Blackpaint 268


Rose Hilton

In one of the Cork Street galleries I blogged about, a display by the above, now in her 80’s.  She was unable to keep up her painting while married to Roger Hilton; partly due to his opposition, partly to the attitudes of the time (woman looks after the house and kids, man gets on with the artistic creativity side of things).  She apparently accepted her role while he was alive – however, he died in 1975, so pity she waited this long.

The paintings are beautiful; glowing, saturated colours, pinks, oranges, reds, a sumptuous grey.  Mostly figurative, one abstract (I think) reminding me strongly of a Diebenkorn.  The painter who comes to mind most frequently is Bonnard, one nude very like Matisse, Roger in there occasionally with the charcoal line, Feininger in one townscape.  I loved these paintings and despite the fact that this was a commercial exhibition, there was no repetition fatigue such as marred the Hoyland and Cohen exhibitions.  Go and see these works if at all possible.

“Mixed” gallery 

I don’t know the name of this gallery, but you can recognise it by the big, yellow/orange Albers on the wall to the left of the glass doors.  As well as the Albers, there is a Donald Judd shelf in aluminium and wood(?) – sleek and shiny; a very uncharacteristic Dubuffet – no scraping; a standard Ben Nicolson (standard is good – I don’t go along with the Guardian critic who compares him unfavourably with Mondrian, because Mondrian was soulful and mystical and Nicolson wasn’t;  good job too, say I) and a bunch of sculptures by Bill Woodrow.  Several of these echo Rauschenberg’s “Gluts” – see Blackpaint last August – in that they are car parts; battered doors, bonnets, fenders attached in a little tableau to a soft sculpture – a black panther in one, an Indian Chief”s headdress in another, echoing his exhibit in the Tate Britain.

Miro at the Tate Modern

Went to this the day after it opened, in the evening.  Got in straight away, no queue, no struggling masses, despite the hype.

The first room contained a number of paintings that reminded me of patchwork quilts with deep blue skies above.  There were two yellow abstractions (although how abstract any of Miro’s work is, is open to question), one called the Hunter, I think; unmistakeable Miro, little microbes and other entities connected by lines, swimming about all over the place.

There were some collages with gouache, very effective, I thought, and a number of small, electric coloured tubular entities on black background, Daliesque –  hated them.

Several paintings linked by the theme of the Catalan peasant – one very much like Ernst, a washed-out blue and washed-out red for the hat; you’ll see what I mean.

A line of maybe 20 drawings in ink on white, potato head entities that reminded me of Jorn’s little people – line like Stirnberg.

Loads of those little ones with red, white and/or blue entities swarming on metallic looking grey-black backgrounds.  The famous one is the “Escape Ladder”.

Up to now in the exhibition, nothing that was new to me, apart from the quilt ones at the beginning.  Touches of Klee, Dali, Tanguy, Gorky and Ernst – Gorky as well in the long titles, eg the Girl with the blonde armpit etc.  Now, getting to the 60s and the influence of Abstract Expressionism and they get BIGGER.  Suddenly, three are filling a room.  The orange one with the thick black loop is the harbinger; then the burnt canvases, looking like metal remnants on their supports.  Twombly-like scribbles and meandering lines; the condemned cell one with the white paint tipped on and streaking down; the black fireworks at the end.  Needless to say, I loved all these, the usual precise little drawings on defined backgrounds having given way to size, roughness, violence – texture.  Not really what Miro is about though – Escape Ladder et al far more characteristic.

Have to say, it seems absurd to try to make a case for Miro as a committed political artist – he went to France for the duration of the Spanish Civil War, when volunteers from all over Europe were making their way (with difficulty) to Spain to fight for the Republic – and in some cases, for Franco.  Then, when WW2 came along, he relocated to Spain and managed to work under Franco’s rule.  One poster done in France and one painting in 1974, recording (protesting?) the execution of Puig Antich isn’t much.

I think to call Miro “political”  is a bit of an insult to Ai Weiwei, a truly political artist, still missing in China, and whose work remains on display in the Tate, still with no comment from the gallery on his current plight.

Ray Smith

RIP Ray, of Ray’s Jazz, late of Shaftesbury Avenue.  Many happy Saturday afternoons spent there, listening to and sometimes buying, some arcane stuff on the advice of my mate Bob Glass.  It’s where I was educated, really.  Now Bob and Ray are gone – left us here to carry on.

Blackpaint

20.04.11

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