Architectural pioneer and visionary Zaha Hadid has left a mark with her ground-breaking and innovative work. London’s Serpentine Sackler

Gallery is now paying tribute to this extraordinary architect and designer with a presentation that was first conceived with Hadid herself and reveals her as an artist with drawing at the very heart of her practice.

The exhibition also includes Hadid’s rarely seen private notebooks with sketches that trace her complex thoughts about architectural forms and their relationships. The show focuses on early works before her first building was erected in 1993 (Vitra Fire Station in Germany) and presents her paintings and drawings from the 1970s to the early 1990s.

Drawing and painting were fundamental to Zaha Hadid. Influenced by Malevich, Tatlin and Rodchenko, she used calligraphic drawings as the main method for visualising her architectural ideas. For Hadid, painting was a design tool, and abstraction an investigative structure for imagining architecture and its relationship to the world we live in. These works on paper and canvas unravel an architecture that Hadid was determined to realise in built structures and is seen in the characteristic lightness and weightlessness of her buildings. Conceived as Hadid’s manifesto of a utopian world, the show reveals her all-encompassing visions of arranging space and interpreting realities.

Many of Hadid’s paintings pre-empt the potential of digital and virtual reality. Technology and innovation has always been central to the work of Zaha Hadid Architects: As Patrik Schumacher, Director, Zaha Hadid Architects said “It was Zaha Hadid who went first and furthest in exploring this way of innovating in architecture – without, as well as with, the support of advanced software”.

Serpentine Galleries has had a long relationship with Hadid – her first structure in London was the inaugural Serpentine Pavilion in 2000 which was followed by a light installation, Lilas, in 2007. In 2013, she completed the extension for the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, one of Zaha Hadid Architects’s first permanent buildings in central London.

The exhibition coincides with the opening of Zaha Hadid Architects much anticipated Mathematics: The Winton Gallery at the Science Museum, which explores how mathematicians, their tools and ideas have helped to shape the modern world.