Painter Maria Elena Vieira da Silva
Conversation with artist-painters Maria Elena Vieira da Silva and her husband Arpad Szenes in their home. They discuss colours, television, and painting.
Born in Lisbon in 1908, Maria Elena Vieira da Silva never ceased to make the link between this city and her azulejos that haunt a number of paintings, and Paris, that she went to in 1928 to live there until her death in 1992. She would however leave Europe during the Second World War and would stay in Brazil until 1947.
The paintings of Vieira da Silva let one guess about his personality: secretive, melancholic, cerebral. She began drawing lessons at 11 years old and would never stop learning, researching and training several disciplines: painting, sculpture, anatomy, engraving, tapestry. On her arrival in Paris she would have a prestigious education: Dufresne and de Friesz in 1928, the academy of Fernand Léger and lessons from Bissière in 1929. In 1930 she married the Hungarian painter Arpad Szenes, that she would only part from on his death in 1985. An admirer of Torres Garcia, Vieira da Silva is generally classed amongst the abstract painters of the Paris second School, which also notably includes Pierre Soulages and Nicolas de Staël.
Nevertheless the influence of cubism is highly visible in the artist's work, in her manner of renewing figurative processes, with vanishing lines, chromatic play and complex mosaics that evoke an urban landscape in disarray. Marked by music and poetry, her painting would illustrate the works of Pierre Boulez and René Char.