Blackpaint 653 – Belem and Burns, Lisbon and Vietnam

September 15, 2019

Centro Cultural de Belem, Portugal

Just back from Lisbon, with a plethora of images from several of the brilliant art museums in and around the city.  I’m impatient to get some of these out so there will be an absolute minimum of my usual perceptive and trenchant comment – sorry.  This museum in Belem has a collection that is so extensive that it matches the Thyssen – Bornemisza collection in Madrid.  So here goes:

Alan Davie

Belem is particularly good on British pop art, as can be seen…

 

Pauline Boty

Obvious similarities to the famous Peter Blake self portrait with badges.  Martin Gayford compares the Blake picture, interestingly, to Watteau’s “Pierrot”, in Modernists and Mavericks.

 

Alan Jones

 

Larry Rivers

Why isn’t there a Taschen or some other book on Rivers?  I love his stuff.

 

Ed Kienholz

 

 

Martial Raysse

Not well enough known in UK; ideas man, like say Richard Hamilton.

 

William Scott

Strangely Klimt-like, superficially

Willem de Kooning

Not a great one, but any DK worth a photo, I think.

 

Karel Appel

Out of order really; Kline should go follow DK – but who cares?  There was a nice Asger Jorn to go with Appel but it was too dark…

 

Franz Kline

No comment necessary – so, no comment.

 

George Vantongerloo

Deserves inclusion for the name, even if the work were no good – which it is (good, I mean).

 

Max Ernst

Again, out of place here,  but definitely the best of the extensive surrealist section.

 

James Rosenquist

 

Andy Warhol

 

Derek Boshier

Some more from Belem and from the Gulbenkian and other collections in Lisbon next blog.

The Vietnam War, Ken Burns 

I’ve been watching the repeats of this great series – finished here a week or so ago – by turns horrifying, desperately sad and infuriating (My Lai and Tet, survivors and families on all sides and the deception practised by the succession of US presidents involved).  I thought Burns did a staggering job of even-handed analysis – there are those, however, who regard even this as something of a whitewash, of the US role that is.  They would refer to “Kill Anything that Moves” by Nick Turse, a book that examines several other incidents that resemble My Lai, the body count obsession, Rolling Thunder and other special ops that, Turse contends, make atrocities appear to be routine in the US war effort in Vietnam.  Then, of course, there is Michael Herr’s classic, “Dispatches”- not an analysis but a memoir, and one which sits more squarely with the Burns view.

Computer is acting up so I am bailing out now with my latest work in prog (or lack of prog).  Tons more from Lisbon to come soon, along with Ayres, Hoyland and Blake (William, not Peter) at Tate Britain.

Unfinished, Blackpaint 15/9/19

 

 

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Blackpaint 652 – Maurer, Takis, Scherjfbeck, Truffaut and co.

August 28, 2019

Dora Maurer, Tate Modern 

Hungarian artist, specialising in geometric, sometimes highly colourful designs, layering, lattices, lots of theory in the wall notes (that I didn’t read, having learnt that I forget it all pretty quick).  Have a look at the examples below:

 

These look great through the arch as you come in to the gallery – early Albert Irvin with straighter lines?

 

Touch of Hoyland in the colours here…

 

Can’t think of any comparisons, which although not compulsory, makes me faintly uneasy; like it though.

 

Takis, Tate Modern 

Greek artist, but based in London and Paris, real name Panayiotis Vassilakis, heyday in the 60s, died just a couple of weeks ago.  Leaflet describes him as a “sculptor of magnetism, light and sound”.  Exhibition kicks off with the figurines below, which are appealing and a little Giacometti -like here and there, but soon the machines clock in.  Most of them were not working when we went, but an attendant did set one going (a pendulum pointer which strikes at the centre of a resonating metal shield); don’t know if it was for our benefit or if he does it regularly – like the man who fired the Anish Kapoor wax cannon in Guggenheim Bilbao a few years back.

 

 

The contraption on the left looks like a miniature electric chair, I thought,,,

 

Lots of quite beautiful suspended metal spheres, often turning on pendulums due to magnetic forces; also machines that pluck at metal metal cords or strips to produce, unsurprisingly, metallic “music”.

 

Visual hints of Calder at times, and also of Jean Tinguely, although these devices lack the anarchic, self – destructive tendencies of some of Tinguely’s machines.  A bit lightweight, maybe, in terms of emotional freight and social relevance – which can only be good, can’t it?

 

Helene Scherjfbeck again – RA 

I did this Finnish artist in my last blog, as readers will remember, but I’ve been again since and feel that I may have failed to do the exhibition justice last time – so here are some more pictures.  These, with the exception of the first one below, are highly graphic in a sort of magazine style, and I think they are pretty good and worth a close look.

 

I love this portrait – she looks like a Russian intellectual to me, writing a leaflet for a Narodnik party, People’s Will maybe, before going off to blow up the Czar.

 

So by way of contrast, there’s her, about to attend a society wedding, maybe-

 

..or her (no ready-made scenarios spring to mind – but I like the straight forehead-nose profile)…

 

Or her – the young Mrs. Thatcher, perhaps.  Love the shadow on the neck and face.

 

Modernists and Mavericks, Martin Gayford

My favourite art book since the brilliant Walter Hopps interviews a couple of years ago.  It’s based on London painters, notably Bacon, Freud, Hockney, Auerbach, Gillian Ayres, Bridget Riley, etc,  There is absolutely no jargon (except that invented by some of the artists themselves), the doctrinal disputes are covered lucidly, it’s a compulsive read.  You will know most of the stories if you are interested in these artists, but you may not know the connections between them.  It contains some revelations for me, chiefly the almost Stalinist attitudes of one Robin Darwin, the principal of the Royal College of Art in the 60s, who seems at one point to be drawing up lists of students to expel.  Why was Frank Bowling expelled for marrying Paddy Kitchen, a college officer?

On Bowling, it explains the contents of his big picture “Mirror” as a sort of compendium of styles extant at the time; I’m off to the Tate to check it out now – well, tomorrow maybe.  I was interested to read of Bowling’s conversation with Bacon about flat plane and perspective that Bowling thinks may have led to Bacon “blanking” him subsequently.  It’s good on Gillian Ayres too.  One mystifying omission – Albert Irvin.  No mention of him – maybe he’s too abstract for Gayford?  No, can’t be – what about Riley and Ayres?

Truffaut, Antoine Doinel films

Just watched the whole set, from 400 Blows to Love on the Run.  Truffaut’s alter ego gradually loses his charm as the series progresses, but this is not true of the captivating women with whom he becomes, or fails to become involved, marries, leaves; Claude Jade, Delphine Seyrig, Marie France Pisier, Dorothee. “Mademoiselle” Hiroku.  In Love on the Run, there are flashbacks to the 400 Blows, which remind you of the remarkable magnetism of Jean-Pierre Leaud as a young boy.  Brilliant set of films.

Couple of mine to finish:

Father Time

Blue Cyclone

Blackpaint

28.08.19

 

 

 

Blackpaint 651- Annely Juda, Mary Ramsden, Helene Schjerfbeck and the Whole of South America

August 12, 2019

Annely Juda – Summer Exhibition until 30th August

A sort of retrospective of AJ artists, leaning towards geometric abstraction, I guess (see examples below) – but also figurative and sculpture; Hockney, Caro, Kossoff, Roger Ackling, et al.  A selection follows, not necessarily the best – although I like the Shiraishi red zips on grey – but giving some idea of range.

 

Alan Green – White over Red/Violet 

The title makes sense in the gallery, but not in this photo, where the subtleties of colour are lost, rather.

 

Yuko Shiraishi – Boulevard No.2

 

Sigrid Holmwood – Land of Cockaigne

Seen her work before in the Saatchi Gallery; the cartoonish quality is almost a Saatchi house style, it seems to me.  I think a faint hint of early Sigmar Polke too…

 

Leon Kossoff 

Didn’t get the title of this, but that building looks really familiar.  John Berger’s occasional correspondence with Kossoff about drawing is an interesting read.

 

Mary Ramsden at Pilar Corrias, Eastcastle Street W1

Sorry to say that this exhibition finished on 9th August (I didn’t check the dates before I went on holiday); I was so impressed with the paintings, though, that I thought it was worth uploading a few – you can always check her website.  Colours remind me a little of Mary Heillman, contents and the sort of roughness of the paint suggest Roy Oxlade maybe?  to me anyway; maybe it’s the orange coffee cup ring on the blue painting.

 

 

 

 

Urban Impulses 1959 – 2016; Latin American Photography, Photographers Gallery until 6th October 

Mostly Mexico, I think, but most other LA countries represented.  Demonstrations, police beating students, students beating police, murders, accidents, bars, transvestites, brothels, dancers, artistes, beaches, posers, posters, shopfronts, mannikins, lovers, cinemas, walls – I have avoided the sensational and given some examples of the Colombian Beatriz Jaramillo’s “Zocalo” series of vernacular architectural features.  As usual at the PG, fantastic and varied work and a thick, free booklet.

 

Not sure if these are also Jaramillo’s; they were next in line.

 

Helene Schjerfbeck: RA until 27th October

By way of total contrast to the other exhibitions I’ve mentioned is this one of the Finnish artist (Swedish speaking, according to the booklet – is that significant?), 1862 – 1946.  A range of her work  below, starting with a self – portrait of the young artist (compare it to that of the old woman portrayed in the 5th picture down, her last self-portrait, one of twenty she did in the last year of her life; actually, there’s a later drawing but the one here is the last painting).

 

Portrait of her mother; I like the light on those knuckles and fingers…

 

Nothing like the others, this one…

 

Her mother again; the blue background and the dazzling white of the open book sing out to you in a gallery full of rather – well, brown and grey pictures.

We’re in the land of Munch here, aren’t we?  I don’t mean that as a compliment.

 

Like the blue mother above, a welcome splash of colour in a drab world.  I liked the paintings for the most part and was reminded here and there of Gwen John (but also, unfortunately, of Munch).  Thirsty for colour, as well as for a beer of course, by the end of the visit.

Modernists & Mavericks; Bacon, Freud, Hockney & the London Painters.  Martin Gayford, Thames & Hudson, 2018

Buy this; it’s £12.99 well spent (has to be the book, not a Kindle version, if there IS one).  No jargon; all the famous anecdotes are there, but Gayford does a great job of putting this lot in the context of the times and of each other.  There’s a very clear discussion of just what “abstraction” can mean – about five different things, I made it – which, as the author says, is a question which kept a lot of drink-fuelled arguments going all night in the 50s and 60s.  I was astonished – no, overstated, but surprised – to read about the furore over William Gear’s “Autumn Landscape” at the Festival of Britain.

As always, a couple of new ones of mine to finish:

Before the Snow

 

Drying off

….and three others that I will be exhibiting with ArtBridge in Paris in September:

Caen

 

On the Rocks

 

Crossfire

Blackpaint

12.08.19

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 650 – White Show, Bacon and Sea Star

July 22, 2019

At the The Edge  of Things, Agnes Martin, Jo Baer and Mary Corse, Pace Gallery until 14th August

This is a very white exhibition, as can be seen from the examples below.  In the words of the booklet, these three painters “paint what we don’t yet know.  They make paintings about how the eye sees, not what it sees – altogether sidestepping the problems of illusion, illustration, even expression.  For them, a painting is not an image that says or shows us something, it’s an object that does something to us.”

Baer’s pictures have a dark blue border round them; some of Martin’s have patterning that resembles tiny bricks and one has faint, wide pastel stripes.  Mary Corse did the one immediately below.

 

 

I’m generally not a fan of minimalism, so not the target audience, perhaps – I should say however that the other visitors to the gallery there at the same time as me were very enthusiastic, as are the comments on Twitter etc. that I’ve read.

 

 

Couplings, Francis Bacon, the Gagosian Grosvenor Hill until Aug 3rd

I’m not sure I fully understand the rationale behind this exhibition – the title and the Bacon quotations cited seem to suggest that the pictures are those that involve more than one person, or entity; as Bacon says, (I paraphrase) once you have two people in a picture, you have a narrative.  One of the paintings, though, is Bacon’s famous picture of Peter Lacey, who is alone.  Who cares, though?  Great show, including some of his best figure studies (the early 50s ones are the best, for my money).

 

Is this an appropriate frame for the contents? Hmm….  Love the bedsheets.

 

Detail of the above.

 

The above picture with admirers.

 

Not keen on this one, of naked figures working on an allotment(?); I include it as an example of later work.

 

 

Bacon’s marching men, apparently unaware of the polar bear lurking on top of the glass cube….

Sorry about the levity – I am a genuine fan of Bacon and thoroughly recommend this show.

 

Sea Star, Sean Scully, the National Gallery until 11th Aug

A fabulous exhibition, free like the Bacon and the white one, based on Scully’s response to Turner’s “Evening Star”, which is also on show.  I’m not sure about the connection – but Scully’s work, as in Venice two years ago, has sections of fabulous slippery, syrupy paint applied with a looseness of brush technique.  The green square in the centre of the painting below, for instance, has a richness of brushmarks that almost makes it a painting within a painting.  I’ll stop now, before I get into Pseuds Corner country.

 

 

Sometimes, he does these inset squares in the larger picture…

 

 

 

 

A couple of details, showing the brushmarks I’m on about.

 

Bermejo, National Gallery

No photos of this, I’m afraid.  He clearly loves doing armour; a pair of soldiers in the resurrection are clad in armour that makes them look like samurai.

 

Loveless, Dir. Andrey Zvyagintsev 2017

Fascinating film.  Bourgeois Moscow couple, marriage collapsing, at each other’s throats, ignoring the suffering of their son.  He goes missing and the film shows the attempts of the voluntary organisation that searches for missing children to find him.  The police can do no more than take details; the actual searching is done by the volunteers.  In this respect, it strangely resembles a public information film – but not too much.  The sulphurous relationship of the parents keeps the focus tight.  There is a great cameo of the boy’s grandmother, a blistering, hate-filled babushka living in a rural cottage, visited by the warring couple and the volunteers, on the off chance that the boy may have fled to her – some hopes!

Some of my efforts to finish, as usual:

 

Judgement

 

Judgement (Detail)

 

Headless 1

 

Headless 2

Blackpaint

23/07/19

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 649 – RA, Valloton, Urban Art and Two Killings

July 9, 2019

RA Summer Exhibition until 12th August

Second visit to the summer show – yes, astonishing to relate, I was rejected yet again this year – but I think I have managed not to let annoyance cloud my judgement.  Several of my favourites below:  apologies to the artist who produced the collection of bizarre figures behind the tiny fence; didn’t get the name.

 

George Blacklock

 

Blacklock again – same size, I think, as the first one, despite the different sizes of the photographs.

 

Frank Bowling, one of his “crusted” pictures

 

???  Tried to think of a comparison for this one – could only come up with two possibilities, both painters:  James Ensor and John Bellany.  Well, maybe, at a stretch…

 

 

Christopher le Brun – paintings, that is; apologies to the sculptor. another one whose name I didn’t get.  The Le Bruns are better “in the flesh” than in the photo.

 

 

RA Students Exhibition – finished now, I’m afraid, but I thought these two were striking…

 

Rachel Jones

It’s all about the colour, to state the obvious.  I should point out that it’s very large, as is the picture below.

 

Lucas Dillon

Christopher Wool meets Day of the Triffids.

 

RA,  Felix Valloton, until 29th September

Swiss artist of multiple talents, member of the Nabi group; some of his paintings resemble those interiors of Vuillard, with less “surface”.  They are composed of flat areas of colour, often lit from within, sometimes verging on illustration or even cartoon; there are several paintings containing nude women – not the painting below – in which the flesh is uniformly grey/white, almost a dead quality.  In my opinion, he’s like Augustus John – that is, hugely talented, but with variable artistic taste.

 

My personal favourite; only a small work, but impressive.

 

Vuillard colours, but flat surfaces…

 

Strangely like Norman Rockwell….

 

Internal lighting – great design. like a print.

 

Still Life, which resembles William Nicholson.  It’s hard (for me, anyway) to think of a painter with more variety of styles.

A Short Film About Killing –  Kieslowski 1987

 

An hour long version of this film comprises The 5th episode of Kieslowski’s “Dekalog“, based loosely on the Ten Commandments; it’s the one. not surprisingly.  dealing with murder – both by the individual criminal and the state.  It seems clear to me that the director considers the hanging of the young killer to be somehow equivalent to the murder.  He is shown to be feckless, randomly violent, relentless, stupid; but he gets on well with children, grieves for his dead little sister and the taxi driver he murders is a sleazy character, possibly a sexual predator; the execution scene is shocking and prominence is given to the lawyer’s horror-stricken reaction and anti- hanging statements.  Nevertheless….

Interesting to compare it to the much longer “Badlands” (Malick); in the latter, the director took no moral stance towards the killer, “allowing” the events and the commentary of Sissy Spacek’s character to speak.  Of course, in neither case do we know how much truth there is in the portrayal.  Both “A Short Film” and the two volumes of “Dekalog” are available on DVD on the Artificial Eye label.

 

Urban Art, Josephine Avenue, Brixton

Sold at the weekend at Urban Art in Brixton. the three Blackpaint paintings below:

 

Storm Front

 

Colunga

 

White Line Fever 2

Another great weekend under the big trees in Brixton – well done again, Tim Sutton (organiser) and all volunteers.  This was the 18th year of Urban Art, I understand…

Blackpaint, 

8/07/19

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 648 – Cornwall, Caland, Goncharova

June 26, 2019

Tate St. Ives

This was like a visit to a load of old friends.  The light in the all white building, with the huge, vivid Patrick Heron window and the flanking mirror windows set at angles to display the beach and sea, seems to set these mostly abstract works off beautifully; the way some of them are spaced out on the ground floor foyer, the Joan Mitchell and Peter Lanyon below, for instance, shows them to their best advantage,  Below, some of my favourites:

Winifred Nicholson, not Ben, as might be expected

 

Another Winifred Nicholson, by way of contrast to the above.

 

Great view through archway; sculpture by Lanyon, painting Brian Wynter (don’t know who did the pots)

 

Winifred Barns-Graham, “Red Form”

 

Karel Appel

 

Appel (detail) – you can get an idea of how thick the paint is laid on.

 

Alan Davie, “Fish God” – love the bent shark penis…

 

Joan Mitchell – lovely brush sweeps, drips and colours, as always

 

Peter Lanyon, “Thermals” – you’re in that churning ocean…

 

Huguette Caland, Tate St. Ives until 1st September

Mostly work from the late 60s and 70s, Lebanese/American artist, specialising in stylised erotica; lips, breasts and bottoms, to be more exact, as can be seen from examples below.  Some of the drawings we saw at the Venice Biennale by her a couple of years ago were far more graphic than these, as I recall…  She was the daughter of the Lebanon’s first president, by the way, so probably no advantage there.

 

I like the fuzziness of the line.. wonder what the inspiration was…

 

A style distinctly reminiscent of Beatles record covers, “Yellow submarine”, perhaps – and maybe a touch of Terry Gilliam?

 

The forerunner of all those bare tits on plastic aprons, worn by barbecuing men…

 

Natalia Goncharova, Tata Modern until 8th September

Pre-Revolutionary painter; strange, we tend (I do anyway) to think of the 1917 revolution kicking off a period of wild experiment, creativity and openness in the arts – whereas it was all already going on, with the likes of Goncharova.

 

I like her chunky, big-footed women, roughly carved out of wood by the look of them.

 

Touch of Gauguin about this one.

 

Not keen on this – too Lempiska for me –  but it demonstrates the range.

 

Costume design, not sure for what, maybe le Coq d’Or; for my money, her costume designs are better than her paintings.  There’s a great film excerpt of a ballet performance with Goncharova’s costumes, I think in Canada in the 50s…

Novel on Yellow Paper, Stevie Smith

I thought this would be a quick easy read when I picked it up as a 2nd hand Penguin Modern Classic in Suffolk recently.  It’s very thin, after all, and there’s a faux naif self-portrait by Smith on the cover – looks childish.  Turns out that it’s tougher going than Virginia Woolf and even as difficult as some bits of Joyce (not Finnegan, obviously – although she does have a sort of arch private way of expressing herself, very irritating at times).  I think that Glenda Jackson played her in a film and, I suppose it’s suggestion, but I can’t imagine anyone’s voice other than Jackson’s, as I read it.  No discernible plot – a collection of random remembrances and observations on all sorts; religion, education, sex, Germany, Nazism (it was written in the 30s),,

Prater Violet, Christopher Isherwood

Also thin, Penguin Modern Classic, written in the 30s, a portrait of a Jewish emigre film director, making a pot boiler romantic fantasy movie in London, with Isherwood as the young writer assisting him.  MUCH easier read than Smith; now to re-read “Mr. Norris Changes Trains” and the other Berlin books.

A couple of collages and a couple of paintings to end with; I think I’ve found a sort of 60s SF American paperback cover style with the blue and yellow men below.

Seated Woman Collage

 

 

Standing Woman Collage

 

Blue Man

 

Yellow Man

Blackpaint, 26/06/19

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 647- Three at TB; Bowling, Nelson and VG

June 15, 2019

Frank Bowling, Tate Britain until 26th August

Brilliant show, and a real revelation.  I’d seen Bowling’s poured paintings a few years back at the Tate Britain, when they devoted a single room to them; in addition, there was the huge spiral staircase one that was on permanent display there (and which is in this show, of course), so I knew he’d had a Pop Art period, a sort of Hockney/Kitaj/Blake phase – see the first painting below.  There’s even a girl with a Who-type target on her tee shirt in another one.  The figurative elements gradually receded, however, until he arrived at pure abstraction – for a while, anyway.

 

 

I’d not seen these vast map jobs in screaming colours, though; Africa, South America, Europe, USA, and Asia are all there somewhere – though not necessarily in the usual positions (and, obviously, not all in the example below).

Bowling wanted – I think he still does – to be thought of as a painter, not as a black painter.  The poured paintings, for example, are not really about anything but colour and maybe texture; the properties of the paint.  When he went to the USA, he was out of step – his choice – with some of the black painters who were overtly political – some of their work was recently shown at the Tate Modern.  There is some politics on show here; this one (I think) is called “The Middle Passage”, a reference to the slavers’ sea route – but most of the (often long and oblique) titles are clearly personal, not political.

 

 

An example of the poured paintings, which he did on a tilting table of his own devising.

After the poured paintings, there is an “encrusted” period (see above); thick slathers of acrylic paint, often scraped or shaped into squares that look like slices of bread submerged in pigment.  Chunks or banana shapes of polystyrene are sometimes present, shipwrecked in the paint.  Still the colours though, are paramount.

 

 

These last two – the bottom one is huge, the other a much smaller panel shape – are quite recent; 2014-ish, I think.  So he’s still doing great work in his 80s.  Best in London, in my opinion, depending on whether the Bellany/Davie show is still on at Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery.

 

Van Gogh and Britain, Tate Britain until 11th August

My fourth (or is it fifth?) visit to this show, and it’s still packed  every time.  You can get in OK but you will have to peer over shoulders or use binoculars to read the captions.  I think some of the links that the show seeks to make are rather contentious; I can’t see much similarity or evidence of VG influence in the Bomberg self portrait below, despite the caption.

 

 

Another Bomberg and the only still life I’ve seen by him; I suppose you could make a case for some VG influence here…  Great vase of flowers though. exploding in all directions – makes “still life” a ridiculous description, really.

 

The Asset Strippers, Mike Nelson, Tate Britain until 6th October

Nelson has been round the country, buying up redundant plant and machinery, which he presents as if each piece were a piece of sculpture in an exhibition.  Some are combined, that is, balanced or stacked on top of each other.  Lathes, milling machines, jacks, scales, agricultural machinery – is that a threshing machine? – knitting machines, sequin machines…  You think “Look at that machine!  It’s really complicated and it does one specific job.  What if someone says,” There’s a better way of doing that, we can skip that bit of the process by doing a or b or c…. “; That’s it for the machine – now it IS a piece of sculpture – or scrap.

 

Not sure what the “bed” of sleeping bags is supposed to represent, if anything.  Everyone in the exhibition seemed to be smiling, the old ones (and there were many) wallowing nostalgia; younger visitors trying to work out what the stuff was for.

That’s the three shows currently at Tate Britain; next time, Goncharova at Tate Modern and Huguette Caland at Tate St. Ives.

Three really old ones of mine to finish –

Angelico Tower

 

 

Fish Head

 

 

Red Guard

Blackpaint, 15/06/19

 

 

Blackpaint 646 – Rembrandt, Richter, Caro, Saatchi

June 4, 2019

Rembrandt, Visions of the Self, Gagosian, ended 18th May

Sorry – missed the boat to recommend this one; but it was very good.  Just a bunch of self-portraits really, linked to or inspired by Rembrandt’s selfies.  A selection below, as always:

 

Untitled 2011 by Urs Fischer; Cast in wax.

 

Cindy Sherman, in disguise of course…

Baselitz – seems to be adjusting his dress…

 

Dora Maar – a searching gaze…

Others on display included Howard Hodgkin, Bacon, Jenny Savile and of course, Rembrandt himself.

 

Richter, Overpainted Photographs,  Gagosian Davies Street W1, on until 8th June

Only four days to go, well worth a look.  They’re not much more than postcard size, by the way.  Simple idea, but some great effects.

 

 

 

 

Caro, Seven Decades, Annely Juda, until 2nd July

Interesting to see some of Caro’s early pieces, from before his big conceptual breakthrough (connected metal components, displayed on the floor instead of some sort of platform).  The drawing on the wall below is of a bull, but reminds me of David Smith’s flat plane arrangements, like Hudson River Landscape of 1951.  The two small figures – Bernard Meadows, or maybe Elizabeth Frink (was she later or his contemporary?)

 

 

Touch of the Guillotine about this one…

 

Speaking Trumpet from the lower decks?

 

Navigational instruments?

Kaleidoscope, Saatchi Gallery, Kings Road, until 11th June

Another short time one, I’m afraid; several interesting and one really good young painter.

Pierre Carreau, AquaViva series

French artist, working in the Caribbean.  I’ve no idea if these photographic images are manipulated in any way, and if so, how – but the waves depicted seem somehow to be frozen, or solidified, or maybe coated in oil.  Maybe it’s the size of them, coupled with a high shutter speed.

 

Whitney Bedford

Appropriately nautical- sounding name, this American artist’s work, according to the Saatchi booklet, was created at the time of the Iraq war and they are “sort-of-salon paintings about empire and war in very pop colours”.  Can’t say I got the connection with war, but I did get the very pop colours.

 

Florence Hutchings

 

Florence Hutchings again

Great paintings; big, roughly textured, loosely collaged in places, big rich colours.  They’re sort of Braque-ish, I think.  I look forward to seeing more of her work.  Only 22, apparently, based in London.

 

Tillman Kaiser

Austrian, from Vienna.  Booklet says his paintings “echo a likeness to the art of stained glass windows” and he says he is interested in symmetries.  Some of his paintings represent patterns of swirling heads and reminded me strongly of works by Ellen Gallagher.

 

Saatchi, Gallery 8: “Arctic: New Frontier” by Yuri Kozyrev and Kadir Van Lohuizen

Kozyrev’s pictures are of Russian Arctic ports and the Nomadic people of the region; van Lohuizen’s are of Spitzberg Island in the Svalbard peninsula.  Some are breathtaking scenery; some rather depressing scenes of workers revving jet skis in great clouds of exhaust, or of giant, impressive pieces of plant in bright yellow against a blinding white background of snow and ice.

As always, one of mine to finish with:

Ocean of Storms

Blackpaint

4/06/19

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 645 – Bellany and Davie; Skates, Bats, Donkeys and Diamonds

May 22, 2019

John Bellany and Alan Davie,  “Cradle of Magic”, Newport Street Gallery until 2nd June

A special, supplementary blog about one show, because it’s soon to close.  This brilliant free exhibition, all works owned by Damien Hirst, has been on since February, but somehow I’ve managed to miss it up to now – and there’s only ten or so days left; so if you possibly can, you need to get to Vauxhall Gardens and see this.

Both Scotsmen, Bellany died in 2013, Davie in 2014 at 94.  Bellany was figurative, Davie abstract – yet their paintings somehow go together, bounce off each other.  Maybe it’s colour, maybe brushwork (sometimes);  don’t know.  I’ve mixed them up, as they are mixed in the gallery, although not in the same order.

Bellany’s paintings, which are enigmatic, I think it’s fair to say, bring to my mind a range of painters; Ensor, perhaps, is foremost.  Skulls, masks, hanged men, groups of solemn, dark-clad men staring out at the viewer, the disconsolate skate/ray fish in the picture below; a general sort of cartoonish quality.  Both Ensor and Bellany lived in coastal towns; Ensor in Ostend, Bellany in the fishing village of Port Seton, near Edinburgh. Others: Max Beckmann, Soutine (another skate man), Arthur Boyd (his “Scapegoat” has the donkey – AND a skate fish, in the Australian desert) and Kitaj somehow, in the drawing and breadth of subject matter.

 

Bellany – Title? Date?

The skate king on his throne.  What are they, birds or bats?  Beckmann here, I think, and in Rose of Sharon below.

 

Davie – Bath Darling, 1956

Davie was a jazz musician and a pilot as well as a painter – a youtube fragment on him (Allan Paints a Picture) shows him at the piano – I think it’s “Getting Sentimental Over You” but the chords are rather free – reciting poetry at the same time, and reminding me a bit of Ron Geesin.  Unlike Geesin, he looks pretty tough as a young man, muscular and long-bearded.  He was feted in the states by the likes of Pollock, Kline and the other AbExes, and the painting below clearly shows the influence of Pollock and maybe de Kooning.  He combined the freedom of gesture (the black sweeps in the picture below, the drips and spatters above) with rich colour and a repertoire of recurring symbols (wheels, snakes, diamonds, images taken from rock pictures by indigenous people in St. Lucia, where he lived for 10 years).

Davie – Red Parrot Jay, 1960

 

Bellany – Eyemouth 1985

The look of love or hunger from the giant seagull?

 

Bellany – Rose of Sharon, 1973

The skate again.  A hint of Mexican influence here?

 

Davie – Romance for Moon and Stars, 1964

 

Davie – Trio for Bones, 1960

 

Davie – A Diamond Romance, 1964

In all three of these Davie pictures, there is the combination of rich colour, symbol and gesture – the rough and smooth elements that sometimes suggest Bacon’s work, without the figures of course, but a potent combination.  In more recent paintings (not represented here) the symbols remain but the rough gesturalism has gone – and the paintings are poorer for it, in my view.

 

Bellany – The Journey, 1989

Very reminiscent of the Boyd painting I mentioned earlier; also a touch of Kitaj in the execution.

A rather solemn portrait from (but not of) me to finish:

Man of Sorrows

Blackpaint

22.05.19

 

 

Blackpaint 644 – Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Symbolist Spiders and Greek Bees

May 20, 2019

Van Gogh and Britain – Tate Britain until 11th August

Starry Night, Sunflowers, Convicts and some famous self portraits are all here in this show, but are so well-known and frequently reproduced that I though I’d show only some of the other art on show here, either that influenced him or shows his influence.  Gustave Dore is a prominent one – others below:

 

Bomberg

Curious that Bomberg was an avant-gardist, almost abstractionist,  early in his career and later, went back to landscapes reminiscent of VG – an avant-gardist of an earlier generation.  Although I have to sai I can’t see much Van Gogh in this particular selection.  Actually, it’s not curious at all, is it?  Art history is full of examples of painters who started radical and went conservative later.

 

Richard Parkes Bonnington

Actually looks more like a Bourdin than a Van Gogh, I think, if it had been a beach scene that is; Bonington was only 26 when he died of TB.  Staggering talent; see more of his works in the permanent Wallace Collection.

 

De Nittis

As much Manet as VG, I think.

 

Harold Gilman

Gilman’s take on that VG with the psychedelic bark.  Either he’d been at the absinthe that day, or some secretion in his brain was producing that “creeping lines” illusion you get on LSD, as I am led to believe…

 

William Nicholson

Wonky looking base, but lovely flowers AND pot…

 

Spencer Gore

I love his violet shadows and the chiselled edges of the roofs and gables; a roomful of these might be a little insipid, though…

 

Unknown – to me anyway, as I didn’t get the name.

Clear VG influence in the sky and trees – as well as a touch of Hockney’s Yorkshire Dales?

Good exhibition, especially the flower pictures; not altogether convinced by the attribution of influence, though.

 

Rembrandt, “Thinking on Paper” at the British Museum Print Room until 4th 

One big advantage over the Van Gogh – the VG costs £22.00, This is free.  below, some examples:

 

The Three Crosses, 1653

Drypoint and burin on vellum.

 

Reclining Nude, 1658

Copper Plate.

 

Young Woman Sleeping, 1654

Brush and brown wash.

 

Self Portrait Leaning on a Stone Wall, 1639

Etching with drawing in black chalk.

Very different, aren’t they?  On the evidence of these four examples, even allowing for the different techniques, you wouldn’t know they were by the same artist.

 

Symbolist Prints – Print Room with the Rembrandts until 18th July

A visual accompaniment to the morally unsound, absinthe- and drug-suffused, sexually advanced world of 19th century French poets, with their drunken boats, evil flowers and lobsters on leads – have I got that right? – a series of atmospheric and beautifully executed prints, an example by Redon below:

 

Odilon Redon

 

The Beekeeper, dir. Theo Angelopoulos, 1986

I’ve just watched Angelopoulos’ sad and funny film again in honour of International Bee Day today.  The story line, which involves an ageing Marcello Mastroianni on a road trip across Greece in search of spring pollens for his crates of bees would probably attract the displeasure of critics if made now, since it involves – eventually – a sexual encounter with a much younger woman (although the encounter is sort of consensual).  Funny?  Unintentionally, I think – poor old Marcello is made to fling himself bear-like onto surprised and displeased women (one of them his estranged wife) and after a few seconds of desultory struggle, to give up and sink into a torpor.  It’s the contrast between the suave Marcello of “Dolce Vita” and the shabby hulk of the beekeeper…

The film ends with what I thought was a unique “suicide by bees”; the Wikipedia entry, however, tells me that the beekeeper is not dying, but actually signalling in Morse code with fingers I took to be drumming in agony.

An old one of mine to finish –

Skinningrove

Blackpaint

20/05/19