Born Myrrha Dagmar Dub (1919), in Switzerland, Mira Schendel studied art and philosophy in Italy during the 1930s before eventually emmigrating to Brazil in 1949, where she made the majority of her life's work - painting, drawing, graphic design and sculpture. Participating in the first Sao Paulo Biennial in 1951, Schendel soon found herself among the intellectual elite and began to show her work frequently. Her early paintings, in dense tones and textured surfaces, stood apart from the prevailing Concretist movement and suggested dissatisfaction with pictorial means. Her work is characterised by a variation in materials, from plaited and twisted rice paper, to acrylic paintings, to black and white temperas, and a series of paintings using brick dust. Schendel was also an avid reader and continued correspondence with poets, philosophers and theologians throughout Brazil and Europe. During the height of her artistic powers, her work often focused on the visual component of language - using letters and words and phonetic combinations to highlight the gestural and "sudden semantic value" of the written word.
After her death in 1988 her work was show extensively around the world, culminating in a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 2009. This will be the first major presentation of her work in the UK.