Untitled Willem De Kooning

De Kooning.jpg
Untitled, Willem de Kooning (1958)

Untitled Willem de Kooning

Do you see what I see
           notes for a landscape
a shore and a beach
           and a river and a sky
a path to enlightenment
           a horizon viewed
from a cliff top
           waves perceptible
in the brushstrokes
           mimicking the tensions
in the earth’s crust
           and in all our relationships
abstract cartography
           of the soul

it took a human body
           to paint this
to select the colours
           and to control the brush
it took human energy
           to express this to execute this
rather than accept
           the docility of a pacified
environment in which nature
           sits tamely on a canvas

I came here scriptless
           Willem and I searched high
and low for love
           I am an accident of birth
whatever is concealed
           in this composition
will be revealed in due course
           at its heart is the illumination
of sunlight and a brightness
           that never fades
the joy we associate
           with the loving application
of human vitality
           everywhere apparent
the long sinews
           of genitive muscle

it could be a walk
           on a Sunday afternoon
or a three-penny opera
           in which we all appear
and notice a perfectly positioned
           pinmark in each of the corners
no abstract could ever be
           so inexhaustibly
calculated which is why
           I am not a painter

John Lyons


Painting observed on 10 February 2017 during a visit to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. Click here for an appraisal of this work.

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