Not on display

Maria Helena Vieira da Silva 1908–1992
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 327 × 457 mm
frame: 488 × 618 × 81 mm
Purchased 1959

Display caption

Vieira da Silva made this painting while she was living in Paris. She had recently returned to the city after a period of exile in Portugal and Brazil during the Second World War. Her paintings often resemble mazes or cities seen from above. The web of lines here suggests what one critic called her ‘absorption in space’. Rather than portraying a particular scene, it appears to capture the creative energy that she found in Paris.

Gallery label, July 2019

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Catalogue entry

Vieira da Silva born 1908 [- 1992]

T00245 Paris 1951

Inscribed on stretcher 'A Rex avec toute l'amitié de Vieira' and 'à Vieira'
Oil on canvas, 12 7/8 x 18 (33 x 45.5)
Bequeathed by E.C. Gregory 1959
Prov: With Redfern Gallery, London; E.C. Gregory, London
Exh: Vieira da Silva, Redfern Gallery, London, January-February 1952 (22); Gregory Memorial Exhibition, Leeds City Art Gallery, March-April 1960 (33, repr.)
Repr: Studio, CLXIII, 1962, p.9

According to Guy Weelen, this picture 'does not represent any specific or special view. It is primarily a composition, evolved as the work progressed, but also dependent on the first marks inscribed on the canvas. It is true all the same that there is an influence of the "environment", and according to Vieira da Silva, it was painted while she was living in the rue de la Glacière. It is also marked by the Parisian light. Yet it could just as well have been called "Composition" as "Paris". Certain elements are reminiscent of Lisbon; it is in the form of a city (?); yet it also evokes the realm of memory. It reconstitutes the long passage of time past, when Lisbon seemed like nostalgia and Paris like an omen, but it is certainly not a copy of reality. It is perhaps a homage to the right angle, or the square, but the triangles on the left, unexpected in the composition, give it, it is true, a flavour of something seen. Very misleading!' (letter of 7 March 1970).

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.747-8, reproduced p.747

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