Lygia Clark: Project for a Planet

Pinacoteca (Sao Paulo), Mar-Aug/24

Pinacoteca de São Paulo, one of the major museums in São Paulo city, is now showing a posthumous exhibit by Lygia Clark. It is a retrospective that encompasses from the beginning to the end of the artist’s career. She is considered to be one of the key names in 20th-century Brazilian art. As a matter of fact, Clark revolutionized art, as she moved from being an artist to a proposer, breaking the idea that art should only be watched.

Clark was born in Minas Gerais in 1920 to a traditional family and when 18 moved to Rio, the then bourgeoning capital of Brazil. She also lived for many years in Paris, France. She did paintings and sculptures, but also propositions that enabled a new perspective on the relationship between art and the public. It was a gradual process and this exhibit shows it to us by gathering 150 works displayed in the seven galleries it occupies.

Partial view of the show. Photo Levi Fanan / Pin acoteca de São Paulo

In this show, curators Ana Maria Maia and Pollyana Quintella have chosen to bring Clark, rather well-known in the art milieu, to a broader public. If it is to consider Pinacoteca’s records lately, they will surely succeed in doing so. The museum has been putting up shows that delight audiences, attracting hundreds of thousands of people. In 2023 as a whole, it had 880,000 visitors.

The title of the show comes from the title of a 1960’s Bicho (critter, in English). Bichos are sculptures — but not exactly as we are used to, as they allow the audience to interact with them, making them take various shapes. Clark stated that “they have their own answers and well-defined to each stimulus they get”. The visitors can handle some replicas of Bichos.

Bichos (critters, in English). Photo Levi Fanan / Pinacoteca de São Paulo

In 1954’s painting entitled Discovery of the Organic Line (see image), the artist incorporates the frame into the composition and defines the gap between the wood and the canvas as the organic line.

Across many rooms of this show, you will find replicas or reiterations of works by the artist, which is crucial to truly understanding her work. Most of her works were to be felt, touched, handled and grasped. Only by doing so, the works could eventually reach their totality, their fullness.

Replicas of the Bichos. Photo Levi Fanan / Pinacoteca de São Paulo

There are many reasons for someone to visit this exhibition. As I tried to show above, Clark is a fundamental piece in Brazilian art, from postwar to contemporary. It is impossible to understand a great deal of nowadays art not studying her oeuvre. Another aspect is that you will have the very rare opportunity to handle the Bichos, which gives an approximate idea of what the revolution this lady was promoting in the 20th century. Also, you will be able to handle, to enter and to feel many artworks by Clark. Lastly, if you book with us a guided visit to this show, you will also be able to visit with an expert Pinacoteca’s permanent exhibition, which will make you dive into Brazilian art from the 19th century on.

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