Zaha Hadid’s iconic buildings can be found everywhere from Beijing to Brixton, a distinctive baroque modernism that curves organically across some of the most famous skylines.
Less well known are the notoriously fiery architect’s paintings, many of which pre-date her first completed project. They are collected for the first time in this Serpentine exhibition, commissioned before her death this year and now acting as her first posthumous retrospective.
From the moment you enter the Sackler Gallery you’re hit by a wall of colour; vast canvases are filled with swooping, angular blocks that make up futuristic cityscapes. They combine the precise, meticulous lines of blueprints with bold abstract shapes. A patchwork of vivid red fields bleeds into angular clusters of buildings in Metropolis; a lava-orange Thames is cut-through by sweeping grey lines in London 2066.
These pieces recall the joyous celebration of movement and technology of the Russian constructivists, hinting at a utopia based on mastery of our surroundings. There’s a synaesthetic quality to Hadid’s work, a collision of sound and colour that somehow cuts to the essence of her architecture. Virtual reality installations are now de rigueur in galleries, but here it makes perfect sense: don a helmet and Hadid’s paintings glide into life, trails of colour coiling through the air.
Also collected are sketches and drawings made throughout her career, from incomprehensible tangles of lines to intricate depictions of fantastical projects.
This is a surprising, inspiring collection of works from a giant of her industry.
First published in City A.M.