Maria Helena Vieira da Silva

La Cuisine

"La cuisine" painted with a natural touch and underlined by elegant blue borders, depicts a domestic interior that belies the stark simplicity of the image. Here, the perspective does not conform to the traditional rules observed throughout art history, the walls swell, hide and capsize. A perspective that enhances formal freedom which plays on gaps between outpouring and restraint, constructed rigor and overflow. The blue curtain, which creates the link with the window, enlarges this place of intimacy. The green box forms the focal point of the composition while giving it balance and stabilization. However, next to this central point of view another perspective to an unknown space erects under the spectators' eyes. Predominantly white, the artist depicts a place full of emptiness in which its function is left to the viewers' imagination.

Through this production, the foreground is invaded by a kitchen in which tiles-mosaic are displayed on the countertop, replacing food and the tools for cooking. The essence of the subject takes a whole different nature and refers to a place dedicating to the creation of art, and more precisely the production of the azulejos. So often raised by Vieira da Silva to recall her Lusitanian origins, it is here the space of her memories that are brought to the fore. The room depicted here represents the artist's kitchen during her adolescence in Lisbon. Indeed, her childhood has been a defining moment in her life which has constantly influenced her creative production.

The 1950s are an interesting pivotal period for the artist. She turned increasingly towards abstraction, setting progressively figuration aside. "La cuisine" witnesses this creative expansion and offers all the characteristics of Vieira da Silva's singular works. One of the particularities of this exceptional artwork is the frame made and painted by the artist herself which becomes an important part of the composition and making it a unique piece.

Maria Elena Vieira Da Silva is an emblematic Portuguese figure of the Seconde Ecole de Paris and made France her second home. She was able to stamp the male world of art with her talent. The painter was the first woman to receive the French Government's Grand Prix National des Arts in 1966. Thirtheen years later she was named a Chevalier of the Legion Honor in 1979. Nowadays, her works are valued treasures and part of the greatest world museum such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Tate Gallery in London and the Art Institute of Chicago.