Carnegie Museum of Art Presents Zoe Zenghelis: Fields, Fragments, Fictions

The exhibition marks the first solo exhibition of Zenghelis’s paintings in the United States

Zoe Zhengelis Walking City
Zoe Zheneglis Walking City

Zoe Zhengelis Happiness
Zoe Zhengelis Happiness

Pittsburgh, PA (February 16, 2022) – Carnegie Museum of Art announces Zoe Zenghelis: Fields, Fragments, Fictions, the first solo exhibition featuring the paintings of artist and educator Zoe Zenghelis in the United States. Opening March 26 and on view through July 24, 2022, the monographic show will celebrate the interdisciplinary breadth of Zenghelis’s art practice by bringing her independent work in dialogue with her collaborative projects and teaching methods, as well as with objects from the museum’s permanent collection. The exhibition will be staged in the galleries of the Heinz Architectural Center at Carnegie Museum of Art, one of the nation’s foremost institutes for the study and curation of architecture. Zenghelis together with Theodossis Issaias, Associate Curator, Heinz Architectural Center, and Hamed Khosravi, architect and educator at the Architectural Association School of Architecture have collaborated at every step of the way to select and present this important body of work.

Born in Athens in 1937, Zoe Zenghelis studied stage design and painting in London, where she has lived and worked since the late 1950s. In 1975, Zenghelis—alongside architects Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis and artist Madelon Vriesendorp—co-founded the architectural practice Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). OMA’s early projects were realized through images as visual manifestos and provocations that offered a polemical critique to the discipline of architecture. Instead of a single totalizing vision of the city, OMA celebrated the multiplicity of metropolitan life and the surrealism of the everyday. This collaborative work and Zoe Zenghelis’s approach to artmaking redefined the visual culture of architecture and opened new possibilities for thinking about space and the built environment through the medium of painting. Zenghelis collaborated with Vriesendorp to transpose this exploration into a teaching method at the Color Workshop, an experimental course they taught together at the Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA) in London from 1982 until 1993. By fostering a studio culture based on play and discovery, they cultivated the spatial imagination of students and challenged established conventions of architectural representation.

For more than 60 years, Zenghelis’s practice has remained consistent. With thick layers of paint, abstract geometries, assemblies of forms, and eruptive color palettes, she meticulously composes pictorial surfaces on stretched canvas or card. Populated with building fragments, abstract tectonics, and metropolitan landscapes, Zenghelis’s paintings construct worlds of imagination and fiction. From seductive metropolitan formations and dystopian landscapes to floating buildings and cityscapes of disturbing stillness, the poetics of Zenghelis are an inquiry to the city and its architecture. “My paintings became influenced by my architectural experiences, but they work differently as conceptual views of my own world of images,” says Zenghelis. “My affinity with architecture is thematic and goes into a genre that could be called pure fiction. The straight rendering gets reduced to conceptual elements that are of a different nature; they are in a state of dematerialization to enter the world of imagination.”

Zoe Zenghelis: Fields, Fragments, Fictions will be anchored by four narratives and areas of practice. These include: the artist’s independent projects from 1982 to today (“Cities of Our Choice”); Zenghelis’s work as a teacher and a learner (“Spaces of Learning”); the urban projects of OMA and the modes of collaboration and creative exchange between the four founding members (“Metropolitan Affairs”); and the lesser-known projects of OMA in the Mediterranean islands in relation to Zenghelis’s long-standing engagement with landscape paintings of her homeland, Greece (“Arcadias Inverted”). The show is punctuated with objects from the museum’s permanent collection, selected by the artist to situate her work in a constellation of influences and relations between her students, friends, and teachers—real or imaginary.

“Zenghelis, with determination and poetic force, brings wonder and imagination into the discipline of architecture,” adds Theodossis Issaias and Hamed Khosravi. “Tectonic plates are carried away by clouds, cities walk on idle fields, and buildings are suspended from the sky. If they appear more elusive, it is to disguise Zoe Zenghelis’s urgent question: how will we create the Cities of Our Choice’?”

In celebration of the exhibition, Carnegie Museum of Art will host a series of programs and panels.
• April 30, 2022, at 10 a.m.—1 p.m. Workshop: HomeScapes—Cities, Color, Belonging. Multidisciplinary practitioner, architect, filmmaker, and educator, Sarah Akigbogun will lead an interactive design workshop. The workshop is co-presented with the Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture. $15 – Space is limited, please register in advance. Fee includes museum admission.
• April 30, 2022, at 1:30 p.m.—3 p.m. Gallery Meet and Greet. Join us in the gallery for informal tours and a conversation guided by the artist Zoe Zenghelis and the organizers of the show, Theodossis Issaias and Hamed Khosravi. This event is free with museum admission.
• April 30, 2022, at 3 p.m.—5 p.m. In Conversation: Zoe Zenghelis. Join artist Zoe Zenghelis in a roundtable conversation with Theodossis Issaias, Hamed Khosravi, and multidisciplinary practitioner Sarah Akigbogun. Zenghelis will discuss her artistic process, educational methods, and tensions and potentials of collaborative work and collective authorship as a co-founding member of the architectural firm Office for Metropolitan Architecture. A reception at the Café Carnegie at Carnegie Museum of Art will follow. The event is co-presented with the Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture and coincides with the 75th Annual International Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians in Pittsburgh. This event is free.

More information about Zoe Zenghelis. Fields, Fragments, Fictions and its events can be found at

The programs of the Heinz Architectural Center are made possible by the generosity of the Drue Heinz Trust. Carnegie Museum of Art is supported by The Heinz Endowments and Allegheny Regional Asset District. Carnegie Museum of Art receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

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Carnegie Museum of Art creates experiences that connect people to art, ideas, and one another. The museum is committed to global engagement and regional advancement. We champion creativity and its importance to society with experiences that welcome, inspire, challenge, and inform. Our core activities—collecting, conserving, presenting, and interpreting works of art—make those experiences possible. Our collection of over 34,000 works emphasizes art, architecture, photography, and design from the 19th century to the present. In addition, the Museum houses the archive of more than 70,000 images by Pittsburgh photographer Charles “Teenie” Harris, whose work comprises one of the most detailed and intimate records of Black life in America. Through its programming, exhibitions, and publications, Carnegie Museum of Art frequently explores the role of art and artists in confronting key social issues of our time, combining and juxtaposing local and global perspectives. One of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art was founded by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1895. To learn more, please call 412.622.3131 or visit For press inquiries, please contact: Elle Moody at