In the Metaesquemas series, Oiticica developed his ideas with what he described as ‘an obsessive dissection of space’ by means of colour. The series comprises over 350 works; its title combines the Portuguese words ‘meta’ (beyond vision) and ‘esquema’ (structure). Oiticica considered these works as ‘something that lies in-between that is neither painting nor drawing. It is rather an evolution of painting’. By reducing his vocabulary to a series of monochrome shapes – mainly squares and rectangles – Oiticica creates an interplay between shapes and their background that generates a sense of instability and movement, challenging their two-dimensionality.
This is partly achieved by the use of the ‘mirror effect’. Whatever rhythmic sequence the artist achieves on one side of the grid he repeats on the other side. This creates a dynamic composition, and a sense of ambivalence as to which are the painted forms (the ‘figures’) and which are the in-between areas (the ‘background’). By the end of 1958, this series evolved into black/white, blue/white, red/white, and white/white compositions in which squares, rectangles and even the grid have been eliminated. The series of white-on-white paintings represents both the end of one stage of chromatic investigations and a new beginning for the artist. [Extract : Tate Exhibition Guide]