Thursday, 12 June 2014

Vieira da Silva; the 31 Women number Twenty-Eight, her birthday is 13 June.

born 13 June 1908 in Lisbon, Portugal, died 6 March 1992                                  

Vieira da Silva working on stained glass, C1966
Portuguese/French painter, abstraction, mosaic, murals, tapestry, stained glass 

Maria Elena Vieira da Silva is an unfamiliar name to many in the English speaking art world but this lack of recognition is completely undeserved. She was Portuguese by birth, though her career is mainly identified with the School of Paris and her work is highly regarded throughout Europe, especially in France and Portugal and also in Brazil. She has had a large number of exhibitions both in Europe and Latin America. In a sixty year painting career she exhibited almost every year, beginning in a joint exhibition with Hungarian painter Arpad Szenes, in Lisbon in 1929 and with her first solo exhibition in Paris in 1933.
Szenes became her husband in 1930 and was possibly the only example in the twentieth century of a male artist suborning his own talent in favour of his wife’s. Although they exhibited together, he promoted her work ahead of his own, effectively acting as her manager. She was naturally shy and reclusive and he protected her from day to day worries, whilst introducing her work to the outside world. Most importantly, he was able to dispel much of the self doubt that often struck her down; she was constantly concerned that her increasingly abstract interpretations of time and place were becoming de-humanised and hence devalued, though their creation actually involved a huge emotional commitment from the artist.