Twombly @ Gagosian Grosvenor Hill & Davies Street


I love Cy Twombly. I cannot tell you why exactly. I just do. The very first time I was faced with his work I felt compelled to write about it and this blog was born. My love affair continues, and to my delight, the Gagosian Gallery’s third London gallery on Grosvenor Hill has opened with a spectacular display of some of his unseen paintings. To spoil us even further, an accompanying exhibition of photographs is concurrently on display at their Davies Street gallery.

Grosvenor Hill has been completely taken over by the new gallery. For some reason I envisioned it to be a small, quaint space, much like the Gagosian Gallery on Davies Street. However the gallery is luxuriously large and spacious, with magnificent walls, perfect for displaying expensive works of art. Inside the gallery is sculpture, drawings, paintings and mixed media images made by the late Twombly, who died in 2011. Amongst the work on show here are two previously unseen paintings titled after the Greek god Bacchus. These paintings come in the form of two large off-white canvases covered in large red spiral marks that loop after each other in a never-ending sequence. While Bacchus might seem an unlikely subject from an American artist whose career began in the twentieth-century, Greek mythology is a constant in the artist’s oeuvre. In fact, Twombly spent most of his life living in Rome, Italy, a land absolutely overcome by history.

Also on show at Grosvenor Hill are a few sculptures as well as a series of untitled works on paper. These were made in Italy in 1969 and are covered in scribbles, arithmetic and red and pink coloured paint, in fact, amongst most of the artist’s work, reds seem to be the colour of choice, as well as fleshy peach tones and flowery pinks. These images suggest a look inside the artist’s mind, as if they might be a plan for his bigger paintings. This sentiment is carried through in the display of three of his sketchbooks, two of which are splattered with one of the most stunning shades of purple that I have ever seen.

Within the sketchbooks, one can make out flowers amongst the energetic marks. This floral imagery is carried through into the photographs on display on Davies Street. Amongst many prints are a series of soft pink flowers that mimic the colours in Twombly’s painting. Also in the artist’s photographs and a series of strawberries that are set against a dark backdrop. They look like they might be from lying somewhere on the moon and the stems are so green that the fruit cease to look like they are safe to eat, yet they draw the viewer in anyway. I would say that Twombly’s strawberries appear like some kind of forbidden space fruit; you know that you shouldn’t eat them, but you want to all the same.

The most interesting photographs in the Davies Street exhibition give us a glimpse into Twombly’s studio. Here we not only see paintbrushes, but also tapestries and an atmosphere of Renaissance splendour.

The two exhibitions are stunning and an absolute delight for a Twombly fan like me. They simply cannot be missed.

Cy Twombly and Cy Twombly: Photographs are on display at the Gagosian Galleries on Grosvenor Hill and Davies Street until 12 December

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier is a London-based writer with a special interest in contemporary Middle Eastern Art. She has a BA in Art History and an MA in Contemporary Art and Art Theory of Asia and Africa from the School of Oriental and African Studies. She runs the Gallery Girl blog and has written for After Nyne, Arteviste, Canvas Magazine, Harper's Bazaar Arabia, Ibraaz, Jdeed Magazine, ReOrient and Suitcase Magazine. Lizzy is also curator of Arab Women Artists Now - AWAN 2018 (London).

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