Throughout the 20th century, the lives of many contemporary artists were characterized by cultural exchange, intellectualism, innovation, experimentation, European travel and artistic fervor. the painter Maria Helena Vieira da Silva participated in this environment, although his life and work had unique and non-transferable nuances.Despite the clarity of the artistic influences that Vieira da Silva received, like cubism, abstraction, tachism or surrealism, his work continues to be a stylistic set that is certainly unclassifiable. Despite this, aligning ourselves with the general criticisms, we will say that Vieira da Silva he was, above all, a great abstractionist.
Origins of Vieira da Silva
Born in 1908 into a family used to traveling, especially in Europe. At a young age, he got to know key countries such as Italy, England or France, the latter being one of the most important for the future.the path that leads Vieira da Silva to become a "painter of obsessive memories" and a "weaver of threads of light" as some media call him, starts with two fundamental facts: the loss of his father at the age of two and his education in the arts and in music since childhood.
He began his artistic training at the Lisbon School of Fine Arts, where he was born, finishing it in 1928 and moving his residence to Paris, obtaining dual nationality. At that time, Paris was the capital of the contemporary art world, in the middle of the interwar period, and it was certainly attracted by the novelty and artistic enthusiasm of the moment.
Vieira da Silva is commonly identified with the School of Paris, which art critic André Warnod describes as a international community of foreign artists residing in Paris whose creations do not subscribe to any ism.
It is estimated that at this time, Paris was home to twenty independent art rooms and a hundred art galleries, which undoubtedly resulted in an opportunity to Vieira da Silva. After some first steps as a sculptor at the Academy of Grande-Chaumiere and the artist Bourdelle, Vieira da Silva decided on the genre of the painting. Attended the classes of the cubist Fernand Léger and met Stanley William Hayter, the most prestigious engraver of the entire 20th century.Around the 1930s, Vieira da Silva absorbed the influence of the abstract expression of the group Círculo e Quadrado (Cercle et Carré) having already gone through other influences such as the fauvist Otho Friesz or the cubist Charles Dufresne, whose echoes resonate in his work.With similar inspirations, the intimate look of Vieira da Silva, which is worth a walk through, quickly conquered the world.
the look of Vieira da Silva
Your gaze, or rather the memory of Vieira da Silva hides an affectionate spirit under the composite patterns of his canvases that end up triumphing sooner rather than later. Jeanne Bucher, owner of the Jeanne Bucher Gallery, exhibited for the first time Vieira da Silva in 1933, creating the first acquisition of his work a year later.In Vieira da Silva somehow resides the fauvism of the beginning of the century, the visual strength and flat color juxtaposition patent it. But it lacks the application of "emancipated" representative stains and the intrinsic "rage" of fauvism, although it didn't need that either. His most important lesson was probably given by Cézanne, the “painter of painters” with whom he Vieira da Silva she learned to be an artist lasting over time and to navigate the transition that modern painting implied.the imaginary of Vieira da Silva it takes place in a dynamism where the parts of the painting do not completely eclipse the composition. He experiments with a fusion of the abstract and figurative method, with the agglutination of elements of synthetic cubism and a use of color that recalls primitivism.
But, above all, he experimented with his own memories and his autobiographical imagery, and he gives us a beautiful Villa des Camèlias, a Ripolin, perhaps an echo of Paul Klee in Still Life Blue from 1932.
With the Second World War, his life took a radical turn and he had to emigrate to Brazil to spend seven fruitful years in contact with the constructivist painter Joaquín Torres García, another great master.
In the post-war period, its aesthetic drained the damage of the conflict, in addition to rescuing culture with cities in ruins, cities with towers, the street, a spiral, an enigma, the maisons, the Bibliothequè, the inside of a spiral, in a total revolution that, despite the ambiguity, synthesized the first avant-garde of the century.
notable works of Vieira da Silva
at international level Vieira da Silva gained great recognition. For example, the International Guggenheim Prize, the work for the church of São Jaques in Reims in 1963 where he developed a magnificent stained glass window with a faithful layout of his usual ocher chromaticism, the Grand Prix National des Arts de Paris, a commendation at the Bienal de São Paulo in 1989 or his appointment as a member of the National Academy of Fine Arts of Portugal. In addition, there have been exhibitions retrospectives of Vieira da Silva in Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain and France, among other countries. His work partially dies with him in 1992, although his legacy is eternal. Among his most important works, some stand out that transport us to these post-war environments, such as O Corredor (1950), La Gare Inondeé (1956), A Partida de Chess (1945), des miroirs (1971), Bibliothéque en Feu (1974) and his own self-portrait or Self Portrait (1942).