Blackpaint 355 – Shark Penis of the Fish God

The Tanks at Tate Modern

The cement walls alternate in texture, smooth and rough, and colour, white, grey, honey – like walking through chambers cut from hard cheese.  Along with the massive black, bolted girders the tanks are an artwork in themselves.  You could take photos of corners and crannies, bung them in frames and flog them at craft fairs.

The first “room”, The Crystal Quilt by Suzanne Lacy, shows a speeded-up top shot of figures flicking in and out of a seated area in a church or concert hall with a red polygonal centre.  On the wall is a tapestry of the same pattern.  I thought the film was of Tate Modern itself but it was made in 1987.  Turns out it was Mother’s Day in Minneapolis; 430 women over 60 gathered in a shopping centre around a giant quilting pattern.

Next “room”, Temper Clay by Sung Hwan Kim; massive, lots going on in corners, against wall; videos on several TVs, sound (some intriguing harmonies and rhythms, Korean presumably, narratives and poetry on different screens, misty white park scenes, skyscrapers in sharp focus, prostrate youth looking soulful…  An exhibit to wander into again and again, I suspect something different every time – very satisfying, so long as you don’t look for joined-up intellectual meaning…  “Temper Clay” is a quote from King Lear and there is a long article in the Tanks programme notes explaining – can’t be bothered, I’d rather just enjoy what’s there without having to read what it all means.

Upstairs to the AbEx room again – that Guston “Head” with the tangled grey brushstrokes sort of thatched around it.  The Alan Davie “Image of the Fish God”.

Always gives me a shiver, this one; I think its the shark-like shape on the left, rising out of the black figure like a penis.  A while ago, there was a documentary on the Discovery Channel about one of those mad Americans who messes about with Great White Sharks.  He was towing a seal-shaped dinghy in waters frequented by Great Whites, in order to find out if…WHAM!! A huge, columnar, penis shape, with a lemon slice mouth full of teeth just hurtled straight up, gushing sea water, sending the dinghy skywards (probably with a great bite out of it) and sank straight back to the depths, leaving the shark botherer whimpering with shock.  Anyway, the Davie picture gives me just the slightest sliver of that sensation.

Campbells, near Tate Modern

Flogs old catalogues for two quid a throw – have recommended it before – got Sotheby’s for 2004 today, with three pictures that justify a love for abstraction and demand no figurative associations to get a response – from me anyway.

First, Diebenkorn, a little Ocean Park picture on paper from 1952, sky blue and terracotta, yellow and red in the geometric “frame”:

Next, Joan Mitchell, Untitled 1960, great clots of midnight and Prussian Blue shot through with red and thin white lightning strikes emanating from it:

Lastly, Guston, another “Untitled” from 1952, rusty brown, red and yellow streaks and worms, on grey, texture like a metal plate.  Couldn’t find these online, and batteries in camera dead, so will include photos next blog.


Blue on Ochre Rose


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