Archive for January, 2016

Blackpaint 530 – The Angels, the Superhighway and the Deer Hunter

January 31, 2016

London Art Fair, the Angel Islington

Finished last week, I’m afraid;  a great little “exhibition-within-the-exhibition” from the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings; my favourite was the “Winter Landscape” by Barns-Graham – tiny but good.

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Wilhelmina Barns-Graham

Other highlights below:

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Dorothy Mead 

A Bomberg disciple – but these are every bit as good as DB, in my view.

 

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Keith Vaughan

Very unusual Vaughan – touch of Bacon in the middle, possibly?

 

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Alan Davie

There were dozens of Davies (and Roger Hiltons and quite a few Hitchens); high quality ratio though, with his trademark symbols, lovely blues and yellows and rough surfaces.

Electronic Superhighway, Whitechapel Gallery

Private view of this on Thursday night; the usual roar and surge of the crowd to get to the free drinks before 7.00pm, after which time you have to pay.

The term was coined by Nam June Paik, whose exhibit was one of those – maybe the first one of those –  batteries of TVs, each showing a recurring series of visually explosive images too fast for you to grasp more than one at a time, with an accompaniment of cacophonous sound.  The theme of the exhibition is the effect of computers and the internet on art.  The theme was more evident in some pieces than others…

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Deathoknocko, Albert Oehlen

Combination of computerised inkjet and hand painting.

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Peter Sedgley

Light projection from 1970.

 

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Celia Hempton

These are screen-size paintings of images from the internet – some – ahem! – rather controversial, perhaps…

 

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Vera Molnar

Several printout works from 60s and 70s.

Rabelais and Joyce

As I get further into “Gargantua and Pantagruel”, the more I am struck by the similarities to “Finnegans Wake”.  The long list of books in the library of St. Victor with their ridiculous titles is only one small step back from Joyce, as are the encounters with the Limousin who speaks gibberish and Panurge,  who talks sense – but in a variety of languages, including Hebrew and Basque(!) that his interlocutors can’t understand.

I got quite excited about this “discovery”, wondering if there was a thesis knocking about on the subject in some European or US university – then I read the excellent translator’s introduction by JM Cohen.  There it all was, similarities of Rabelais and Joyce, written in 1954…..

However, I feel that there are sufficient grounds to advance another of my reincarnation propositions here (see previous Blackpaints, which prove that Shakespeare was the reincarnation of Michelangelo).  Both Rabelais (or Alcofribas Nasir, as he called himself – work it out) and Joyce did long lists; both spoke and used a variety of languages, some rather obscure, in their works; and both wrote passages – in Joyce’s case, hundreds of pages – of “nonsense”.  Case proven.

The Deer Hunter

I had one of those cinematic moments last night, when you’re in a noisy public place and suddenly everything goes sort of silent, or merges into an unspecific background drone and things go slow motion.  Could well be wrong, but I think it was “The Deer Hunter” – wedding scene maybe, Meryl Streep dancing and laughing – it’s a cliche, of course, probably used in loads of films by now.

Anyway, I was sitting in a packed and roaring Tooting pub, third pint of London Stout before me, celebrating my eldest son’s birthday and engagement.  I looked at the bar and there they were, the three brothers and their girlfriends, laughing and shouting to each other above the noise, eyes shining – and the Deer Hunter moment clocked in, inside my head, and lasted probably only a couple of seconds.  Then I was aware of it and it went.  First, I was happy and proud; then I had a moment of near dread; everything changes, it will never be like this again…

So those effects are cliches, melodramatic and worn out; but very effective, nonetheless.

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Exterminating Angel (work in prog)

Blackpaint

31/01/16

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Blackpaint 529 – Dick, Ted, BS and the Angel

January 23, 2016

I’ve broken my laptop in fit of righteous anger – Outlook was acting up.  Writing this on a Kindle Fire and I don’t know how to upload pics from emails.  Normal blogging may resume on Tuesday when I get the laptop back I hope…

 

Philip K Dick, BS Johnson, Ted Hughes

What do these three have in common?  Answer: they all had visions (in Dick’s case, multiple ones).  PKD saw the sky open up and an “evil deity” like a machine with slotted eyes scan the earth, and Dick, below.

Johnson visited Kilpeck church in Herefordshire and saw the Sheela-Na-Gig,a female gargoyle which sits on the coping pulling open her vulva with both hands.  Driving back to Wales, he picked up a girl hitchhiker.  When he dropped her, she sat in the road and turned into the Sheela (don’t know about the vulva bit-Jonathan Coe doesn’t elaborate in his Johnson bio “Like a Fiery Elephant”).

Hughes. in the poem “Meeting”, describes how he saw a goat on a mountain ledge, and looking into the animal’s eyes, had a vision of a giant hand descending from the heavens, scooping him up to a giant eye and examining him.  Maybe he was being metaphorical; he was a dabbler in occult things, however, ouija boards and the like. ..

So what?  you might say – and you’d be right.  Interesting though..

 

 

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Blackpaint

Exterminating Angel

23/1/16

 

 

 

Blackpaint 528 – Mondrian, de Keyser, Hoyland – and Leonardo (no, the other one)

January 17, 2016

Paintings, not Painters

In line with what I said last week, I’ve decided to put up three paintings I’ve nicked from the twittersphere because I like them.  I don’t think the artists are particularly famous – although I’ve heard of Terry Greene and seen his stuff “in the flesh”, so to speak – if they are, my apologies.  You can find more of their work online, of course.

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Michelle Hold

She lives and works in Italy.

 

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Leyla Murr

More stuff on Saatchi.

 

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Terry Greene

Lives and works in West Yorkshire apparently.  I saw some of his work a while back at the dalla Rosa gallery.

Hoyland, Caro, Noland, Pace Gallery, W1

Dropped in to see this exhibition yesterday – turns out it was the last day.  Lucky for us, but not for you if you’re in London – it was great.  Here are some pics:

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Caro, Hoyland, Caro (behind column), Hoyland

 

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Caro, Hoyland

 

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Noland  (the surface is like suede)

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Noland – touch of Diebenkorn here?

Raoul de Keyser and Early Mondrian – The David Zwirner Gallery, W1

The Mondrians are amazing – farm paintings, cows, trees and rivers; like Van Gogh without the inner fire.  De Keyser, as always, is strangely mundane – but strangely interesting…

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de Keyser – touch of William Gear?

 

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de Keyser – this one’s tiny.

The Revenant (2015), Alejandro Inarritu

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I saw this yesterday and I doubt I will see a better mainstream film this year.  The cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezky) is superlative; the shot of the snaking river, the party lost in the mountains, Glass walking across the snow river (see above), the fires, tiny points of light in the darkness (bit of Auden there), the woman floating on air, the Caspar David Friedrich dream sequence at the ruined church… it’s all just ravishing.  An inspiring film too; I was inspired to go for a run after yoga, in the snow this morning.

Now to get the film references out of the way, starting with the visuals: Aguirre, Wrath of God; Black Robe; Dersu Uzala; Dances with Wolves; Jeremiah Johnson; Gladiator (visits from deceased wife and family); The Shining (trivial I know, but still…); and anything with snow in it.  I’m not bothering with bear attacks in films, too many of them.

It also made me think of Redford in All is Lost and that climbing documentary, Touching the Void…  And literary reference; “Butcher’s Crossing”, John Williams.  And several Buffalo Bill, Kit Carson  and Wild West Annuals from the 1950s.

Ridiculous article in the Observer by Carole Cadwalladr, who described it as “pain porn” and associated the film and its audience – us – with Isil burning that poor Jordanian pilot in a cage and putting it on the internet.  I thought the film’s “message” was never give up while there’s breath in the body – in fact, it was openly stated.  The revenge was fully justified, if not fully taken and most of the men, apart from the French trappers, behaved reasonably, given the time and place.  I could even see Fitzgerald’s point of view – apart from killing Glass’s son, of course.

In any case, there’s a world of difference between watching the actors killing each other in a film and watching the actual murder of real human beings.  As for the rape scene, it was ugly (properly), brief, in no way titillating and its inclusion was justified with regard to both history and the narrative.  The reaction of the Native American woman, judging by her expression during the ordeal, was portrayed as defiant, stoical and unbowed.

Last word on the film – the bear’s acting was brilliant and Leonardo was very brave to take her on; I understand they can be unpredictable, no matter how well trained..

Readers in London may wish to come to the private view for my partner’s exhibition, as advertised below – but please carry on to the bottom to see MY  new picture…

cloisters

 

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Playing Card Woman

Blackpaint

Jan 17th 2016

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 527 – Amy, Indian Fabric and Turner’s Dad

January 10, 2016

Paintings, not Artists

Since I started this blog five years or so ago, I’ve been writing about painters I like.   I’ve just had a startlingly obvious revelation, which is that all serious painters are capable of, and do produce beautiful paintings.  If you work at it, you’re going to produce something worth looking at, eventually – even if most of your other stuff is rubbish.   I go round art fairs, for example the London Art Fair coming up soon, and see something I like; if it’s by Roger Hilton or Gillian Ayres or someone of that stature, I remember it and maybe write about it.  If it’s by some unknown, I tend to think, well, maybe it’s not THAT good, or it’s derivative.  This goes double for abstract painters; I’m one myself and we make images (maybe an image of a plain white or black expanse) but often we don’t know if we’ve got a picture a just a load of blobs and lines or splotches.

So from now on, I’m going for paintings I think are striking, rather than just works from the canon.  And to start with – here’s a de Kooning.

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Interchange

 

The Fabric of India, Victoria and Albert

Great exhibition this – if you’re into fabrics.  I’m afraid it’s like football with me; I recognise the quality but find my attention straying.  Plenty of history here, mostly from the Raj period, I think, no doubt detailing how the British all but destroyed the cotton industry in the sub continent by enforcing free trade for British exports whilst forcing out Indian imports with tariff barriers.

Anyway, most memorable piece for me was the votive flag, which looks African rather than Indian to me.  The “human” figures remind me of the demons in the Chaldon church mural – or even aboriginal rock drawings from Australia and Africa.  Can’t find a photo online, though, so you’ll need to go and see it.  While there, go and see –

Richard Learoyd, Dark Mirror,  V. and A.

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Beautiful, big photographs, made in a “camera obscura” room; not all ethereal young women – a dead hanging hare and a decapitated horse’s head in there too.  Reminds me a bit of Gerhard Richter, in Betty mode.

 

John Berger on Turner

Berger says two interesting things about Turner.  First, that his dad was a barber – and the suds and steam and general soapiness of the old barbershop influences the painter in some way.

Secondly, he says that Turner is all about violence.  Storms, avalanches, slaves being thrown overboard to the sharks, sea monsters, Houses of Parliament blazing; I suppose he’s got a point.

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Then again, there’s Norham Castle at Sunrise…

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Amy (2015) Asif Karpadia (dir)

I missed the whole meteoric career of Amy Winehouse, or at least, the music.  I blamed her for all that creaky, croaky, broken style of women’s singing that lots of young singers adopt these days; the sort where they move their hands up and down to different levels that go with the vocal stages they are croaking up or down to.  Then, I saw her doing “Love is a Losing Game” with just a guitar accompaniment at the Mercury awards in 2007, I think.  She was staggeringly good, which is a ridiculous understatement; and what a beautiful song.

great leap forward

Great Leap Forward,

Blackpaint,

10.01.16