“The most important, and the most difficult (part) of artistic creation, it is to know when to finish an artwork. When is an artwork finished? When all of its components, these details …, all fits in an order that’s just, where everything is justified: the details, shapes and colors; … ; everything relates to create not only a harmonious ensemble, but also an expressive one, where everything has its value, nothing is superfluous, but nothing is missing either.”
Main reference in the Brazilian modernist abstraction movement, Fayga Ostrower was an engraver, designer, art theorist and teacher, born in Łódź, Poland, on September 14, 1920. Her family left Europe to find refuge from World War II in Brazil. Her family settles in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, where Fayga divides her time between a secretarial job in a large company, and her studies at the Fine Arts Association. In 1946 she began her design studies at the Brazilian Society of Fine and Graphic Arts in the Getúlio Vargas Foundation, where she took wood and metal engraving classes. Fayga starts as a figurative artist, aligned with the Brazilian engraving tradition in vogue until the 50s, and represented in the productions of artists like Oswaldo Goeldi, Laser Segall, e Livio Abramo. Her work shows the influence of expressionism, and a profound interest in social themes. In 1951, Goeldi wins the national engraving prize at the I Bienal of Sao Paulo, in the midst of the growing discussion amongst critics and artists alike, searching for greater freedom of creation, and defending an abstract approach to Art.
It is in this context that Fayga progressively abandons the depiction of figures, presenting several abstract drawings and engravings, as well as printed fabrics, in an exhibit in Rio de Janeiro, followed by her participation at the II Bienal of Sao Paulo, where she also presents abstract drawings and xylography. These designs, and specifically the fabrics, where also colissioned by designer like Joaquin Tenreiro, to compose their interiors. From this colaboration resulted many patterns, prints and drawings that perfectly complement their interior design projects.
Despite the heavy criticism her work with abstract designs arouses, mostly voiced traditional figurative engravers like Goeldi, Fayga continues to develop her art, and in 1954 her work is published by the Guilde International de la Gravure, in Genebre, and Fayga becomes the most prominent abstract Brazilian engraver. In 1957 she is awarded with the National Engraving Prize by the Bienal of Sao Paulo; and a year later, with the international engraving grand prize by the Bienal of Venice. At the ocasion, the irascible Max Bill declares, before her collection of abstract prints: “With that, I agree.”
Fayga Ostrower’s art is the the result her own internal rhythm and her ethical questioning; expressions of her "respect for art as the eternal language of humanity”. Her award-winning works have been displayed across the world, and she wrote many books reflecting on the power of art as a universal human language. Ostrower also taught art in Brazil, as well as at Spellman College in Atlanta.