Blackpaint 623 – Ghosts, Outsiders, Vampires and the Steppenwolf

July 8, 2018

A Ghost Story dir. David Lowery, 2017

Clear reference to “Hallowe’en” here in Casey Affleck’s sheety outfit – and maybe also Guston’s Klansmen, but that’s probably pushing it too far.  it’s basically sentimental,  as all ghost stories are (even MR James), relying as they do on some sort of continued existence after death; there are, however, a couple of moments – the Indian attack on the homesteaders and its aftermath, for instance.  The score is metallic and whining, like a lathe or drill and tends to drive the listener to madness for the first, maybe, 15 minutes.

Steppenwolf and Nausea (and the Outsider)

 

I read these two books at roughly the same time, back at the start of the 70s; recently re-read them both and was surprised at how many similarities there were.  Hesse’s novel is from 1926 and Sartre’s 12 years later; both deal with alienation from “bourgeois” society, a disgust and rejection of common values and they share a sense of apartness; the protagonists are outsiders, looking with disgust at their fellow beings,  In the case of Roquentin, Sartre’s hero, the alienation takes the form of a psychological dis-ease, in which things and people lose any meaning and seem almost to congeal in some way.

Obviously, these are just the sort of themes that students would lap up; being an outsider, contempt for the common herd,  being misunderstood, being in some sense special; we loved all that Steppenwolf stuff:  “Magic Theatre Not for Everyone”- and in Nausea: “I had dinner at the Rendez-vous des Cheminots.   Since the patronne was there, I had to fuck her, but it was really out of politeness…”  Yeah!  That’s the sort of thing we Outsiders did, or would have, given the opportunity…

I wonder if these books are still much read by today’s students.

Saatchi Gallery – Known Unknowns, until August.

Sometimes at Saatchi, you get some real pleasures in amongst these lesser-known artists.  Four of my favourites below – Mona Osman’s vampirish cartoons, colourful cowboys et al from Danny Fox, texture in abundance from Daniel Crews-Chubb and mishaps with tables and legs from Stuart Middleton.  Actually, I think Fox and Crews-Chubb might not be part of “Known Unknowns” – not sure, but they’re there anyway.

Mona Osman

 

Mona Osman

 

Danny Fox

 

Daniel Crews-Chubb.   It’s a bit de Kooning Woman, isn’t it?

 

Stuart Middleton

 

Royal Academy Summer Show

I wasn’t that impressed with this year’s summer show and my reaction was only slightly influenced by being rejected yet again.  It all seemed a bit too much like Grayson Perry-type stuff; quirky, trendy, funny, gimmicky.  There’s a portrait of Nigel Farage, for example; but it’s not very good (but it’s not supposed to be, because it’s ironic…)  It  wears thin pretty quickly for me.

RA – 250 years of Summer Show

This, on the other hand, contains some brilliant paintings, Turner, Gainsborough, John Collier’s fabulous “The Prodigal Daughter” (photo was too dark), and this beautiful Sandra Blow and the Kitaj below that:

Sandra Blow

 

The Killer-Critic Assassinated by his Widower Even, RB Kitaj (1997)

 

Enough for now – my seasonally titled piece below (for overseas readers, we in the UK are undergoing something of a heatwave).

Let the Sizzle Begin..  (Collage)

Blackpaint

8.07.17

 

 

 

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Blackpaint 622 – On the Beach and the Aftermath

June 18, 2018

On Chesil Beach (dir. Dominic Cooke, 2017)

A rather slender book from Ian McEwan in 2007, this turned out to be one of his best novels.  A sort of tragedy, brought about, I had thought,  by the ridiculous secrecy and shame surrounding sex in English manners (amongst the respectable classes anyway), it concerns the catastrophic breakdown of a marriage before it even gets started.

The film, for the most part, is true to the period (1962) and the actors are brilliant, especially the central couple Florence and Edward, played by Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle. However, I left the cinema moaning that the film contained a clear suggestion that Florence’s father had abused her sexually, a suggestion which I was sure was not in the book, as was my partner.   Turns out we were both wrong – it’s there in the book, unmistakeable and not even that subtle, yet neither of us noticed it, first time round.

However, McEwan, who did the adaptation for screen himself, has added a couple of other differences; the man who hits Mather and is beaten up by Edward in retaliation, is described in the book as a rocker in a leather jacket, as is his wife/girlfriend.  In the film, they are “respectably” dressed.  This changes the message about 60s England; Mather is assaulted, for his bookish, or more likely Jewish, appearance by a man of conventional society, rather than a rebellious member of a violent sub-culture.

The other difference is that, in the book, Edward and Florence never meet again after Chesil Beach.  In the film, he attends her farewell concert a lifetime later, at the Wigmore Hall, she spots him in the audience, tears run down aged faces and the whole thing sinks into sentimental slush.  And the ageing makeup makes Edward look ridiculous, like an R.Crumb cartoon.

Aftermath (Tate Britain, to 23rd September)

It’s the aftermath of WWI; the question is, of course, when does the aftermath finish and the prelude to WWII start?  Obviously, the war memorials should be in there (fantastic bronze reliefs from Sargeant Jagger, an almost Socialist Realist maquette of a British soldier reading a letter from home and the soaring, Spencerish angel by Ernst Barlach, with Lovis Corinth’s face).  Ditto, the mutilated card players of Dix, Grosz’s precisely drawn cartoons of German amputees, profiteers and prostitutes, Beckmann’s “Night” et al.  But what about Ernst’s  “Celebes”?  Anyway, some wonderful art – my selections below:

 

Stanley Spencer, Unveiling Cookham War Memorial

I think the flanneled youths reclining on the green are war dead.

 

John Heartfield and George Grosz

Reminiscent of Picabia – or maybe even Ed Kienholz (see last blog)?

 

Kurt Schwitters

This great collage apparently demonstrates the need to reassemble the shattered pieces of post WWI Europe…

 

Georges Rouault, Face to Face

There are several more Rouaults, but the tend to have crucified Christs in them, a demerit in my view.

 

Oskar Nerlinger, Radio Mast Berlin

A striking view straight up the tower – you spot this from the preceding room through the archway; very impressive.

 

Oskar Schlemmer

I love his Bauhaus figures; there’s that great painting of the students going up the stairs…

Also numerous paintings of striking and/or marching workers, serene English countryside and serene English ladies, German pigs, a great William Roberts jazz club dance and the top bit of Epstein’s “Rock Drill”

 

Lisa Brice – Tate Britain

There’s a roomful of these at TB at the moment; that blue and red combination is really striking.  Women in various states of undress, sitting around, smoking, drinking…  She’s South African and some of her drawings (in paint) are reminiscent of Marlene Dumas.  At least one looks to be based on a William Rothenstein, which is also in TB, a couple of rooms away.

 

Tomma Abts, Serpentine Sackler Gallery

German Turner Prize winner from a few years back; sort of trompe l’oiel pictures, abstract but resembling twining metal strips, reflected light – they are all the same (small) size, which tends to be undermining when there are a lot of them together.

 

 

Per Kirkeby

He died a couple of weeks ago.   I love those huge, dark canvases he did with the blooms of colour (see below) and the credits to the von Trier film with Bjork, “Dancer in the Dark”.  In his earlier work, like the first one below, he reminds me a bit of Sigmar Polke and even Asger Jorn – but that’s probably because of the variety; books, poetry etc.

Per Kirkeby, A Youthful Trick, 1964

 

Kirkeby, Flight into Egypt, 1996

Manet 

This great self portrait (?) of Manet was on a TV prog called “Great Art” a while back – but no details were given.

On the Beach

Blackpaint

18.06.18

 

 

 

Blackpaint 621 – Abstract All the Way, Today – apart from Two Deers and Picasso

June 9, 2018

The Shape of Light, Tate Modern

An exhibition which explores the way abstract painting and abstract photography have interacted since, I guess, the teens and twenties of the last century up to today.  Consequently, it’s both huge and incomplete.  Some examples below:

 

 

 

 

I didn’t note who the painters and photographers were, but the usual suspects were there – Van Duisberg, Moholy-Nagy, Arp, Kandinsky, Brassai, Man Ray and so on.  I liked Siskind’s scratched brickwork and blistered paint and the views from the top of buildings down stairways of Moholy-Nagy.

Later sections with work by Bridget Riley et al.  Lots of rooms, lots of work and my usual problem with numerous monochrome abstract photos – the skidding eye…

 

Ed Kienholz, America My Hometown, at Blain/Southern (Hanover Square) until 14th July

Like Rauschenburg, sometimes, without the paint swatches mostly, and with a rougher sense of humour.  The exhibition “traces Kienholz’s formative years (1954 – 1967)” says the sheet.

The Little Eagle Rock Incident (1958)

 

The Nativity (1961)

A Gift for a Baby (1962)

The American Way, II (1960)

Kienholz, once resident in the back of the legendary Ferus Gallery, and an associate of Walter Hopps (read Hopps’ memoir as an antidote to the usual art BS), drove a pick up truck with “Expert” blazoned on the side, got his material from scrapyards, made scandalous tableaux (“Hoerengracht” for instance) and was buried – when dead, of course –  in his car.  Fabulous stuff.  See also the film “The Cool School”, about Kienholz, Hoppe, Irving Blum and the Ferus Gallery.

Downstairs at Blain/Southern is Erika Nissinen, a Finnish artist whose work is not easily describable, but is grotesque, funny and requires a visit.

Transcendental Accidents (The Aalto Natives) 2017-18

 

Surface Work – Women Artists at Victoria Miro Mayfair until 16th June – so hurry.

The sheet describes this as an “international, cross-generational exhibition” which is “a celebration of women artists who have shaped and transformed…..the language and definition of abstract painting.”  Others on show include Krasner, Hedda Sterne, Agnes Martin, Lygia Clark. Prunella Clough and loads more.  The Frankenthaler and the Thomas are not typical – there is Constructivist, minimalist, and geometric pieces too.

Helen Frankenthaler – Winter Figure with Black Overhead (1959)

Alma Thomas – Untitled (1961)

Picasso 1932, Tate Modern – yet again + stages of Guernica

I’ve been again, and I thought it might be worth mentioning that there is only one of the 1932 paintings, as far as I can see – or maybe one and a half – in which the central image is not defined by a heavy black or dark line.  No doubt this is because he wanted to establish the image ASAP, fix it so to speak, and get on with the next image looming up in his brain – who knows?  Anyway, it’s this one:

Sorry, rather fuzzy image.

I’ve just been looking at “Dora Maar, with and without Picasso” by Mary Ann Caws (Thames and Hudson, 2000).  In it is a series of photos of the stages of “Guernica”.  I was interested to see that Picasso originally had a long, muscular, worker-victim’s arm with clenched fist, thrusting straight up, slightly left of centre, where the screaming horse’s head is now.  The horse is arguably the most memorable feature of the painting, so he made the right decision.  With the fist, the painting would have been corny propaganda, like those awful peace things he did in the 50’s, with flute-playing rustics wandering about.  It’s still propaganda, but great.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer, dir. Yorgos Lanthimos (2017)

More epater les bourgeois, like The Square – but horrible.  It contains a sequence in which Colin Farrell, blindfolded, spins with a rifle in the midst of his bound and gagged family, and fires randomly…

The set-up of the plot strangely echoes that of the recent ITV serial “Trauma”, with Adrian Lester as a surgeon who is harried by the father of a youth he has operated on, but who died in surgery.  The father discovers the surgeon had been drinking.  In this film, the pursuer is son not father, but in other respects, oddly similar.  Supposedly “venomously funny”, according to the Telegraph.

 

Ghost Geese fly West

Blackpaint

09.06.18

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 620 – Signorelli, Picasso and the Ape in the Museum

May 26, 2018

National Gallery

A new Signorelli, someone up a ladder, probably related to a Crucifixion.  This one’s good, but I have to say, I wasn’t keen on his other big ones – a visit of the Magi and a Circumcision.  The first has one of the worst baby Jesuses I’ve ever seen (and I’ve listed several in previous blogs).  I think Signorelli is much better doing his murals of writhing, fighting demons in his cartoon-like style, like those in Orvieto, for instance.

 

Yes, it’s definitely a baby…

That’s more like it, Luca…

In addition to Signorelli, we were looking at the painting by “Follower of Georgione” and the one by G himself and it struck me that the texture and detail involved reminded me a little of Richard Dadd’s “Fairy Feller’s Masterstroke”.  Fanciful, I know, but then I got another blast of Dadd from the Altdorfer – I think it was the legs of the man on the right…

Follower of Giorgione

Altdorfer

Finally,the big Perugino and the Mond Crucifixion by Raphael, the one with the sun and moon with faces: surely both P and R were using the same model for Mary?

The Square, dir. Ruben Ostlund (2017)

From the director of Force Majeure, this repeats the motif of a smug, liberal, bourgeois male who commits a disgraceful act.  In FM, it was running away from an avalanche, leaving his family; in this film, the guilty man posts accusing letters through all the doors in a block of flats, knowing that his stolen phone and the thieves are in one – but which one?  It has unfortunate consequences for a young boy in one apartment.

The erring male is an art museum director and the scene above is a performance staged at the museum by an actor who imitates an ape.  Of course, he goes too far and begins an assault on a female guest that looks as if it will turn into rape if uninterrupted.  Eventually, one of the suited guests tries to pull him off and the others  join in, punching and kicking.  Funny, and reminiscent of Bunuel, Festen, and maybe Airplane, a little.  Not sure what point, if any, was being made here, however.  Those Swedes, though – they do love to “epater les bourgeois”, don’t they?

More Picasso

As promised last time, some more pictures from the Picasso Year 1932 exhibition at Tate Modern.  Some of them are in hideous frames, so I’ve cropped them out.

Inflatable ladies playing at beachball.

 

One of an impressive Crucifixion series, recalling both Grunewald and Goya’s Disasters of War.

 

This looks like a beautiful flower from across the gallery; pretty good close up too, except that the breasts resemble the eyes of a frightened ghost…

 

Bit of a horror image – her face looks like a stylised Otto Dix trench corpse…

 

Unusual for Picasso (that sounds odd in itself), in that there are no hard lines around the various components of the image.  Great little painting.

 

Continental Drift

Blackpaint

26.5.18

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 619 – Milne, Picasso and Truffaut

May 14, 2018

A long gap since I posted last, due to events as Harold MacMillan put it.  More regular from now on, I hope.

Dulwich Picture Gallery – David Milne

Another Canadian artist at Dulwich.  I’m afraid this exhibition finished last week, but I thought it was worth mentioning.  Milne used a limited palette of four or five colours in most of his paintings, but the effectiveness is not diminished, as you can see.  For my money, the best ones were those where figures are set within the surroundings in such a way as they sink into them.  Look closely at the painting below; it’s a seated woman reading, with a cat on her lap.

Picasso 1932 – Tate Modern

I’ve been twice so far.  It’s staggering, if only for the volume and range of work completed in the year.  If you look at the dates of the works, it appears that he was completing a painting or sculpture a day – this is because he dated the work on the day he decide it was finished.  Sometimes, he probably took a few days to finish!

As far as the pictures go, it’s clear that he was generally uninterested in surface or texture; he gets the image down on canvas and moves on to the realisation of his next idea.  There will be a series of variations on a theme (for example The Rescue, in the final room, in which we see several images of a woman saved from drowning).  Most of the images are stunning; in a few, you feel that he is pushing it – perhaps even taking the piss (can’t think of a more delicate way of phrasing it).

Strangely for a big prestige exhibition like this. you can take photos freely – I’ve got more than I can be bothered to post in this blog, so I’ll put a few more up next time.

 

 

Unusually, a bit of texture in this one, around the face…

 

Taking the piss here just a little?

 

I know this picture well, but unbelievably, hadn’t noticed the resemblance to an octopus.  The exhibition helpfully has a film of the – cephalopod, is it? – next to the painting, so you can hardly miss it.

 

Now, a series of tiny octopuses apparently contained in tins, like sardines.

More on Picasso next blog, which will be soon.

Francois Truffaut (DVDs, boxed set of eight)

I’d always thought of Truffaut as a little bit – soft really; bit slushy.  I think it is the hangover of “quirkiness” from the unwatchable “Jules et Jim”, Jeanne Moreau in a “quirky” cap set at a jaunty angle, dressed as a man (she’s got a pencilled-in moustache  for some reason, I think), running across a bridge, pursued adoringly by the two men in her life.  It’s in the box, but I can’t bring myself to watch it.

The other films. however, were a really pleasant surprise, particularly the three mentioned below.  In “Anne and Muriel”, the triangle is reversed; two sisters to one man – but not at the same time.  Or even within the same time frame.

Anne and Muriel

The Last Metro (1980)

Again, two men, one woman – eventually.  And yes, within the same time frame.  Stars the ice queen Catherine Deneuve, displaying emotion with the merest movement of an eyebrow, the pursing of the lips..

The Woman Next Door

Depardieu again, this time with Fanny Ardant.  The best film in the set, I think, as well as the darkest (even though The Last Metro is set in WW2 occupied France).

 

Crouching Pink

Blackpaint 

14.5.18

 

 

Blackpaint 618 – The World is a Den of Thieves – So Stay Behind the Line

April 9, 2018

Gursky at the Hayward

This finishes on 22 April, so go soon.  No concessions for seniors not on benefits, which is bad for me but probably satisfying if you’re a resentful younger person awaiting the demise of “selfish” baby boomers.  Before entry, we were briskly told to keep behind the lines on the floor in front of the pictures, but were given no further instructions on our behaviour in the gallery.

I had thought that Gursky produced huge, intriguing photos of striking scenes – supermarket shelves, winding motor racing tracks in the desert, panoramic harbours – and yes, these are all there; but he also manipulates the pictures,  adding and/or removing elements from a scene – the river Rhine, straight as a road, dull grey, between dull green banks under a dull sky, for example, has had buildings erased from the skyline and a photo of  museum interior with paintings and sculptures and a nude woman posing is a collage of images making up a fictional exhibition.  One of the pictures in this fictional display is Gerhard Richter’s “Ema (Nude on a Staircase)”,  which is apt, since there are echoes of Richter elsewhere.  A large, grey, ridged expanse of surface turns out to be carpet, but reminds you of Richter’s sea and sky pictures.  A few examples of the pictures below:

 

Rather reminiscent of Ansel Adams’ work, I thought; small and untypical of Gursky…

 

That’s more characteristic; huge and busy.

 

Antarctica, based on a satellite image.

Reading over what I’ve written, I’ve made it sound rather colourless.  There are some stunning examples of colour saturation – another composite image of ocean and islands from satellite images that looks almost like a Lanyon painting, for example; pictures of operatic entertainments from North Korea, a Japanese cityscape, a panoramic view (manipulated?) of Salerno harbour.  And a huge image of two teams at a Formula 1 pitstop, changing tyres or whatever on their team vehicles.  Highly recommended, but remember not to step over the lines…

Fanny and Alexander dir.Ingmar Bergman (1982)

Rewatched this on DVD and struck by the lush sets, costumery and so on, so different from most of the other Bergman films I’ve seen, most of which are set on islands with relatively few actors, pulling carts, chopping wood and having breakdowns.

A mixture of eccentric (and wealthy) family saga and magical realism, it suddenly touches Shakespeare, or maybe Beckett, in  Ekdahl’s speech in the scene above:

“Suddenly death strikes.  Suddenly the abyss opens.  Suddenly the storm howls and disaster is upon us… The world is a den of thieves and night is falling.  Evil breaks its chains and runs through the world like a mad dog.  The poison affects us all… No-one escapes… So shall it be- Therefore let us be happy while we are happy…”  How true.

For a more typical Bergman film – almost a two hander, with Liv Ullman and Bibi Andersson, cooped up together as nurse and mute patient in a house on the seashore, see “Persona” from 1966.  It must have been an influence on Roeg’s “Performance”, with the interplay between Mick Jagger’s rock star and James Fox’s gangster.

Persona, dir.Ingmar Bergman (1966)

Not done much painting lately, due to evil breaking loose and running through the world – but here’s the last one I finished:

 

Den of Thieves

Blackpaint 

10.04.18

 

Blackpaint 617 – Put the Coffee on and Squeeze My Lemon

March 23, 2018

All Too Human, Tate Britain until 27th August – so plenty of time..

A huge and brilliant exhibition, multiple rooms of stunning paintings, but with a few puzzles; the title suggests portraits and figures, the human body/bodies and there’s plenty of that.   There are, however, also city- and landscapes (Auerbach, Kossoff, Bomberg, Creffield, Soutine).  The booklet says “All Too Human explores how artists in Britain have stretched the possibilities of paint in order to capture life around them” – about as general as you can get.  And how about Soutine?  There’s a portrait and a wild expressionist rendition of Ceret, both brilliant, but did he ever even visit Britain?  Booklet says yes, so fair enough.Anyway, below a sample of the best stuff.  I think the best is Bacon’s 1956 “Figure in a Landscape”; never seen it before (unlike most of the other pictures here) – it’s the one with the near abstract swirls of paint and the vivid, smeary blue sky.  I couldn’t find a picture of it, unfortunately.

Lucian Freud, portrait of Frank Auerbach

That bulging forehead and crooked nose, the angle..

 

Freud, portrait of Bella

Looming out at the viewer, those feet…

Euan Uglow, Georgia

Classic Uglow/Coldstream plotting, sculptural accuracy.

 Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

Lovely portrait – but it’s not is it? She paints from imagination, I believe.

In addition to these, there are Bacon triptychs –  Dyer, Rawsthorne – , a roomful of Freuds; a Sickert woman naked in a chilly grey dawn bed; Auerbach and Kossoff churches and streets and parks; Bomberg and followers (Creffield and Dorothy Mead, better than the boss for my money); three Kitajs, two of them (Cecil Court and the Wedding, the one with Sandra, obviously, and Hockney) huge splashes of vivid colour amidst the general brownishness; the weird little girls in Paula Rego’s huge, sinister tableaux.

In the last room, Yiadom – Boakye, Cecily Brown, Jenny Saville and Celia Paul.  Brown’s paintings are always worth looking closely at, to decipher what’s going on.  Celia Paul’s bear a resemblance both to Rego and Soutine, I think.  Brilliant exhibition then – apart from the FN Souza room.  I couldn’t find any pleasure in his flat, dark, spiky images of the Crucifixion et al; they did remind me a little of Wifredo Lam here and there.

 

Roy Oxlade, Alison Jacques Gallery until 7th April (Berners Street, W1)

Oxlade was another Bomberg pupil, but you wouldn’t know it from his work, unlike some of the more slavish acolytes.  He died in 2014, at 85; these are works from the 80s and 90s.

I loved these dowdy, barbaric, cartoonish at times, mostly big old slap-around canvases; repeating images, paint pot and brush, coffee pot (shades of Kentridge), lemon squeezer (shades of Robert Johnson).  I reckon you can see a lot of Rose Wylie in his work and vice versa; not surprising, maybe, because they were married.

Blue Stalks, 1998 

That looks like a Basquiat face, next to the flower pot.

 

Profile and Brushes, 1984/85

I thought this was his version of Bruegel’s Icarus (legs disappearing into the sea) until I read the title.  Hadn’t spotted the profile…

 

Kitchen Knife and Scissors, 1986

Dancing scissors in a stormy landscape of paintpots.

 

Green Curtain, 1996

Oxlade’s Rokeby Venus, maybe – no mirror though.

 

Yellow Lemon Squeezer and Coffee Pot, 1987

Yes, I get that – the lemon squeezer looks like an old fashioned candle holder; everything’s floating and is that a coffee pot which has grown legs? (Kentridge again).

Death of Stalin, dir. Armando Iannuci (2017)

Jason Isaacs as Zhukov

The historian Richard Overy write a very peevish critique of this brilliant film, pointing out errors – the main one I think was that Beria was no longer head of the NKVD when Stalin died.  Were 1500 would -be mourners massacred by the NKVD when they (mourners) came to town?  Nevertheless, the screenplay, based on a graphic novel, apparently, is convincing and so, decisively, is the acting: Palin as Molotov, Buscemi as Khrushchev, above all Simon Russell Beale as the demonic Beria.  Chilling and very funny, but too horrifying to raise a laugh.

Rearview

Blackpaint

23/3/18

 

 

 

Blackpaint 616 – Peevish Charles, Resentful Leavers and the Platypus

February 21, 2018

RA- Charles I Exhibition

Obviously the Holbeins and Van Dycks are the stars of this show – that Van Dyck family portrait with the kids and dog and baby  is noticeably informal, compared to earlier group portraits.  The hunting portrait of Charles, borrowed from the Louvre, is great; I think it’s the satin-clad elbow poking out at you.  On TV, some pundit said the horse in the picture “stole the show”; I say the elbow does.  The triple portrait of Charles on the poster captures a sort of querulous obstinacy; weak-eyed, peevish but with clear indications of an inflexible wilfulness.

Fantastic Mantegna series of the Roman Triumph; tapestries based on Raphael cartoons, especially The Miraculous Draft of Fishes; I’m not keen on that Titian of the man in furs with the big dog jumping up at him.

Leavers and Remainers  (Trauma, Requiem)

Maybe because I’ve just read David Goodhart’s The Road to Somewhere, I keep seeing the two sides in the Brexit vote represented in TV drama.  The John Sims character in “Trauma”, bitter, obsessive, smouldering with self-righteous anger at the doctor who failed to save the life of Sims’ son after he was stabbed.  He’s the Brexiter, of course, hating and pursuing Adrian Lester’s smooth, rich, elite surgeon.

There is also “Requiem”, with the Remainers being the young cellist and her devoted accompanist, the Brexiters being the hostile, defensive Welsh villagers, burning with resentment towards these invaders from London with their nosy questions.  More to both these series of course; probably just my obsession.

The Post, dir. Spielberg (2017)

Very old-fashioned Spielberg film – stirring music at strategic moments, Hanks and Streep doing the Right Thing in defiance of the US government, an admiring group of young women gazing up at Streep as she leaves the courtroom…   I did reflect, though, that the Washington Post’s publishing of the Pentagon Papers would never have happened in the UK, with the various restrictions on the media that can be brought into play here and, indeed, the willingness of the British media to cave in to the government.

Loveless, dir, Zvyagintsev (2017)

The poster said “mesmerising” and “riveting”; can be code for very, very slow…  But, happily, the film is both (mesmerising and riveting, that is).  After “Leviathan”, Zvyagintsev has shifted his focus from politics and the new gangster elites in Russia to the personal; furious, bitter fighting between his divorcing parents lead a Russian teenager to go missing in a forest near Moscow.  Much of the film concerns the campaign by a volunteer group to trace the youngster, setting about the search in a determined and disciplined way, going to considerable lengths to do what the police might be expected to do, or at least, attempt.

Brett Whiteley

I’ve been looking at Whiteley’s work again, and I have to say, he takes collage to stunning lengths; among the objects affixed to various works are the following: teeth, brain (actually a slice on a slide, by the looks of it in the photo), eggs, birds – and a platypus.

To Yirrawalla (1972)

 

Little Van Gogh

I’ve got some pictures with this group, which rents paintings out to offices, moving them around every few months.  Examples below – they’re all mine.

 

Blackpaint

21.2.18

 

Blackpaint 615 – London Art Fair, Saatchi and Angelopoulos

January 30, 2018

London Art Fair

This was a couple of weekends ago, but I thought I might put up some of my favourites:

 

Chloe Lamb

Great little corner of abstracts.  One of her big ones is a little Lanyon-ish (didn’t see any Lanyons this year) but the colours are very strong, I think.

 

Dorothy Mead

Terrific drawing by the Bomberg acolyte.  I actually prefer her stuff to the Master.

 

William Brooker

I put up a photo of a Brooker painting at the fair last year; it was a beautiful table assemblage in that precise Coldstream/Uglow style (see below).  This one of the nude in bed reminds me more  of Sickert, however.

 

Patrick Proctor

Huge, screen-like painting – actually, they ARE screens in the picture, aren’t they?  Great painter, often similar to Hockney.

 

Duncan Grant

Typical Grant piece, maybe a little conventional, but I like it.

 

Iconoclasts – Art Out of the Mainstream, Saatchi Gallery

The Ice Cream Seller, Danny Fox

That blue cheered me up on a cold, dismal morning in the week.

The Professor, Josh Faught

Faught does loose textile pieces hung with bits and pieces, joke cards, badges, a spilt coffee cup, most of which relates to the gay scene in the US.  They are colourful and funny and sad.  I love that spilt coffee disc, made out of resin; had to touch it when the attendant wasn’t attending..

 

Corvid, Kate MccGwire

The external skin of this giant intertwining black sausage is composed of crow feathers – hence the title.

 

Philip Pearlstein, Saatchi Gallery until 25th March

Eight of Pearlstein’s intricate, crowded pictures of pallid, pensive nude women, sort of interacting with various props, mostly by being draped around them.  Sometimes, the toys, animals, dinosaurs and duck lures seem to be eyeing them.

Models and Blimp (1991)

Apparently, they are done from life, although the angles and proportions sometimes suggest photographs.

Theo Angelopoulos

I’ve just completed viewing another box set of this fantastic director’s films.  They are often “stately paced” and solemn; sometimes he lectures you on history through the mouths of the characters; but they are operatic, visually arresting, the ever- present music is plaintive and beautiful.  The Greek and Balkan landscapes are rough and mountainous; it’s often snowing, raining, flooding.  Groups or pairs of weary individuals lug dusty suitcases along empty streets to deserted railway stations, drink in shabby, bare cafes; suited men and women in 40s dresses dance to guitar, sax and accordion jazz in bare dance halls or on promenades, until Fascists. or police, or soldiers show up and everyone scatters; occasional outbreaks of violence, hangings, rapes, shootings – and the slow unrolling of history.  Often, he uses major international actors; Marcello Mastroianni, Harvey Keitel, Irene Jacob, Bruno Ganz, William Dafoe.

Ulysses’ Gaze (1995)

A giant, disassembled statue of Lenin floats down a Greek (or Romanian?) river to a new home.

 

The Weeping Meadow (2004)

Carcases of slaughtered sheep festoon a tree outside the village big house, to signify the neighbours’ disgust at the occupants’ actions.

 

The Dust of Time (2009)

Prisoners of the gulag climb and descend an open stairway in a snowbound Soviet landscape.

 

 

 

Flame Landscapes

Blackpaint

30/01/18

 

Blackpaint 614 – Heavy Metal, Carnal Pots, Wenders and Peakies

January 19, 2018

Hauser and Wirth – Monica Sosnowska (until 10 Feb, 2018)

Polish artist, heavy duty sculptures made from metal and stone/concrete.  One, an L shaped girder, bent as if by a giant hand, with a neat fold; a white cylinder of metal, cut and rolled out – it took me a while to realise how it had been done – and a large concrete mushroom, studded with wrought metal rods.  See photos below.

 

H and W – Jakub Julian Ziolkowski; “Ian Moon” (until 10 Feb, 2018)

Round the corner at the other H and W gallery, Ziolkowsky’s crowded cartoon images, reminiscent of Raqib Shaw (if not as accomplished), forming large. colourful, writhing masses on the walls.  Like Shaw’s work, a multiplicity of sexual organs are very present; you don’t have to look hard to find them.

There are also a number of painted pots in a similar style. rather like large chamber pots.  “Ian Moon” is Ziolkowsky’s alter ego, I believe.

 

 

Photographers’ Gallery – Wim Wender’s Polaroids; Instant Stories (until 11 Feb, 2018)

Annoyingly small (well, they ARE polaroids), hundreds of images, mainly of America, many relating to his films.  I particularly remember a couple of twilight skyscraper – scapes, New York I think, with spear-like negative spaces in deep blue and a series of shots taken from planes.  Dennis Hopper in a cowboy hat is in there too.

 

Photographers’ Gallery – 4 Saints in 3 Acts – A Snapshot of the American Avant-Garde (until 11 Feb, 2018)

Photos of the all-black cast of Four Saints in Three Acts, a modernist opera, libretto by the (white) Gertrude Stein, music by the (white) Virgil Thomson.  Opened on Broadway in 1934.   Predictably, the usual exoticism is present, as can be seen from the pictures below; faint shades of Josephine Baker.  That’s not to disparage the intentions of the Stein and Thomson, or the quality of the music, neither of which are known to me.  In typical old white male style, I forgot to take note of the names of the black cast leaders, thinking the names would be in the info on the leaflet – they’re not.  For the record, they are: Edward Matthews (St. Ignatius); Beatrice Robinson-Wayne (St. Theresa 1); Bruce Howard (St. Theresa 2); Embry Bonner (St. Chavez).  This was the first time that Christian saints were portrayed by Afro-Americans in the USA.

Photos by Lee Miller and Carl Van Vechten are included in the exhibition.

Peaky Blinders DVD

I avoided watching this when it came out; I didn’t think the trailers looked like Birmingham in the 20s – more like Deadwood, with the smoke and the mud and the Chinese quarter.  I thought the accents were dodgy, especially Sam Neill’s Protestant Northern Irishman; I disliked the modern rock theme by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds; didn’t fit with the period.  And I find Cillian Murphy’s pale-eyed, sinister/appealing stare annoying.  And the detachable collars and big, floppy cloth caps with razor blade accessories.  As well as Deadwood, I thought of Les Miserables and even Game of Thrones.

I was given the first three series  on DVD for Christmas, however, and having watched the first, I now think it’s brilliant – as long as you forget Birmingham, the 20s and history.  The violence is operatic, the stories tight, the acting full-blooded, you could say; it’s in a world of its own.  Game of Thrones, even.

I haven’t done much painting over Christmas and New Year, so three so-so lifers to finish with:

Dominic 1,2 and 3

Blackpaint

19.1.18