Vieira da Silva at Waddington Custot

Running until 15 February 2020, Waddington Custot on Cork Street in London runs an exhibition of seminal paintings by Portuguese artist Maria Helena Vieira da Silva.

Vieira da Silva might be the most acclaimed Portuguese painter, amalgamating the early Modern styles of Cubism, Geometric Abstraction and Futurism. The artist moved to Paris from Lisbon in 1928 to study sculpture under Antoine Bourdelle and Charles Despiau at the Académie de la Grande-Chaumière. There she met her future husband, Hungarian painter Árpád Szenes, and in 1929 gave up sculpture for painting. Today, the Fundação Árpád Szenes-Vieira da Silva is one of the most significant art spaces of Lisbon.

The exhibition at Waddington Custot dives into Vieira da Silva’s singular approach to represent space through maze-like, fantasy space and abstract architecture. The show presents some of the most important works by Viera da Silva including Artémis, 1968 and an Untitled work from 1955. “Perspective is a way of playing with space. I take a lot of pleasure in looking at space and its rhythms. The architecture of a city has connections to music. There are long notes, and short notes. There are small windows, and large windows.” Vieira da Silva described her complex, unique compositions.

The indefinite perspective of her compositions could be understood as revealing Vieira da Silva’s sense of disconnection as one of many émigrés living in Paris in the post-war period. Setting down a loose convergence of lines, without any preconceived subject in mind, Vieira da Silva coaxes the eye to identify emergent points and figures, based on her memories, here by revealing the intricacies of her own mind. These broken depictions of reality often form a psychological platform that captures dislocated and fractured memories, both referencing the nostalgia of her young years in Lisbon as well as her new life in Paris.

The remarkable exhibition is hosted in collaboration with Jeanne Bucher Jaeger in Paris, and Di Donna Galleries in New York.