Lygia Carvalho Pape (Nova Friburgo, Rio de Janeiro, 1927 - Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, 2004). Printmaker, sculptor, painter, film director, designer and teacher. She is part of two of the main Brazilian movements of renovation of the European constructive canon. Her work is guided by the freedom with which she experiments and manipulates various languages and formats, incorporating the viewer as an agent.
In the early 1950s, she participated in the formation of the Front Group with artists such as Ivan Serpa (1923-1973), Hélio Oiticica (1937-1980), Lygia Clark (1920-1988) and the Austrian Franz Weissmann (1911-2005). During this period, Lygia Pape worked primarily on geometric abstraction, developing works based on the articulation of a rigorous Concretist vocabulary, latent interests in her series of paintings Vector Games (1954-1956), which present a dynamic play between lines, squares and rectangles painted on wood. In her series of reliefs Jogos Matemáticos (1954-1956), Pape adopts the use of automotive paint on wood, highlighting perceptions of depth and chromaticity of regular ordered forms.
The only printmaker to integrate the Frente group, her Tecelares series (1955-1959), woodcuts from a single print run, is composed of rigorous concretist lines, which contrast with the fluid naturalness of the wood veins and pores that permeate the construction of the form. By mastering the technique, Pape establishes relationships of rhythm, opening space to threads and surfaces, which relate to one another and create ambivalent structures, already indicating a relationship of contrast between line and luminosity that develops from other supports throughout her work.
In 1958, Lygia Pape conceived with the poet Reynaldo Jardim (1926-2011) the Balé Neoconcreto I, presented at the Copacabana Theater, materializing the poem "Target Eye" through the articulation of geometric solids, colors, movement, sound and light. The following year, the participation of the public in her work is accentuated, and the artist publishes O Livro da Criação (1959), which alludes to the genesis of the world and the active posture of the participant. The book consists of 16 30 cm square "pages" in various colors, shapes, and cut-outs, which, when handled by the viewer/reader, come out of the plane and build themselves in space, triggering their own creation.
That same year, Pape left the Grupo Frente and signed the Neoconcrete Manifesto with Reynaldo Jardim, poet Ferreira Gullar (1930-2016), Turkish critic Theon Spanudis (1915-1986), sculptor Amílcar de Castro (1920-2002), Franz Weissmann and Lygia Clark.
In the 1960s, Lygia Pape collaborates with the new cinema, making the visual programming and posters for films such as God and the Devil in the Land of the Sun (1964), by Glauber Rocha (1939-1981), and Vidas Secas (1963), by Nelson Pereira dos Santos (1928-2018). She begins her production as a film director, making several films between 1967 and 1976.
Pape intensifies sensory and participatory experimentation through works such as Ovo (1967), in which wooden cubes are wrapped in paper or colored plastic, very thin, which must be broken by people in order to have the sensation of birth; Divisor (1968), a work in which a crowd fills a 20 x 20 m cloth, placing their heads in the various existing openings; and Roda dos Prazeres (1968), in which liquids with various flavors related to different colors are offered to the public.
The works known by the name of Ttéia (Tinea) adopt various concretizations from 1977 until 2000. They are installations constructed by the geometric arrangement of vertically tensioned wires, which outline volumes and scratch almost invisible lines, producing a strong impact by the discreet delicacy of their arrangement in the environment. According to the displacement of the viewer and the materiality of the wire (copper, silver, or transparent nylon), the reflections of the variant light capture, occupy, and reinvent the existing spaces.
Her installation Tinea 1C (2002) consists of 13 columns of wires geometrically installed from ceiling to floor, composed of 5,542 meters of wire and 1,848 brass nails. The work is part of the Making Worlds exhibition at the 53rd Venice Biennale, where it received an honorable mention, and, since 2012, it belongs to the Inhotim Institute, integrating the Galeria Lygia Pape, a pavilion that occupies an area of 441 m2 dedicated to the artist's work.
With a degree in philosophy and focused on discussions linked to culture and national identities, Pape earned a master's degree in philosophy from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) with the dissertation Catiti catiti na terra dos brasis (1980). She taught at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro (MAM-RJ) from 1968 to 1970; at the School of Visual Arts in Parque Lage from 1976 to 1977; at the Santa Ursula School of Architecture from 1973 to 1989; and at the School of Fine Arts at UFRJ from 1982 to 2004.
In 2004, the Cultural Association Projeto Lygia Pape was founded, idealized by the artist herself and directed by her daughter, the photographer Paula Pape (1958). In her trajectory, highlights include the retrospective Espacios Imantados (2011/2012), presented at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, the Serpentine Gallery in London, and the Pinacoteca de São Paulo.
Marked by experimentation and mutation, Lygia Pape's work proposes an integration of aesthetic, ethical and political spheres, which make her one of the most important Brazilian contemporary artists.