Reluctantly, I gently touched the strange, origami-like metal structure, hardly causing it to move. I poked it a bit harder, then watched it fall and settle into a different shape. You’re not normally allowed to touch “art”, but at Lygia Clark’s exhibition at the Alison Jacques Gallery in London, visitors are encouraged to do so. It forms part of Clark’s artistic ethos.
One of Brazil’s most renowned artists, Clark’s signature is interactive geometry. At the London exhibition, her first solo show in the UK since the 1960s, tiny, coloured matchstick boxes are stacked up to create sharp angles, while the metal-like origami structures are openly displayed on tall pillars. Frames also adorn the white-wash walls, filled with what looks like prototypes for the sculpted pieces – flat, geometric drawings with scribbles resembling measurements.
The metal sculptures are prototypes from one of Clark’s best-known series called Bichos – or Animals – from 1960. She says of Bichos: “A sort of physical exchange happens between two living entities. The bicho has its own movements, which react to the stimuli of the subject.” A very poetic way to describe my bemused poking.