constructivism, installation art, modernist sculpture, Neo-Concretism

Lygia Pape, Livro do Tempo (Book of Time), 1961-63

January 25, 2012
Lygia Pape, Livro do Tempo (Book of Time) 1961-63, Installation view, Magnetized Space, Serpentine Gallery, London, (7 December 2011 - 19 February 2012) © 2011 Jerry Hardman-Jones

This semaphore frieze will stop you in your tracks at the Serpentine. Lygia Pape calls her epic a (the) Book of Time. Well, it both is and it isn’t.

Yes, it has 365 elements which might be called pages. They are made from wood, which is related to paper. And they have a colourful grammar all of their own.

But this work may just be an echo of the real thing. It hints at an invisible 365 page book which could govern all of our days.

If time‘s tome is anything like Pape‘s we should be this happy. Bold colours, dynamic shapes, fresh possibilities are all in store. No two days are the same.

So Livro do Tempo is an antidote to the daily grind, a funhouse mirror to most folks’ experience of time. No Outlook calendar, you can enter or exit wherever you like.

And at the risk of some national stereotyping you might say the Brazilian artist here takes Russian constructivism on a carnivalesque parade.

But Pape loops her garland of abstraction around a whole year. So we should rather hope that the Ur-book of time, if it exists, feel the influence of this one.

And if as novelist Thomas Mann says, “only the exhaustive is truly interesting”, could this work at Serpentine be anything else?

Livro do Tempo (Book of Time) can be seen in Lygia Pape, Magnetized Space at Serpentine Gallery, London, until February 19. See gallery website for more details.

Also, read what blogger Chloé Nelkin had to say about the rest of the show.

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