Mira Schendel was a part of a group of artists responsible for taking the Modernism school of art from Europe and introducing it to South America. This chronological exhibition looks back over her career and charts the evolution of her work.
Her early abstract minimalist pieces are clearly influenced by the European modernists such as Paul Klee and Piet Mondrian. In fact, the work is so similar to her European peers it often feels like a retread of existing themes and struggles to offer anything new. These early creations dominate the first half of this exhibition and many visitors may tire of this repetitive approach.
Thankfully the exhibition does switch gears halfway through, with the introduction of her installations. Her use of delicate and translucent materials such as rice paper give her a works a fragile and ethereal feel – as if they stand on the very edge of existence.
In one installation, 93 pieces of paper on glass hang from the ceiling where mathematical equations have been written on white paper using white pen. It hints at the uncertainty that underlies all the assumptions about life we never question.
Our favourite work is a ‘forest’ made of hanging nylon wires that are straight but curl as they approach the crowd. There is a magical feel to this ephemeral piece that draws the viewer in yet also feels like it could fall apart with a single touch.
It’s these installations that are the highlights of this exhibition but they are outnumbered by Schendel’s other works, which aren’t as effective or compelling.
Mira Schendel is on at Tate Modern, Bankside, SE1 9TG until 19 January. Tickets are £11 for adults, concessions available.