiento desde y hacia la arquitectura”, insistiendo en que lo hace como arquitecto en ejercicio, para escapar de los estereotipos y cautelas propios de la “crítica arquitectónica”. Respecto a la cual no oculta su desconfianza, que explica recurriendo al aforismo de Nietzsche sobre el crítico de arte “que ve el arte desde cerca sin llegar a tocarlo nunca”.

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