Friday, 11 October 2013

The Tate In All Its Glory - Mira Schendel

Last weekend I took a special trip to meet a friend at the Tate Modern and we experienced not only a stunning view over the city sipping prosecco, but a truly unbelievable exhibition of an incredible female artist, Mira Schendel. Born in 1919 in Zurich to parents of Jewish heritage, Schendel was brought up in Italy and was later forced out of Milan and stripped of her Italian nationality resulting in her having to end her studies and pass through countries as a refugee. It was not until 1949 that she ended up in Brazil and began her inspiring career as an artist.

Schendels' work explores ideas surrounding aesthetics and philosophy, using asymmetrical shapes, mathematics, text and varying medias to examine the ideas of existence and experience. Her works have a fragility, a tenderness, a quietness that is so beautiful, as you wonder through the exhibition, every room you enter you are taken by her ability to master each and every medium she touches. The use of graphics, layout and lettering in her books, book covers as well as her larger scaled installation pieces are gentle yet powerful. You get a real sense of the women behind the works, as the sense of touch places an intrinsic role. The works on rice paper, for me took me to another world, a place where silence spoke louder than noise and where the Eastern influence meet the South American in such a gentle manner, a coexistence of ideas and ideals. 

Another piece that stuck me was the work titled, "Still Waves of Probability" which was an installation made up of almost transparent fibres along with text from the Old Testament 'Book of Kings' previously made for the 10th Bienal de Sao Paulo in 1969. These long, thin fibres, acted as a wall of diffusion, a mist to the other side. As they touched the floor, they flicked up and the curvature of their form resembled a Japanese drawing of the ocean, small waves on a wooden floor, truly stunning in each and every way.

Every work was a wonder and I can honestly say that I haven't been moved, inspired on so many varying levels, physiologically, creatively like this for so long that it has to be one of the most beautiful exhibitions I have seen all year, but almost years. For anyone who hasn't yet seen the show, it is a must and one that will leave you feeling fulfilled for months and shows the power of making great work.

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