Often overshadowed by contemporary Brazilian art superstars such as Ernesto Neto, Vik Muniz and Cildo Meireles, Lygia Pape is a somewhat forgotten genius. The dynamic artist, who was still working a week before she died in 2004 (aged 77), was one of the founding members of the important Neo Concretist movement in the 1960s and a key influencer on the emergence of contemporary art in Brazil. Now, a much-deserved retrospective of her work - the first major Pape exhibition in the UK - has arrived at London's Serpentine Gallery this week.
Entitled 'Magnetized Spaces', the show is co-produced by Madrid's Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (where the retrospective first made its debut) and Projeto Lygia Pape, created by the artist before her death, and now run by Paula Pape, her daughter and co-curator of 'Magnetized Spaces'.
In an essay in the catalogue accompanying the exhibition, Manuel J. Borja-Villel and Teresa Velázquez say of the Brazilian artist: 'The nature of her work's trajectory has eluded a number of critics and art historians: it is multifarious and difficult to classify, frequently going off in new directions and then returning to old territory.'
This certainly is reflected in 'Magnetized Spaces', where the breadth of Pape's oeuvre shines through in a coming together of well-known and previously unseen works, spanning sculpture, performance, paintings, films, poems, engravings and collages. Notably present are her ballets and performances such as 'Divisor' and 'O ovo (The Egg)', as well as the immense 'Livro do Tempo (Book of Time)', an installation that expands the concept of the book in relation to architecture and experience.
'London was a city that Lygia Pape had been to twice in the 1950s. She had had a great admiration for the people and their openness to new ideas, so the inspiration dates back to many years ago', says her daughter Paula as she reflects on the decision to take the show to London. There is no doubt anticipation as to if and when Pape will be taking the show elsewhere after its run at the Serpentine; 'Yes, to Brazil, finally!' she concludes.