Archive for July, 2015

Blackpaint 504 – Giving Birth, Kicking the Dog, Sucking the Toes…

July 21, 2015

UrbanArtBrixton

Here’s what our my pitch looked like, weekend before last –

urbanart1

 

urbanart2

Whitechapel Open, Whitechapel Gallery

It struck me as a sort of anti – RA Summer Exhibition.  There was a brick corner; a film of artists wrapping, with great difficulty, a huge sheet of gold leaf around the half-built top storey of a building; Stezaker-like collages of a woman’s leg appearing from fabric furniture;  some meticulously beautiful neo – Constructivist drawings:  very few paintings – my favourite was Karl Bielik (below).

bielik

Slice, Karl Bielik

I was lucky enough to go to the private view, the guest of art teachers; as the free drinks flowed, I stood at the edge of the gallery and took in a most impressive sound installation – the roar of several hundred lubricated arty types yelling into each other’s faces at close quarters; truly impressive.

Pangaea II, Saatchi Gallery

Art from Africa and Latin America; by turns, huge, colourful, sexual, grotesque – a woman beginning to saw a giant turtle in half – an image to make you wince – magical-realist (the trees) and graphically terrific (Abebe).

fedderico herrero

Federico Herrero

dawit abebe

Dawit Abebe

 

Ian McEwan

He seems to have difficulty with endings; McEwan is up there with Stephen King for keeping you reading, but he’s much better than the ending of Amsterdam indicates – he can’t seem to sort out whether it’s a thriller, a tragedy, a satire or a black comedy and goes for Roald Dahl to wind it up.  Solar, too, goes astray at the end, turning into Tom Sharpe.  Enduring Love (the balloon one) was brilliant throughout – until the end, when the hitch-hiking prof and his student girlfriend show up.  And the feuding hippy gangsters weren’t convincing, either.

Having just finished “A Child in Time” (1987), I read a couple of reviews from the time and was staggered to find that the prime minister in the book was supposed to be female.  McEwan avoided “sexing” the PM deliberately, but it must have seemed obvious to anybody reading at the time and living under the Thatcher regime.  In some respects, his near future is strangely old fashioned now, of course – telephone boxes that people use, typewriters, porters on railway stations – but, apart from the licensed beggars, the politics and the media stuff sounds pretty much the same.

There’s a detailed account – that makes it sound cool and detached; it’s not – of childbirth in the book; are there many others by male authors?  I don’t mean midwives calling for hot water, and screams from behind closed doors, but from the bedside, or even the bed (or wherever)?  I’ve found an article from the Wire and one by Alison Mercer in the Guardian – they mention Anna Karenina, The Handmaid’s Tale, Gone with the Wind and Tristram Shandy, but not McEwan.

L’Age d’Or

modot

The unfettered rage of the fabulous Gaston Modot, jacket smeared with mud (?), kicking dogs, knocking the blind man over, yelling abuse at innocent passers-by, slapping the matron who spills his drink – good for you, Gaston! – and Lya Lys, his unattainable object, sucking with increasing enthusiasm on the toes of the statue….  “Magganificent!” as Waldemar Januszczak would say.

lys

 

Judges 3, King James Bible – Ehud killeth Eglon

The most chilling description of an assassination I’ve read: “…And Ehud….took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly: And the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly; and the dirt came out.”  Vengeance, intolerance, massacre, rape, slavery – it’s all there, sanctioned – often, indeed, demanded – by God.

 

Megiddo

Megiddo (finished version)

Blackpaint

18.07.15

 

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Blackpaint 503 – UrbanArtBrixton, Neglected AbExes (who happen to be women)

July 10, 2015

Urban Art in the street 

I’m exhibiting in the street in Brixton tomorrow and Sunday with a few other select artists – about 200, I think – between 10.00am and 6.00pm; come and see.

geometry1

Geometry 1 

Evert Lundquist

Swedish Expressionist painter 1904 – 1990.  Someone told me about this painter, who reminds me a little of Munch (can’t stand Munch, but I like this painter for some reason) and sometimes, a little of Van Gogh:

lundquist1

 

lundquist2

lundquist3

Grace Hartigan

Why no book on this great American painter?  She’s as good as Frankenthaler – but maybe not so innovative –

and not far behind the sublime Joan Mitchell, in my opinion.

hartigan1

hartigan2

Pat Passlof

Another interesting AbEx, a pupil of, and obviously influenced by de Kooning – but with a twist of her own:

passlof1

 

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And just for comparison, here’s a Joan Mitchell:

mitchell - george went swimming

Stunning, eh?  Anyway, desperately trying to sort stuff out for Brixton tomorrow, so will post now.  Few words, lots of pictures for once.

Megiddo

Megiddo

Blackpaint

10.07.15

 

Blackpaint 502 – What’s the Meaning of this?

July 5, 2015

Meaning in Abstraction

Jonathan Jones on Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots (Tate Liverpool) in the Guardian and now Laura Cumming in the Observer, also on Pollock, raise the question of meaning in painting.  Cumming writes eloquently about “Pollock’s leaping black lines – apparently describing nothing – as free as a bird to be purely, sheerly visual as they dance across the canvas”; she then spends much of the rest of her article spotting images in the paintings – “a massive figure powers along against a billowing yellow sky”.

pollock no.12 52

No.12, 1952

Jones, earlier in the week, also wrote about the images in Pollock’s work, quoting him: “I choose to veil the image”… and then commenting, “In other words, the image is there – meaning is there – always.  And in his later paintings it breaks out like a sickness.”

The image is there – meaning is there… so no image, no meaning.  How does this square with his recent championing of Bridget Riley and Howard Hodgkin?  She was doing “science” (opticals etc.), he was doing emotion. What about painters like Hoyland?  just decoration, presumably.

It’s irritating to read critics spotting shapes in the painting, even if everybody does – I was seeing tits everywhere in Diebenkorn’s “abstract landscapes” the other week; but worse is the implication that paintings without images from “reality” are meaningless.  The meaning is the picture, the picture is itself.

Neil Stokoe: Paintings from the 60s on. (Redfern Gallery, Cork Street W1)

What a pity that this finishes today (Sunday)!  I only discovered the exhibition (and the painter) on Wednesday, when I went looking for an upcoming William Gear exhibition at the same gallery.

Stokoe is now 80; he was at the Royal College of Art with – get ready – Hockney, Kitaj, Frank Bowling, Allen Jones, Derek Boshier; Pauline Boty was there and Caulfield the following year.  He was a friend of Bacon.  He had a canvas bought by the Arts Council in 1970 after his first exhibition and then – not very much for 30- odd years.  He went into teaching at Wimbledon, but carried on painting.

The astonishing thing is the size of the paintings he was producing – and stacking against the wall, presumably.  They are massive – “Man and Woman in Room with Spiral Staircase” (1970) is 214 x 214 cms and the others are around that size.

stokoe richard burton

 

The colours are pinks, bright blues, acid yellows sometimes set in dark surroundings, as above; in one or two, the face is “Bacon-ised” but I think the settings show more of the influence of the older painter – the spiral staircases, somehow (a recurring feature in Stokoe’s work; I count seven in the catalogue) and in “Figure with Black Couch” (1968), the couch itself provides an arena very like the rails and circles Bacon used.  Something else that occurred to me is the resemblance to Joanna Hogg’s last film, “Exhibition”.  It’s not just the spiral staircase thing, but the colours as well – that acid, lurid, neon, ice cream palette.

Anyway, I guess it’s finished now, so look him up online – there’s a great photo of him from “The Tatler”, which covered the private view of his earlier exhibition at the Piper Gallery.

All is Lost (JC Chandor)

Got this on DVD, having missed the release.  Redford is pretty good for 79, although I noticed there were a couple of stunt doubles in the credits; I’m sure that was him up the mast though.  Classic American lean, hard, nameless hero against Big Nature, not giving up, fighting on to the bitter end.  Facially, he seemed at times to be morphing into Burt Lancaster.  Great shots, particularly those of the life raft from below, in tandem on the surface with the moon’s reflection.  I wonder how many, like me,  were expecting the oceanic white tips to show up again at the end (see previous Blackpaint on “Gravity”).  Great film; awful, portentous score.

Les Enfants Terribles, Cocteau

I’ve been re-reading this because it’s thin; I was surprised to find how much it reminded me of MacEwan’s “Cement Garden” – or the other way round, I suppose.  No doubt I’m about 45 years late in making that observation.

Hepworth at Tate Britain

Had to put these torsos in – there are three in a case together, but I can’t remember who did the third; Skeaping, I think.

Torso 1928 Dame Barbara Hepworth 1903-1975 Presented by the executors of the artist's estate 1980 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T03128

Hepworth torso

Torso 1914 Henri Gaudier-Brzeska 1891-1915 Transferred from the Victoria & Albert Museum 1983 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T03731

Gaudier Brzeska torso

By the way, if you want to buy a Barbara Hepworth style duffle jacket at the Tate, you can do so for £400+; a sculpting shirt will set you back £300 odd.  Bargains, I think you’ll agree.

red and blue on ochre 1

Red and Blue on Ochre – NB It’s without meaning…

Blackpaint

05.07.15