Vieira da Silva spent much of her life traveling to and inhabiting the great cities of the world. In her paintings, she captures the essence rather than the specific details of these cities. She is a true chronicler of the modern world--what it means and how it feels to live in an era of constant flux and technological innovation. Vieira da Silva inhabits the realm of what Guy Weelen refers to as a "hypothetical reality"-- a reality that is not really grounded in a single locale (G. Weelen, "Travel", I1978, p. 14).
Vieira da Silva's work is a visual representation of modernity. The shapes of technology fascinated her as they did the Futurists before her. Personal discoveries like the relationships of the steel girders and wire supports of the transporter bridge in Marseilles, which she visited in 1931, gave her insight into the radically new spatial relationships of the 20th century. In the present work, Composition, her blue, yellow and purple strokes dominate the picture plane, representing roads, aqueducts, buildings, pedestrians and cars. As with the artist's celebrated Biblioth©eque series, Composition is full of compartments and dizzying pictoral space. Buildings made of compartments, stacked on top of each other, recede endlessly into themselves. There are infinite numbers of entrances and exits with an equal number of dead-ends. The energy of the city and the urban experience are represented as a cohesive, dynamic organism. Vieira da Silva acknowledged her fascination with urbanism when she wrote:
"I look at the street and see people passing on foot or on various machines, at various speeds. I think of the invisible threads that pull them. They don't have the right to stop. I no longer see them; I try to see the mechanism that moves them. It seems to me that that is perhaps a little of what I am trying to paint" (quoted in J. Lassaigne, "The Creative Operation", Vieira da Silva, Barcelona, 1978, p. 146).