The Henry Moore Institute is located on The Headrow in Leeds city centre. It is well acclaimed for its sculpture shows – exhibiting both contemporary and historical work. It is currently hosting an exhibition of Lygia Clark’s work entitled ‘Organic Planes’.
Brazilian born Lygia Clark (1920) was a leading abstract artist; Clark trained as an installation artist in Paris in 1950, returning later to pursue her career in Rio de Janeiro where she died in 1988. Clark’s artistic career has Constructivist roots that supported the autonomous nature of art, such roots were evidently influential to her and origins which she never strayed far from. She maintained an intention to produce “non art within art”, a statement which took form throughout her career. Her experimental work and influence brought her to the forefront of the ‘Neo-Concretist’ movement in Brazil during the late 1940’s to mid 1950’s. The movement advocated the role of the spectator in viewing exhibitions – pieces were intended to be created not simply to be perceived from a purely aesthetical standpoint but were to be actively interacted with. The artwork itself exists as a transitional entity rather than a ‘finished’ object – the relationship between it and the viewer is thus on going. Such concept is explored and represented here in Organic Planes, which offers a notable retrospective of the artist’s work and artistic capacities.
Clark, as this exhibition highlights, intended to break the boundaries between the spectator and artwork. Her work centres around exploring such possibilities and particularly in the latter part of her career she created pieces, which the spectator explored increasingly using their body. The touch and texture of her work was always significant alongside the poignancy of the relationship that connected the work with its receiving audience. Her works are endowed with a sense of possibility, which makes for extraordinary viewing.
This small, but perfectly formed, show highlights a sculptural work created in 1960, ‘Bicho pássaro do espaço’ (Creature passing through space’). The work is contextualised by three collages made and shown alongside the work. Her sculptures are experimentation with form and space –the metal used is endlessly manipulated in order to achieve a shape. There is a topological nature to these pieces as they appear almost as diagrams straight from a mathematician’s workbook. Their delicate combination of folds and sculpted angles allows them to be viewed in different ways from the varying positions of the viewer. The aluminium sheets are endlessly folded and unfolded, it has no end or beginning, no top and no bottom, such constant re-manipulation of form are features that reiterate the finite qualities of her work. Such re-folding ad re-shaping is interestingly still visible in this piece it is not ‘neatened’ to be displayed – the process of its creation is clearly there and is vital to the piece giving it a sense of timelessness. The work is an organic process – indicated in the title, which labels the work in the present tense – the creature is ‘passing’ it has not passed.
The pieces in this exhibition are pleasantly contrasted with the small space of the Henry Moore’s Gallery 4 which seems almost as if it were made to house this selection of Clark’s pieces.