Mira Schendel (1919–1988) was one of Latin America’s most important and prolific post-war artists. With her contemporaries Lygia Clark and Hélio Oiticica, Schendel reinvented the language of European Modernism in Brazil. Tate Modern is staging the first ever international full-scale survey of her work. The exhibition reveals aspects of Schendel’s dialogues with a diverse range of philosophers and thinkers, as well as her engagement with universal ideas of faith, self-understanding and existence. It brings together over 250 paintings, drawings and sculptures from across her entire career, including works which have never been exhibited before.
During the 1980s, Schendel created a series of tempera and gold leaf works. These have often been misinterpreted as expressions of decorative luxury - and because of it were vandalised at their first exhibition. In fact, they are a formal expression of a balance between opacity and transparency - while the matt, tempera paint absorbs light; the gold is reflective and therefore transparent. They also refer to the determination of the Self.