Lygia Pape’s work traverses a diverse spectra of media and genres: spanning the realms of sculpture, engraving, painting, drawing, performance, filmmaking, video and installation art. Born in Nova Friburgo, Rio de Janeiro in 1927, throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Pape worked in close dialogue with the Concrete and Neo-Concrete movements then active in Brazil. In affiliating with the Neo-Concrete circle of artists (1959–1961), Pape, together with her contemporaries and fellow Concretist dissenters (including Lygia Clark, Hélio Oiticia, Reynaldo Jardim, Franz Weissman and Sergio de Camargo), sought to challenge the tenets of abstraction underpinning the aesthetic philosophy of concrete art, and to move toward a greater sensorial, organic and phenomenologically attuned mode of expression.Read More
In her early Desenhos (Drawings), Pape’s geometric black shapes are reminiscent of musical staves, while her visual rhythms of lines, cuts, grids and ruptures suggest compositions and variations. Following from these early experiments with printmaking, Pape developed her Tecelares series in the late 1950s. Rather than concentrating on a premeditated mode of production, these works reinterpreted the material history and conceptual process of the woodcut: casting aside the notion of the ‘multiple’ to create individual works of art, with an emphasis on the power of expression. Guided by intuition alone, the relationship amongst Pape’s varied geometric arrays of shape in this series simultaneously illustrates her concept of ‘magnetisation.’ Here, rhythms of mirroring, doubling and negative space interplay to activate the surfaces of her weavings. In these pioneering experimentations with woodcut, Pape pushed against the medium’s prevailing associations with folk art, political propaganda and figuration to offer an expanded field of association.
In the late 1950s, she began her acclaimed books: the Livro da Criação (Book of Creation), Livro da Arquitetura (Book of Architecture), and Livro do Tempo (Book of Time), Of all of Pape’s works, her iconic Ttéias installations are perhaps those that best synthesise her artistic process. Ttéias are immersive environments defined by geometric distributions of silver and gold thread–suspended either from the floor to the ceiling or across the corners of a room–which read as spatial extensions of the geometric lexicons present in her works on paper. In this ground-breaking and ethereal series, Pape succeeded in delineating the depth and volume of triangular space, thereby creating a geometric form sensitive to the textures of the world, while simultaneously realising her desire for the reception–and animation–of her work through the viewer’s senses. In operation, Pape’s woven webs suggest ‘magnetised’ volumes of three-dimensional space: charging each installation with a sense of the ineffable and the immaterial.
Most recently, Pape’s work has been shown in solo shows at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm (2018) and at Hauser & Wirth in London (2016). In 2017, The Met Breuer in New York mounted the first large-scale monographic survey of her work in the USA.
Text courtesy Hauser & Wirth.