Lygia Clark

INSTITUTO INHOTIM

Belo Horizonte, 1920 – Rio de Janeiro, 1988

Although the full extent of Lygia Clark’s significance is still the subject of study, there is increasing recognition of her undeniable importance to the art of the 20th century and beyond. This artist originally from Belo Horizonte was a student of landscaper Roberto Burle Marx (1909–1994), who inspired the design of Inhotim’s gardens. The pictorial plane was her starting point for dialoguing with the main artists of the constructivist canon, such as Piet Mondrian (1872–1944), Kazimir Malevich (1879–1935) and Paul Klee (1879–1940). From the mid-1950s to the middle of the following decade, the artist undertook a journey of emancipation from the cultural nature of painting, lending it an objectual character and reinforcing the importance of the line as an element for organizing the space and abolishing the border between the painting and the world. Clark called this discovery the “breaking of the frame.”

Her Unidades [Units, 1959–84] represent an important juncture on this path. These small monochromatic paintings are constructed with a sheet of wood and industrial paint. Other sheets are placed on its surface, creating intervals and overlappings, gaps and shadows, which reinforce the work’s organic character and its existence in space. The complexity of these interests is brought together and narrated in Livro obra [Book Work], an artist’s book in a limited edition of 24 copies. There, Clark uses texts and images to evoke a series of works produced since the mid-1950s, in which the space is twisted, reconfigured and activated, and the experience of the painting is re-experienced on the paper. The book, with its multiple possibilities of reading, is revealed as an apt support for registering the artist’s discoveries. In a 1966 text, included in Livro obra and entitled “Nós recusamos” [We Refuse], Clark announced: “We propose precariousness as a new idea of existence against all static crystallization within duration.”

Rodrigo Moura