Zaha Hadid’s early paintings and drawings


Zaha Hadid’s early paintings and drawings

The Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, who died on 31 March 2016, was also, and above all, a huge artist. This was revealed by the magnificent exhibition that ended last Sunday at the Serpentine Sacker Gallery in London, entitled “Zaha Hadid Early Paintings and Drawings”.

This exhibition was designed before she died. It showcased large paintings on canvas, drawings on paper and from personal sketch books.

These early works were made between the 1970s (when Zaha Hadid was a student at the AA School) and the early 1990s, i.e. three years before her first significant project, the Vitra fire station in Weil am Rhein in Germany.

These pre-glory works demonstrate her technical mastery and the importance she attributed to drawing to anticipate architectural design. Many of the works presented in this exhibition refer to Italian futurism and the post-revolutionary Russian constructivist movement.

I was struck by several paintings, including a calligraphy entitled “Orange Explosion on White”, which for me is reminiscent of the painter and architect Georges Mathieu, a spectacular representative of the modern Lyrical Abstraction movement, who I always consider with fond admiration, especially because he experimented with live creation in public, via memorable pictorial happenings!

Apart from her acute sense of colour, Zaha Hadid’s paintings feature all the contained energy and experimental approach she poured into her architectural creations. Her splashes of colour and gradients, her sharp lines and explosive calligraphy, distorted or fluid or airy, reveal her early taste for mobile compositions that conquer space.

I must admit that my opinion on this great artist who won the 2004 Pritzker Prize (the Nobel Prize of architecture) and whom I previously thought was slightly repetitive and enclosed in a style that was recognisable but not always in keeping with location, has changed very favourably since her death.

This surprising and highly illuminating exhibition, which highlights the foundations of her creations, makes her even more endearing.

Let’s hope this exhibition will soon travel to France




Roger Baltus
Engineer - Architect
VMZINC Communication Director

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