Blackpaint 495 – Political Art, Labyrinths and the Chimes at Midnight


Deutsche Borse Prize at Photographers Gallery

Three sets of photographs that are worth checking out:

  • Ponte Tower, Johannesburg, by Subotsky and Waterhouse;

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  • 80s Russian couples in bathing costumes, by Nikolai Bakharev (the Russian blokes all look really hard, even when acting silly and wearing comedy headgear);

bakharev

  • South African lesbians, by Zanele Muholi – Remember seeing these startling photos at last Venice Biennale.

House of Leaves, Danielewsky (cont.)

So, it’s a house that expands, contracts, twists when you are inside, while remaining just an ordinary house on the outside.  It is pitch black, the corridors lead to an enormous staircase that falls to a colossal, cavernous chamber.  And so, the endless, interleaving, irritating footnotes are supposed to echo the labyrinthine nature of the corridors – you get lost in them – and the pages containing only a few lines of text, surrounded by white empty page echo the emptiness of the huge chamber at the foot of the staircase.  Maybe.

Chimes at Midnight, Orson Welles

This has just been released in UK as a DVD; I’m still using the Spanish version I got as a present some years back.  Welles is a brilliant Falstaff, although I think surpassed by Anthony Quayle in the old BBC Henrys.  I was surprised to notice that Welles softens Hal’s treatment of Falstaff by including the lines from Henry V, in which Henry orders the release of “the man who rail’d against our person” and making them apply to Falstaff. Granted, it’s too late; Falstaff is already dead.  Still, it softens the king, harmfully in my view.

Art Fair, Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore

A very small Adrian Heath, not much bigger than a postcard, on sale for £22, 000…

Other great paintings on view were early William Croziers; spiky, lots of black and fiery red, much better than his later, more colourful stuff;

Pierre-Francois Grimaldi, layered collages of old torn and tattered posters;

grimaldi

Grimaldi

 

and Rose Hilton; glowing, warm, pink – well, rose, mostly.  Her son introduced himself to us; I wasn’t sure if he was Roger’s son, too – if so, quite a heritage.

“Bite Your Tongue” -Leon Golub at the Serpentine

Huge, dark cartoons of thuggish, armed US soldiers in Vietnam and thuggish, armed cops back home in USA, threatening and carrying out thuggish things on guerrillas and civilians.  I wasn’t greatly impressed.

golub

Pascale Marthine Tayou at the Serpentine Gallery

tayou

Extraordinarily varied art – soft stuffed pieces (see above), neons, broken mirrors, a huge cloud of cotton with wooden stakes protruding, hanging above your head in a darkened tunnel – this artist from the Cameroons reminded me of Cildo Meireles, the Brazilian, who constructs elaborate tableaux out of historically and politically charged materials.  Like Meireles’, Tayou’s art is political; the materials and structures relate to the colonial and  post-colonial history and current problems of the country and continent generally.

None of this is apparent, however; you need to read the explanatory blurb on the walls.  Golub and Tayou thus represent two ways of doing political art:  the direct and the allusive.  My own way is a Third Way – an example is below (ignore the title).  The painting expresses my angst resulting from the failure of the Labour Party at the last election and the prospect of another five years of rule by the “party of working people”.

 

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Between the Slates

Blackpaint

18.05.15

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