‘'making art is the work of the man on the opposite river bank shouting to describe the sound of rushing water’’


Work and Days is delighted to present ‘New Work’, an exhibition of Alberto Ciravegna’s recent work.

In a series of new work that continues the exploration of pure painting, Ciravegna brings to the gallery images whose simple delineation rests upon the complex marking of a stencilled surface, resolved in a seemingly unconsidered palette, whose dumbness is the necessary companion to the minimal composition of familiar things  dragged into the murky light of depiction.

Images of maps, horses, doors, and the written names of things stand defiantly against their familiarity, so to bear the weight of their subject matter. A single haunting sculpture, entitled ‘Money’, extends the use of collaged object as image on the painted surface, to the object as image hewn from the appearance of things.

It is in the contrast of adjacent registers that the works find their compelling beauty; in ‘Burning green wood‘ the crepuscular light that enters the painting’s plane from the window, whose wooden frame is arranged as sticks on a camp fire, is faintly illuminated by the damp flames at the centre of the image, whilst the rising smoke alludes to a possible horizon line undermined by the red and blue clash within the tonal ground. In ‘London brick’ the image of a deity’s name appears reversed upon the rooftops, filling the evening sky with omens undone by the physical banality of the chimney to which the title lends poignant mockery. These works wind a tortuous path from the philosophical scrutiny of the act of painting to the rapture of painting itself.

In the introductory quotation Ciravegna describes the central preoccupation of his work; the impossibility of expressing in a formal language statements about the origin of poetic experience.

Language is silent in the world, and yet all around is the world’s poetic din; poetry must therefore lie outside language. All knowing language is formal, and formality is the distance at which language becomes inaudible. We carry formal language in our pockets, and Ciravegna abandons this to separate the language of painting from painted language.

The origin of the work lies behind the work; language is as a light we hold to the work to see beyond it, and thus to cast shadows upon that which we seek: the image of the world without the work.

Images glow brightly in poetry’s night, whilst pictures dim in language’s bright flame.

The true propositions about the origin the work are themselves works, and imprisoned within this inescapable tautology we strain to distinguish the deafening rush of the river’s way from the murmurs we overhear standing on its banks.


text by Akryd Bel -Chedar




Alberto Ciravegna (b. 1964) studied at the RCA. He lives and works in London.