In this exhibition, Leonor Antunes continues her exploration into the legacy of different female creators of the 20th Century that are often a source of inspiration for the artist. The life and work of complex figures such as Anni Albers (1899–1994), Clara Porset (1895–1991), Eileen Gray (1878–1976), Léna Meyer-Bergner (1906–1981) and Lina Bo Bardi (1914–1992) are the subject matter of Antunes’ study, recreation and subsequent representation in sculptural objects that echo this generation of artists and designers from years back. For the exhibition at kurimanzutto, Antunes surveys the life and work of Léna Meyer-Bergner during her residency in Mexico from 1939 to 1947.
Meyer-Bergner was an artist and textile designer that took part in the second phase of the Bauhaus in Dessau (1923–1925). After living in the Soviet Union while working on Stalin’s Five Year Plan, Meyer-Bergner moved to Mexico in 1939 with her Husband Hannes Meyer. In Mexico, the couple was a part of popular graphic workshop, the Taller de Gráfica Popular, which was famous for fusing design and art as a tool to fight fascism in Mexico during the 1940s. They also participated in creating educational plans for indigenous communities, school design and published books on both pedagogic innovation, alongside publications for the Taller de Gráfica Popular, amongst several other projects. The Meyers also started the project for a catalogue about the second generation of the Bauhaus, collaborating with Israeli Architect Arieh Sharon (1900–1984) and publishing samples of his work and ethos that were fundamental to the creation of the second Bauhaus. In all their various projects, the Meyer-Bergners clearly expressed their thoughts as tightly linked to socialist values of the left with a political conviction against fascism.
For her exhibition, Antunes weaves relationships between Léna Meyer-Bergner and other creators that generated new discourses focused on design, production techniques and how objects respond to their social and political context. Trude Guermonprez (1910–1976), Kay Sekimachi (1926), Michiko Yamawaki (1910), Charlotte Perriand (1903–1999) and Greta Grossman (1906–1999) lived similar lives where they had to emigrate or escape from their respective countries due to the war and later made important contributions to institutions such as the Black Mountain College or the Bauhaus. References to their work can be discovered in Antunes’ sculpture and serve as an intersection of the original intention of the designers and architects that that gave them life, alongside the inquisitive mind of the artist. Every element of the sculptures takes a technique and specific material that was studied and developed by the designers, who after finding themselves in new environments were exposed to new artisanal traditions that they incorporated into their work. The careful use of a variety of materials ranging from bronze and jute fabrics, to bamboo and wood, form architectonic sculptures that veil and reveal the space of the gallery and provoke a rhythmic displacement of the public between them.