At the Gagosian (London) we went to look at Cy Twombly’s last paintings: “Camino Real”, a series of medium-sized canvases in green, red and yellow. I walked closer and closer to them, losing myself in the shock of colour; I wanted to walk into them.
The paintings are accompanied by a series of Twombly’s photographs, some 100 colour dry prints. Their soft and gentle tones contrasted greatly with the paintings’ bright, buzzing colours, but they were no less exciting for the senses. In these shots you could feel the warmth of late summer sunshine, wind rustling in the branches of pines, the sweet stench of decaying peonies, the dusty haze of memory. The relationship between these photographs and his whole painterly oeuvre is clear: colour, texture, structure speak to each other not merely as different versions of the same represented object, but as complementary forms of it - art for Twombly is a Protean transformation, a way to see things in constant metamorphosis.
We started the morning at the Tate for their latest blockbuster exhibition of works by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. There is something admirable and yet repulsive about pre-Raphaelite art: the excess of decoration, the overly-crafted search for beauty, the hefty opulence of illustration laden with dark, heavy colours makes the art of this period seem remote and unattractive to me.
But the Aesthetic movement presupposes a rejection of meaning - in the famous dictum, a quest to create “art for art’s sake” - something that abstract art also strives for. The juxtaposition of the pre-Raphaelites’ excess with Twombly’s spare aesthetics within the same day gave me a small epiphany: when my eyes closed and I fell asleep I felt glad to be able to experience both, happy to live in this particular time, this present day.