Blackpaint 280


L’Age d’Or

Good to hear the precise, rolling diction of Robert Short, one of my old teachers at UEA, doing the commentary on the DVD, clearly relishing the alchemical references to “shit and gold”.  I remember being told, along with the rest of my sorry class, to “Piss off, and come back next week when you’ve done the reading I set”, after we showed him uniform ignorance of Hegel’s “Philosophy of Right”.  Years later, and a teacher myself, I realised that he was probably not angry but happy at the opportunity to ditch, righteously, two hours of boring teaching and pursue his own hobby of making surrealist films.

Remember sitting behind him in a Norwich cinema, watching Bunuel’s “Milky Way”, he convulsed with laughter – the only one laughing; everyone else puzzled.

Cecily Brown 

Another pungent Guardian arts review, to follow Jonathan Jones’ Mark Leckey job – this one from Adrian Searle.  He describes her works currently on show at the Gagosian as “Turgid paintings that leave you in need of a lie-down”.  The problem for Searle is that she does very busy paintings in which figures, naked or getting there, are often to be seen in the throes of coitus – seen with difficulty, that is.  Searle feels he has to make the effort to decipher these figures and is annoyed at this.  “She paints hide-and-seek images in which there is lots of noodling about”, he says.  Given the subject matter of her paintings, it’s perhaps not surprising he needs a lie-down after looking at them.

But why do you have to make out the content?  What Brown does, in my view, like De Kooning – although obviously not as well – is to make paint look good on the surface; she uses a mix of “squirming marks, flurries and squiffs of paint” (Searle’s words), to which you might add scrapes, scratches, scrawls, drips and areas of flat colour, often in DK hues, that look great.  Apply the flick test; flick through a book of contemporary painters and you will stop at hers.  Adrian Searle could stop worrying about spotting the half-concealed athletics and enjoy the marks and colours on the surface.  Just because Brown likes a bit of sex, there’s no reason why this should spoil the viewer’s chaste appreciation of her art.

Clyde Hopkins

My partner has just given me a catalogue of this painter’s work from an exhibition at the Francis Graham-Dixon Gallery in 1990.  I’d not heard of him, but he used to be her tutor at Chelsea.  They are staggeringly beautiful, all of them, in brilliant reds, marmalade, black, yellow – lots of dots and heavy black scoring; some of them remind me of Jaap Wagemaker. Fantastic.

 

(This is one of mine, not Hopkins’)

Blackpaint

Tuesday 14th June

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