Lot 142
  • 142

Maria Helena Vieira da Silva

15,000 - 20,000 GBP
31,250 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Maria Helena Vieira Da Silva
  • Composition Bleue
  • signed and dated 56
  • gouache on paper


Galerie d'art moderne Marie-Suzanne Feigel, Basel
Galeria 111, Lisbon
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Basel, Galerie d'art moderne Marie-Suzanne Feigel, Maria Helena Vieira da Silva, 1956, no. 18


Guy Weelen and Jean-Francois Jaeger, Vieira da Silva: Catalogue Raisonné, Geneva 1994, p. 272, no. 1372, illustrated

Catalogue Note

The following three lots by French-Portuguese painter Maria Helena Vieira da Silva are an exquisite selection from the artist’s defining decades. Forced to spend the war years in Brazil, Vieira da Silva became one of the leading artists of the Art Informel movement alongside Pierre Soulages and Nicolas de Staël upon her return to Paris in 1947, exploring spatial representation and synchronicity of perspective. Guided by an instinctive aesthetic and propelled by an indefatigable desire to experiment with new forms, she advocated “encapsulating a whole space on a small piece of canvas” (Maria Helena Vieira da Silva cited in: Gisela Rosenthal, Vieira Da Silva 1908-1992: The Quest for Unknown Space, Cologne 1998, p. 54).

Reflecting on Vieira da Silva’s art from the 1950s onwards, Gisela Rosenthal describes “an upward spiral. She returned at intervals to the themes and formal approaches she had adopted in earlier works, updating them in new versions. Her entire oeuvre developed as a sort of work in progress, in which all the paintings were mutually dependent and connected to each other. For this reason, the particular point in time at which specific paintings were done became less important” (Ibid., p. 53). The present works are marked by her desire to multiply spatial perspectives, creating an impressive display of three-dimensional designs, whilst still retaining a basis in reality. She stated herself that “I do not know what non-figurative painting is supposed to be. The starting point for my paintings is always reality” (Maria Helena Vieira Da Silva cited in: ibid., p. 71). As a result, the viewer is exposed to her abstract yet concrete perception of a world that she transformed in every painting.  

The attention to detail in these abstract compositions exposes the artist’s recurring search for defining space on varying scales. Through her non-figurative designs, she invites the viewer to participate and delve into the painting, to wander and explore her representation of reality. In doing so, the artist forces the viewer to consider his own direction in life, imposing an existential element to her personal definition of space. Allowing for an element of measured chance, Vieira da Silva’s paintings are the result of a conscious combination of laborious daily tasks and controlled impulses. Like the Abstract Expressionists of her era, Vieira da Silva focused on the portrayal of contemplation, expression and freedom; a synchronicity that is masterfully exemplified in these works.