The criss-crossing lines that build up the painting Le départ, executed in 1968, create an illusion of perspectival space. A fictitious three-dimensional area has been created, a universe of horizontals and verticals that appears to recede into the distance. The painting resembles the tunnel of a lift-shaft, giving a sense not only of space but also of movement - of departure.
Vieira da Silva's painstakingly created paintings appear almost organic; constructed through the self-generating internal logic of the canvas' own contained universe. Taking the geometry of her native Portugal, of the rooms and buildings covered with azulejos and of the nineteenth-century engineering of Gustave Eiffel evident there and in her adopted home, Paris, Vieira da Silva developed a unique visual means of capturing her position in the world. This is a grid that locates us within the universe, a non-specific existential map on which we find but cannot read our latitude and longitude in life. There is thus a degree of uncertainty both in the painting, and in the viewer's own perception of his or her own position before it. We are inserted into a bizarre multi-dimensional chessboard, an armature that appears to define us as much as it defines itself. The viewer is further involved through the intricacy of the painting: the lines in Le départ force our eye to dart up and down, from left to right, making us active participants. This was Vieira da Silva's aim: to involve us, to make us feel that we are travelling within the strange and abstract labyrinth of her art: 'I do not want people to remain passive, I want them to come and take part in the game, go for a walk, climb up, go down' (Vieira da Silva, quoted in G. Rosenthal, Vieira da Silva 1908-1992: The Quest for Unknown Space, Cologne 1998, p. 71). It is the combination of this active reaction to the painting and of its final inscrutability that makes us share her own uncertainty when faced with the enigma of life.