Archive for August, 2010

Blackpaint 184

August 29, 2010

Robinson again

(See Blackpaint 177).  Visiting the National Gallery again on Saturday, we noticed that the Cailey Robinson exhibition went on round the corner of the room and consisted of several more paintings than the two I mentioned before.  This should have been obvious, since the poster showed a different painting, but I missed it.  These other paintings were enormous and consisted firstly of processions of attractive, innocent young maids in hospital/orphanage/school uniform, trooping around the castle-like interior of an institutional building, set off by interesting lighting effects; and secondly, of groups of wounded WWI soldiers in “convalescence” uniforms (light blue with red flashes)  with the odd kilted Scottish soldier and picturesque veteran in foreign(?) kit for effect.

Again, the thin black outline was present around the figures, making them static, and calling to mind illustrators of the period, and earlier.  I checked to see if there were any of the random red dots I’d noticed on the sheep (see Blackpaint 177), but could find none.  My partner suggested I should look at Seurat’s writing, since this sounded like one  of his techniques – but I can’t see how they could have operated; too few, too small, too dispersed and random.

Interesting to me to see how a painter so technically proficient – these paintings are really huge and beautifully controlled – could produce works so lifeless.

Fakes Exhibition

Dropped in on this again, and this time, I was impressed by the awfulness of the fake Botticelli;  the faces were  staggeringly bad and worth the trip alone, for the laugh.  I didn’t mention last time the Caspar David Friedrich painting, which isn’t a fake but a copy of the original by CDF himself, they think.  One of those beautifully  painted  snowbound scenes, lonely, fir trees, woods..  This time, I looked a little more closely and saw the wooden crucifixion seen in the central grove.  A country shrine, then, and in the snow – a pair of abandoned crutches!  Clearly, sometimes it’s better to view from a distance and overlook the detail..

Tintoretto

This is getting really bad, as I am about to abuse yet another great painter.  Still, he’s dead and this is an anonymous blog and gratuitous abuse is one of the pleasures.  Anyway, fantastic Tintoretto St. George and even more fantastic “Milky Way” upstairs – and next to it, a vast, rough, black, Spanish- looking painting of Christ  washing his disciples’ feet; it’s terrible, isn’t it?  Or am I missing something?  I can’t believe that the same artist could produce this monstrosity and the Milky Way.  it must have been his studio, not him.

Moroni

Then another example on the way out, but not so bad; the great portrait of the rosy-cheeked blond woman with her pink, anxious eyes and the fantastic pink satin dress  – next to the boring, bearded officer in black with the thin legs and knobbly knees.  I suppose the sitter (or stander in these cases) must make  a difference to the outcome, but hard for me to credit they are by the same artist.

Oil Painting

My own results are, by way of contrast, at least consistent.  Chopped-up ridges, slabs, scrapes and scores, they are getting thicker and busier all the time; more and more claustrophobic.  The trouble is, the oil is so seductive, you want to S-Q-U-E-E-Z-E it straight on and then slice into it and squirl it about – ended up with green paint gloves on last night.

Road to Mandalay 2

Blackpaint

29.08.10

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Blackpaint 183

August 27, 2010

Wolfgang Tillmans at the Serpentine

This artist seems to perplex some critics with his breadth of activity.  He seems to cover a lot of different techniques and subjects in his photographic work, to the extent that critics have wondered just what he considers to be art (see Laura Cumming, 27th June, in the Guardian): “Tillmans had no style but every style, no particular subject but everything around him”.  To be fair, Cumming is describing her reaction to him at the time of his Turner Prize award in 2000; now, her conclusion is that his art is about the processes and techniques  of photography.  If I have not misunderstood, that makes this show something like a glorified showreel.

To some degree, I think that’s right, but there are some striking images and several artists, painters and photographers, come to mind.

There are several huge photographs with a pink-cream base, which look like pinpricks of blood-red ink beginning to dissolve in liquid.  They could easily be Twomblys.  There is one even more massive, with indigo “ink”, in swirls that resemble comb strokes.  There are assemblages of glossy sheets, each in a different, bright colour, some folded and re-straightened – little Kleins?

Then, there are fuzzy black and white photos of a man working on  scaffolding; looks like photo-journalism, something out of Exposed at the Tate Modern, as if from a sequence.  Something is going to happen in the next frame.

 A couple of works have the scraped pattern appearance of Richters and  there is an enormous, glamorous portrait of female heptathletes at a  meet that immediately recalls Renike Dijkstra. 

The most memorable image is an unpretentious small photograph of a swimmer digging a splinter from his foot.  It’s a great shape – there’s something about the extended neck of the swimmer and his hunched figure and bent leg that recall a Figure at the base of a Crucifixion – the bleached colour photo of another swimmer apparently balancing on his right arm – or is he executing some sort of dive? – is marginally  less interesting.

There’s much more of note; flowers, parchment, electrical bits and pieces,  a cow tormented by flies, gardens, rockeries, drunks and scrapyards.  There is a desk display of magazine newspaper items relating to religious persecution of gays and women, genital mutilation and hangings in Iran. 

There is an aerial view of a huge industrial(?) complex or transport centre that I first took for a close up of a silicon chip.  On closer inspection, groups of tiny container lorries could be made out on roads and long ingots turned out to be sheds or hangars.  Big, square, empty areas give the impression of  flooded fields.  The inevitable comparison is with Gursky.

Very varied, then; painterly “art” photography, reportage, politics, portraits, huge, small, nature, industry….  No wonder he irritates critics – hard to get a “take” on, like, say, Gerhard Richter.

The Road to Mandalay

Blackpaint

27.08.10

Blackpaint 182

August 25, 2010

Louisiana again

Just a few more artists to mention from this catalogue (see yesterday’s blog):

Rauschenberg

Two great pictures with those downpours or waterfall effects he has in blacks or greys, over the composite pictures he transfers to canvas from photographs – one called “Tideline”, the other “Untitled” (the 1st Apollo Landing), which is odd in itself.

Niki de Saint Phalle 

A tall, narrow colourful panel called “Drame de Coup de Feu” – what’s that, “drama of the fire strike”?  Sorry, schoolboy French inadequate.  Take a look at the picture, anyway.

Anselm Kiefer

Several typical huge, ominous works by Kiefer; best are “Ausgiessung”, dark grey, white, green, like a field of corn stalks below a louring, scratchy sky with a big black, dripping blob low and dead centre over it.  Looks like a grey, cone-shaped trumpet set in the “earth” below it.

“Saulen”, browns, blacks, whites, greys; a scratchy, splintered surface; the facade of a ruined brick building beneath a grey-black sky – impossible not to think of the fall of Berlin.

Per Kirkeby

a whole bunch of beautiful works from this painter, with his patches, lines and slurs of bright reds, greens, blues on black or brown or grey.

Arnulf Rainer

A series of “deathmasks” and “blind und Stumm”, recalling Marlene Dumas, somewhat.

Etc.

Picasso, Bacon, Warhol, Morris Louis, Tapies, some great Sam Francis, Jim Dine……

And

Sculpture.  Giacometti (loads, including that striding thin man), Miro, Arp, Ernst, Calder, Caro, Moore…..

Red

In that film “Painters Painting”, there are some really intense red paintings by Rauschenberg.  They look like caves of red.  He says on the soundtrack “There’s a lot of black in red”; I didn’t understand at first, but now I see it’s a dark colour, even (especially) when its glaring at you like a furnace.  Maybe the black is in your eyes or brain; or is that stupid to say, because all colour is in your eyes and brain…?

Poor Tom

Blackpaint

25.08.10

Blackpaint 181

August 24, 2010

Blog

Sorry, its going to be  short today as I’m  trying to get a painting right – oils are great, make everything brighter and sharper, but they’re thick and sticky so I find I need to pretty them up here and there to make them look a bit more intentional, not just a tangle of colours I’ve splurged randomly onto the canvas and rolled around in (although I’ve done a bit of that too).

Louisiana

Not the US state, but the art gallery in Copenhagen.  Was there three summers ago and it was the best, with Guggenheim Bilbao, that I’ve been to outside London.  Anyway, in Hay on Wye, found an old 1995 catalogue for  Louisiana for a tenner.  It’s got the following, which I recommend you look up on Google as usual and give yourself a high quality visual experience (I was going to say “treat”, but I’m avoiding cliches like the plague, at this moment in time):

Pierre  Alechinsky

Belgian, member  of CoBrA, look at “Noise of the Fall” (Bruit de la Chute).  like Bram van Velde matched with de Kooning, it has a little fringe of black and white waterfall pics at its base, like those little scenes you get at the bottom of altar pieces – he did that often.  Compare his with Gorky’s; I like Alechinsky’s, but maybe overfamiliar with Gorky’s, which is in the Tate (but not currently on the wall).

Egill Jacobsen

More CoBrA, I think – “Mask”, bright pink/orange, curves and curls, reminds  me of Constant but also a bit of Gillian Ayres.

Jorn

OK, this is really all about CoBrA – well, it IS in Copenhagen – check out “Dead Drunk Danes”.  Strange title; surely the Danes are a sober people?

Appel

love those rough black grids and lines, scrawled over  and over into the red – a crude, crude beauty every time.

Ejler Bille

Don’t even know if this is a man or woman.  Grey-green grounds, rough surface like pebble-dash, great, looping lines, forming circles and birds.

That’s enough to be going on with – more tomorrow.

Dog Star

Blackpaint

24.08.10

Blackpaint 180

August 23, 2010

Francis Alys

“A Story of Deception” at the Tate Modern.  A series of videos and films,  with a number of little paintings on paper, tiles and such and some artifacts – machine guns with tape- and film spools standing in for ammunition magazines (I suppose that’s deception, but so is any art except ready-mades); and a rack of shelving filled with toy metal trucks, presumably collected by the magnetised dog he pushed or pulled through the streets.

The booklet offers maybe the clearest explanation of each of the projects documented here that I’ve seen.  The explanations are plausible – but more of that later.

The first is “Mirage”.  Film of a desert road with white centre markings, apparently dissolving into a “sea”, framed between two wavery horns of sandy soil.  Hypnotic image, as mirages are.  Booklet says, “A goal that is longed for but never reached.”

Second is “The Loop”.  Alys was invited to an exhibition in San Diego, across the border from Tijuana, Mexico.  He decided to go there, avoiding crossing the border – that meant flights down through Central America and the Pacific rim of South America, across to Australia, up the Pacific rim of China, through Alaska and down to San Diego.  The booklet says, “(the trip) highlights the difficulties faced by Mexican citizens trying to visit the US, and the excesses of artworld travel”.  Alys, however, in his postcard to punters, says “The project remained free and clear of all critical implications beyond the physical displacement of the artist.”  So if it highlighted something, it wasn’t the artist’s intention.

The third room contains a number of videos of projects in Mexico City.  There are the magnetised dogs, sheep endlessly circling a monument (increasing by one every turn) and the famous block of ice that Alys pulled like a dog round the city until it melted.  This was titled, appropriately, “Sometimes doing something leads to nothing”.  I was interested to see that he was kicking the ice block before him as it melted, using its “skating” properties to make the journey more efficient; I felt this was cheating, for some reason.  The booklet says the piece “speaks to the frustrated efforts of everyday Mexico City residents to improve their living conditions”.  Pity; I thought the point being made was more universal, somehow.

There are a number of these “futile” activities paralleled elsewhere: kids kick a half full bottle of Coke up a hill (looks good as the liquid rolls and foams) and build sandcastles; a Volks goes uphill to music and rolls back down when soundtrack stops; 500 students shift a sand dune a few inches with shovels; a cartoon woman pours water from one glass to another endlessly, while singing about “manana”; the artist films himself running into the eye of a duststorm.  The booklet defines these actions in terms of Latin American socio-economic and political conditions; Alys is offering a political critique, it appears. 

I won’t go into what does or doesn’t happen when he goes for a walk through Mexico City carrying – very visibly – a handgun.

One action is clearly political (as well as poetic, as Alys says); The Green Line.  He walks the 1948 Israel – Jordan border in Jerusalem, dribbling a line of green paint behind him.  Soundtrack of various Israeli and Palestinian comments.

The booklet is clear and plausible, as I said – but it seems limiting and a little depressing.  The pat explanations fit OK, but they are too specific.  Most of these projects are variations on the myth of Sisyphus so why interpret them exclusively as comments on Mexican or South American political realities? Surely they have a much greater irrelevance.

A great show, very funny at times.

The Twins

Blackpaint

23.08.10

Blackpaint 179

August 22, 2010

Antichrist

Having just finished reading Revelations and hence the New Testament for the umpteenth time, I’m in the mood to review the Lars Von Trier film which I saw on TV the other night.  hope you will excuse this excursion into film – there’s a bit of painterly reference.

First, the physicality of the leads.  Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg have strangely similar features –  those slot mouths and oxygen mask pouts, and the deep cut lines.  Dafoe has an extraordinary, swirling line across the cheek, like a Lanyon wave or a Bacon dissection.  Then the bodies; cut muscles, flat, sharp-edged back and shoulders, esp. Gainsbourg, plenty of pumping sex in the grass.  So, even without the genital assault and mutilation, the penis spurting blood instead of sperm, there are constant reminders of Bacon’s work.

I love the cod psychology: he is a controlling, if loving, fascist of a (male) therapist, piloting her through her grief and guilt at the loss of their infant son (he fell, picturesquely, in slow motion, to choral music, through snowflakes,  from his bedroom window – while they were energetically shagging in another room).  She is irrational, woman as uncontrollable life-force, antichrist, witch, at one with, at the mercy of, the natural forces that surround them in their backwoods retreat.  As a fox remarks to Dafoe, “Chaos reigns”. The foxes, and a deer with a foetus dangling from its rear end, appear at moments throughout.

She provokes him by bashing his penis with a stool(?) and then drilling through his leg and attaching a grindstone to it (leg, not penis) whilst he is unconscious; then, as is well publicised, she cuts off her own clitoris with a pair of scissors.  In the end, he strangles her and burns her body on a pagan funeral pyre – and here come the deer, the fox and then a troop of women, presumably representing the women massacred by men down through the ages, witch-hunts etc., marching past down through the forest.

And the dedication – OF COURSE it was dedicated to Tarkovsky.  Visually powerful – sorry, cliche –  but not Tarkovsky, because the imagery was too literal, no sense of mystery.  No poetry, I suppose.  As if a young film maker were trying to impress his hero with tricks.

Bathos is always a danger; for English viewers, talking foxes can recall Basil Brush.  I remember also the scene in Onibaba, where the woman with the devil mask fixed to her face, says, according to the subtitles: “Don’t scream! It is only me – your mother-in-law!”

Agnes Martin

Very apt, I think, to look at this painter after the mud, blood and mutilation above.  Ironically (or maybe intentionally?), her display of about a dozen paintings is in that inner gallery of the Tate Modern where the blood and body stuff of the Austrians was:  bandages, stretchers, splatters, mutilations… now all gone, and pristine canvases of uniform size, pastel ice cream stripes, misted over with white paint, metal frames stare blankly from  the wall.  I was surprised to find she was born in 1912 and was Canadian (although vast prairies, frozen North, mist, snow…).  There are 8 paintings with horizontal stripes, 2 with vertical grey stripes, 1 orange horizontal “zip” and several in very pale pink, yellow and blue.  I wanted to chuck slashes of black or blood red paint at them  and let it slide down; what is the point of purity, if not to be defiled?  Then  again, perhaps the point is that it provokes these reactions.  Probably not, though.

Rufus

Blackpaint

23.08. 10

Blackpaint 178

August 21, 2010

Joan Mitchell

Yes, she’s on in Edinburgh til October 3rd, and there’s no way I’m going to miss this, even though it’s just a few paintings – seven ,I think, and some pastel drawings.  Got a glimpse of three on the Culture Show, presented by  Alastair Sooke in a Sinatra hat with Coltrane in the background (I think – my ears need syringeing).  He mentioned some really important things;  for instance, she swore a lot and was alcoholic – unusual for an Abstract Expressionist.  He pretty much got the main things right, though, mentioning Monet and lyricism and colour, contrasting with the black, depressive, explosive stuff.

I think that Mitchell was one of the most distinctive, expressive and inspiring of a miraculous bunch and is up at the top with de Kooning, Pollock and Hoffman.  Sick of hearing how she was younger, second wave, not as innovative, etc., etc.  Look  at the pictures in Jane Livingstone’s book; they’ll make you gasp and sometimes even move the sensitive to tears (probably only when drunk at 2.00am, however).

I was interested in Sooke’s account – if he wrote it himself; maybe he was just reading the words –  of the dark, “depressive” stuff and the light, “lyrical” stuff, in terms of how long it takes a painter to complete.  if you are responding to moods and you start something doomy, what happens if you cheer up half way through?  And vice versa?

The answer must be that you respond to the needs of the painting – this idea that Ab Exes just painted their moods is surely bollocks.  I understood that depression stops you from working, so the “dark” paintings must be “recalled in tranquility” or whatever the quotation is.  All art is fiction, unless it’s about itself.

Sidney Nolan and Arthur Boyd

Since seeing that great Arthur Boyd painting in the Tate I’ve been looking at stuff by these two; the Ned Kellys, lost explorers, scapegoats, sunsets…  I was going to call it surreal, but I’ve got an idea that their paintings are a lot more “real” – maybe Australia really looks, or looked, like that…  The only other Australian painter that I’ve seen work by is Fred Williams, who did those fantastic landscapes and top shots that were in  the Tate Modern a couple of years ago.  Bit of an Australian Lanyon – or the other way round.  I’ll be looking at other Australian artists in blogs to come. 

Saw the Francis Alys at Tate Modern today – will write about it tomorrow.

Listening to Kris Kristofferson at Cambridge, doing “Me and Bobbie McGhee” – and of course, Bobbie  is a girl!  Obvious really, but only just realised – I knew Kris wrote it, and even saw him perform it to a totally unappreciative audience (he was booed) at the Isle of Wight.  Joni told us off, said it was nothing like Woodstock…

“Busted flat in Baton Rouge, waitin’ for a train,

Feelin’ near as faded as my jeans…”  

Janis did it better, but Kris wrote it.

Blackpaint

21.08.10

Blackpaint 177

August 19, 2010

Frederick Cayley Robinson

At the National Gallery.  He died in 1927.  The NG has a suite of paintings he did for a hospital which has been demolished and one in particular on show now.  It’s sort of a cross between Pre-Raphs and very high class children’s illustration, although he said he was influenced by Puvis de Chavannes.  The painting is a pastoral scene – a river winding through its plain in the centre of the picture, with a blinding column of sunlight striking down onto its surface.  Flock of woolly sheep in bottom left, Mabel Lucie Attwell-ish shepherd girls on right, under a couple of silver birch trees, I think, or maybe some sort of willow.

Beautifully painted, and when I looked closely at the sheep, saw a number of small, randomly distributed red dots, which disappeared when I stepped back.  Went in again, to make sure it wasn’t  my eyesight – no, there they were.  Is this some well-known technique of which I am ignorant?  The birch bark was fantastic too.  Interestingly – perhaps – there was a very  thin black outline round the figures, giving them the slightest Rousseau-type, “stuck on” effect. 

As well as this picture, there was a great self-portrait, signed in a cod-mediaeval way; I think he was going for Holbein (about two thirds there).

Fakes exhibition at the NG

Forgot the proper title – worth a visit anyway and it’s FREE (I suppose they can’t really charge you for looking at fakes…).

Not all, or even most, are fakes actually – there are some restorations, different versions by same artist, wrongful attributions  made in  good faith, reconstructions from original  materials – and some genuine  ones (Madonna of the Pinks, Uccello’s St.George and the Dragon) that were originally thought to be fakes.  There’s a lot of interesting stuff on materials, especially pigment – Prussian Blue, invented in early 18th century, seems to have been crucial several times.

There’s a “Madonna of the Iris”, purportedly Durer, actually by a bunch of different artists.  I have to say that, although the madonna is no great shakes, the red fabric of her gown is beautifully done in that International Gothic style.

By contrast, the “Poussin” picture, “The Plague at Ashdod”, was terrible – see the boy in the right hand corner!  It was traced too, I think the blurb said; the faker must have been tired by the time he got to that bit.

The Verrocchio with the two angels (right angel done by a pupil, they think) – his distinguishing features are the lips and eyelashes; always a little prominent (check out  Tobias and the Angel in the main gallery – the one with the little dog they think was done by Leonardo).

There are a couple of Botticellis, featuring his beautiful hippy women with their sleepy, serene eyes, but the star has to be that Uccello – I never thought it looked much upstairs, but down here in level -3, it glows.

Per Kirkeby

Got the book of the recent Tate exhibition reduced (£6.00) – I like the stuff better now.  Maybe there was just too much in the exhibition.  Anyway, as well as himself, he reminds me of a bunch of other painters, as I flick through: Rauschenberg, in the car ones with the dots; Peter Doig, in some of the landscape-y things; and Sigmar Polke with his cartoon figures on horseback.

Rubens

Back upstairs, I was rather disturbed to find the Rubens women, reminiscent as they sometimes are of the Captain  Pugwash cartoons, somewhat erotic.  I clearly need to take up some sort of hobby.

Blackpaint

19.08.10

Blackpaint 176

August 16, 2010

Rauschenberg

Last blog should have read “Ruscha’s OLDER vandal brother” – although doesn’t sound so good.  Rauschenberg was born in 1925 and is dead; Ruscha was born in 1937 and is still alive – important differences (to the artists anyway).

Rausch. is included,with Ruscha and Rosenquist et al, in the Taschen “Pop Art”.   I  think I’m right in saying he’s  the only one with any real texture to his surfaces – the others are all smooth and glassy, some airbrushed.

Tate Britain

 A Mary Feddon, mauve table floating at a Cezanne angle, floating on it a red-orange fruit and other objects I can’t recall – and an Arthur Boyd, “Bride drinking from a creek”, depicting exactly that; a ghost -like figure with, a stiff white lace veil sticking up behind her, face in the river, surrounded by blackened stumps and sticks of trees burnt in some bush fire.  Both fabulous painitngs.

Blake

There is an exhibition of beautiful small pictures by William Blake, mostly from the Book of Urizen, including one that looks like God using a bowling ball, another of a highly stylised skeletal figure with a patriarch and one of those squareish, massively muscled, but huddled and  troubled (sorry) figures with the staring eyes.  Also a single page of beautifully etched trees and pastoral scenes, each the size of a pair of dominoes, and showing clearly Blake’s influence on modern artists like Graham Sutherland.  We have a copy of the book at home with tipped in illustrations, that are clearly different versions of the ones on show here; apparently, he did a number of versions in different media.

Sutherland, etc.

In the next room are works by Sutherland, Michael Ayrton, John Piper and Keith Vaughan, which seem to follow naturally somehow; Vaughan’s figures, in particular, are solid and chunkier than the more abstract figures of the 60s I’m used to (see various previous Blackpaints).  The main Ayrton is a Temptation of St. Anthony, which is a wonderful drawing  in terrible  colours, to my eyes anyway.

The Sutherlands include the Welsh(?) landscape with the cow’s skull in those Bomberg-like orange-reds and ochres, the green, white and black tree tunnel and the long, green log which always looks to me like a pig’s head on the end of a battering ram.

Finally, in this room, there is a glass case, full of  sketchbooks by Sutherland, Vaughan and Robert Colquhoun which have some of the best pictures, as always.

John Riddy

Next room, have a look at one particular picture by Riddy, the shot of a brick wall in Weston Street.  It looks just like a painting to me, the brickwork and old poster tatters making an illusion of paint texture.

Lanyon

The great little exhibition of Lanyon’s preparatory works for the 1951 “Porthleven” is still up and it makes me doubt whether Lanyon’s work  is in any sense abstract.  Everything he paints is there in the world, apart maybe from sweeping lines representing a glider’s trajectory; it’s just  cut up and jumbled, “abstractified”, I suppose.  Margaret Garlake in her Tate book goes for “near-abstract”.  An interesting bit of info is that Lanyon claimed he was unaware of the presence of the fisherman and his wife, the two figures that “contain” the town, until he’d  finished.  Sounds far-fetched, but I believe it – happens  to me all the time.

Blackpaint

16.08.10

 

Blackpaint 175

August 15, 2010

Douanier Rousseau

I’ve read the passage in Penguin Book of Art Writing on the above, to which I referred in BP 173 and, as usual, I was quite wrong; it’s written by Picasso’s lover at the time and, although Rousseau is portrayed as a comic, rather pathetic buffoon, there is no suggestion that Picasso himself regarded him as such.  As to my comparison of Rousseau to Ornette Coleman, that was wrong too.  Rousseau was a catalyst; he influenced P. and the Cubists, but didn’t develop much himself.  Coleman, by way of contrast, became the next big thing with, and after, Coltrane and the leading force in “free” jazz from the late 50’s on.  So – moving on…

Rauschenberg’s “Gluts” 

Last word for this year on the Guggenheim Bilbao.  These sculptures and found objects are so named because they are the detritus from the North American culture of overproduction, conspicuous consumption and built-in obsolescence (three cliches in succession!).  It’s capitalism, anyway; nothing particularly USA about it – except for the scale.  Rausch, fortunately,  had a rather sentimental attitude to these bits of refuse and went round rescuing them like stray cats.  then he attached this to that, producing a sculpture; maybe adding some paint, maybe just calling  it something.

Scoreboards, calendars, road signage, car parts (fenders,  exhausts, tyres), garage detritus, STOP signs, production statistics on factory notice boards, iron ladders (maybe attached to venetian blinds – or not), bent panels, cots, a pair of Pegasus horses facing each other across a Greek marble head painted over in yellow, those silvery aluminium air ducts, squashed and twisted…  He’s like Ed Ruscha’s younger (?) vandal brother; Ruscha’s stuff is spick-and-span, Rauschenberg’s is crushed and crumpled.  White blinds, long yellow metal slats, cymbal, old wheel, blue “wood effect” panel, iron stove, chair, car radiator.

One room contains only silver metal, no painted objects – I like the painted stuff better, less pure but the paint’s part of the glut too.  Interesting that he got names from what the sculptures and objects look like – for example, “Dirty ghost Glut”, “Samurai Glut”, “Gold Strike Glut”.

The exhibition ends with photographs of R’s collaborations with dancers Merce Cunningham and Trisha Brown.

Mike Nelson

Went to Tate Britain yesterday, and very nearly missed this artist’s “Coral Reef”.  That’s because you enter the installation through a little scruffy cream doorway and are confronted with the uniformed back of a Tate attendant sitting at a wooden counter behind a grille, filling in some forms.  As you mutter an apology and go to withdraw, you notice that there are other punters beyond the grille.  Progressing further, you find a confusing suite of rooms, low ceilings, made out of wood, dark, smelling  like the basement of  a second-hand bookshop, with various random objects scattered around: a settee, rumpled sleeping bag, clown’s head, tommy gun – some of the rooms look like temporary offices in old Portakabins, or more likely, disused rolling stock.  It was a little like going round the Haunted House in some impoverished travelling fairground.  It reminded me of the Kienholz “Hoerengracht” thing (see Blackpaint 34  ).  Coral Reef?  I suppose it winds in and out, like a maze – but it was more like a reef of detritus, washed up by the tide.

Listening to Easy Rider Blues by Texas Alexander.

“Takes midnight til the early rising sun,

Midnight til the early rising sun,

Stood on the corner, just to see my baby come.”

Torn Curtain by Blackpaint