Archive for February, 2015

Blackpaint 483 – War in Spain, the Auctioneer and the Dancing Chicken

February 21, 2015

Pallant House Gallery, Chichester

This gallery must be visited as a matter of urgency because there’s such a lot of really good paintings in it.  Go on Tuesday, when it’s half price.  What’s it got?  Well…

  • Terry Frost “Lorca” prints – a roomful.
  • Several fantastic, quite late, Ivon Hitchens, less..well,  oblong than usual and highly colourful;

pallant ivon hitchens

  • A sort of St.Ives room, with Heron, John Wells, Barnes-Graham, a nice John Tunnard (actually, he was elsewhere) and a great Ben Nicholson (see below);

pallant ben nicholson

  • There’s also a Ben panto horse in brown fields and some nice Winifred portraits;
  • Bomberg, two Rondas I think, and a corner of his disciples, Dorothy Mead, Crenfield etc.;
  • Then there’s a bunch of self-portraits by various, the most striking of which were by William Gear, the lines of which resembled burnt briars or maybe barbed wire (fascinating to learn he was connected to CoBrA) and the one below by Peter Coker, with a black outline on a narrow canvas in a corner;

pallant peter coker

  • A room of Kitaj, of whom more later.
  • Then there is the main gallery, with some lovely big pictures – Michael Andrews dark coastal painting with figures; a Bacon, two figures who look to be wrestling..possibly..; a great Keith Vaughan; a Colin Self pop art group with one of those women with bright lipstick – bit like Pauline Boty, I thought – and a Peter Blake with an uncharacteristically(?) rough, blurry finish, very effective.  A couple of paintings of domestic scenes by Victor Willing, Paula Rego’s late husband, which have that distorted, slightly monstrous quality of her work.
  • Finally,  there’s Spain; a special exhibition relating to the British role in the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War.  Great photo of the poet John Cornford and of Felicia Browne, the first British volunteer killed in the war, with a couple of her sketches – and very good they are too.  Banners of the British Battalion – 15th, was it? – with the battle names on it: Brunete, the Gandesa, Belchite, Teruel, the Ebro; lump in the throat time.

felicia browne

Felicia Browne

Cornford

John Cornford and Ray Peters

Figures in a Landscape, Alexandropoulos

Two children, a girl of about twelve and her kid brother, run away from their Greek home to try to reach Germany, mostly by rail, sometimes by hitchhiking.  The Travelling Players show up on the way, having wandered in from another film.  There’s a scene in which they escape from a police station when it starts snowing – all the adults wander outside and freeze in a trance, looking up at the falling flakes.  So whimsical, you think – then the girl is raped in the back of a lorry by the driver, thankfully not on screen.  They press on and eventually arrive at the border; a shot sounds as they cross the river.  They run through the thick mist to embrace a tree on a hilltop – symbol of the father?  Are they dead?  End.

Stroszek, Werner Herzog

The great Bruno S. again (from Kaspar Hauser).  Three “vulnerable” Germans go to the USA to escape from their tormentors.  I think it’s a comedy, but there’s some sickening brutality towards Eva, the prostitute, in the early part of the film.  It must be seen, however, if only for the fastest auctioneer in the universe – he must be! – and for the dancing chicken and the fire truck rabbit.  Also a beautiful electric guitar instrumental version of “The Last Thing on my Mind”, which accompanies the driving scenes.  Don’t know who it is.

RB Kitaj

Got a cheapo catalogue of the above in the Pallant House, including two fantastic pictures; “The Rise of Fascism” and “the Architects” (see below).

(c) The estate of R. B. Kitaj; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

 

 Marlene Dumas

Visited this again and found that the red faced-woman wasn’t in it (see last blog) – I’d seen it somewhere else.  Just as good – no, better – on second visit; look out for the Japanese Boy, the full-length portrait of Helena and the head of the dead young man, killed in the Chechnyan incident – or was it the Moscow theatre siege?  Beautifully painted, anyway.

Sprout Gallery, Moyser Road, Tooting SW16

If you are in London next week, visit the Sprout Gallery  and avail yourself of the opportunity to buy my paintings, and those of my partner, 11.00am – 6,00pm, any day but Monday.  Not the one below, however; it’s still wet.

 

 

Blue Crouch

 

Blue Crouch

Blackpaint

22.02.15

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Blackpaint 482 – Marlene, Noel, Numan and Nosferatu

February 15, 2015

Noel Gallagher in the Saturday Telegraph Magazine

Check out the cover (below right) without your glasses or your eyes narrowed – looks like an Auerbach, doesn’t it?  Photo by Nadav Kander.

auerbach gallagher gallagher telegraph

 

Marlene Dumas, The Image as Burden, Tate Modern

Where to start with this one?  Has to be the style, I think.  dark, crude, slippery brush sweeps,  apparent, but intentional clumsiness here and there, mask-like portraits, a photographic quality of “deadness” in the line and colour, and the occasional blurriness of the image – you can see similarities in Tuymans, Gerhard Richter, William Sasnal, Chantal Joffe, Tracy Emin’s drawings…  It’s become a sort of common style of drawing with paint or ink.  I  think her work at times strongly resembles Munch’s paintings, if the depressing colours were drained out of the latter.  Sounds as if I don’t like them, but I think most are brilliant.

It seems to me that, with many of her paintings, she reverses what Luc Tuymans and Richter have done:  they present the sinister (Tuyman’s Martin Bormann, Richter’s Uncle Otto) as banal – she presents the banal as sinister (the child with paint on hands, her self-portrait, the group “photo” of schoolgirls).  She paints from photos, not life, and you can see that sometimes in the way light reflects in the eyes.

dumas red

Almost like Larry Rivers, this one;

 

dumas self

Her “evil” self-portrait;

 

dumas child

 

 

For my money, the best pictures are in the room to the left, with the warning:

dumas shrimp

This one’s called “The Shrimp”, rather a shocking association somehow – but I love that staining technique.

dumas

A portrait from a surprising angle, that would be difficult to hold for a long time.

There are, of course, many works that deal with “darker” material (the porn stuff, Baader Meinhof, Bin Laden, dead people – i.e. corpses) but there is no coherent political line that I can make out; she has provided  a lot of commentary on the walls but it’s pretty inarticulate, like that of most artists.  I wondered if she’d had a negative reaction to her paintings of black people, apparently sexualised, or mask-like as they (the pictures) sometimes are; she is a white South African, after all – but apparently not.  Nothing in Wikipedia anyway.

A terrific exhibition; I’ll be going again, for sure.

Drawing Gallery, Courtauld

A room now dedicated to drawings from early Renaissance to relatively modern: a fabulous Rubens reclining nude, a Dutch windswept river bank, a Joshua Reynolds sketch of a dancing woman, and a Larry Rivers “map” sketch in ochre and green with tape on it.

rubens nude

Rubens

 

The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, Werner Herzog

Brilliant performance by Bruno S, especially the scene where he burns his hand in the candle flame and tears start out from his eyes with no other change in his facial expression.

Nosferatu, Herzog

This alternates between brilliance and bathos throughout.  Kinski, as Dracula, strongly resembles a bald Gary Numan; Renfield’s giggling is way over the top; Dracula carts a coffin through a graveyard to a mausoleum and flinches at a cross on the wall – having passed half a dozen crosses in the graveyard.  The soundtrack, with the alpine horn, is fantastic; Isabelle Adjani as Lucie is a beautiful pre-Raphaelite tragic heroine; the cinematography is great.  There’s a shot of a carriage crossing a causeway over a lake, with the horses and carriage reflected – same thing in “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid” and, I think, in “Night of the Hunter”.  The feast scene with the plague victims is straight out of Brueghel.

kinski numan

Numan and Kinski

I alternated bits of Nosferatu with Dawn of the Dead (George Romero 1975), which I’d also recorded; the shoot-outs in the mall livened things up and I was able to return, refreshed, to Dracula’s castle, from zombies back to vampires.  It struck me that Dawn would make a great double with the original John Carpenter “Assault on Precinct 13”.  I’m sure Dawn was shot on a tight budget – I saw the same check-shirted, long-haired zombie get blasted at least three times.

 

watercolour7

 

Sonia’s Back, Blackpaint 

Blue Slide

 

Blue Slide, Blackpaint

Feb. 15th 2015

 

 

Blackpaint 481- Posy and John, Flowers and Bees, Michelangelo and the Easter Bunny

February 7, 2015

Posy Simmonds

Just picked up her “Literary Life” in Quinto Bookshop, Charing Cross Road, for a fiver – best investment I’ve made for some time.  For me, she is far and away Britain’s best cartoonist and she writes a mean story too; her envious, embittered authors, lusting after the waitresses at the book launches….

posy simmonds

I think her cartoons stand comparison with John Cooper Clarke’s poetry, although admittedly, they  chronicle different social milieus…

Angela Flowers Gallery, Old Street – Seven from the Seventies

A rather sparse exhibition of huge abstract paintings – one from each artist, with smaller works upstairs – that eschew expressionism and mostly follow an ordered, geometric (but highly colourful) aesthetic.  The painters are Colin Cina, Bernard Cohen, Noel Forster, Richard Smith, Derek Hirst, Michael Kidner and Jack Smith.  Few paintings, but some are great; they stay in the mind.

colin cina

Colin Cina 

The Beekeeper, Angelopoulos

The great Marcello Mastroianni as an elderly beekeeper who goes on a road trip with his bees (in crates in the back of a white van), leaving his wife and newly-married daughter.  Improbably, he gets picked up by a young woman hitch hiker, a free spirit, who travels with him and sponges off him, while picking up young men for sex when she fancies it, once bringing one back to the room she and MM are sharing (they’re not sleeping together yet – when they finally do, the relationship founders).  In the end, he gets stung to death by his bees on a lonely hillside in the end.  Even in an unlikely story like this, Marcello manages to shine – and his co-star, Nadia Mourouzi, certainly has the most staggeringly beautiful body I’ve seen recently.  Apart from yours of course, darling… and of course, I’m speaking as an artist…

mourouzi

 

The “Michelangelo” Bronzes

michelangelo bronzes

 

I saw the big Bronzes exhibition at the RA in 2012, and I have to say I don’t remember these statuettes at all.  If they’d been exhibited as Michelangelos, of course, it would be a different story; the name makes you look and remember.  Without the attribution, you edit them out unless they are really striking.  So, either they are not that striking, or my taste and judgement are crap.  Not that striking, then.

The arguments in favour seem pretty convincing – but what happened to that other putative Mick, “St. John the Baptist Bearing Witness”, proposed by Everett Fahy a couple of years ago (see Blackpaint 111 and 112)?  I dismissed the claim of course, on the basis of Blackpaint’s First Law relating to Michelangelo, which states “Michelangelo doesn’t do trees”; there are lots in the St.John.

easter bunny1

 

Blackpaint

Easter Bunny 

7.02.15