Entering the exhibition space of the Gagosian is a very formal experience. Almost as if entering a ‘sacred’ temple, the viewer is overwhelmed with the purity of the exhibition layout. The artefacts are positioned individually with a respectful amount of distance between each other. Walking through the exhibition the viewer encounters the individual pieces, one after the other, without the urge to compare them. The space dominates in white, with some individual works highlighting a tint of colour, distracting attention, breaking up the journey through the space and dictating how to read it.
Cy Twombly’s sculptures are mostly created from materials such as wood, plaster, iron and other objects that might be found in an artist’s studio. Every piece is individually assembled displaying a sense of historic meaning. Poetic and profound, the sculptures allude towards a sense of potential connection between the contemporary and the past. The material composition of each piece and the use of white paint throughout, reminds one of the classical and traditional marble sculptures, as if Greek statues are inhabiting the space. A sense of potential embodiment of the past is forced through the style of Twombly’s work. Almost capturing moments, one projects an idea of what each piece may represent: daily household objects, farming, and building activities, to larger scale interpretations representing possible architectural structures, as in ‘Untitled (to Apollinaire)’ (2009), which due to its materiality and scale could be interpreted as a 1:25 model of a building.
Within the ocean of white paint and neutral tones only few accents can be found in bright or neon colour. This use of contrasting paint is carefully positioned not only within a sculpture itself – as Twombly does in ‘Turkish Delight’ (2002), but also in relation to the surrounding exhibition. ‘Untitled’ (2005) a wooden piece, painted with bright yellow acrylic, not only draws immediate attention to itself but also resizes one’s presence to the surrounding sculptures, allowing the viewer to reinterpret each of them not only in relation to one’s own proximity but to its relation to the flashing yellow wood sculpture.
Further, the haptic nature of all the surfaces enhances the viewer’s picture in their mind, showing and responding to different potential settings and materialising the viewer’s vision and thoughts into different contexts. The white paint, forcing itself to bulk up on flat exterior or entering deep cracks within the surface, creates an additional layer of materiality and texture. It delegates a neutral reading of the surface where the understanding of the material can be interchanged with the image behind the audience’s interpretation, not to mention through the intercession of engravings, glyphs and symbols which narrate a further additional layer. Erasing the accessibility to the work, the viewer is now left with no chance to have a clear understanding of the true meaning behind each sculpture. Twombly opens up the possibilities of experiencing and even re-experiencing each piece in endless repetitions, and in a constant change of ideas projected on to the sculptures each time they are approached. It allows us to interpret the work in unlimited ways.