27 November 2011

White becomes resolution

The paintings of Cy Twombly have been known to move me to tears.  When I first encountered his early works on paper (at an exhibition in Cork Street in the early 80s) I was struck by his mastery of awkwardness - media collided on paper, and his drawings and paintings had a wonderful imbalance that challenged everything I previously understood to be 'right' in art.

Bacchanalia-Fall (5 Days in November) Blatt 4, InvNr. UAB 4571977 
Collage, oil, chalk, gouache, on fabriano paper, graph paper, 101.2 x 150.5 cm
Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen – Museum Brandhorst, München. Leihgeber: Udo Brandhorst. © Cy Twombly

At his recent show at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, there was the opportunity to get close to his sculptures.  Found objects are cast in bronze, and then painted in white household paint, which manages to somehow both conceal the original forms, yet reveal even more of them.  The exhibition notes referred to Twombly's explanation of his use of white paint as his 'marble'.  I love the idea that a material as cheap and everyday as white emulsion paint can allude to the grandeur of Italian marble sculptures of old.

Untitled (Funerary Box for a Lime Green Python) 1954 Cy Twombly

So, how does this relate this to my own practice?  An essential requirement of the found objects I select is ambiguity.  Broken, discarded fragments of someone's once worldly possession, these objects no longer have their original form, and are unable to fulfil their original function. I am intrigued by the notions of value and status, and find myself continually drawn to the work of many European contemporary jewellers, whose practices explore these ideas, amongst others.  One way of challenging the concepts of value and status in jewellery would be to replace precious metals and stones with cheap, everyday materials, such as plastic.  

Found objects, plastic, 2011 Vanda Campbell

Found object, plastic (detail), 2011 Vanda Campbell

Found object, plastic (detail), 2011 Vanda Campbell

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