Tuesday, 12 February 2013

William S. Burroughs exhibition: All out of time and into space.

William S. Burroughs exhibition: All out of time and into space. At the October Gallery, Bloomsbury. http://octobergallery.co.uk/

The first time I spoke with William Burroughs was in 1994, the year after he'd announced his IOT membership. It was a phone introduction. Bob Williams called him and handed me to the phone. At some point, I asked him what he was working on. 'Painting,' he said. 'I paint with a toilet plunger. It saves time.'

Two years later, I met William Burroughs, at his home in Lawrence, Kansas. By then, Bob Williams had gone into space for the last time, and his widow Stephanie and their close friend Douglas took me there. So I finally got to see the paintings. Toilet plungers was only one part of it; he was painting and collaging with a vast range of objects. He was seeking allies, life-forms, in the aleatoric bumps and pits and scrolls of squashed ink, gunshot holes, burn marks.

He found them; his artwork is alive with non-human sentiences, some of them parts of people or culture, many of them more puzzling and weirder still.

And some more familiar: 'Radiant Cat' is just that; 'The Last Rocket Out' is the outline of a phallus; a spray-made silhouette of a handgun seems to shoot (toxic) dust in 'Spoor of the fungus on a whispering South Wind.'

I shan't describe the pieces in detail, the gallery's own people do that better than I can. Rather, I shall rush to publish this in the hope it is not too late for some of my readers to get along to it before Saturday (16th Feb). It is very special.  

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