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  • Provenance

    Dr. Mário Schenberg Collection, Brazil; Private Collection, Brazil; Dr. Flavio Bauer Collection, Brazil

  • Catalogue Essay

    Born in Zurich in 1919, Mira Schendel grew up and was educated in Milan. Her father and maternal grandfather were Jewish, and she left Italy under duress during World War Two. Schendel lived in Sofia, Sarajevo and Rome before eventually applying for Brazilian citizenship. She settled in Porto Alegre in 1949 and moved to São Paulo in 1953.
     
    Amongst her most celebrated works are the Monotipias, a series of monotype drawings on transparent rice paper produced in 1964–65, and occasionally mounted in series between sheets of acrylic. Schendel continued to produce painting on canvas, paper and wood throughout her career. Her paintings of the 1950s and early 1960s were still life, landscape and portraiture, thickly painted in oils on canvas or board. From 1962 onwards, she began to use tempera, and produced a series of works that occupy an interstice between abstraction and figuration, often titled Paisagem (landscape) or Fachada (façade). In this painting, as in several works of this period, the figurative is reduced to the lowest common denominator necessary to create the conditions for
    perception of space, namely the horizontal line establishing two differentiated planes.
     
    The establishment of a productive and mutually transformative dialogue with writers and thinkers was of central importance to the process of Schendel’s work. Her partners in dialogue include the philosophers Vilém Flusser, Max Bense, Jean Gebser and Hermann Schmitz, as well as the theoretical physicist, collector, curator and critic Mario Schenberg, to whom this painting belonged. Like other noted theoreticians of modern physics, Schenberg sought out parallels between the altered conception of reality made possible by post-Newtonian physics and the understanding of the world inherent to non-Western philosophy. His reading of Schendel’s work was informed by a committed interest in oriental thought and its aesthetic articulation. In relation to Schendel’s paintings of the sixties, Schenberg was drawn consistently to their reconciliation of abstraction with figuration, a move that revealed, for him, that the findings of geometric abstraction and concrete art generated “new types of figurative imagery”.
     
    Isobel Whitelegg

  • Artist Biography

    Mira Schendel

    Brazilian • 1919 - 1988

    Born in Zurich and of Jewish heritage, Mira Schendel escaped Switzerland during World War II to settle in Sarajevo and Rome, finally immigrating to Brazil in 1953. In the 1960s, she began to produce her iconic monotipas, delicate drawings on luminescent rice paper. She rejected the notion of painting as a primary medium, abandoning the genre in the 1970s for almost a decade. Schendel worked mostly with paper and objects made of unusual materials such as Plexiglas, fabrics and aqueous inks.

    Recurring themes in her work include letters, geometric figures and phrases reflecting a radical lexicon, often juxtaposing elements from two languages (visual and numerical). Many of her works hover in the space between drawing and writing, creating a certain visual poetry that is completely her own. Schendel's works go beyond the materiality of making art and allow viewers to understand the relationship between language, time and human thought processes.

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21

Untitled

1965
Tempera on canvas.
70 x 50 cm (27 1/2 x 19 3/4 in).

Estimate
£150,000 - 250,000 

Sold for £145,250

BRIC

14 - 15 April 2011
London