Titled ‘Untitled’ – An Advent Journey

The Gagosian Gallery – Grosvenor Hill, London

I visited the Gagosian in London, one bright Saturday afternoon in Autumn.  There in the white minimalism of the L shaped room in the big new white building, I found many of Cy Twombly’s works hanging on the gallery walls.  These were not his photographs, rather a series of untitled works of art, generally created in 1969 at Balsena. In addition there were a number of 21st century Bronzes held to the floor by gravity.

The titles were mostly ‘untitled’.  I found it difficult to remember these titles and quickly scribbled notes in biro on my program to try to make sense of it all.  Perhaps that was my mistake.  Here then is a series of titles for the untitled. Which is which then ? = the numbers correspond to the original sequence at the gallery, now since packed away, but then that is the mystery of it all.  Like from the creation of the world through to Christmas, you just had to be there.


1. – Bronze – Creation

Theres a yellow thing sitting on the floor – its a massive work of creative power – where the oche paint of spirit covers the raw solid bronze shape from the casting fire.

2. – 2 and 1/2 – Adam and Eve

The two of them he created, Adam and Eve representing the first of the human race – a creative engine giving a little more than just the power of two.

3. – M’ Triangles – Fall of Man

Man is perhaps a prime copy of the original Man.

4. – Projection of a 3″ Jar – Noah’s Ark

There’s a vessel into which was poured two of each kind by Noah before the flood bore it off to a mountain to rest, waiting for the lands to reappear.  Jar’s have always had an electric connotation to them for me, either for preservation or for the storage of electrical charge.

5. – Fallen Jar – Shadow – Abraham

Abraham of course became the father of a new covenant following the fall of Adam .. so himself a shadow of the fallen Jar.

6. – Falling Jar – Smudge – Isaac

Isaac was a smudge in time following on from Abraham.

7. – Paper Jars, Helium Chalk Ascending Balloon – Jacob’s Ladder

If only Jacob could reach heaven easily.  Everything else is too much work. Helium should do the trick.  Is that a balloon ascending or a Jar Falling again.

8. – Green Finger Prints

Joseph and his colored coat, green paint perhaps, but he ended up down in a well, not really a Jar.

9. – Rock of Gibraltar — Bronze

Finally something solid, the rock of ages, Gibraltar rock, Moses mountain.

10. – Circular Eye Glasses

It took Samuel some time to hear the call, perhaps he was also a little blind, but eventually got to see the light, through a pair of eyeglasses.

11. – Jars Falling Finger Staff

Who was Jesse and why did he need a staff in anycase ?

12. – Comet Falling

This was all about David and Goliath, represented by a comet tail falling against a star.

13. – Green Square Frame

Framed he was, many of them were and I guess Solomon managed the scales of Jealousy and Justice equally well.

14. – ‘Untitled’

As Joseph was, being just a humble carpenter with hammer, setsquare and other tools of the trade.  Fantastic decision not to quit Mary, who was to become the most titled woman in the history of man.

15. – Stable White Jar – Mary

There it stood a chalky white jar,  calm and accepting not a mark on it’s surface, but filled with grace.

16. – Blue Page

John the baptist under a blue sky asked us all to turn a new page and get ready for what was to be writ new.

17.- Numbered Jars

O, The wisdom of Jesus

18.- Red Jar

O, Jesus is Lord

19. – Wrapped Spear – Bronze

O, Jesus is the Flower of Jesse – the bronze spear of a lilly

20. – Coloring Book

O, Jesus is Key of David

21. – Coloring Book

O, Jesus is the Radiant Dawn

22. – Coloring Book

O, Jesus is the King of the Gentiles

23. – Blue Lines Dripping — Purple Flowers

O, Jesus is Emmanuel – portent of the passion

25. – Drill with Square Shank – Bronze

O, Jesus is light of the world

Of course ART, particularly ‘untitled’ art is just begging to be titled, but thats the majesty of Cy Twombly.. you just cannot pin it to a wall, only your mind.





The shadow canvas

Yesterdays Project - TersiiskaIt’s a hard reality like compact snow in a clear air.  White and static in my mind.  I had shut the door and a thought to make a work of art.  Something big man.  A big canvas.  I’d read books biographic with grainy photos and small prints in blunt terms about artists who all seem to start with a canvas.  Picasso and Leonardo, Leonardo for sure, used to paint on walls, big walls.  Somehow I never never got started because it always meant having a canvas or a wall free of bookshelves and drawers of things leaning up against.

I visited the Menil collection and of course what you find are beautifully arranged rooms with big big canvas on the walls or big painting on the wall itself.  Cy Twombly must have thought – is it possible to make a bigger painting.  Thankfully he must’ve had heaps of rooms and room available for that awesome collection. But in addition there was an exhibition of Arctic art, lots of small things made of ivory or bone, like Netsuke from Japan, but different and ancient.

Between white and color, and possibly black or even photo black, the color of shadows.  How much a shadow can be art depends on the texture of the paint or the relief of the sculpture in the paint.  What better paint to make great shadows than white.  White is a beautiful shadow color.

Naturally for white to create shadows you need light off to the right and darkness on the other side of the door.  This way even with the door closed, you know you can see a blinding shadow at any time the door is opened, such is the strength of the white.

So with a little imagination I converted my wall to a canvas.  Not quite a Rothko.  Not anything like a Twombly.  Perhaps not even Picasso. It was easy really.  Just a can of thick ivory arctic white.  I started painting and having done the first coat it was just so great.  Shadows of chaos crept into my mind and introduced the concept of the art. Chaos and the butterfly fluttering through my imagination and Voila !! Frightening the imagination and trapping that fluttering pattern into the shadows of the wall. The canvas of shadows the butterfly behind the door.

Photo: Tersiiska:Flickr, All rights reserved.  Used with Permission.

The Menil Collection: