She produced her mature work during the 1950s and 1960s and, along with fellow Brazilian artists Lygia Clark and Hélio Oiticica, co-founded the Neo-Concrete movement which advocated for art whose forms were expressive, organic, and experiential.
This exhibition brings together nearly 100 rarely seen woodblock prints by Pape, some of which have not been shown publicly since the artist exhibited them in the 1950s and 1960s. Composed of overlapping geometric and linear elements, they at times suggest the clash of atomic particles, rudimentary city plans, or slides of microscopic specimens.
While Pape made these prints between 1952 and 1960—overlapping with her involvement with the Neo-Concrete movement—she did not apply the title, Tecelar, to the works until the mid-1970s, once she understood their importance to her later work. The invented term, which loosely translates to “weavings,” refers to the artist’s unique, handmade approach to printmaking as well as the influence of international Modernists, such as Josef Albers, who were showing their work in Brazilian exhibitions more widely in the 1950s. This interest in layering and materiality is also demonstrated by the inclusion in the exhibition of one of Pape’s late Ttéia sculptures, arrangements of metal wire or string that create brilliant, ephemeral environments that seem to vibrate.
Although Pape’s woodblock prints are becoming better known, they haven’t yet received the focused attention they deserve. This exhibition and the accompanying publication explore these works in depth, situating them within Pape’s broader career, revealing new insights into her process, and examining the ways in which she used them to embody her core ideas about art: “My concern is always invention. I always want to invent a new language that’s different for me and for others, too… I want to discover new things. Because, to me, art is a way of knowing the world… to see how the world is… of getting to know the world.”
Lygia Pape: Tecelares is organized by the Art Institute of Chicago and curated by Mark Pascale, Janet and Craig Duchossois Curator, Prints and Drawings. A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition and features essays by Adele Nelson, Pascale, and María Cristina Rivera Ramos.
Major support for Lygia Pape: Tecelares is provided by The Diane & Bruce Halle Foundation.