Blackpaint 394 – Lizards and Fossils and Christopher in Cordoba


Ellen Gallagher at  Tate Modern

This got a rather sniffy review from Laura Cumming in the Observer; she found Gallagher’s frequent use of cut outs of thick African lips and “googly” eyes repetitive.  Not like loads of other artists then, who rarely repeat a trick.  There’s a lot of social and political content to her work, as you may guess from the foregoing, but I was most impressed not by the meaning but by the look of it.

She has several works made up of the lips and eyes on a parchment-like support, thick lined paper I think, and from a slight distance they look like walls of tiny bricks – reminded me of Rachel Whiteread drawings.

Others, huge canvases or linens, looked like Victor Pasmores – one plain canvas with a lizard shape writhing on it; another, with several black or inky blocks off-centre.

There were the series of yellow “wigs” on magazine ads, the faces with eyes cut out and the huge black paintings, coated with rubber.  The last room had the delicate “botanical” drawings and the embossed “fossils”, made, presumably, by pressing the image and sometimes shaving tiny leaves of the paper up with a sharp blade.  The best ones were the “Pasmores” – I ignored the deeper meanings and looked at them as if they were abstracts.  Go see it and read the booklet for the politics.

gallagher

Saloua Raouda Choucair at Tate Modern

Lebanese woman, now in her 90s, went to Paris and studied with Leger.  First thing is that the paintings are very small, maybe 18″*24″, that sort of order.  They are very colourful, semi-or completely abstract, many consisting of interlocking, or overlapping, or fitting geometric shapes.  One beautiful, singing, blue one looks very much like a Helion – th influence of Leger and of Picasso is evident in the figures.

The sculptures are mainly interlocking ceramic or polished wood structures; again, quite small; I think some are maquettes.  There are several structures made from thin wires on frames that are just like pieces by Moholy-Nagy and Gabo – since neither of these artists are mentioned anywhere in the written material on the exhibition, I have to assume that she arrived at them independently.

So – a great double at the TM; the Gallagher has much more content but the Choucair makes fewer demands on the intellect.  mind you, you could do what I did and just wander round looking; then read up later.

choucair

Seville and Cordoba

Just back after four days in blinding sunlight and 30 Cent heat – well, hot for us English.  Went to see the Zurbarans in Seville and I was surprised that they were rather mundane compared to the ones in the British Museum.  the art that impressed me most was a fabulous Madonna and child (or rather,  little man) in the Alcazar there.  I don’t think it was Spanish however – looked early Italian to me.

In the cathedral at Cordoba – the one with the hundreds of receding Islamic arches in red and white – there was a huge, dark Saint Christopher painting, half-concealed by a column, that could have been Gulliver, or maybe that picture on the cover of the Pelican edition of Hobbes’ Leviathan.  Plus the usual super realist crucifixions, still rendered in wood for modern catholic churches, I was surprised (a bit) to find.

At one point, I surveyed the cathedral from a central point and I’m convinced that the entire tourist population, apart from me, was taking one photograph after another, to be looked at later.  One old man in the museum just trudged from one painting to the next, snapping it and then getting a shot of the label.  he never looked at anything except through the camera.

In the Mood for Love

Wong Kar Wei.  saw this on TV the other night, and I loved it, without knowing quite why – maybe that violin theme, the rain, the scabby walls, the tension of unexpressed yearning, the stylish smoking – but no, it had to be the dresses and the coiffure.  she just spent the whole film swaying up and down narrow stairs, streets and corridors in those tight, high collared dresses.  Very watchable, considering no sex – overt, anyway.

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Threshold

Blackpaint

16.5.13

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