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Lygia Clark: Work from the 1950s
Alison Jacques Gallery, 3 June – 30 July 2016
Review by Mark Liebenrood
©Copyright Patrick Morrissey and Clive Hancock All rights reserved.
Lygia Clark was born in Brazil in 1920 and, with other Brazilian artists, founded
Clark’s precise attention to detail, and her interest in the subtle effects of formal variation, are highlighted in the show’s only wall text, a long quotation from her own writing. Amongside detailing some of her exacting formal concerns, she clearly had bold ambitions for her work: “the importance of this new search is as great as if we were entering a new Renaissance period”.
Her concerns are highlighted especially by a series of gouaches that show her exploring
the illusionistic potential of a linear composition of triangles and rhombuses, using
tone to make various arrangements of wedge-
Clark’s maquettes of interiors show that she was also interested in the potential of real space. One of these has a decorative aspect: a room with a bench, the walls painted with oblongs in a variety of earthy hues, with two doors interrupting the composition. A second maquette shows what could be a whole building, a large space covered by a wide flat roof, with the potential to rearrange the interior by moving the walls. Such designs unfortunately remained as mere sketches, and one wonders what they would have been like to live in. The austerely modernist tenor of the design is softened by the thought that the resident might have had direct control over the form of their living space.
The manipulation of spatial form did become a reality with Clark’s series of Bichos
(Critters). Here, the speculative translation of two-
Superficie Modulada, 1956. Graphite, gouache on paper. 15.5 x 44.5 cm. Courtesy Alison
Jacques Gallery, London. Copyright O Mundo de Lygia Clark-
Construa você Mesmo seu Espaço para Viver, 1955. Oil on wood and acetate. 5.2 x 50.5
x 26.2 cm. Courtesy Alison Jacques Gallery, London. Copyright O Mundo de Lygia Clark-
Installation shot. Courtesy Alison Jacques Gallery, London. Copyright O Mundo de
This show is both a focus on a historical moment and a glimpse into an artist’s working processes: both austere and refreshing, with a restrained sensuality and more than a hint of playfulness.
Pianos em Superficie Modulada, 1957. Card, graphite, gouache. 25 x 35 cm. Courtesy
Alison Jacques Gallery, London. Copyright O Mundo de Lygia Clark-