In her characteristically meticulous style, Vija Celmins juxtaposes an image of clouds and fire, exploring the relationship between illusion and reality, a constant theme in Celmins' oeuvre. The present work is related to House #2 (illustrated), an important early sculpture dating from 1965. Celmins draws inspiration for her work from her memories of her early childhood in Latvia, her experience during WWII as well as the immediate impact of the Los Angeles Watts Riots, which took place same year that both the present work and House #2 were created. The triangle in Untitled from 1965 appears to resemble the peak of a roof of a burning house.
As Celmins stated, "I think mine [my] work was coursed mostly by the chaos of my early childhood in the war. Not that I knew what it was, or that I understood it in any way. Nobody ever talked about it. It was like, this is it, you're born, you're here, you have to deal with it. I was so afraid of being abandoned and lost in it. But later, in the studio, I think I relieved all these things, the burning houses, the aeroplanes, the Latvian school in Germany, my eraser, my little pencils" (Vija Celmins quoted in Vija Celmins by Lane Relyea, Robert Gober, and Briony Fer, Phaidon Press, 2004, p. 15).
With Celmins' mastery, she combines a tangible sense of space with a remarkable amount of meticulous detail; often incorporating the four elements: earth, wind, fire and water into her work. Armed with her palette of blacks and grays, while incorporating the violent flames born from her memories of her Latvian childhood, Celmins renders these limitless spaces with accuracy, often working for months on a single image.