The 100 #59 – Overflow IV…

Overflow 1On my way back from the dentist, located on Vancouver’s north shore, I came across this sculpture. And just when I thought I had exhausted all textual art in this city…

Overflow 2This stainless steel sculpture, titled: OVERFLOW IV is by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa and dated 2007.

Overflow 3I am showing three different angles and really enjoyed the see-through quality of the work – it was solidly present and yet it also tended to disappear or integrate with the sky, buildings, trees and traffic around it. I couldn’t detect any hidden messages in the letters, they are just letters although they also form the outer surface of a seated human figure.

I wondered how much of our perceived reality of ourselves and of the world consists of words (which consist of letters). Mostly we label things with words and symbols and move on. It is maybe only the artist and the poet who see beyond labels.

To see is to forget the name of the thing one sees. – Paul Valery

To define a thing is to substitute the definition for the thing itself. – Georges Braque

Zen is the madman yelling, “If you wanta tell me that the stars are not words, then stop calling them stars!” – Jack Kerouac

‘The 100′ series was initiated by my 100th Post in April 2012. As text and images are the essence of my blog I will post 100 pieces of textual art from historical and contemporary artists and from my own hand. To view the series to date click on ‘The 100’ in my Category Menu.

30 thoughts on “The 100 #59 – Overflow IV…

  1. Hi John, this is an intruiging sculpture, the transparant human figure assimilating with the surroundings. Those letters maybe are like apples growing on trees. We humans have letters? 🙂


  2. A great addition to the series. I’ve always liked this artists work with text. Your quotes included are “spot on”. Didn’t remember the Kerouac quote and so that was a refreshing surprise. Have to add it to my list of favorite quotes. Great post today John. It seems the the nature of language is always the struggle to arrange it in a meaningful way.


  3. I believe that very often we do see the things we want to see and each of us – in our own way. Especially when it gets to art – how many and absolutely different are the interpretations of something one person has created. And this one is definitely a thought – provoking!


    1. Your thoughts are right on Esenga. We necessarily live in world of words, definitions and labels and although we need them they do restrict our seeing and thinking. In passing we look at a tree – we see the label and a convenient tree symbol but not the texture, multi colours, shapes and forms that make up that particular tree. It takes time that most don’t have to stop and really see. We tend to do the same for people – labeling and stereotyping them until we take the time to know them beyond words. At the same time, and as a poet you know, that we can also use words to dissolve the labels and get to the essence…


      1. Yes, John, stereotyping and labeling has become a very usual thing, and there can always be found different excuses – lack of time, lack of interest etc. Yet I would say it’s the simplest way that takes the least effort. Like putting all the art in one pile, music – in another, literature – in the third one. Losing the…surprise, joy, even wonder of looking beyond the surface and discovering.


  4. Fantastic! I love the continuous overflow yet the void is unaffected. Where is this piece John, I would love to see it?
    I totally agree with your comment on the letters/words as I unconsciously looked right past them.
    What a great city we live in!


    1. It’s on the north shore, in the new waterfront park in the 1300 block, Marine Drive, Ambleside Village – just up from the Ferry Building Gallery. Thanks for your perceptive comment Jackie. Did I know we were both Vancouverites? If so I had forgotten – which neighborhood is yours?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s