Blackpaint 638 – Asger, Louis, Lorenzo and the Singing Raspberry

February 8, 2019

Amadeo Lorenzato, David Zwirner Gallery W1 until 9th February

You’ll have to hurry if you want to see this one – ends on Saturday!  He’s a Brazilian artist, about whom I have no information; don’t even know if he’s living.  The paintings are small, mostly around 19×15 or 16 inches.  They have a strange, “combed” surface – that’s to say it looks like he’s run a comb through the wet paint.  Most are titled “Untitled” and these three are all undated.  Dates for the others are 1971 – 1993.  There are two that look a little like miniature Hockneys, those treescapes of Yorkshire he’s been doing over the last few years.  The Zwirner Gallery is in Grafton Street.

 

 

 

Asger Jorn, Per Kirkeby, Tal R, Victoria Miro Gallery W1 until 23rd March

Jorn and Kirkeby among my favourite artists; never heard of Tal R and he seems to me to be unlike the other two.  The Guardian reviewed this exhibition last Saturday and dealt only with Tal R, whose works, the reviewer found, concealed perhaps sinister secrets behind the unrevealing facades and fences in his works.

Jorn and Kirkeby both dealt with Scandinavian myth and also with historical themes; Stalingrad and the battle of Copenhagen come to mind, both Jorn, I think.

 

Asger Jorn, “Overlord and Underlings”, 1951

Typical Jorn mythic figures…

 

Per Kirkeby, “Untitled”, 1964

 

Tal R, “punta de chroores”, 2006

That’s not Tal R in the picture, but a punter, rapt, by the look of him.  Oil and pins on cardboard, wood, artist-made frame.

 

Per Kirkeby, “Untitled”, 1964

Very Jorn-like, this one, with the floating jelly fish figure emerging from the black and reaching towards the reddish outline figure (looks like a female symbol or one of those Egyptian crosses, an ankh).

 

Jorn, “Aurorapide”, 67-68

Lovely, thick, swirling paint…

 

Jorn, “Untitled”, 1943

 

Jorn, “Black Lac Blues”, 1960

Great title, great painting – love the crusty, creosote-y surface.

 

Richard Pousette-Dart, Pace Gallery, Burlington Gardens W1 until 20th February

Pousette-Dart is the lost Abstract Expressionist – he was in the famous photo with Pollock, Kline, de Kooning, Rothko et al, Hedda Stern the only woman, in the foreground.  To be honest, the smaller works like that below strike me as not especially great; they look to me a little like surrealist automatic drawings, or maybe the early Rothkos.  Most of the pictures are the usual Ab-Ex size, that is to say huge; they are “all over”, densely coloured and figured canvases like those of Mark Tobey – another “Ab-Ex” who really wasn’t.

Lorenzo Lotto, National Gallery

This is absolutely the best free exhibition in London at the moment; several of the portraits are up there with Holbein – well, nearly, overstated a little maybe – and there is a madonna and child with a couple of saints in which the colours are superlative; Mary’s dress is a sort of raspberry which sings against blues and a lovely ochre.  No photos, I’m afraid.

Louis Malle’s Films

Lacombe, Lucien (1974)

Got a box set of 10 Malle films for £25 from Fopp at Cambridge Circus; same box costs £54 odd at the BFI.  Tragically, Fopp is owned by HMV, so its demise might not be far away, if this Canadian buyer decides not to keep it afloat.  Where will all the old gits like me go to get their CDs, DVDs and vinyl?  Another one gone into the darkness, maybe, like Gaby’s and Koenig and Blackwells a while ago…

Anyway, I’d always thought that Malle was a bit soft, bit romantic; turns out not so.  Seen six so far, and apart from “Zazie Dans le Metro”, they have all been about transgression.  “Lift to the Scaffold” is about murder, both planned and random, “The Lovers”, adultery (and child desertion), “The Fire Within”, alcoholism and suicide, “Murmur of the Heart”, incest (mother and son) and “Lacombe, Lucien”, collaboration with the Nazis and anti-semitism.  So quite strong stuff, but done with a light touch.  His use of music is brilliant too.  Scaffold has Miles Davis, Lovers a Brahms string quartet, Fire, Eric Satie, Heart, Charlie Parker –  and Lucien, Django Reinhardt.  I can’t think of a more exciting opening than Lucien tearing along country lanes on his bike to the strains of Django and Grappelly tearing through “Swing 42”.

 

Dream South Bank

Blackpaint

07/02/19

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Blackpaint 637 – Bonnard, Nolan and Lift to the Scaffold

January 31, 2019

Bonnard, Tate Modern

I can’t really recommend this show too highly; I’ve been looking forward to it for weeks, been twice already and like everyone else, took photos of everything possible.  The colours are beautiful; mauves, blues, oranges, yellows (don’t know why I’m listing them, you can get a fair idea from my crappy, fuzzy snapshots below – all the good, clear ones were taken by my partner.

I was surprised at Adrian Searle’s negative review in the Guardian; despite giving a reasonably fair assessment of Bonnard’s achievement, he ended by saying he couldn’t get away from it fast enough.  No accounting for taste and Bonnard WAS a pretty dyed-in-the-wool bourgeois – he certainly looked it, anyway.  I suppose it’s all a bit old, white, privileged, domestic, smug, middle-class for Guardianista taste – but at least he’s Euro, not British.  Wonder what he thinks of Matisse?

One thing Adrian Searle is right about is Bonnard’s wobbly portrayals of people.  The faces are pretty rudimentary; Monchaty, his lover, for example, in the first real portrait in the exhibition.  One of the Marthes, emerging from the bath(s), actually looks like a sea lion to me.  Now and then, though, they are close to Degas.  While I am on about resemblances, here’s a few:  Peter Doig, Klimt, Degas, Vuillard, Goncharova, Van Gogh.  Didn’t bother with titles; too crowded to get them.

Something that the exhibition touched on was Renee Monchaty’s suicide, after Bonnard had decided to marry Marthe.  It didn’t say that Bonnard found her body in the bath.  This is of interest, given that Bonnard spent years after, painting Marthe in, and getting out of , the bath – you’d have thought he would avoid the setting.

 

.

Very fuzzy – a bit Vienna Secessionist, I think, with that monumental prone nude on the wall.  Dodgy armpit..

 

 

Detail of a garden – Doig-y?

 

Unusual sharpness to door frame.

 

In one of the rooms, some frames have been removed – I think the result is a big improvement on those great wooden gilt jobs.

 

Very poor photo, great painting, VAST bath (in one picture, it looks to be floating about six feet off the ground.  I think some of the background is reminiscent of Klimt.

 

Love the various planes of colour in this and the woman just visible through the opening.

 

Bonnard’s windows and doors are often wobbly; when the scene is outside, it can look like a heat shimmer.

 

 

Very unusual scene for Bonnard; non-domestic setting, lots of people.  Placement and execution of distant figures rather like Lowry, the colours pastel-like.

 

This one says Van Gogh to me (or might, if it was a person, not a painting…)

 

I love the orange cow, or calf, on the left – that’s where I got Goncharova from.  The painting’s massive, by the way.

 

Lovely painting – no comment necessary.

 

Ditto.

Sidney Nolan, BBC4

Some stunners in this great programme last week – and also some not so stunning (to my eye, anyway).  I was surprised that some of his portraits, especially the early ones, reminded me a little of (early) Lucian Freud; some of the later ones, veiled and distorted, of Bacon.  Here and there, you could see vegetation and rock as Bacon would have rendered it – and also, maybe, Michael Andrews.  And an echo, sometimes, of John Bellany (maybe that should be the other way round, but anyway).

 

 

 

 

touch of Brett Whiteley here?

Lift to the Scaffold, dir Louis Malle (1958)

Doing what the French do best.

Otherwise known as Elevator to the Gallows, tense, clear, cold film noir with perfect Miles Davis music and beautiful Jeanne Moreau, haunting rainy Paris by night, searching for her lover (Maurice Ronet, above right) – who is stuck in the elevator, after killing her husband on the top floor.  Like a fool, he left the rope and grapple he used to scale a couple of floors to the victim’s office, dangling from the balcony and had to go back to get it….  A couple of juvenile delinquents, as they used to be called, nick his car and his gun and go on a spree, just to complicate matters further.

Here’s mine for this week:

Slouching to be Born

Next blog – Bill Viola and Michelangelo at the RA.

Blackpaint

30.01.19

 

 

 

Blackpaint 636 – Vishniac, Wallace, Schiele and the Giant Slug

January 24, 2019

Roman Vishniac, Photographers Gallery, until 24th February

Unique and fascinating photos of  life in pre – war Jewish ghettos in Poland, resettlement camps in Europe and Israel after the war as well as war-ravaged Germany and miscellaneous pictures of life in the USA at that time (is that Josh White on guitar? it is!) .  A selection below:

Somehow, looks earlier than 1935; I would have guessed the early 20s, or even 1919 – the soldiers look more like Freikorps than regulars…

 

Berlin street –  see the statues over the doorway.

 

Pre-war Berlin – love the saint/patriarch on the right, watching the men up the ladders.

 

Wallace Collection – Manchester Square W1.

Great paintings in an ornate – to put it conservatively – setting; in fact, I find the gold leaf and plush a bit too rich for my taste, but it fits the paintings right enough.  As usual, a few of my favourites below:

 

Esaias Boursse

A beautiful little jewel of a painting – look at the bonnet and the fabrics; super realism, visual poetry.

 

Gabriel Metsu

Reminded me of that Velazquez with the fish and the servant woman in the foreground and Christ in the room behind..

 

Van Der Velde

A couple of lovely seascapes by the master.  The frames are just too much for me, so I cropped the second one.

 

Van der Velde

 

Watteau

An early Dejeuner sur l’herbe, but without the nude woman and the men in top hats – so nothing like it really… but still….

 

Jan Weenix

Weenix had to be included, both because I like his name and because he is the master of dead game, especially hares.

Plenty more to look out for: more Watteaus and Lancrets, a Canaletto with a tiny Dutch flag on a vessel exactly equidistant from left and right side of the canvas (well spotted, Bernard); and some interesting Richard Bonningtons – I’d thought he did intricate scenes of ships’ rigging and the like, but some nice theatrical pictures here.  And some lovely Rubens sketches.

 

Renzo Piano, RA – ended 20th January, unfortunately.  

I felt I had to include this building, which I think is a film museum in New York – it looks like a big slug to me.  I rather like it.

 

Egon Schiele at the RA, on with drawings by Klimt  until 3rd Feb- a couple more.

Some homosexual activity to offset the risque pictures of women I posted a couple of weeks ago…

 

…and back to women…

The Passenger, dir Michelangelo Antonioni (1975)

This is on at the BFI at the South Bank in a new print.  I watched it on my DVD.

The three main characters in one shot – Jenny Runacre, with the long legs, in the phone booth; Jack Nicholson with his back to us; and Maria Schneider with the bag.  Don’t know who the receptionist is.

One of the things about this film is the scene at the end, in which a character is shot in a hotel room, while the camera gazes from the room’s interior at the window through which the fatal shot is fired.  I’ve watched it over and over, and I still can’t pinpoint it.

 

Detail of “Golem“, one of my old ones.  Next blog – Bonnard at the Tate Modern.  Nice.

Blackpaint

24/01/18

Blackpaint 635 – London Art Fair

January 17, 2019

London Art Fair, Angel, until Sunday 20th January 2019

This is only on for the next three days, so I’m rushing out this special edition of Blackpaint’s Blog to give the world my highlights – which are as follows: (hardly any words this time – but few necessary, really)

William Nicholson

 

Albert Irvin

 

Euan Uglow

 

Adrian Heath

…and a whole wall of Adrian Heath – or half of it, anyway

 

Martin Brewster

detail from the Brewster – love that scraping…

 

John Hubbard

 

Didn’t get the name of this artist (Stephen somebody) but I love the rough, built-up surface – it’s like a mixture of Roy Oxlade, say, and Leon Kossoff.  There’s a whole room of these, and they’re great.  (28th Jan – It’s Stephen Newton.  Apologies to Stephen for not getting the name before)

Rose Hilton

The top one called to me across a crowded room; pity about that frame.

 

Peter Kinley

Not keen on the yellow, but I like the rest…

Audrey Grant

I loved these figure studies – the bottom two remind me of a famous de Kooning, I think it’s called “The Visit”.

 

Patrick Procktor – Terrific portrait; I think it’s exhibited by the Redfern Gallery.

Again, didn’t get artist’s name, but thoroughly endorse the sentiment.

 

As always, one of mine to finish-

Still Life with Hyacinths and Milk Jug 

Blackpaint

17/01/19

 

Blackpaint 634 – Review of the Year; a Jaundiced and Unbalanced Appreciation…

January 2, 2019

Exhibitions of the Year

Great shows this year:  All Too Human (Tate Britain), with that Bacon landscape and Freud’s portrait of Frank Auerbach; Charles 1 (RA) with the giant Mantegnas and Van Dyck silks and satins; Aftermath (Tate Britain), with the airborne Kathe Kollwitz, Grosz, Beckmann, Kirchner, Dix and some British artists too; and, obviously, the Bellini-Mantegna show at the National Gallery.  And, obviously, the Picasso 1932 (Tate Modern).

Of the big ones, I enjoyed Bellini/Mantegna the most, as well as Oceania at the RA, but since this is totally my blog and I don’t have to bother with paying due respect, my favourite shows were as follows:

Roy Oxlade at Alison Jaques

Amy Sillman, Camden Arts Centre

Ed Kienholz at Blain Southern

Howard Hodgkin at Gagosian

Joe Bradley, also Gagosian

Disappointment of the Year

Ribera at Dulwich Picture Gallery- fantastic;  but just not enough HUGE flayings (I think they’re at the Prado).

 

Photography

Alex Prager and Tish Murtha at Photographers Gallery – totally different, but both fascinating.

 

Films

Cold War (Pawlikowsky) – hands -down winner on a number of fronts, including music, cinematography, acting and just seriousness really.  I thought the ending was unnecessarily final…

Roma (Cuaron) – Christmas Eve film at Carlton Soho; Black and white, set in Mexico in 1970 ish, examines the relationship between a young Indian maid/nanny and her middle-class, European descended employers.  Shares all the attributes of “Cold War” except the music and has some real “wake-up” set pieces: street riots, a murder in a department store, a nail-biting childbirth sequence in a chaotic hospital, a near drowning – but none of this is melodramatic. in the sense that it somehow emerges from and sinks back into the main narrative, if that makes sense.  The martial arts and the airplane are good too.

TV

Trust

Great on every level; Donald Sutherland, Luca Marinelli, Hilary Swank – the whole cast brilliant.  Superlative.

Snowfall

Gets better all the time – except now, the great Mexican boxer is dead and his lover bereft…

The Sinner

One or two unbelievable moments (I use “unbelievable” in terms of the series’ own logic, not real reality); “They” would never have allowed Bill Pullman’s detective to take a convicted murderer on an outing alone.  Very tense and steamy, notwithstanding.

John Minton – Mark Gatiss’ absorbing documentary on the illustrator/painter.

Sad deaths this year – well, these are the ones I’m sad about

Tony Joe White – grinning rocker from the swamps

Dudley Sutton – best known as Tinker in Lovejoy, but he’ll always be the baby-faced killer in “The Boys” to me.

Some of my pictures to end with, as always:

Ochre Back

The Southern Ocean

Blackpaint

2/1/19

Happy New Year (if it is your new year)

 

Blackpaint 633 – Joe Bradley, Brent Wadden, Bellini, Mantegna and Me

December 24, 2018

Joe Bradley, “Day World”,  at the Gagosian W1

I’m sorry to say that it’s too late to see these great paintings at the Gagosian – the exhibition finished a week or so ago.  Even so, I think it’s worth putting the photos up, so readers might look Bradley’s work up online.

As can be seen, they are rough-surfaced in places and generally  “painterly” – hate the jargon – one or two resemble street art with their broken, spattered surfaces.  I think they have that shimmery quality that some of Rothko’s have and the bright palette of, maybe, Albert Irvin?  Maybe that’s pushing it, but I really like them.

 

Hard Time

 

High Rise

 

Black Peter

 

Day Rite

All the works are dated 2018; apart from “Hard Time” (and the drawings I haven’t mentioned), they are all over 200 cms each way.

 

Brent Wadden at the Pace Gallery until 10th January

By way of total contrast – well, actually, they are similar in size and all done this year – are these pieces, which are “handwoven fibers, wool, cotton and acrylic on canvas”.  I didn’t like them at first, thought they were well-crafted but anaemic – but I find they have grown on me.  I like the awkward, crooked join-ups in the middle and the way that the one at the bottom looks as if it’s painted with wide sweeps of emulsion and scraped a bit with a …scraper thing.

 

 

 

 

They are all titled “Untitled”.  Bradley was born in 1975 in Maine, now living in New York;  Wadden is slightly younger (1979) and was born in Nova Scotia, now living in Berlin and Vancouver.

Bellini and Mantegna at the National Gallery

Bellini Resurrection

It turns out that that they were brothers in law, Mantegna a few years older.  Giovanni Bellini was influenced by Mantegna at first; the latter was sort of self-made, while Bellini’s family were painting “royalty” in Venice.

The early, smaller ones (Georgione size) by both painters had those weirdly shaped, sharply defined rocky landscapes; Bellini later gave up on deserts and reverted to lush Italian landscape backgrounds instead.

Some paintings, by both, are startlingly bad.  A Bellini piece, “Feast of the Gods”, looks like a bunch of drunken peasants, one with a shiny comedy helmet; the women have the serene Bellini faces – see his Madonnas, usually that teenage babysitter model – but strangely distorted, one with a flattened nose…  Another, early one has a really unconvincing desert backdrop like stage scenery.  And that Christ in the painting above, emerging from the tomb and shooting straight up in the air with no muscular movement, like a cardboard cutout.  Worse, though, is a Mantegna of Christ being lifted up by two angels, they look like a singing trio.

But – some are fantastic.  There is a beautiful St Jerome by Bellini (again, Georgione comes to mind) and the Loredan.  This latter is oil on poplar and is rich and gleaming; some of the others, on canvas, are rather dry surfaced.  As for Mantegna, there are three of those huge ones of Caesar’s triumphal march that were in the Charles I exhibition at the RA a while back.  I like the one with the elephants and the grinning horse.  Much more to say, but I want to publish this before Christmas.

Venice Marathon October 2018

That’s me in the Vietcong headband, with my number one son, about to finish in the rather unusual prevailing conditions.  Two more sons, somewhere ahead in the water.

 

Two recent pictures to end with-

 

Still Life with Blue Vase on Fire

Blackpaint

 

Mystery  Train to Nowheresville on the Lost Highway

Blackpaint

24.12.18

 

 

Blackpaint 632 – Horse Head, Flick Knife and Trick Mirrors

December 15, 2018

British Museum Print Room – New Acquisitions

Great prints, from Rembrandt to Auerbach and beyond, a small sample of which follows – annoyingly, I didn’t take note of all the names, but decided to trust my memory (not a good decision).  However, you get an idea and can look it up online, no doubt…

 

James Ward

 

Did know who did this, but now forgotten…. oh yes, Villon, Marcel Duchamp’s brother

 

Fred Williams

 

Afro

 

Bea somebody, an Australian

Another forgotten name….

Always worth keeping tabs on the Print Room at the BM, they mount some excellent exhibitions and they’re free to get in.

The Boys, dir. Sidney J Furie (1962)

Another excellent recent resurrection on the Talking Pictures channel, a story of four Teds, attempting to have a night “up West” on virtually no money between them, creating minor disruption in dance halls, cinema queues, aboard a bus and in the street, who wind up charged with the murder of a nightwatchman at a garage, killed in the course of a robbery that nets 15 shillings (75p).

The story emerges in flashbacks during the courtroom examinations and cross examinations and the cast list is distinguished, if you are British and of “a certain age” – otherwise, it will mean nothing.  Richard Todd and Robert Morley as prosecution and defence barristers, Felix Aylmer as the judge, Patrick Magee as a parent, Wilfred Brambell as a lavatory attendant…  “The Boys” themselves are: Ronald Lacey, Jess Conrad, Tony Garnett (later a distinguished director and collaborator with Ken Loach) and finally, the wonderful Dudley Sutton (above, with the flick knife, cleaning his nails in the totally unthreatening and unprovocative manner he uses habitually in the film).  Another baby-faced tearaway, like Richard Attenborough as Pinky in “Brighton Rock”, Sutton has a memorable scene just standing, legs apart, engrossed in cleaning his nails, in the doorway of a snooker hall, unsettling the occupants for some reason…  The other boys are excellent too and there are the location shots, which make it worth watching alone.  And yes, there WAS a film called “Hungry for Love”, in English anyway, with Signoret, Mastroianni and Riva; that’s the film showing where the boys disturb the queue.

Dudley Sutton’s best film work, I think, unless with Ken Russell and Vanessa Redgrave in “The Devils”, tossing a charred bone, remains of Oliver Reed, to the demented Mother Superior, Redgrave….

Space Shifters, Hayward Gallery

Some big names from the west coast “Cool School”, Larry Bell and Ken Irwin, and also Anish Kapoor and Yayoi Kusama, with a flood of silver reflecting spheres the size of bowling balls, but with no spots on them, or penises attached;  basically, this is a set of novelties and illusions, distorting mirrors and such like.  I was craving paintings within a few minutes, but none were forthcoming.

 

 

Distorting mirrors, like an old fairground (read “The Dwarf”, Ray Bradbury short story, in “The Small Assassin” collection).

 

See those rocks?  They look green through the glass, but are in fact silver – or have I got that the wrong way round?

 

Burne-Jones, Tate Britain (again)

A few more from the BJ; I thought the figures on the right below were very reminiscent of Michelangelo’s Sistine altar wall:

 

 

Great Perseus and Andromeda here, giving us a frontal view of A (see back view in last blog):

 

Atlas – hated this, included it as contrast to P and A above.

One of mine to finish, as always:

Oceanic Divide

Blackpaint

15.12.18

 

 

 

Blackpaint 631 – Oceania, Klimt and Schiele – All in the Best Possible Taste

December 5, 2018

Oceania, RA – Closes 10th December!

Fantastic exhibition, this – above, canoe splashboards, on which the decoration is superficially, but noticeably similar to Celtic motifs.  Not what makes them good, of course, but just in passing.  Most of the exhibits are from Papua New Guinea, Hawaii, the Solomons, Tonga, Admiralty Islands, etc.; memorable ones are (deep breath):

canoes with carved animals and prostrate human figures, HUGE steering paddles, aforementioned Celtic- style splashboards, a totemic column (?) with figures climbing it, fantastic double- headed god carved in wood, Hawaiian heads with Teddy Boy hairstyles and huge, grimacing jaws, scowling, pop-eyed masks covered with tiny orange feathers, pearl shell eyes, dog’s teeth, the deity from the Empson poem (I think), encrusted with little figures, strip cartoon wooden gravings, one telling the story of a man with a penis long enough to bridge a lagoon, navigation maps composed of shells and string, triangular faces and breasts, women and men with Egyptian-style cylindrical beards (?), fearsome clubs, whale dentistry… and tons more, all done with consummate skill, imagination and taste as well as meeting specific practical and spiritual requirements.

Additionally, there is the enormous moving – diorama? – by Lisa Reihana, that was at last year’s Venice Biennale, depicting the arrival of the Europeans in a sort of composite Oceania – some great dancing by grass-skirted maidens and muscular young men, wrestling – no judo moves, I was interested to note – and a group of white-painted, naked male figures, surely Australian aboriginals, performing an emu dance… Had to leave at this point, so I missed the interaction with Captain Cook’s men, which was a pity as that was the political point of the whole thing.

I’m afraid that I have treated the whole thing as a series of beautiful objects that tickle my aesthetic tastebuds, devoid of their context, stripped of political, historical, cultural, social significance – but the reader can probably get that elsewhere, or work it out for… themself?  My advice is to see it soon – closes on 10th December

Klimt and Schiele Drawings, RA

This is upstairs from Oceania, in the Sackler Gallery of the RA.  When we went, it was absolutely packed, which goes some way toward explaining (but not excusing) the slightly blurred nature of the photos – had to take them fast, whilst being jostled.  Klimt: delicate, light but beautifully accurate, daring but tasteful poses… Schiele – not so much.  But I love them… On until 3rd February 2019.

Klimt

 

Klimt

 

Schiele

 

Schiele

 

Schiele

 

Some People, dir. Clive Donner (1962) on Talking Pictures Channel

Recently shown on my now favourite old films channel, I remember seeing this at the pictures – I must have been 13 or 14.  It’s a bit worthy, being a sort of advert for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, which the star, Kenneth More, was concerned with.  It has some great shots of Bristol in the 60’s but what I’d completely forgotten was a motorbiking sequence, resulting in a hair-raising accident involving a removals van.  Also starring Ray Brooks (Cathy Come Home) and David Hemmings again.

Ray Brooks and Angela Douglas – the black actor (I think his name in the film was Jimmy) isn’t in the Wikipedia cast list…

Faces in the Crowd

Wrote about this great Whitechapel show from 2005 last week; below, this astonishing photo of Rockwell, leading American Nazi, in uniform, with henchmen, surrounded by suited African-Americans.  I assume this extraordinary juxtaposition came about because the Black Muslims advocated a form of separation of the races…

Eve Arnold’s shot of Lincoln Rockwell at Black Muslim meeting

 

Below, my latest effort, based, as can be seen,  on a photo of the large police station just off the Strand…

 

Just Off the Strand

Blackpaint

5.12.18

 

 

Blackpaint 630 – The Frenchman, the Sea Monster and the Swinging Light-Bulb

November 20, 2018

Edward Burne-Jones, Tate Britain

That glowing orange – red dress curving in its folds to the left is quite something….

….as is the fabulous female back in Perseus and Andromeda but spoilt, I think by the casual model-ish, stance, that makes her look a bit too pretty somehow; better if she’d been in water up to the thighs maybe.

 

Andromeda looks quite unconcerned as Perseus takes on the dragon, as if she doesn’t care who the victor will be.

Lots of well- muscled male buttocks on display in this huge exhibition of huge paintings; a little reminiscent of the recent Queer Art show, especially Duncan Grant’s swimmers.  Also, funny how these mythical maidens and warriors always carry Nazi associations for me – Wagner, Rhine maidens and all that, of course, but I think Ken Russell is also responsible.

Wonderfully skilled painter, great compositions, range of talents (tapestries, for instance)

Callan

My Christmas gift was box sets, in B&W initially, then colour, of the surviving episodes of this great series from the 60s.  It has the most haunting theme tune, played as a light bulb swings before the troubled eyes of Callan and then shatters as a bullet strikes it.

Callan left, Meres background

Callan is an ex-soldier and convict, brilliantly played by Edward Woodward, who is, reluctantly, employed by the Section, a very secret (illegal?) state security organisation, led by a series of toffs, each one codenamed “Hunter”.  “Hunters” are short-lived; there have been four so far, in the 12 episodes I’ve watched –  two of them killed, one by Callan himself.  The body count is high, male and female and the range of murderous agents Callan has had to take on is wide and interesting: old and new Nazis, KGB of course, Czechs, East Germans, OAS veterans (Algerian war) -even a British mercenary officer.  Callan operates in a constant state of barely controlled rage at his public school bosses and fellow agents.

My memory of the series was at fault in one very important aspect: I remembered Callan as a sort of semi-detached assassin, who was allotted a target, paid and was then on his own, especially if caught.  Actually, he is on the payroll and in fact, is the moral centre of the series; the others, especially Meres (Anthony Valentine) and Cross (Patrick Mower) are odious posh boys, lacking anything by way of a conscience.

One aspect of the series, peculiarly, reminded me of modern TV – Callan’s thoughts, like those of Mitchell and Webb in “Peep Show”, are often revealed in voice-over, as he searches a flat or lies in wait.

Faces in the Crowd,  2005, Whitechapel Gallery

Eduard Manet, Masked Ball at the Opera (detail)

I recently acquired the catalogue (above) for this terrific exhibition that I visited at the time but had completely forgotten.  It consisted of paintings, photographs and posters, including work by Manet, Picasso, Beckmann, Magritte, Kirchner, Sander, Walker Evans, Bomberg, Warhol, Bacon, Sickert, Giacometti…. and a hundred more.

Two fascinating facts I have learned from the catalogue: male harlequins are popularly supposed to be able to breastfeed – and Picasso apparently included harlequin figures in some of his sketches for “Guernica”.

Tony Joe White 

RIP.  See him on “Country Rock at the BBC”, tearing up “Polk Salad Annie” with a burning cigarette stuck on the end of one of his guitar strings; “Polk Salad Annie – the ‘gators got your Grannie (chomp, chomp)”…

Tony Joe also wrote “A Rainy Night in Georgia”; enough for one lifetime.  Honey-dripping voice, shit-eating grin.

 

The Frenchman

Blackpaint

20.11.18

 

 

 

Blackpaint 629 – Venice under Water and Anni Albers at the Tate

November 2, 2018

Venice under Water

Just back from flooded Venice, where I ran the 33rd Venice Marathon with my three sons, to raise money for Myeloma UK and to celebrate, if that’s the right word,  my 70th birthday.  This year, the conditions were the worst ever, at least for us slower ones ; a blasting headwind, driving hail into one’s face for several kilometers on the long bridge over the lagoon, followed by a step into calf-deep salt water on the car-free touristy stretch.  Sloshing on to St.Mark’s Square, with some desultory jogging over the seven or eight ramps to the finish by Giardini.  The day before, we were laughing at the tourists buying blue, orange and green galoshes; the day after, my eldest son had to go out early and find four pairs for us at E20 a pair.  BUT I did spot a peregrine falcon, cruising among the gulls in the red dawn sky over the Grand Canal, on the way to the start.

What has all this to do with art, you say?  Well, not a lot, but on the Monday (a dry day- the water comes and goes quickly with the tide and the wind), we came across the following, in a silent campo with several trees and surrounded by cloisters, on the other side of the island near Ospedale, and opposite the cemetery island:

Church of St. Francesco della Vigna

Big, white austere frontage with two huge bronze(?) statues, one a Moses horned like Michelangelo’s,  looming from alcoves about halfway up the wall – it’s got the feel of an abandoned Hawksmoor church about it (it’s not, of course – it’s Palladio; and it’s not abandoned).  And there’s the cloisters and no-one about at midday, a miracle in Venice.  In the gloom inside, there are a couple of great Veroneses, Tiepolo and the Negroponte below;  a fantastic painting, and no, I’d never heard of him before.  You have to drop a 50 cent piece in a box to get lights on the pics for a minute or so, like with the Bellini in S. Zaccaria.

 

 

Holy Family with Saints Anthony Abbot, Catherine and the infant John the Baptist, Paolo Veronese

Look at those fabrics, especially Catherine’s.

 

Resurrection of Christ, Veronese

 

Virgin and Child Enthroned, Fra Antonio da Negroponte

 

Another view of the above.  Love those putti swimming about in the sky under God, and the birds at the bottom; you can just make out a duck (mallard?) on the left and a hoopoe, last but one on the right.

Anni Albers at Tate Modern

I have to admit that this is not amongst my favourite exhibitions of all time, although I acknowledge the skill involved and the quality of the textiles displayed.  It’s all a bit too brown, grey and beige for my taste (although the examples I have picked to photograph seem to contradict that – because I picked ones I liked, I suppose).

I think you can see a resemblance to Paul Klee’s work in the second example especially; the interlacing tendrils in the 4th and 5th remind me of Brice Marden’s patterns – and maybe there is even a touch of Sean Scully in the pieces in general.  I thought the bedspread was nice, but better in a furniture showroom than an art gallery.  Yes, I know about the Bauhaus ethic of producing “practical”items, teapots, plates, chairs etc – I just like Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns and Joan Mitchell and the AbExes better.  No doubt, a major failure of taste and intelligence on my part, but I am an old white man, after all.

 

I really like this one.

 

But not so keen on this.

 

Crap frame.

 

An apology

First one above is blurred and I’m not sure it’s the right way up.

Trust (FX, Simon Beaufoy, Danny Boyle et al, 2018)

The US made, Simon Beaufoy version of the Getty kidnapping has to be the best thing on British TV this year.  Donald Sutherland is turning in a brilliant performance as the old man (Venice connection here – “Don’t Look Now” of course, and Fellini’s “Casanova”) Luca Marinelli, Hilary Swank.. well, they’re all terrific, as is the soundtrack, as is the camerawork and the script.  Shades of Godfather obviously, but also Fellini, I thought – or maybe the Sorrentino of “Il Divo” and “The Great Beauty”.  And there was all that hype about “the Bodyguard”…

Pictures of mine to finish with:

Rain over the Sound

 

Still Life with Milk Bottle

Blackpaint

02/11/18