Archive for June, 2010

Blackpaint 160

June 27, 2010

The Vivisector by Patrick White

I’m still reading this, after months, as a result of my obsessive behaviour in reading a dozen books at once, four pages at a time.  Consequently, I can never remember what happened at the start by the time I finish.  With some books this doesn’t matter; Beckett’s “The Unnameable” for  example.  If you’ve read it, you’ll know what I mean. 

The Patrick White, however, is great, but I think difficult.  Anyway, today I came to a bit which struck me very hard.  Duffield (White’s painter, apparently based on a combo of Bacon and Nolan) at the age of fifty-five, is brought suddenly down to earth by a shopgirl referring to him as “elderly”.  His reaction is to retreat into his house, where his paintings are waiting for him:

“The paintings, the earlier ones you end by accepting like inherited moral traits, had withdrawn apathetically into the walls on which they were hanging.  They were less humiliating, however, than the bravura of technique, the unsolved problems of space, the passages of turgid paint, which glared at him from the later ones standing around the skirting boards.  Most disturbing of all was the painting on the easel…before his going out, it had struck him as having a lucidity, an almost perfect simplicity….all lost with his going out; the smallgoods girl…..had done away with the membrane separating truth from illusion. ”

This is something I guess that everyone who aspires to creative work experiences frequently – all the time, in fact.  Something you thought was quite good, you were perhaps a bit excited about, suddenly dies and drains away, on the wall or the page.  You can’t think how you failed to notice the scrappy bits, the dead areas, the garishness of that blue which you had thought was subtle, the boring bit in the top left, the glare of the colours generally.  Always there is the lack of originality, in that what you think of as good is the result of your work looking a bit like someone else’s that you like.  If it were original, you wouldn’t like it in the first place.

So, White writes well about painting.  This scene is followed by Duffield using an outside toilet, but unlike Leopold Bloom, that constipation of yesterday is NOT gone.  Other toilet scenes in modern literature; Inside Mr.Enderby by Anthony Burgess, Jubb by Keith Waterhouse , a short story (I think) by John Cheever and of course, Trainspotting.

After that short digression into literature, back to art.

Jim Dine

Beautiful woodblock prints of classical sculptures, done in the late 80s; “Red Dancer on the Western Shore” and the “Oil of Gladness” (actually a brightly coloured print of the Venus de Milo).

Appel

Two pictures done in 1961 and 2, “Nives” and “Portrait of Janine” that, at first glance, are very much like de Kooning women.

Blackpaint, not Appel of course.

27.06.10

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Blackpaint 159

June 24, 2010

Chelsea Degree Show (cont.)

A couple of items I missed yesterday that have floated back into my mind – again, all from memory, so apologies for any errors:

  • A whole wall filled with samples of knitting work, showing variations in style of ..well, knitting stitches (is that right term?)
  • A number of line drawings based, I think, on “The Joy of Sex”, that instruction book from the 70’s by Alex Comfort.  They were executed on paintings and photographs of paintings.
  • Curved blocks of wood, highly coloured – bright blue, I think – shaped like big cheese wheels and fitted around steps.

Depicting the Dead

Following on from Sally Mann’s photographs of corpses, more on the depiction of death, occasioned by the BP Portrait Prize being awarded to Daphne Todd for Last Portrait of Mother.  Todd’s mother is lying dead, aged 100, mouth gaping, against a big, lush, white bolster pillow and sheets.

I think it must have been done at home, since it’s executed in a Spencer/Freud style, which would have taken some time.  I can’ t imagine a hospital suspending the routines for a painting to be done – maybe a hospice?  Maybe she did it from sketches and memory or photos, or perhaps it was done at the deathbed; if so, how long did it take?

A couple of other things occurred to me; I wondered how the judges felt.  How do you compare someone who has entered a picture of their dead mother with someone who has entered their postman?  On pure merit, I suppose; it looks (in the Guardian photograph) to be a very good picture.

I also wondered whether it’s easier to paint the face of a corpse than that of a living person, in the sense that the emotions have gone; there’s no sparkle in the eye, as it were.

Finally, there is the fact that paint tends to “glamorise” ; paint, oil paint in particular, has sensuous qualities that are pleasing in themselves and can’t help but add that attractiveness to the least glamorous material.

Damien Hirst

The other death picture I saw this week was at Tate Britain; that photograph of a young Damien crouching and mugging next to the bloated features of a decapitated man’s face (presumably taken in a mortuary somewhere).

I used to find this picture ugly, callous and grotesque; I still do, but I think maybe Hirst is justified.  He is showing a fitting mindset for an artist – unsentimental, irreverent, objective.  you can’t avoid thinking, “Grin on, mate, that’ll be you some day with your head in a basket and some prat making fun of you”.  It won’t be, probably, as Hirst is rich enough to avoid dissection – but all the same,   “As you are now, so once were we”, as Christy says.

So it’s still disgusting, but it is art.

Blackpaint

24.06.10

Blackpaint 158

June 23, 2010

Chelsea Degree Show

Wandered into this after the Tate Britain today and was immediately lost; on every door was a sign, “Show continues” or “No Show”.  In some cases, arrows on “show continues” posters pointed both ways.  Nightmare for those with no sense of direction, or with a compulsion to see everything – if you have both at once…

Anyway, to be expected, there was a lot of packing cases and/or cardboard boxes and TVs on floors, playing continuously.  In two rooms, there were guitars and amps – in one of these, sounds were emerging.  Other things I remember were:

  • Bowls of red/orange stuff with cloth/paper hanging in them, colour seeping up.
  • A door with the warning “contains nudity”, behind which a video played of a girl in bed, speaking to camera.  The nudity did not arrive soon enough to cause me offence and the soundtrack was not clear enough.
  • A film about a reservoir in Teesdale, I think, playing in an empty lecture theatre.
  • Paintings on metallic, glabrous surfaces, rust/blood red, grey, brown, resembling splattered targets.  I liked these, being old-fashioned.
  • Up a narrow iron spiral staircase to a sort of turret room, which was just about completely lined with postcards of this artist’s previous work, it appeared.  Some interesting, splattery, smeary pics, a spoof on the Tracey Emin tent – just TOO MUCH STUFF to take in.
  • Some professionally executed cartoons, the message(s) of which were obscure – possibly anti-meat eating?  There was one differentiating carnivore humans from  fruitarian hominids.
  • Small, vividly coloured wall plaque thingies, made from wood, maybe, or papier mache and stuck together.  These had been bought by  the University for its permanent collection.
  • Rabbit skins in a small perspex cube, stitched together to make a sort of composite rabbit.
  • A number of meticulously made surrealist objects; a walking stick in a violin case, a bent fork in a Meerschaum pipe case, a hairpin in a presentation box – lots of bent things.
  • A number of brown cardboard boxes stuck together into a construction, interspersed with speakers – nothing coming out while I was there.  A couple of nice paintings, one of flamingoes, the other containing a central white mass, like an iceberg.
  • A room in which there was a wall painting of a natty looking young man in a sort of aristocratic raincoat.  The raincoat hung in the room.  A host of cockroaches was painted on the floor and walls, approaching a pair of monkeys eating a man’s brain with spoons and  a child, also with brain exposed.
  • A wispy, violet line drawing on a partition – looked like a smoky flower.
  • TV screens buried in a white partition wall, so that each one only partly exposed; domestic scenes playing out, washing, breakfast etc.
  • A dark room (maybe I should have put lights on – I thought the darkness was part of the work), with a white silk wedding (?) dress hanging on one wall and a spray of flowers in a box frame on the other wall.
  • A room with messages scrawled in chalk, some obscured, on the floor and on blackboards (Ah, that takes me back!) around the room, propped against the walls.
  • Several large, dark paintings of beings with flayed, muscular torsos and faces – browns, dark reds, blacks.
  • Three paintings of a TV test card, that one with the little girl playing noughts and crosses, each  painting slightly smaller than the previous one.
  • Large 3D images of the inside of a flat, doors and windows.  3D glasses provided.
  • Doors and shuttered windows – one my friend identified as a padded cell door (he didn’t tell me how he knew what it was).

That is what I remember seeing, with no prompting from artist’s cards; I purposely wanted to record what I remember.  I enjoyed the show a great deal and will be visiting again.  If you recognise your work from these descriptions, please comment.

I found it interesting (and a bit worrying) that there was nothing resembling the sort of abstraction I do.  I feel like a skiffle fan might have felt at a jazz fusion evening  in the 70’s.

Martin Rowson

The interview with him – it was Laurie Taylor doing it – was on again and I watched the whole thing this time, instead of switching off after the Blair’s tongue bit (see Blackpaint 153).  He was saying in the second half that  sometimes  he felt “he offended all the people, all the time”.  It occurred to me what a fantastic epitaph that would  be, when the time came – many years in the future, of course.

Straight Life by Blackpaint

23.06.10

Blackpaint 157

June 22, 2010

Sally Mann – the Family and the land

As promised yesterday,  the show at the Photographers’ Gallery.  There is an excellent review by Sean O’ Hagan in the Observer which is no doubt online, but make sure you read mine as well.

It’s in four parts; two parts are pictures of her children, one is of Southern landscape and the last of corpses in a Tennessee forensic research “body farm”.  All the pictures are B &W, all taken on an antique camera and on some, imperfections in the developing process have been left in. 

The downstairs area contains huge close-up pictures of the children’s faces.  They were taken, like all the pictures, on a large antique box affair which was fixed in position above a table or board on which the children lay, looking upwards.  The faces fill the picture; no head outline.  The edges are ragged, torn and the paper has bubbled here and there.  The children are called, Virginia, Emmett and Jessie – the last is a girl, I was surprised to find, since her features are sharp, wild and boyish in these pictures.  In one of the pictures, the heavily freckled child’s eyes are closed, lids and lips appearing slightly darkened and swollen and the effect, for me, is of a death mask.  I was surprised to hear Mann say in the film that the faces, to her, seem full of life and hope.  They (apart from the death mask) could equally be seen to express resentment, aggression or fear, I think.

Upstairs, there are another dozen or so pictures, of the kids playing and posing in the Virginia woodlands and riversides.  They are formally beautiful, evoke Victorian images and have a sinister edge to them.  More often than not, the kids are naked and have knowing, even arrogant or challenging expressions.  In Perfect Tomato, a nude ballet dancer does steps on a picnic table.  Jessie at 9 is about to dive, naked, from a rock.  Approach of Alligator has the youngest girl “asleep” while a toy alligator appears to have emerged from the creek in the background. 

There are two images, however, which are most disturbing.  The first, entitled The Terrible Picture, shows the youngest girl looking as if she is hanging from a tree.  The second, entitled Candy Cigarette, shows the two girls, dressed for once, in casual poses, the older one staring at the camera,  a cigarette poised in her fingers.  The younger, hands on hips, has her back to the camera, watching her brother in the distance, blurred, up a ladder it appears.

The combination of the pose, the expression and (especially) the cigarette sends a dubious message, I think.  Maybe it’s my corrupted mind and no doubt others will see only a couple of lovely kids pretending to be adults.  I find it edgy, anyway. 

The question to me about these pics (and to the American teacher, lecturing the big party of teenage students while I was there) was how much has Mann posed the kids and how much is the result of  the kids posing themselves?

Deep South is southern countryside – Spanish moss, mist, rivers, decaying trees, gates, columns, those fantastic swamp trees tha tent out at the bottom.  Civil War echoes, death,  decay….

What Remains is – well, the remains.  A gaping, parchment-covered skull, frizz of hair, shiny, satin/oilskin rumpled shoulder and chest skin.  Next, a fleshy, bulging stomach and breast, not far gone; a man’s(?) body, on face, big ulcer things on limbs and trunk, like the woman Torrance hugs in “the Shining”; a close up decayed face, wispy hair,  remarkable orange-peel shoulder; lastly, head, neck and trunk of a man  face down, cork-like skin, deep cracks or wounds like stab wounds?  No chance here of anyone recognising a relative (See last blog).

The family pictures were by far the most interesting and disturbing – that seems to be the adjective of choice (see O’Hagan).  Great exhibition, free too; beautiful images that you won’t forget in a  hurry.  Haunted by death and decay; in the film, she referred to “the sanctification of the land by the presence of death.”

Blackpaint

22.06.10

Blackpaint 156

June 21, 2010

Sally Mann

I was hoping to do Sally Mann today, but Photographer’s Gallery closed on Monday.  Pity, because it sounds as if it sort of follows on from a couple of themes I’ve looked at in the last few blogs.  She takes antique-looking B and W pictures of her kids in the woods and riversides of Virginia.  The ones I’ve seen in the Observer and online look pretty risky, in the sense that stuff like this, naked and semi-naked kids, has been raided before in London on a complaint from the public; it might have been Mann’s photographs then, too.

The photos I’ve seen are posed, beautiful but sinister in the way that B and W photos set in woodland seem to be; looking at the Observer, they bring to mind Haneke’s “White Ribbon”, “Wisconsin Death Trip”, those Balka photos of the pond in the Polish wood (see Blackpaint 20 and 21).  It’s not just me, either; to quote Sean O’Hagan in the Observer, there is “an image entitled “The Terrible Picture”, in which one of her young daughters appears to be hanging by the neck from a tree”.

I suppose you could say that one of the functions of an artist is to confront terrible things that are part of human experience and to present them back to us in some form which embodies a truth or truths.  Whether or not Mann does this, I’ll have to wait and see, but I would have thought it takes some –  nerve?- to do this using images of your own children.  Superstition alone would stop me.

 If this weren’t enough, the other series of her photos shows decaying corpses at a Body Farm run by the University of Tennessee.  O’ Hagan asks two questions: should the scientists have let her take these photographs, and should they then be displayed as art.  I think the first question is tougher than the second; if I was the director of the Body Farm, I think I’d want permission of the relatives before letting some artist loose, especially if any of the corpses are recognisable.

As to the second, it’s not a problem for me.  We don’t see dead bodies all that often in Western society, so there’s an intrinsic interest. It’s going to happen to all of us sooner or later – or would do, if the undertakers didn’t get to us first – so it doesn’t seem to me to be totally ghoulish, just slightly morbid curiosity.  OK, then, on a Chamber of Horrors,  True Detective level; but whether it’s art…. I’ll go and see tomorrow.

Blackpaint

21.06.10

Blackpaint 155

June 20, 2010

Godfather 3 and Capello

Watching this last night, saw Al Pacino do the soundless Bacon scream in response to his daughter’s death (on the steps, of course, like the woman in Potemkin, one of Bacon’s inspirations);  I wonder if that was his idea or Coppola’s.

Maybe its the similar names which led me to think of Fabio Capello.  He is like a Bacon character, with the tight suit, the dark glasses,  the strutting, the gestures, scowling, sneering and screaming – after all, Bacon did (I mean painted) sport ; cricket, boxing and cycling, was it?  He did a painting of George Dyer on a bicycle, but I don’t think that counts as sport.

Wallander

So, first Pontus and Isabel leave him, and now Katarina has gone to Stockholm.  In the last episode, Kurt appeared to up sticks and pursue her to the big city, but it is imperative that he returns, empty-handed.  Wallander must never find true love and company; he is too important a symbol of absolut, lonely goodness.  Interestingly, with the exception of the weak Katarina, he is surrounded by quietly decent people; Svartman, Martinssohn and above all, the incredible Nyborg – best moment tonight, the awkward hug Nyborg gave Kurt after the bomb explosion and Kurt’s reciprocal motionlessness and bemusement.  How could Kenneth Branagh, great actor in his own right, possibly be Wallander?  Far too openly emotional – you must be like a clam; curt Kurt.

The best on TV, along with the Review Show, Neighbours and Holby City.

Dog Flats by Blackpaint

19.06.10

Blackpaint 154

June 18, 2010

Portrayals of God in Western Art

As promised, comment on Andrew Graham-Dixon’s remark that Michelangelo was the first artist to portray God (ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, touching fingers with Adam):  Wikipedia says portrayals of God started in France in 12th century with “the hand of God”; then there was the Naples Bible showing God in the Burning Bush, addressing Moses presumably; then, in the Rohan Book of Hours.  It shows a 1489 picture by Perugino showing God; that beats Michelangelo by about 19 years (Sistine Chapel done 1508 – 1512).

This, however, is just typical blogger’s hair-splitting; even if Michelangelo’s wasn’t technically the first, it’s definitely the best likeness.

Royal Academy

Another AGD item, this time on the Culture Show; he seems to be on everything to do with art these days, and so does Grayson Perry.  No problem telling them apart, however – Perry has fair hair.

The item showed the judges of the Wollaston(?) Prize at their deliberations, trying to decide who should get the £25,000 prize for the most distinguished work in the show.  This should have been easy, as it was behind them on the wall; Gillian Ayres, of course.  They awarded it to Yinka Shonibare.

Damien Hirst

A re-run of an old South Bank Show from 2 or 3 years ago, with Melvin Bragg interviewing him at Toddington, the vast stately home he bought to turn into a gallery for his work and his collection.  I thought he was really eloquent about the sort of artist that he cheerfully admits he isn’t – the lonely, Van Gogh – type painter, who works in solitary agony, does everything for him/herself, to whom every work completed and sold “is like a little bit of their soul torn off”.

I have a number of bits of torn-off soul available….

Blackpaint

18.06.10

Listening to Willie Nelson, We Don’t Run.

“We don’t run, and we don’t compromise,

We don’t quit; we never do.

I look for love; I see it in your eyes-

The eyes of me, and the eyes of you”.

Yes I know, but it sounds great when Willie does it.

Blackpaint 153

June 17, 2010

Sigmar Polke

Obit in the Guardian.  Like Gerhard Richter, in the sense that his work was so diverse it’s hard to get a handle on it all.  I remember an exhibition at the Hayward, I think, maybe five(?) years ago; he was using lots of hard resins that gave his work a mirror effect.  There was one of a Taliban or Al Quaida horseman like a cartoon.  I’ll have to look into him more closely, now that he’s dead (seems to go like that to me, that an artist acquires status by dying).

Rude Britannia

The exhibition, and watching the BBC4 programmes, brought to mind an interview I saw recently, of Martin Rowson.  I’d thought of him (along with Scarfe and Steadman, but maybe even more than these two) as the natural heir of Rowlandson – the similar name seemed fitting too.  Of all modern cartoonists, he seemed to be the one willing to go the farthest, in terms of public figures up to their necks in shit, or tongues up backsides.

I was surprised, then, when he said (I think) that the Danish cartoons of Allah shouldn’t have been published, or should have been censored, on the grounds that they were an attack on the weak in a society by the strong.  He then said that, later, when the furore and the murder(s) and the deaths of rioters had occurred, the cartoons SHOULD have been published then, because the events had caused the pendulum to swing the other way.  I hope I’ve got this right; quite a complex position.

I was intrigued to hear a cartoonist like Rowson speak in favour of censorship of material which attacks religion, on the grounds that the attack constitutes an attack on the adherents, and the adherents are vulnerable.  Is he equating the Danish cartoons with, say, anti-semitic cartoons in 30’s Germany?  I was also surprised to hear that he’d toned down a cartoon at the request of an editor – he’d moved a politician’s – Blair’s, I think – he’d moved  the tongue a little  further away from a backside (Bush’s no doubt).  So – savage, but not  so savage.

Pontormo

Saw Andrew Graham – Dixon last night, on Vasari.  He spent some time on Pontormo. and showed two huge paintings by the same, on the spot in some church in Italy (wasn’t paying that much attention, I’m afraid).  I sat up at this, however, because they didn’t look anything like the Pontormos that I’ve seen in the National Gallery.  If I remember rightly, they made up a series of paintings relating to Joseph at the court of Pharaoah – the dreams, the execution of the butler and freeing of the baker – or was it the other way round? 

Anyway, what I remember mostly was the colours; a rich pinkish red, grey and rich pale blue were dominant.  The colour in the paintings that AGD was talking about looked completely different.  I wonder if its to do with the cleaning process; the NG cleaned up all its early paintings about ten years ago, I think.

Michelangelo

AGD said that M. was the first artist to portray God (the Judeo-Christian version), in the Sistine Chapel.  Not according to Wikipedia, which gives a number of forerunners to Mich in this respect.  See tomorrow.

Headroom

Blackpaint

17.06.10

Blackpaint 152

June 15, 2010

Rude Britannia

This is in no particular order, as I wrote it down as I remembered it when I got home.

The first thing that impressed was the drawings of Philip Dawe of the huge, ridiculous wigs worn by Regency women.  Also the “Macaroni”, an earlier version of the Beau or dandy. 

The Hogarths, Gin Lane, Beer Alley, the Roast Beef of old England, demonstrate a difference between him and the other well-known cartoonists of the era ,such as Rowlandson – Hogarth exaggerates only slightly; it is the situations that are outrageous (the woman allowing her baby to slide from her lap) rather than the actual representation of them, which is relatively realistic.  Rowlandson, with his huge backsides, drooling lips, gobbling diners, drooling distillers, bum suckers, shit eaters and so on, is the caricaturist, forerunner of Scarfe and Steadman.

Gillray’s stuff struck me as a little tame by comparison (although Laura Cumming points out that there is more savage stuff that was not included).  There is a series of cartoons depicting the conflict between the fleshy, unkempt, bloodthirsty yob Fox and the tall, gaunt patrician Pitt.  Its pretty clear where the cartoonist’s sympathies lie.

Cruikshank’s cartoons seem to rely on lengthy captions (too much reading required in these exhibitions – can’t be avoided, if you want to understand them though).  There is also his huge allegorical painting the Worship of Bacchus; Steve Bell seems to admire it; he (Cruikshank)  strikes me as an early killjoy supporter of the BMA unit mongers.  Some interesting caricatures by Sir Joshua Reynolds.

Moving on to WW2, there are Low’s cartoons and those of Leslie Illingworth, of lesser renown, but as good for my money.  Churchill donning armour while dogs marked Royal Navy and RAF attempt to hold back the dragon of Nazism; Stalingrad as a hedgehog of spears, bloodying Hitler.  Recognisably in direct line from Victorian cartoons in Punch and London Gazette.

Modern times – Fluck and Law of course, Steadman and Scarfe (always confuse them), David Shrigley’s banner holding stuffed cat, “I’m Dead”.  Steve Bell and Major’s underpants, kinnardphillips and Alison Jackson’s lookalike Blair and Bush.  Best joke was Angus Fairhurst’s cartoon of the two men clashing heads; also his ill-fitting gorilla suit video.  Most excruciating was the Bateman cartoon of the man biting his tongue off.

The bawdy bit – Donald McGill of course, and a really good Viz cartoon, parodying McGill’s style and exploding it.  Some really impressive erect penises in the work of Aubrey Beardsley and Grayson Perry.

The whole thing was stitched together with a commentary done in the Viz style, by Viz characters, but I couldn’t be bothered to read all that – apparently, it was the funniest part of the exhibition.

As always with these exhibitions, especially in the early stages, you require great patience.  There are those who stand close up to the cartoons so that no-one else can see anything until they have read every word; then they move to the next one and do the same thing.  They tend to have grey hair and goatee beards (the men), Hawaiian short-sleeved shirts and those glasses hanging from cords.  They are mostly teachers (prob. retired), as they delight in pointing out loudly to their spouses the incorrect spelling of “skillful” in the captions.  I know the type; I am one.

Listening to Mean Black Spider by Robert Junior Lockwood.

“You’re a mean black spider and your web’s all over town (*2)

I’m gonna get me a mean red spider, to tear your cobweb down”

Blackpaint

15.06.10

Blackpaint 151

June 14, 2010

Bruegel

Looking at some of the snow scenes, I realised there was a slight resemblance to Lowry’s stuff, if only in the large numbers of little people going about their various businesses.  I suppose this is true of other Netherlands painters, such as Avercamp; probably a very trite observation – sorry.

Before leaving Bruegel, I feel I have to mention Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, in which you can just make out the legs of the falling boy  following the rest of him down beneath the ocean.  A galleon passes him on its way, a shepherd gazes in ignorance at the sky, a ploughman in the foreground continues ploughing his furrow.  The picture occasioned Auden’s poem,  Musee des Beaux Arts:

“…In Brueghel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away

Quite leisurely from the disaster: the ploughman may

Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,

But for him it was not an important failure….”

Think I’ll do paintings in poetry, when I can get round to the research.

Rude Britannia

Went round this yesterday, and it was great; will do it tomorrow, but just to remark on the critics briefly, who clearly don’t like it.  Laura Cumming in Observer and Richard Dorment in the Telegraph both criticised the excessive range, as they saw it, of stuff on offer, that didn’t somehow go.  The historical bits, the “bawdy” stuff, the conceptual art stuff… again, I think it’s because wide range and tenuous connections make an exhibition difficult to review, though they might make it more interesting for the punter.  Dorment commented that the Tate had mistaken a book for an exhibition.

Three other new things at the Tate worth seeing:

Anthony Wishaw  

80th birthday painting (actually called Landscape drawing, in acrylic with some form of composition); grey and black, like a Lanyon landscape in a Hitchens shape, beautiful and substantial.

Gillian Ayres 

Three big paintings, two of which can be seen through the archways of the other rooms; one at the end of the Fundamental Painting room, making a splash of reddish-brown and yellow colour at the end of a dark tunnel.  The best is Break Off (also  the earliest, 1961) in which, on an ochre/buff background, 5 or 6 floating objects resemble breakfast items, to me anyway.  Phaethon is a huge, crude, coloured plaque of pink and yellow and blue and white, with zig-zag patterns gouged in the thicknesses of the paint.  Sang the Sun in Flight is the one at the end of the tunnel. 

Francis Bacon, early works

From his “first career”, the period with Eric Hall and Roy de Maistre, paintings and furnishings.  There is a dark tree trunk like a Paul Nash (quite crudely painted); three Picasso-esque rugs; a screen with black, Leger-like shapes; a painting called Figures in the Park, with a tree, a very rudimentary dog(?) thing, and a squareish sort of figure; it’s alternative title is “Herman Goering and his Lion Cub” which, on close inspexction, makes sense.  It’s not clear whether this was Bacon’s idea or someone else’s interpretation.  On the end wall is the famous “figures at the foot of the crucifixion” tryptich.

Blackpaint

14.06.10