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Zaha Hadid, Early Paintings and Drawings at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery

8 December 2016 – 12 February 2017

“I have always been interested in the concept of fragmentation and with ideas of abstraction and explosion, de-constructing ideas of repetitiveness and mass production. My work first engaged with the early Russian avant-garde; in particular with the work of Kasimir Malevich – he was an early influence for me as a representative of the modern avant-garde intersection between art and design. Malevich discovered abstraction as an experimental principle that can propel creative work to previously unheard levels of invention; this abstract work allowed much greater levels of creativity.” Zaha Hadid, 2007

This winter, the Serpentine presents an exhibition of paintings and drawings by renowned architect Zaha Hadid (1950-2016).  Zaha Hadid is widely regarded as a pioneering and visionary architect whose contribution to the world of architecture was ground-breaking and innovative. The Serpentine presentation, first conceived with Hadid herself, will reveal her as an artist with drawing at the very heart of her work and will include the architect’s calligraphic drawings and rarely seen private notebooks with sketches that reveal her complex thoughts about architectural forms and their relationships. The show will focus on Hadid’s early works before her first building was erected in 1993 (Vitra Fire Station in Germany) and present her paintings and drawings from the 1970s to the early 1990s.

The exhibition will take place at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, renovated and extended by Zaha Hadid Architects in 2013. A select number of institutions and museums across the world will join in this timely homage to Zaha Hadid.

Drawing and painting were fundamental to Hadid’s practice. Influenced by Malevich, Tatlin and Rodchenko, she used calligraphic drawings as the main method for visualising her architectural ideas. For Hadid, painting was a design tool, and abstraction an investigative structure for imagining architecture and its relationship to the world we live in. These works on paper and canvas unravel an architecture that Hadid was determined to realise in built structures and is seen in the characteristic lightness and weightlessness of her buildings. Conceived as Hadid’s manifesto of a utopian world, the show reveals her all-encompassing visions of arranging space and interpreting realities.

 Many of Hadid’s paintings pre-empt the potential of digital and virtual reality. Technology and innovation has always been central to the work of Zaha Hadid Architects. As Patrik Schumacher, Director, Zaha Hadid Architects said “It was Zaha Hadid who went first and furthest in exploring this way of innovating in architecture – without, as well as with, the support of advanced software”.

Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director and Yana Peel, CEO said: “We are honoured to be presenting this exhibition of our friend and long-term collaborator Zaha Hadid here at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery designed by her practice in 2013. Her contribution to architecture as a pioneer and visionary cannot be overstated, and her declaration that ‘there should be no end to experimentation’ has become a mantra for the Serpentine Galleries as it looks to the future.”

Brian Clarke, artist said: “Zaha was both architect and artist, as she said, ‘I get the same goose-bumps from Bacon as I get from Niemeyer.’”

The Serpentine has had a long relationship with Hadid, which begun in 1996 when she joined as a Trustee of the Serpentine Gallery. Her first structure in London was the inaugural Serpentine Pavilion in 2000. It was followed by a light installation, Lilas, in 2007. In 2013, she completed the extension for the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, one of Zaha Hadid Architects’s first permanent buildings in central London. She also participated in the Serpentine’s Interview Marathon in 2006 and 89Plus Marathon in 2013.

The exhibition will coincide with the opening of Zaha Hadid Architects’ much anticipated Mathematics: The Winton Gallery at the Science Museum, which will explore how mathematicians, their tools and ideas have helped to shape the modern world.

Above image Vision for Madrid (1992), Zaha Hadid Architects

Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, London W2 3XA
Serpentine Sackler Gallery, West Carriage Drive, Kensington Gardens, London W2 2AR

The Guardian

Serpentine Galleries