Archive for July, 2016

Blackpaint 563 – Khakhar, Sutherland, Malick and Corbyn – Solicitors

July 22, 2016

Bhupen Khakhar, Tate Modern

khakhar tiger

Tiger and Stag

X 8

Man with Five Penises Suffering from Runny Nose

Douanier Rousseau, Chagall (a bit), Ben Nicholson in his panto horse phase, that big fresh green hill in the Dora Carrington painting in Tate B.  Maybe Hockney in his cartoony  “boys together” phase, but without the painterliness – or maybe that’s just the gay subject matter.  Man with five penises (all arising from same area) quite an arresting image – not sure if it’s anatomically correct, though..  There’s a portrait – not sure if it’s a self portrait – that’s very reminiscent of Lowry.

khakhar2

Man in Pub (that’s a glove he’s holding)

Graham Sutherland

Writing last blog about Georgia O’Keeffe, I was rambling on about how I didn’t like her skull and antler paintings, because they just replicated the correct details of same, against a pastel background.  Looking at a book of Sutherland’s work, I see what can be done with objects like skulls and bones beyond anatomical accuracy, and also with landscape:

Horned Forms 1944 Graham Sutherland OM 1903-1980 Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1966 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T00834

Horned Forms 

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Twisted Tree Form

 

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Stone in Estuary

 

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Sunset between Two Hills

The main thing is that they have some texture and weight and they don’t have that awful smooth Lempicka finish, like Athena Reproductions (are they still going?  Probably not – you would need to be old enough to remember the tennis girl walking away…).

tennis girl

The Tree of Life, 2011 (dir.Terence Malick)

After watching Sorrentino’s “Youth” last week and comparing it stylistically to Malick’s film, I thought I should check the source again.  I think the comparison holds (although Malick’s is the superior film) – but I was even more struck by the similarities of Malick’s to Tarkovsky’s style.

Brad Pitt’s performance as the father is very good; decent, talented, sensitive, loving – but with a streak of cruelty, wilfulness, self-pity, self-righteousness and self-regard.  you see him through his children’s and his wife’s eyes and feel the weight of his benign oppression.

pitt

And beautiful, troubled Jessica Chastain, always cuddling the boys and hanging up billowing washing, it seems – reminds me of the wife in Bo Widerberg’s “Adalen 31”, tearing up her dead husband’s shirt to polish the windows…

Jeremy (Corbyn, of course)

Apart from a couple of minor disagreements over Trident and Brexit, I’m a great admirer of Corbyn; he always seems reasonable and unruffled and polite and never more than a bit tetchy, considering the unrelenting shower of abuse he’s getting from Labour MPs and the media.  The other day in the Trident debate, he sounded remarkably sane and May sounded barking mad.  I agree with May, but I could well be mad too.

corbyn

But who are these women in their long summer dresses with the beatific smiles who seem to drift along behind him in the photo?  Very disquieting – touch of Manson about it. And they should ditch the “Momentum” tee shirts and Jeremy should stop clapping with them when they applaud him – looks like North Korea.  Actually, that’s a bit strong; everybody does it on British quiz shows now, don’t they?  They clap themselves for getting the answer right, or for being “absolutely brilliant contestants”…

Life Drawings 

Haven’t finished a decent (or indeed, any) painting for weeks, so I’m reduced to posting my life class efforts again.

male nude back

Jeremy Corbyn, back view – no, not really….

sad man nude

Sad Man Sitting

 

fat man nude

Fat Bloke Nude

That’s it for now; no political comment next time, I promise.

Blackpaint

22/7/16

 

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Blackpaint 562 – O’Keefe, Caine, Keitel and Maradona

July 14, 2016

Georgia O’Keefe, Tate Modern

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Autumn Tree – the Maple

I’ve been to the O’Keefe exhibition and wasn’t keen, on the whole.  I think the trouble is with two things: firstly, the surfaces of her paintings – they’re too flat and dry, no texture.  They would do equally well as prints, it seems to me (I remember, we felt the same about Hopper).  Surface like Lempicka, even.  That’s a matter of taste, I suppose, and so is the other problem, which is really the subject matter.

As with “American Sublime” a few years back and a Samuel Palmer in the watercolour exhibition, I think some things aren’t meant to be painted.  Glorious sunsets, weird desert effects, they’re great in nature but mostly horrible on canvas.  Like those garish postcards that olden days people used to send home from Thailand or wherever they’d been on holiday, they don’t convey the real thing.  An exception is –

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The Mountain, New Mexico

Same thing goes for antelope skulls – the real things are fantastic objects in themselves; why turn them into detailed, accurate drawings (except to provide an accurate scientific record)?  Same thing should go for the flowers, but for some reason, I like those.

Anyway, I got “echoes” of a whole range of artists going round, some of them surprising:

Richard Hamilton – there were a couple of sheets of parchment-like paper, reminiscent of Hamilton’s early drawings of car fronts and fridges.

Luc Tuymans – grey/white sheets, tied or folded in the middle.

Marc/Macke – Lake George, Coat and Red (below)

oklake george

Black Mesa Landscape (below) reminded me of Lawren Harris, who paints mountains like distant white blancmanges.

okblackmesa

 

Generally,  I thought of Nolan’s and other Australian’s  renditions of landscape, Ayer’s Rock/Uluru for example.

Again generally, I got Mexican muralists for some reason.  The picture I liked best was Winter Road (below) – hardly typical.

okwinter road

 

Youth, Sorrentino (2015) DVD

What is Sorrentino doing?  He seems to be imitating the style of Terence Malick in the Tree of Life – but not doing it very well.  The only memorable image is that of the enormously-bellied hotel guest on the tennis court, propelling the ball into the air time and again with a sort of nimble, fat athleticism.  He’s supposed to be Maradona, apparently.

youth1

Fellini said that he’d chosen Donald Sutherland to play Casanova because the actor was wooden – Sorrentino perhaps chose Michael Caine for the same reason.  Caine never seems to be acting in anything I’ve seen him in; he just says his lines, with an occasional slight gesture towards emotion – anger, or grief, say – as an indication of what his character might be feeling.  He’s Michael Caine; why bother?  He does look a lot like Sorrentino regular Tony Servillo in this, though.  Harvey Keitel’s exit is hilarious.  The music – Simple Songs, was it? – is terrible.

It got excellent reviews and won some prizes; must take another look to see what I missed.

So, nothing good this week (including the “change” of government).  Stood all weekend in a Brixton street art fair with a bunch of my paintings and didn’t sell a single one.  Then I turned out this pinkish affair, which I include only to have something new in the blog.

wip

Work (not) in progress,

Blackpaint

14.7.16

 

Blackpaint 561 – Yeats, Dante and the Four Horsemen

July 3, 2016

I’ve been reading Yeats and I thought I could usefully purloin a quote for a title…

slouching towards Bethlehem

Slouching Towards Bethlehem

 

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Green Fuse and Canal in E&A Wates’ Showroom, 82-84 Mitcham Lane

My paintings there for the next couple of weeks as part of the Streatham Festival  @Art23_Streatham.  Green Fuse – nicked that from Dylan Thomas.

 

Painters’ Paintings, National Gallery

The idea behind this exhibition is to show paintings that were owned by famous painters (Freud, Degas, Lawrence, Watts, Van Dyke et al), presumably so that you can judge how that influenced their work, if at all.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take much notice of who owned what, so you’ll have to go yourself, if you’re interested.  What you should be aware of is that many of the paintings are in the NG’s possession and have recently been on the walls as part of the permanent collection.  This has been the case with several exhibitions lately; one good example is the Gauguin bowl of flowers, that was in the Delacroix exhibition.  And the Spartan boys, by Degas…

What I’ve done, then, is to pick out some favourites:

Blanche

Jacques – Emile Blanche, M. Poictevin (1887)

Great portrait, this – reminds me of that one by Strang in the National Portrait Gallery, of Thomas Hardy.  That one’s got a green background, not yellow like the one above; but they both somehow recall those medieval ones by Cranach and the like, and maybe even Holbein.  Blanche also did Joyce, below:

 

joyce

J-E Blanche, James Joyce – this one isn’t in the exhibition, but it is by Blanche; it’s in the NPG.  Very different to the Poictevin portrait – could easily be by Singer Sargent.

 

Again, two very different pictures by Ingres:

ingres dante

Ingres, Dante.  Never would have guessed Ingres, in a month of Sundays.

 

ingres norvins

Ingres, M. de Norvins

That’s more like the Ingres I would expect.  He only took a year or so over this one.

 

caracci woman

Caracci, A Woman Borne off by a Sea God

I picked the Caracci (which is huge) because of the hilarious contrast between the bodies and heads of the cherubic characters to the left and right of the god and the unfortunate woman.  Heads of children, bodies of Olympic weightlifters; compare Michelangelo, the Delphic Sybil from the Sistine Chapel.

cezanne bather

Cezanne, Bather with Outstretched Arm

Proof that brilliant painters sometimes do less than perfect drawings.   My partner says he meant it to be “inaccurate”; I’m not sure.

 

I love this Matisse:

matisse selfie

Matisse, Self-Portrait 1918

Perfect, I think.  Is that a suitcase between his legs, with an ashtray on top?

 

Come and See (Klimov, 1985)

Apocalyptic WW2 film, Bielorussia (Belarus) under German occupation in 1942; Klimov makes much use of Florya’s swollen, dried-out, blistered and horror-struck face, pushed close to the camera, as below, as he witnesses mass murders and rape.  The Nazi troops, with their ragbag of collaborating followers, rampage drunkenly around like tourists from hell, taking photographs of the slaughter to a soundtrack of nightmarish yodelling and marching songs.  I thought of the Tin Drum, Hard to be a God – and in the concentration on the facial close-up, maybe Laszlo Nemes’ Son of Saul – this just hearsay, though; I haven’t yet seen the Nemes (DVD out now).

come and see 1

 

come and see 2

SS Commander with his pet.  Maybe an echo of the Teutonic Knights in Eisenstein’s Alexander Nevsky.  And Glasha (if it is her who is raped – Wikipedia seems to be in some doubt) is Lavinia from Titus Andronicus…  You are tempted to think that Klimov has gone overboard on the brutality; no conscience-stricken, civilised good Germans here (cf. Cross of Iron, the Pianist); the closing titles point out that more than 600 villages in Bielorussia were destroyed and their inhabitants murdered in exactly the fashion shown here – and that Germans who were there as perpetrators have agreed that it is accurate.

Blackpaint

03.07.16