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Brazilian avant-garde artist Lygia Pape's first Asia solo exhibition opens at White Cube Seoul

By Park Yuna

Published : April 7, 2024 - 17:54

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An installation view of the exhibition An installation view of the exhibition "Lygia Pape" at White Cube Seoul (White Cube Seoul)

Although she may not yet be familiar to audiences in Asia, the late Brazilian artist Lygia Pape (1927-2000) is known as a pioneering contemporary artist in Latin America and one of the leading figures who founded the Neo-Concrete Movement in the region.

The Neo-Concrete Movement in 1959 pursued a liberation from static form and a movement toward heightened sensuality through the interaction of objects in real time and space.

“(Pape and other Neo-Concrete artists) really continued the exploration of abstract composition, but they wanted to involve the viewer much more. So they were thinking about this direct experience with the viewer. One of their mandates -- or one of their interests -- was integrating art objects into life,” Capucine Perrot, associate director of White Cube, said in Seoul on March 21.

The artist’s first-ever solo exhibition in Asia opened on March 22 at White Cube in Seoul, the British gallery’s space in the city which was launched last year.

An installation view of An installation view of "Tteia 1,B (Perspectiva)" by Lygia Pape at White Cube Seoul (White Cube Seoul, Projeto Lygia Pape)

In recognition of the 20th anniversary of the artist’s death, the exhibition explores the artist’s five-decade career, showcasing Pape’s most renowned works across drawing, sculpture and installation, through which she pioneered new forms of geometric abstraction that questioned the spatial dynamics between artwork and viewer.

“During her life, she was very connected with abstract geometry made by Korean artists, Chinese artists and Japanese artists. She started her career with prints and drawings and she always used rice paper that she ordered from Asia all the time. Like, 98 percent of her works on paper are made in rice paper that she ordered from Asia,” Antonio Leal, senior director of Projeto Lygia Pape, told The Korea Herald.

“My concern is always invention. I always want to invent a new language that is different for me and for others,” Pape once said.

The highlight of the exhibition is “Tteia 1,B (Perspectiva),” comprised of gold thread which gives rise to luminous cylindrical columns, in a darker room. The word “Tteias” is a semantic play on the Portuguese words “teia” meaning “web” and “teteia,” connoting a person or entity of grace.

The installation of gold thread embodies Pape’s artistic philosophy -- involving the viewer’s direct experience in her work. Those threads are not clearly seen, but depending on one’s movement and how they interact with the work, the installation appears with different patterns with light effects.

The “Tteia” series, produced from 1976 to just before the artist's death, is one of Pape’s most celebrated works today.

The exhibition runs through May 25.