Transient Roots: Lucía Pizzani and Vanessa da Silva

29 April - 26 May 2022

“Humanity is exalted not because we are so far above other living creatures, but because knowing them well elevates the very concept of life.”

- Edward O. Wilson, Biophilia

Transient Roots explores humanity’s kinship with nature through a duo presentation of sculpture and photograms by Lucia Pizzani and Vanessa da Silva.


Lucia Pizzani presents two groups of new work for this exhibition: a series of unique photograms and an installation of stoneware ceramics. The artist was born in Venezuela and emigrated to Europe, with her family settling in the Canary Islands and herself in London. She created the photograms in the Canaries, using the bright winter solstice sun. Inking fantastical anthropomorphic lifeforms onto paper, she then arranges locally foraged leaves, branches and seeds over the photosensitive ink, leaving semi transparent shadows with their silhouettes. In Pizzani’s stoneware works, she imprints plants onto soft clay, patterning the surface and recalling the Mayan creation myth Popol Vuh. In the myth, after failing in clay, the gods successfully mould humans using corn. Fashioning humanoid elements from elemental materials points to the beginnings of art in civilization. For Pizzani we start at the beginning, with the rising of the sun.


Rising from the ground up, Vanessa da Silva’s sculptures generate the impression of uprooted bodies that appear to constantly move and mutate. Born in Brazil and living in London, da Silva’s work explores human migration and belonging through her sculptural bodies. Carved into foam and then coated and polished in fibreglass, da Silva uses a classic direct carving method made strange by the boney perfection of the sanded surface. Elevated on individual platforms, they are caught mid-dance, floating like lily pads. In her Muamba Grove series, da Silva’s forms reach out like limbs, curving to inhabit space and inviting us to use our own bodies to join their dance. Da Silva’s sculptures seem to defy the laws of gravity while also wielding a corporeal presence. Sinuous curves recall the human body’s inner architecture while their impossible forms resist figuration. Upholding a tension between the organic and static, da Silva walks the path between the artifice of sculpture and the rhythms of natural life.


Vanessa da Silva (b. 1976, São Paulo, Brazil) lives and works in London and is a graduate of the Royal College of Art. She explores the human experience of migration and displacement using a vocabulary of biomorphic curves. Ranging across sculpture, installation, and performance, da Silva weaves the personal with the political. Informed by her experience growing up in São Paulo and moving to London in the early 2000s, she reflects upon her Brazilian identity and sense of otherness while living in the UK long term.


Da Silva has exhibited internationally and looks forward to upcoming projects in May and June 2022 at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK and La Casa Encendida, Madrid. Recent exhibitions include the Frieze Sculpture Park, Regents Park, London, 2021; Mamão com Açúcar, Artíssima, Turin, 2021; and The Inner Rhythm of the Collective, Lungley Gallery, London, 2021.


Lucia Pizzani (b. 1975, Caracas, Venezuela) lives and works in London. She studied at the Chelsea College of Art and Design in London and Conservation Biology at Columbia University in New York. Pizzani explores historical and literary narratives around femininity, interpreting temporal discourses within the biological continuity of the natural world. Her figures are shape-shifters between humans, plants, and animals. Every human figure, plant, and material element in Pizzani’s universe feeds into the other in endless harmony. She works across a variety of media including photography, film, ceramics, draughtsmanship, performance and installation.


The Tate Collection acquired two works by Lucia Pizzani in 2021. Pizzani looks forward to including black stoneware ceramics in the group exhibition Planet B: Climate Change & the New Sublime curated by Nicholas Bourriaud during the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022. She was the recipient of the “Premio Eugenio Mendoza” (Mendoza Foundation National Award) in Venezuela in 2013.