Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

Welcome to the Spencer Collection

strip painting
  • Brion Gysin
    born: Taplow, England, United Kingdom ; died: Paris, France
  • strip painting, 1961
  • Where object was made: United States
  • watercolor, acrylic on paper
  • Sheet/Paper Dimensions: 25 x 100 cm
    Mat Dimensions: 17 x 44 in
    Frame Dimensions: 17 1/4 x 46 1/2 x 1 in
    Weight: 9 lbs
  • Loaned by the Estate of William S. Burroughs
  • Not on display
  • L1990.004
  • Loan
Label Text

Exhibition Label:
"Brion Gysin: A Selection of Books and Works on Paper," Feb-2005, Steve Goddard and Joanna Sternberg
By the time Gysin adapted his “writing paintings” to the long scroll-like format of the “strip paintings” displayed here, his integration of hand-stamped grids and calligraphic marks reached a chant-like pitch. These works are shot through with subtle patterns and changes that are made verbally manifest in the yellow strip painting which
incorporates parts of Gysin’s poem, “I am that I am.”
In this and related poems Gysin explores the possible
permutations of the words in a short phrase. “I am that
I am” can be seen in the exhibited book, Brion Gysin Let The Mice In, where he explains:

The whole idea of the permutations came to me visually on seeing the so-called, Divine Tautology, in print. It looked wrong, to me, non symmetrical. The biggest word, That, belonged in the middle but all I had to
do was to switch the last two words and It asked a
question: ‘I Am That, Am I?”

The poem can be heard in the selection of Gysin
recordings available in the gallery.