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Lygia Pape at Hauser & Wirth


On view for a final month at Hauser & Wirth is Brazilian artist Lygia Pape’s (1927–2004) “Tupinambá.” Named after the Indigenous Brazilian Tupinambá, the exhibition explores many of their customs, including ritualistic cannibalism, a practice thought to absorb the strength of enemies after battle. Pape’s series of work mimics these ritual acts through the use of faux red plumage, with dim lighting spotlighting round balls adorned with feathers and errant hands or beasts protruding from their soft exteriors. 

In “Manto Tupinambá (Tupinambá Cloak)” (2000), a large swath of red sailcloth hangs like a net that catches a swarm of Pape’s festooned orbs. Cannibalism here becomes a twofold metaphor—practiced literally by the Tupinambá, and a metaphoric allusion to European colonialism which worked to erase Indigenous traditions and peoples. By contrast, “Ttéia 1, C,” in an adjacent gallery fits within a tradition of the Brazilian Neo-Concrete movement, and consists of silver thread hung from floor to ceiling to create two rectangular columns that intersect in the center. The dim lighting in the gallery creates an optical illusion — as you walk around the work, the silver threads oscillate, their columns fading in and out of view. At one point, one disappears completely, the two becoming perceptually unified, if only for a moment.

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Photo: Lygia Pape, “Manto Tupinambá (Tupinambá Cloak)” 2000. Installation view, “Lygia Pape, Tupinambá,” Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles, 2021. © Projeto Lygia Pape, courtesy Projeto Lygia Pape and Hauser & Wirth. Photo by Fredrik Nilsen.