Blackpaint 108


Blackpaint back

from Paris, with controversy and ignorant comment, bad art and dated musical references.  I see my readership has plummeted in the last few days; no doubt, this post will continue the process of decline.

Pompidou Centre

The lower floors have an exhibition of women’s art, entitled “Elles a centrepompidou”, mostly from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.  There is some brilliant, though familiar stuff (Dumas faces); some equally brilliant, though less familiar (Louise Nevelson, a huge black gate affair with Leger/Ernst- type shapes and Sylvie Fanchon, a huge sky blue canvas with bright red linked chain painted across it, just like a big Prunella Clough); and a few exhibits that a less principled viewer of either sex might have found provocative – even titillating.

First, a big B&W video by (and of) Hannah Wilke, in which she makes a series of ironic, pouting faces to camera and touches herself, performing a striptease.  Next to this, another video;  artist (Kiki Smith?) strips, or already is, naked and slathers wallpaper paste all over herself and rolls on the floor in wallpaper.  A small black sculpture by Smith portrays a woman prone beneath a goat which is apparently having sex with her.  My delicacy here is perhaps misplaced, because nearby is Betty Tompkins’ “Fuck Painting”, which portrays a large penis entering a vagina, I think from below, but not sure.  Nearby again, a series of small drawings by Tracey Emin, some of which at least, show an enormous penis moving towards an eagerly smiling cartoon girl, who is the same size as itself.

Like everyone else, I looked at all this solemnly and was reminded of Tompkins the following day in the Musee d’Orsay when I saw the famous Courbet picture of a woman’s thighs and lower torso, legs spread to display the furry vagina – and a group of six or so, including a couple of women, peering at it, absorbed.  The Courbet was the more accomplished painting, I think, though with less going on than the Tompkins.  More on the d’Orsay tomorrow.

Some more from the Pompidou women’s exhibition – Annette Messager’s rag dolls on long sticks propped around the walls; Eva Hesse’s giant white worms rearing up (perhaps some phallic significance here) and Lee Bontecou’s “Untitled” from 1966, a combination of painting and sculpture, curved surfaces bulging out from the picture painted cream, brown and red.  Reminded me of some Frank Stellas, in this “coming out of the wall” sense.

Finally, there was Eva Aeppli’s installation of 13 gaunt, gowned figures all apparently male, seated on folding chairs, in an unfortunate juxtaposition with Sigalit Landau’s “Barbed Hula” – a video of a female, bikini’ed torso hula hooping, but wait – the hula hoop turns into barbed wire! Marks left, but no blood drawn.  The juxtaposition is unfortunate, in that it looks as if they are ogling the bare belly of the hula girl.

Since many of these exhibits are 25, 30, 40 years old, the historical context has changed, perhaps largely as a result of the art itself: consequently, art that was once radical, startling, outrageous seems now very similar to quite mild pornography.  Something similar happens to all of us, I suppose; the difference is there’s always the chance that  it will all come round again for the art.  I hope I die before I get old.

Tomorrow, the rest of the Pompidou and the Orsay.

Listened to “Watch Your Step” by Bobby Parker; raw metal guitar riff nicked and slightly adapted by Beatles for “I Feel Fine”, blistering sax solo, soulful screaming and very disturbing “stalker” lyrics “..You ditched me baby, but you’ll get yours one day, you better watch your step…”

Also “Meet on the Ledge”, Fairport Convention, where Sandy comes in..

“The way is up; along the road,

The air is growing thin;

Too many friends have tried, blown off this mountain with the wind…”

Blackpaint 12.04.10

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