LISBON.-Museu Colecção Berardo Modern and Contemporary Art
presents Intuition and Structure - From Torres-García to Vieira da Silva, 1929-1949, on view through February 15, 2009. The exhibition, Intuition and Structure, fromTorres-García to Vieira da Silva, 1929-1949, opens with Maria Helena Vieira da Silvas discovery of Joaquín Torres-Garcías work in 1929, and continuing loosely, from year to year, through to 1949, the year of Torres-Garcías death in Montevideo. over this period, the artists learned from each other and asserted their very particular structure, all the more particular for belonging to a sort of no-mans land between abstract and figurative composition.
The common chord between the two oeuvres is a question of sensibility and intuition. What Vieira da Silva shared with Torres-García is the need for the support of a pictorial structure in order to find a synthesis between constructivism and intuition, abstraction and figuration, primitivism and modernism. What they searched for in essence, and never disavowed, as a universal form of art charged with humanism. However, it would be misleading to try to point out what the young Vieira da Silva may have contributed to the artist she regarded as her master. What she saw in Torres-Garcías work was the possibility of a pictorial order and unity combined with the most intuitive, the most detached and the freest sensibility.
Vieira da Silva and Torres-García never met, but they exchanged ideas through their work. The encounter took place via artistic intermediaries when, in 1942, the painter and poet Carmelo Arden Quin travelled to Rio de Janeiro. In the course of this trip he visited Vieira da Silvas studio she had been living in Brazil with her husband, Arpad Szenes, since the outbreak of war in europe. He took photographs some of Vieira da Silvas work and gave them to Torres-García on arriving in Montevideo. Torres-García replied with a flattering article in the journal Alfar, writing mainly about the painting Le désastre ou La guerre (1942).
Whilst the exhibition, Intuition and Structure, fromTorres-García to Vieira da Silva, 1929-1949, is not built around chronological and historical facts alone, it nonetheless traces a precise and perceptible path through these twenty years of rebounding influences between the work of the two artists. our hope is to enable the visitor to see the achievements of Torres-García through the eyes of Vieira da Silva, and vice versa, and also to read in the painting of Vieira da Silva the complexity of these influences, and their transformation into an oeuvre at once highly secretive, and highly determined.
Torres-García, in his relentless quest for a universal artistic language, draws on the sources of european and North American movements, as well as on those of primitivism.
In 1929, Torres-García conceives the Cercle et Carré mouvement and journal and founds them with Michel Seuphor and Piet Mondrian, Sophie Täuber-Arp, Jean Arp, Wassily Kandinsky, Jean Gorin and Georges Vantongerloo. This journal gave Torres-García a platform for his theories on the visual arts.
He woke up to the possibility of a universal language with these schematic and stylised representations. on his return to Montevideo in 1934, and through to his death in 1949, his teaching at his workshop-school, the Taller Torres-García (TTG), and his lectures gave shape to a young generation of artists.
Torres-Garcías wealth of theoretical argument adds nothing to Vieira da Silvas work, whose beginnings and development are comprehensible only in the silence of contemplation. The years from 1929 to 1949 were spent in an persistent quest to unlock space, as she sought a happy medium between surface and depth. The grid lines, serving as the support for the chromatic vibrations she discovered from canvas to canvas, emerged as her solution for challenging the set nature of the flat plane and its continuum by means of constantly changing points of view. Space in her paintings is at once constructed and deconstructed, in a perspectival conjuring trick where shimmering forms evoke the labyrinth of the spirit. The years she spent in Brazil encouraged her to be bold, during those painful and unsettling years of world war she produced her agonising paintings: Le désastre ou La guerre (1942), Le calvaire (1942), Lincendie II (1944), and also La partie dechecs (1943). These pieces prefigure her post-war masterpieces, caught between spatial continuity and discontinuity. (excerpt from the essay by the curator, eric Corne, published in the exhibition catalogue.)