Do you remember how perfect everything was?

Zoe Zenghelis at the Architectural Association
36 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3ES Map
Mon–Fri 10 am–7 pm, Sat 10 am–5 pm

The Architectural Association will host the first retrospective exhibition of the works of Zoe Zenghelis. As a two-part exhibition, held in collaboration with Betts Project, the two venues jointly present and review Zenghelis’ early paintings from the 1960s, her years at OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture), through to recent works made in 2020. Stretched between abstract metropolitan tectonics and landscape structures, the exhibition represents an enquiry into absent architectural projects. A comprehensive review of her works will be published in a new title from AA Publications and will be launched over the course of the show.

Zoe Zenghelis is an Athenian artist who has been living and working in London since her student years. After studying painting in Athens she continued her study in stage design and painting at the Regent Street Polytechnic under Frank Auerbach, Lawrence Gowing, and Leon Kossoff. She started her painting career as a founding member of OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture), where her collaboration with other OMA members widened their horizons and opened up new opportunities for them in painting and architecture. In 1982 Alvin Boyarsky invited Zoe and Madelon Vriesendorp to run the Colour Workshop at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, a career that continued until 1993. Their legacy brought in massive change, not only in the way architectural representation was thought about at the AA, but also in how it reintroduced painting as a mode of thinking about space, light, colour, and proportion; a fundamental shift in architectural pedagogy.

Zenghelis’ paintings are inspired by metropolitan structure, landform, and abstract tectonics. Yet the imagery is quintessentially modern and modernist: it is an imagery of the fragment, the collage, the assemblage, the parts standing for the whole, and often greater than the whole. Her particular colour palettes, abstract planes, and jagged forms, locate her quite comfortably within the lineage of modernist painters, who challenge the conventional aesthetic rules and incite a search for a paranoid-critical rationality. At the same time, Zenghelis’s works have been influenced and developed within the context of the mid-20th century contemporary art in London, when, beyond the aesthetics of common sense, the post-war British modernist painters abandoned any grand narratives and refused to serve institutional social or political projects; they chose to be ‘sole coherent units’ as Frank Auerbach once claimed.

Curator: Hamed Khosravi
in collaboration with: Platon Issaias
Design and Production Assistant: Daryan Knoblauch