Blackpaint 668 – Imaginary Tennis and Desperate Housewives

March 29, 2020

Blow Up, dir.Antonioni (1966)

Saw this for the first time last night, having recently visited Maryon Park in Charlton, where the “murder” was committed.  I love those swinging London films, especially if they’re directed by a foreigner – they get things slightly wrong, making the films even more quaint than the 60’s in London really were..  Nothing I can put my finger on, though.  Fabulous location shots around South East London – instant nostalgia.

Vanessa Redgrave strives to convince us that she fancies photographer David Hemmings, going to the lengths of stripping off (top only, though) for him; we don’t see what happens next so maybe they just have tea and then she leaves, with the negatives of the murder that she came for.

Wait a minute – what’s that painting on the wall?  Yes, it’s an Alan Davie!

Lighting not good here though.

Anyway, the film ends back in Maryon Park, with Hemmings watching a mimed tennis match (don’t ask, as they say), with Julian Chagrin and partner using imaginary racquets and an imaginary ball.  Hemmings picks up the “ball” and mimes throwing it back – I take this to be a suggestion that the murder was imaginary too.  But then he did go back to the park at night and saw the body… Maybe it was all a dream; it WAS the 60s after all.

No galleries open, of course, but I want to post, so just a few old pictures until I can get round to painting.  Should be able to, with three months at least ahead.

 

 

Road to Damascus – very like Caravaggio, I think you’ll agree.

 

Figure Study 1

 

Figure Study 2

 

Desperate Housewives

 

Old Cambridge Circus

Blackpaint

29th March 2020

 

 

 

Blackpaint 667 – From the Belly of the Beast

March 18, 2020

British Surrealism at Dulwich Picture Gallery until 17th May

Well, it was to be until 17th May; now, gallery is shut down for the duration of the crisis.  I was surprised by how good or interesting some of these paintings are; like many people, I loved surrealism in my teens and twenties, but sort of grew tired of it of it when I discovered colour, texture and form in paint.  I’m less interested in the stories paintings tell, than in paintings as sensual entities in themselves.  Here, there’s plenty to enjoy in the pictures before you even have to try to understand them.  So, below are some of the pictures that please me as arrangements of paint on canvas, not necessarily as surrealistic experiences:

La Cathedrale Engloutie, Ithell Colquhoun

Colquhoun is the most interesting painter here (apart from Bacon and Freud, who have one painting each in the exhibition).  Reminds me I need to make a dental appointment, if I make it through the pandemic…

 

The Oneiroscopist, Edith Rimmington

Yes, Rimmington does a good surreal bird.  Has it eaten the deep sea diver, or is the helmet its own?  If so, how does it get the helmet on over the beak?  Sorry, getting involved in the narrative…

 

Aftermath, Marion Adnams

I used to have a skull the same as this – fox, I think – that I found in an abandoned Scout hut in 1962 or 63 – no bow, though.  I see there’s barbed wire on the parapet, so I guess it may date from WW2 – the picture, not the skull.

 

Graham Sutherland

Slightly blurred photo, sorry; and that’s my reflection in the glass.  Is it really a surrealist painting or one of Sutherland’s stylised landscapes?  I love the colours.

 

The Old Maids, Leonora Carrington

Elongated women, small heads, crab-like chair, naughty monkey – classic Carrington.  I still mix her up with Dorothea Tanning (style, name, Max Ernst connection) and also with  Leonor Fini…

 

Nocturnal Drama (Fantasy), Merlyn Evans (detail)

Reflection in glass again, I’m afraid.  Such a good painting, though.

 

Guardian of Memories, Eileen Agar

You can get this one on a tea towel at DPG – when it re-opens of course.  Great sharp image and execution – Agar is the other champion here, bigger name than Colquhoun.

 

Francis Bacon

Bacon’s dogs remind me of Bonnard’s cows.  I think I read somewhere that the face of the tree thing is supposed to be Goebbels or Goering…

Some other great stuff, but it’s all on hold now.

 

Dulwich Picture Gallery Collection

Copy of work in Uffizi by Cristofano Allori

Surrealistic handbag?  Fabulous little painting. Judith with head of Holofernes, of course.

Willem de Kooning

Just to illustrate that pretentious nonsense I wrote at the beginning, about paintings that you like not for the “story” but for the paint itself, here are a few from the Master (the Mistress would be Joan Mitchell, naturally).

 

I hardly dare to include my own latest painting to follow this group, but it’s my blog, not de Kooning’s, so here it is, entitled “Lockdown” – not for the content, but for the times:

Lockdown

Blackpaint

17/3/20

 

 

Blackpaint 666 – The Number of the Beast

March 14, 2020

Giotto, Last Judgement

For no reason other than the number of this blog, I’ve been tempted to include some representations of the Christian Devil – of course, he’s not actually a Christian, but a rather important figure in Christian theology – so you will find some more famous ones below.  Now I’m worried that it might be misogynistic of me to assume a male devil; then again, it might be sexist to speculate that the devil could be female.  Anyway, no female representations of the Evil One available – there was Marty Robbins’ “Devil Woman” back in the 60s, but that was a song, not a picture.

 

Carlos Bunga, Whitechapel Gallery 

An intriguing exhibition by this Portuguese artist, located in the  dark downstairs hall of the Whitechapel;  a few paintings like that below; old carpentry and similar tools, chairs and bits and pieces hanging from the walls; a pile of breeze blocks on one delicate table, an old sewing machine on another.  The columns and spaces in the hall enclosed in huge panels of hardboard in a sort of Christo building wrap; and artificially produced decay and stress marks on the same.  The info refers to Bunga’s admiration for Shaker conservation and work/life habits – but doesn’t really explain the exhibition.   That’s a good thing though, isn’t it?

Slightly Richter-ish?  (Gerhard, that is)

Things fall apart…

 

 

There was a Brazilian artist exhibited recently at the Whitechapel who also piled stuff up on tables, but with her it was masses of clay…  Her name was Anna Maria Maiolino.

Here he is again – Grunewald, Isenheim Altar (detail)

 

More Picasso on Paper at the RA

The Picasso is really so large that I think more pictures are justified than the few in the last blog – so here’s a few more:

Slightly blurred, I’m afraid; this is one of the late series of etchings he did with the assistance of the Crommelynks – a period of intense productivity that reminds you of Van Gogh’s last month on Earth.

 

Artist and his model series…

 

Lovely little, little picture  – sort of Cezanne-ish?

 

Like a music hall act…

 

Simple but perfect really.

 

National Gallery

Another blurred photo of a beautiful painting, by an anonymous Italian artist.  I’ve included it for two reasons: first, it’s absolutely beautiful, and memorable for the colours and for the toothless old woman; and second, I visited St. Mary’s Rotherhithe, the Mayflower church, the same week and found this copy over the altar.  It’s identical and was done by one Florence Nicholson in memory of her grandfather, who worshipped at the church.  The commemorating plaque makes no mention of the original; maybe they didn’t know it was a copy.

 

And again – Giotto, Judas and Devil.  Note the money bag J is receiving; the thirty pieces of silver….

 

And here’s mine – Judgement

 

And a new one – Mark of the Beast

Blackpaint

14/03/20

Blackpaint 665 – Picasso, Bomberg and the Old Masters

March 5, 2020

Picasso on Paper, Royal Academy until 13th April

This is an unexpectedly huge show, covering his whole career, kicking off with the Blue Period beggar and his girl, facing you as you enter, and with a fabulous Blue Period self portrait as well – neither of which are works on paper, but the RA seems often to stray from the stated theme (for example, the Lucian Freud “self portraits”, several of which were nothing of the sort).  Who cares, anyway, except for critics, as long as the paintings are good…

The Blue Period is followed by the Rose Period, more great paintings and works on paper.  It seems that both of these periods lasted about two years; strange that Picasso could confine himself to long periods using the same palette, given his drive for invention and furious work rate.  Anyway, some highlights below as always, with my perceptive and amusing comment where necessary:

 

 

Portrait of Stravinsky, from about 1920, I believe; it’s charcoal over pencil, with some erasure, it appears.  Quite conventional for that date, after Desmoiselles d’Avignon from 1907 and the Cubist works.

 

Shepherd; wideset eyes, rather bland expression (the shepherd, not the sheep).

 

Minotaur painting; I love the shape that the drooping horse makes over the arm of the monster.

 

There are a number of these heads with the bulbous nose which starts at the top of the forehead; I think the model was Marie – Therese Walther.

 

A companion to the Stravinsky drawing from the same period.  This one I at first thought was accomplished in a single line drawing with no errors, or pentimenti, to give them the polite term.  When you look closely, though, there are faint pencil marks, one under her bottom lip for example – so he was human after all.

 

Big late painting, from the Tate Modern, in one of the last rooms, with several brothel pictures, mostly etchings, I think.

 

An earlier work, painting and collage.  I’ll be going again, so no doubt more pictures to follow.

Three punters discussing the Picasso animatedly.

 

Young David Bomberg and the Old Masters at the National Gallery until 1st March

Small (free) exhibition in one room; the idea is to show how Bomberg was influenced by Old Masters in his work.  The early “exploding” abstracts are there; Mud Bath, Jiu Jitsu and The Hold, along with some sketches and preparatory drawings of the same – but so far as I can see, they don’t relate to the supposed theme – no OM influence.  The ones that do are below:

Bomberg stated that he wanted to do a self-portrait full face, looking straight at the viewer, like the Botticelli youth in the red cap.   Here they are; the Botticelli slightly blurred.

 

This picture was painted in 1919, commissioned by the Canadian government to commemorate the Canadian war effort.  It shows sappers in action and was not well received by the Canadians, who felt the style and colours were inappropriate.  Bomberg had been influenced by the El Greco painting below; you can clearly see the shapes and colours of the El Greco in the Bomberg painting. even though this photo  only shows a part.

 

Uncut Gems, dirs. Josh and Bennie Safdie (2019)

Starring Adam Sandler, who is very clearly channeling Al Pacino here, this film reminded me in an odd way of “Dog Day Afternoon”: the same shouting and swagger, the same sudden violence and the same lack of realistic expectation in the main character.  At first, it’s too noisy; the score runs relentlessly through the dialogue making it hard to hear – hard to stand, even – but you are drawn in, and once in…

Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon

 

One of mine to finish…

Midnight Rider

Blackpaint

5.3.20

 

 

Blackpaint 664 – It’s Figurative Week, here at the blog

February 17, 2020

British Baroque: Power and Illusion, at Tate Britain until 19th April

Fantastic exhibition, despite Jonathan Jones in the Guardian.  It covers the years 1660 – 1714, the reigns of Charles II, James II, William and Mary and Queen Anne. Below is the centre piece of the first room, by Verrio; great explosion of figures fanning out from the upper centre figure of Charles II.  We’ve seen plenty of Rubens and Van Dyck in recent years, so although they sort of haunt, from an earlier era, this show of largely lesser mortals, their absence is definitely not fatal.

 

Antonio Verrio, “The Sea Triumph of Charles II”, 1674

 

This is the Earl of Rochester; I take it that the monkey is a comment on the nature of his poetry – but maybe he really had one, or the artist did; “No really, my Lord, the monkey will look wonderful in the picture…”

 

This picture carries a warning about the “demeaning” depiction of the black youngsters cavorting around the central character.  Stunning blue robe though …

 

I think this is the Duke of Monmouth, presumably channeling John the Baptist – or Bo Peep.

 

You get the impression at this show – or at least I did – that these artists are really interested in the dresses and fabrics, and how they drape and fold; the subjects, their faces, are secondary (a lot of these court beauties look pretty similar anyway).  Once or twice, I thought the artist could have done the dress and setting and left a hole for the face.  This silver silk or satin, shiny as Bacofoil, for instance.

Illusion

Trompe l’oeil plays a big part in this show, as it was very fashionable in the period.  Some examples below:

 

Hang on – isn’t that last Monday’s Guardian at the top?

 

This stand up, cut out figure could be placed in a dark  corridor or even the corner of a guest’s room in your mansion; what a laugh that would be when you suddenly caught sight of it…

 

The bottom half of the door is the real thing; the top half with the fiddle and no light streaks on the inlets (or whatever you call them) is a painting.  Maybe that’s obvious – a friend had to point it out to me.

 

Various parrots, a peacock, pheasants, a jay, a lapwing, turtle dove and a couple I can’t identify, all together as you would see them in the wild…

 

We’ve left “Illusion” now and are back in the world of beautiful (?) children and the dressing up box.

 

This is Matthew Prior, the writer, painted by Godfrey Kneller, and distinguished in this show by the lack of a resplendent wig – the only male, apart from children and servants, without one, I think.

 

Peter Lely, Anne Hyde, Duchess of York, 1661

That’s the lady in the painting, not the foreground.  Again, look at the sumptious rendition of the dress; colours recall Titian and Veronese, I think.  More of these fantastic swagger portraits next blog.

 

Radical Figures – Painting in the New Millennium,  at the Whitechapel Gallery, until 10th May

To quote from the booklet, “…ten artists who represent the body….to tell compelling stories and explore vital social concerns.  Largely avoiding the conventions of realism, they ….explore timely subjects, including gender and sexuality, society and politics, race and body image.”

 

Daniel Richter, Asger, Bill and Mark

That is, Asger Jorn, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko.

 

Daniel Richter – Tarifa

About as close as this exhibition gets to a straightforward visual depiction of a single event.  The black sky and midnight sea, I think, are rather overwhelming…

 

Michael Armitage

I love the washy green and pinks; saw a lot of his stuff in Venice last year, like hand-painted film posters, somehow.  These paintings are quite different.

 

Christina Quarles

The entwined bodies, flattened field (“pressing against the confines of the canvas”, to quote the booklet again) and smooth, graphic style remind me somewhat of the Australian artist Brett Whiteley, although the exploration of “female, black and queer identity” was not Whiteley’s aim…

 

Ryan Mosley

I think this must be Teaching Snakes to be Snakes – I must get into the habit of photographing the titles, like all the other bloggers you see in galleries…

 

 

Tschabalala Self

Love those brick wall legs, that brick wall torso.

 

Nicole Eisenman, Progress Real and Imagined (detail)

This is from the second panel of a diptych, “a creation story or apocalypse unfolding in an Arctic landscape”; the booklet mentions Bosch and Brueghel; I must say I thought first of Bosch because of the multiplicity of outlandish events rather than the great detail which the booklet cites – but now I’m thinking Mexican muralists, Rivera above all.  Intentions completely different, of course.

And some of mine to end with..

Bent

 

Man of Sorrows

 

Armpit

Blackpaint

17th February 2020

Blackpaint 663 – Bookcases, Talc and other Hazards

February 8, 2020

Tate Modern Free Galleries

I took a trip round the galleries of Tate Modern last week to see what new works were on display, or what old ones had been moved to a new place – here are a few examples of both:

Modigliani, his lover Jeanne Hebuterne

Not really any problem of identification here – but great painting, I’m sure you will agree.

 

Mary Martin – bit of a contrast to the Modigliani; but I love the colour and a handy little shelf for toothpaste or razor if you chose to hang it in the bathroom….

 

William Gear

Hope I’ve got this up the right way – I think I have.  I like the jaggedness of the images; looks like a tangle of tumbling bodies; fall of angels maybe?  I didn’t get the title…

 

Karel Appel

This is an old one in a new place – it used to be in the old Surrealism room. for some reason.  The colours don’t seem to me to be typical Appel; more like his old CoBrA colleague Constant (one of whose works is next to this one).

 

Jackson Pollock

I remember seeing this in the Pollock exhibition at Tate Liverpool a few years ago; it’s quite late Pollock, I think, with representation creeping back.  I probably said then that I can see a chameleon hiding, not very well, in the trees…

Helen Frankenthaler

There is a Frankenthaler room at the moment, six or seven pictures; a couple of examples below, the first one with her characteristic staining process, the second much later, from the 80s, I believe.

 

 

Dora Maar

This is a huge exhibition, surprising number of rooms unfolding before you with Maar’s many and varied works, organised into subject sections: street photography from London, Paris and Barcelona; Surrealism; World War 2; Picasso’s influence (some of P’s paintings, notably the weeping woman’s head) as well as a few of Maar’s own paintings; some abstract photos; camera-less photos – and so on.

To be candid, it does appear that everything she ever produced has been excavated from the studio, museums, collections and the garden shed, framed tastefully and displayed here.  And, to be fair, a lot of this is brilliant – for example, the pictures below and the street stuff.  In fact, it’s a little strange to be complaining about there being too much in an exhibition; you don’t have to look at all of it (but of course you do, if you’re a completist like me – can’t break away until you’ve walked past them all and then gone back through to the way in).

 

Another one of my fantastic female backs – see also Ginger Rogers in Swing Time, Kitaj’s Marynka Smoking.

 

..and another great back – although the star head sort of distracts the eye.  My carping shouldn’t put the prospective visitor off; it’s well worth one visit, or two, if you’ve got Tate membership and don’t have to shell out every time.

 

The cover of my Penguin Modern Classics copy of Forster’s novel.  The painting is Interior, by Edward Le Bas, and it’s in the collection of Tate Britain.   Looks a bit Scottish Colourist to me…

As for the book, I found it irritatingly flowery, with little facetious homilies to the reader (reminded me of George Eliot in that respect, especially Silas Marner); and there’s that odd thing that Forster shares with Virginia Woolf, of killing off characters suddenly and rather perfunctorily.  I’d remembered that Bast died when a bookcase fell on him – but not that it was precipitated by Charles Wilcox’s sword attack.   I should have written “spoiler alert”, of course, but I wanted to avoid cliche.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

It’s good to have Larry David, Houellebecq’s American soul brother, back.  Pity that the sonorous Funkhouser (Bob Einstein)  has passed on.  A public safety function in the first episode too, warning of the dangers of talcum powder.

Blackpaint pictures to finish:

Adrian with big legs

Imogen with long leg

Blackpaint

8.02.20

 

 

Blackpaint 662 – The London Art Fair and Son of Saul

January 23, 2020

London Art Fair – until this Sunday, 26th Jan.

Up at the Angel tube, turn right, over the road and carry on for 5 mins to the Horticultural Halls (sorry – the Business Design Centre).  This year, the featured gallery on the ground floor is the Southampton.  The first two paintings below are in the Southampton collection – I love them both, especially the Roger Hilton, with that great, charcoal, sweeping line (see also Brett Whiteley’s drawings).

 

Matthew Smith

Touch of Phoebe from “Friends” here, maybe…

 

Roger Hilton

Photo doesn’t really do justice to the blue background, which is more… better in the “flesh”.

 

Brian Fielding

Big and in your face, on a partition at the end of a row.  Floaters in red and ochre-ish yellow on that turquoise – ish ground, lovely.

 

Martin Brewster

I like these, especially the one on the right; my partner scorns them, however, as “typical art fair fodder”.  Her taste is more reliable – but it’s my blog,

Keith Vaughan

Very untypical Keith Vaughan, I think; Vaughan is everywhere at the Fair (along with Adrian Heath and Alan Davie, I’m pleased to say) and commands huge prices – £25.000 for a small drawing, for instance.

 

Katherine Jones

Beautiful prints – she’s our niece, but that hasn’t influenced my choice in the slightest degree.  Sorry, not prints: watercolours.

 

Nikoleta Sekulovic

This is big – life-size.  Great painting (drawing?), poor photo.  Love the line – like Hockney.

 

George (?) Peter Lanyon

I think this is the famous Lanyon, not his father or uncle or something.  Never heard or seen him called George before.  I don’t think it’s great, but included it because it’s by the great man and is nothing like his usual output.

Rachael Read

This single painting is on two grounds; thick, wrinkled brown paper.  Don’t know exactly why, but this adds a degree of attraction to the painting, for me anyway.  looks a little like those little works on paper that Roger Hilton did, from his sickbed, in his last years.  But blown up 10 or 15 times, of course.

Son of Saul, dir. Laszlo Nemes (2015)

This was on TV the other night and I was unable to avoid watching it, as I’ve done several opportunities in the past.  It sounded far too harrowing to sit through if there was an alternative.  It’s set in Auschwitz, towards the end of 1944,  when the big transports from Hungary arrived and the massacres and burnings depicted in the film took place on the edge of the woods; also when there were breakouts involving members of the Sonderkommando, one of which is depicted in the film.  The focus throughout is closely fixed on the main character; the horrific events he sees and takes part in, are blurred and obscured to a degree – but you hear them clearly.  He becomes fixated on achieving some sort of proper burial for a boy victim of the gas chamber; he wants a rabbi to conduct the ceremony as properly as possible.

When I was at university in the early 70s, we studied Peter Weiss’s play, “The Investigation”; this was actually taken from the transcripts of the Auschwitz trials of the 1960s.  Weiss simply selected and split the testimonies into “cantos”.  At the time, Adorno’s dictum, or suggestion, was that the Holocaust had somehow killed art – silence was the only appropriate response from artists.

A fascinating article in the Guardian today (NOT something you will often hear from me) by Howard Jacobson points out that there have been a number of novels and films on the subject since then, some great, some not so much. He identifies the emergence of a disturbing subgenre, the Auschwitz novel:  “Auschwitz Lullaby, The Child of Auschwitz, The Librarian of Auschwitz, The Druggist of Auschwitz, The Tattooist of Auschwitz…”  These books, which claim to be based on truth, i.e. “Faction”, use the mass extermination programme carried out by the Nazis in Auschwitz as a backdrop to the story.  Jacobson articulates the issue lucidly and should be read.

Actually, thinking about it, Nemes may have done a similar thing in “Saul” – although it feels as if he has done a right thing; it’s ABOUT the Holocaust, rather than using it as a backdrop; but then again, I don’t know.

 

I got a print set for Christmas; these are the first attempts:

 

Blackpaint’s First Prints

23.01.20

Blackpaint 661- Vampires, Volcanoes and False Confessions

January 1, 2020

Elizabeth Peyton, “Aire and Angels”, National Portrait Gallery until 5th January 2020

So not much time left to see these paintings, if you should want to – exhibition has been on since October, it seems, without entering my consciousness.  Mostly celebrities: Kurt Cobain, David Bowie, Liam Gallagher (whoever they might be), Napoleon….

Critics are somewhat split on the quality of these works: The Time Out critic, for example, thinks that the exhibition as a whole works, but that, individually, the paintings “stink”.  Bidisha in the Guardian is rapturous about this collection of beautiful (?) boys, and says that they smack of the “hot vampire”, which seems about right to me.

Strangely, none of the pieces I read, including the NPG’s own site, make any comparisons, or attempt to locate Peyton in any context.  I imagine Alistair Sooke does, in his Telegraph review, but since you have to subscribe to read it in its entirety,  I’ll never know.

Here, then, for what they’re worth, are my contributions.  First, Marlene Dumas – the flatness of texture, the graphic, cartoon-y nature of some of the portraits.  Then, German Expressionism, especially Oscar Kokoschka, in the entwined lovers below; finally, that woman with the flowers, against the green wall – a cross between Christian Schad and a Scottish Colourist like Peploe, maybe?

 

Quite unlike anything else in the exhibition – slightly blurred, I’m afraid, but definite Dumas touch, reinforced by the monochrome.

 

Vampire lovers…

 

Kokoschka crossed with Burne Jones?

 

Who’s this vampire boy?  No-one I know recognises him…

 

 

The exhibition is not confined to the rooms devoted to it; there are several portraits elsewhere in the galleries (although I didn’t see them).  It’s free, so definitely worth a walk through before it finishes on the 5th.

Erebus, The Story of a Ship – Michael Palin (Arrow Books, 2018)

John Hartnell, one of Franklin’s crew, buried in the 1840s and preserved by the ice

I got this book for Christmas and find it absorbing and beautifully written.  Erebus was the name of the ship which James Clark Ross sailed to the Antarctic on two expeditions in 1840 and 41 – and Lord Franklin took towards the other Pole in 1845; the voyage which led to his death and that of his entire crew and the disappearance of the ship.  The Erebus has now been located, sunk in shallow water; the bodies of some sailors discovered and exhumed (see above) – but I haven’t got that far yet; I’m still in Tasmania with Ross, just back from the first Antarctic “trip”.  I was interested to find that Mount Erebus, the active Antarctic volcano, was named after Clark’s ship, not the other way round.  Seems obvious now…

The Confession Killer and The Confession Tapes (both series on Netflix)

Henry Lee Lucas

I haven’t been to the cinema recently (apart from the latest Star Wars effort on Christmas Eve), but have been watching these two fascinating series on Netflix.  Lucas – you may remember the film “Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer” – confessed to around 600 murders when he was in the custody of the Texas Rangers, murders which had been carried out all over the USA, sometimes in different states simultaneously.  Police forces from numerous states queued up to clear their unsolved cases; Lucas, with his Texas Ranger “handlers” rarely let them down.  He was eventually convicted of one particular crime, the “Orange Socks”murder, which led to a death sentence – and it subsequently became clear that the confession was false.  I think I’m right in saying it was the only time that George W Bush ever granted an appeal against the death sentence.  Lucas died in prison in 2011 – no-one knows how many – if any – of his claims were true.

As to “The Confession Tapes” – there are two clear lessons to be learned.  NEVER falsely confess to a crime to relieve relentless pressure from interrogators, and NEVER agree to a plea bargain in Arkansas.

Anyway, I’ve finally been doing some proper painting again.  Latest efforts below:

 

Erebus

 

Night Visitor

 

New Years Eve

Happy New Year to all readers (for whom it IS new year, of course)

Blackpaint

January 1st, 2020

Blackpaint 660 – Lucian’s Selfies (mostly) and the APT Galleries

December 22, 2019

Lucian Freud Self Portraits, RA 

Strange title – there are many self portraits, but several pictures that are not; notably the “Two Irishmen in W11”,  “Freddie Standing”, and one of his daughters nude.  Maybe some others, can’t remember.

A number of the early selfies were unknown to me;  I was intrigued by the development of his realist fleshy style out of the early, flatter, more graphic portraits, with the hints of..who?  Christopher Wood?  Stanley Spencer maybe…  Craigie Aitcheson?  John Bellany, even.  I’m talking about hints and echoes, not clear resemblances.

Echo of those Renaissance religious works where the subject (Mary, baby Jesus, baby Baptist) holds a symbolic flower or bird.

 

That right ear is departing…  Actually, the ears echo the horns.

 

I still find something compelling about these unfinished pictures, with the flesh emerging suddenly from the snowy canvas.

 

Love that sidelong, disapproving – threatening? – glance down from a height.

 

Black left eye – fight with a taxi driver, I think.

 

Peeping round the corner – reminds me of a Bonnard (cropping, not style of course).  A lot of these earlier ones and some of the later too have these unusual peerings, croppings and angles.  Great show.

 

APT Galleries, Deptford:   “Material Indifference” – ended December 15th.

I saw this exhibition on its closing evening, at the beautiful white gallery, in the midst of elderly low-rise housing estates off Church Street.  I was struck by the beauty of the abstract painting and sculpture on display, which was the work of four artists:  Alice Peillon, Johanna Melvin, Michele Fletcher and Patrick Lears.  I am still puzzled by the title: the Gallery’s website says it is a “play on the continuum theory, Material Frame Indifference….. Materiality informs process and process determines materiality… The artists’ work seeks to embody the viewer by engaging the senses.”  I’m none the wiser, but happily, the pictures speak for themselves (maybe that’s what the foregoing actually means).

So, very sorry to the gallery and the artists for not getting there before the last day of the exhibition.  Check out their websites, anyway.

 

Johanna Melvin

 

Michele Fletcher

Little touch of Joan Mitchell’s Hidden Valley paintings, maybe…

 

Alice Peillon (I think)

 

Michele Fletcher

 

Alice Peillon

Great paintings to see on a dark winter night in Deptford.

 

Compulsory review of the exhibitions of the year

Best Exhibitions:

Albert Irvin and Abstract Impressionism at RWA Bristol

 

Bellany and Davie, “Cradle of Magic”, Newport Street Gallery, Vauxhall (Damien Hirst’s collection)

 

Bonnard, Tate Modern

 

Disappointing Exhibitions:

Dorothea Tanning, Tate Modern

 

 

Winter Solstice

Blackpaint

22.12.19

 

 

 

Blackpaint 659 – Tragedy, Irony and Bob Wills Camping it up…

December 4, 2019

Pushing Paper, British Museum Print Room until 12th January

Another tranche of the BM’s works on paper, in what appears to be a rolling programme of exhibitions of prints and drawings up in the print room.  This time, the main artist featured is Kathe Kollwitz. (Actually, this is wrong: the Kollwitz is an exhibition in its own right, within the same space).  Consummate skill, big on emotional (tragic) impact – not many jokes.

Examples of Kollwitz and some of the other well-known names, below:

Hands, Kathe Kollwitz

 

Kollwitz – inspired me to append a couple of my “backs”, below.

My Abortion, Tracy Emin

 

Nixon, Philip Guston

 

Stuart Brisley – an unusual image for the provocateur and creator of “happenings”, who was more often seen rolling about in mud and feathers or emerging from a pond naked…

 

Woman with Dead Child, Kollwitz – the way the child’s skull is echoed by the monumental knee…

 

Vita Sackville West, by Peter de Laszlo

Glimpsed this fabulous portrait on the telly, a prog about women’s novels, when Virginia Woolf’s great novel “Orlando” was under examination.  It stands up well in comparison to Singer Sargent;  unfortunately, most of de Laszlo’s other works were more conventional – but this one’s brilliant, love that weary stare, that very slight hint of an ironic smile..

Serotonin. Michel Houellebecq

I’m still trying to place Houellebecq politically; his protagonists are generally free from a political standpoint, unless a “plague on all your houses” is a standpoint.  It seems to me that IF his characters represent his own opinions at all, he hates and shits on all pieties.  Since most pieties originate on the Left, he comes across, to me at least, as a scabrous right winger of the libertarian variety.  I can’t imagine a woman reading any of his novels without grinding teeth.   Some British Marxists, surprisingly, (male ones anyway), seem to have no problem with his works, even when they appear “soft” on sex with underage girls, not only in the context of sex tourism.  He is relentlessly low brow, lists the specs of his (protagonists’) cars, what they have on their plates in restaurants, how many escargot in the pot, for instance…  I think he does this to undermine the pretentious guff that a dinner companion – typically an ex-partner – happens to be drunkenly drivelling at the time.  Roman Roy, the character in “Succession” series, seems to me a Houellebecquian creation.

I hope this doesn’t appear too critical; I eat his work up with great relish.  It’s impossible for me to imagine a writer in the UK being able to publish works, or even to write them, from a similar standpoint.

Country Music, Ken Burns documentary, BBC4

Hank Williams (of course…)

A Burns series on country music would seem to be a thing to cherish and to save on your recorded progs – or even to get the box set.  The trouble is the non-stop, insistent, abrasively- toned commentary by Peter Coyote, who commentates over all the music.  I found myself yelling “Shut up!” at the telly constantly (with some strong language); not Coyote’s fault, it seems; the series runs for only half the time in UK that it has in the States.  No doubt the commentary expands, though…

I was intrigued to see how camp some of the performers appear to modern eyes; Bob Wills in particular, with his prancing and eye rolling and signifying to band members and falsetto voice (no offence to any Texan readers; I know that, “Here in Texas, Bob Wills is still the King”):  I’m talking about appearances and changing styles.

It’s wrong, somehow,  to compare two forms of “folk” music – so here goes.  I love both country and the blues; I think the former has a slight edge when it comes to humour; the latter for variety, poetry and a lack of the sentimentality that sometimes swamps a country song.

 

Back of Omar 1

 

Back of Omar 2

Blackpaint

See all my life drawings on Instagram @chrislessware.com

4/12/19