Writings on the Wall presented by Waddington Custot in London until 30th June investigates the influence of urban ancient and contemporary writing on artists such as Brassaï, Dubuffet, Millares, Caniaris, Tàpies and Twombly.
This remarkable exhibition resonates with Waddington Custot’s 2018 stunning exhibition, Invisible Cities – Architecture of Line, curated by Flavia Frigieri.
While Twombly’s works draw from his numerous trips in Europe and North Africa as well as Roman classical mythology, Brassaï’s photographic works capture strangers’ marks on the buildings of Paris. Twombly’s geometric shapes and deconstructed language resonate with Brassaï’s investigative modern graffiti. These poetic visions are reminiscent of signs from ancient Rome and prehistoric cave petroglyphs, which fascinated Twombly.
In 1944, Brassaï’s work was encountered by Dubuffet (who in the following year produced a series of lithographs, Les Murs (The Walls), to accompany a book of poetry by Eugène Guillevic. The lithographs celebrate the wall’s spontaneously recorded traces of love, hate, humour and self-assertion as a testimony to humanity’s lived experience. Dubuffet began to research and collect the work of marginalised groups making art on the fringes of society including the insane, folk artists. Many of his later works embrace raw emotive scrawling and are composed with wall ‘matter’, mimicking rough city walls.
Brassaï’s photographs were also influential to Tàpies who became aware of the existentialist theories which accompanied the reception of Brassaï’s work in 1950s Paris. Tàpies transposed the function of city walls onto his densely texured canvases, often marking them with raw graffiti gestures, crosses, ‘X’s and ritual and territorial marks. The last room of the exhibition featuring Tàpies’ Suite Montseny 3, 4, 7 remains one of the highlights in the show.
This exhibition is one of the best on view in Mayfair at the moment.