The first time I visited the Centre Pompidou was as an innocent art student over 30 years ago. In the same year I had my first introduction to the works of Cy Twombly at a small gallery in Cork Street, London. His works reduced me to tears, and still do. It is fair to say my path through life has been forever steered by that time.
twombly (verb) :
To hover thoughtfully over a surface, tracing glyphs and graphs of mischievous suggestiveness, periodically touching down amidst discharges of passionate intensity.
twombly (noun) :
A line with a mind of its own.
Simon Schama: Cy Twombly at the Hermitage. 50 years of works on paper, 2004
Also on show in Paris are two smaller Twombly related exhibitions, both at The Gagosian gallery. The first, Orpheus, is a beautifully staged exhibition of some of Twombly's works on paper, which until now have not been brought together.
To complement these works, the Gagosian are also showing an intimate exhibition of poetic photographs by Sally Mann, selected from her time spent photographing Twombly and his studio: Remembered Light, Cy Twombly in Lexington.
In light of Twombly's death in 2011, and the knowledge that his studio will never again know his presence, Mann's photographs feel particularly intimate, and we are aware of the ability of a photograph to turn the present into a memory. Stunning.
1. caught in or as if in a tangle
2. involved in an undesirable situation from which it is difficult to escape
If there was an exhibition from which it would be difficult to escape, I can think of worse places to be trapped than the current exhibition at Turner Contemporary in Margate, "entangled" - an exhibition of over 40 international artists who explore materiality, particularly in respect of thread, stitch and fabric, in their work.
The works on show vary in scale from minute grass seed heads, to a ceiling high column made from taut horse hair, but all have something more important to say than their initial forms and humble materials initially suggest.
The first work to grab my attention was Geta Bratescu's Bound Fan - a wooden hand held fan, rendered impotent by being bound tightly shut by a single, delicate thread. There is something intriguing by the notion of the functional being rendered useless by such a gentle intervention. Susan Hiller's Painting Blocks echo this idea of contradiction - oil paintings on canvas, cut and bound with thread into a stacked block, so that the original painting is both present and absent at the same time.
Other notable exhibits include Karla Black's What to ask of others - a large sheet of pale pink polythene, draped and suspended in the gallery space. The work acts as both painting and sculpture, and we are forced to reexamine our understanding and expectation of a familiar, often disposable, material. Stunning.
Oh Mr Therrien, where have you been all my life? Simple forms, found objects, honest materials - all 'nailed' to pristine white walls, and classed as sculpture (and not painting, despite their being hung and 'read' as such). This is my kind of language, and I thank the Parasol Unit for bringing these great works together. The show as a whole was bewitching. Familiar forms (clouds, keyholes, switches) and equally familiar materials (wood, metal, enamel, paint) lured me in, but the ultimate works hinted that they were quietly hiding far more than they were ever going to reveal. There aren't many works that affect me physically (Cy Twombly's paintings have been known to reduce me to tears), but in the ground floor gallery of the Parasol Unit, I could have happily found a quiet corner, slunk down to rest on the floor, and just sat ... for hours ... breathing quietly, amongst the sculptural presences, hoping to hear their silent dialogue.
I love this time of year ... with a host of students at BA, MA and PhD level, all coming to the end of their respective studies, there are great works out there to be discovered. This weekend saw the opening of SHOW 16, the annual graduate show of MA, MPhil and PhD students at the Royal College of Art.
Some of my favourites are shown below ... but none of the images capture the wonderful optimism, pride and ambition that seemed to fill the air as the students cast open the studio doors to step out into the wide, world. It was a great boost, and a timely reminder to not let self-doubt and sensibleness (is that even a word?) get in the way of being who we can be, and making what we want (even, if in the words of my darling brother, it is 'only' a 'beautiful, useless thing'). I need beautiful, useless things in order to think and make sense of the world ... and in that case, they're not useless at all!
Thoughts, works, adventures and responses from the studio and beyond