John Giorno

CHERRY BLOSSOMS ARE RAZOR BLADES / ALMOST MISS AMERICA ROSE

Acrylic on canvas

102 x 102 cm

Executed in 2017

 

ABOUT THE ARTWORK

The work of American art John Giorno (1936-2019) embraces the disciplines of poetry, visual art  and performance which have been a sources of fascination and inspiration for the artist throughout his fifty-year career. He is considered the inventor of “performance poetry” (poetry that is specifically composed for live performance before an audience), and in 1968 he created Dial-A-Poem – a free telephone line to connect listeners to recordings of original works of poetry.

 

ABOUT THE ARTWORK

These paintings exemplify the vibrant colours, bold typography and whimsical yet confrontational language that typify Giorno’s poem-paintings in which words transform into images. His square canvases scream out their message in bright cartoonish hues and large font, using as their subject short excerpts from Giorno’s own writings. Punctuation and grammar are thrown out of the window in favour of sentences that seem extracted, decontextualized, put back together, collaged. The naming of different blooms (‘cherry blossom’, ‘rose’) is offset by coarser language lexica such as ‘razor blades’, creating a stark contrast between hard and soft, gentle and violent. The words themselves are laid out on the canvas rhythmically, spatially, so that sound becomes visual and the visual becomes rhythmic.

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