Posted by: Xhyra Graf | 1 August 2006

Words are no Help

Words are no help to me when I try to speak about my painting.
It is an irreducible presence that refuses to be converted into any
other form of expression. It is a presence both imminent and active.

This is what it stands for: to exist so as to signify and to exist so as to paint.

My painting is a reality which is part of myself, a reality that I cannot reveal in words. It would be easier for me to say what does not need to be painted, what does not pertain to painting, what I exclude from my work sometimes with deliberate violence, sometimes with satisfaction.

Were I a master of an exact and less threadbare terminology, were I a marvelously alert and enlightened critic, I still could not verbally establish a close connection with my painting: my words would be marginal notes upon the truth within the canvas.  For years pictures have led me, and my work is just a way of stimulating the drive.

I can only say this: painting for me is a freedom attained, constantly consolidated, vigorously guarded so as to draw from it the power to paint more.


Alberto Burri, “Words are no Help” (1955) in Andrew Carnduff Ritchie, ed., The New Decade (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1955), 82.

Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artist’s Writings (California Studies in the History of Art ; 35)

Under Section 1. Gestural Abstraction.



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