Since the mid-1960s, the vocabulary of materials of Jannis Kounellis (°1936) has consisted of organic and mineral substances, everyday objectives and steel sheets. His work Senza Titolo (2007) is an association of linen fabric and a metal bed attached vertically to steel sheets. This bed alludes, among other references, to his bed covered in uncarded wool, an emblematic work dating from 1969, now conserved at the Galleria d’arte moderna e contemporanea in Turin.
In this work, Kounelis refers to the formal space of painting while clearly designating the object "bed". The finished linen fabric which is laid on the metal bed structure should be seen as the painter's blank canvas, like a virgin space, a receptacle for every kind of possibility. The idea of the origins of painting lurks in this work. An imaginary territory to be marked out, this blank canvas evokes the "future" of the painting, but also toys with all the connotations connected with the bed as a mundane, everyday item of furniture.
The bed is the place of intimacy par excellence. A place of dreams, of frolics, of rest, of agony, of birth. In this case, it is not usable, because it is installed vertically, but that only makes it all the more symbolic. Kounellis talks to us about practical life experience, but he also addresses mental, affective, political and cultural references.
Whatever we think about this notion of a white sheet, the Shroud of Christ conserved in Turin, the bed of the refugee, the sick person, the death bed, ..., we can but be struck by the false innocence of this white surface. Innocuous at first sight, it becomes more troubling due to its ghostly quality (probably also due to the combination of linen and steel).
Although the bed is an intimate space, the canvas may be seen as a place of exteriorisation, of communication. Kounellis is able to combine these two extremes and produce a work with a powerful presence using commonplace materials: steel sheet, metal bed and linen fabric.
This silent work is left open to contemplation, and gives rise to various interpretations, none of which will be assisted by the title since, as is his wont, he has not given this work a title.