Archive for January, 2017

Blackpaint 584 – Uluru, Falling Space and Ken’s Ceramic Lava

January 29, 2017

little-sea-and-fire

One of mine to kick off –

Little Fire and Sea

Blackpaint

 

Now on to proper artists:

Michael Andrews, Gagosian, W1

A great exhibition of paintings by this lesser-known artist (lesser-known, that is, than his contemporaries such as Bacon, Freud and Auerbach; obviously, all my British readers will know him – you do, don’t you, both of you?).  It covers his whole career, starting with a couple of those eerie group paintings, people lying about singly and in couples, in a garden, staring out at you, some of them, as at a camera, or mingling in a club (the Colony Room, Bacon seated back to viewer, Freud staring out).  Then the balloon pictures, and an arresting picture of a plane about to hit us, above the lights of a city – bit like an Italian Futurist.  Then to Australia and the pink, rounded stone hills of the outback.  Then deerstalking in the Scottish hills.  Portraits in between.

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Laughter, Uluru (Ayers Rock) The Cathedral I, 1985

Strangely like a Bacon, the mouth I suppose.

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The Thames at Low Tide, 1993-4

His last painting, I think.  Strange angles..

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School I, 1977

I love that black to dark blue water.

 

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Swimming Pool with Two Girls, 1982

From a photo, surely.

A lot to see; sixty-one pictures in all.  It’s on until March 25th.

Marcus Harvey, Vigo Gallery, W1.

This is the artist who caused the big stir back in 1995 at the Sensations exhibition,  with his portrait of Myra Hindley done in children’s handprints.  Nothing like that in this collection, but some interesting pieces, like below:

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Maggie, 2011 – surely not Mrs. Thatcher?

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The English Cemetery, 2016 – like Kiefer doing Isle of the Dead, floating in a Richter sea…

 

Richard Wilson, Annely Juda, W1

This is staggering; can’t work out how he did it.  He’s taken whole sections of space within the gallery itself (a stairway, curtains, wall), sculpted the space in wood. and then dropped them – gently – into position as below.  The drawing shows the section he has constructed.  Sorry about my mania for comparisons, but the effect is Louise Nevelson, positioned by Phyllida Barlow.

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Ken Price, Hauser and Wirth, W1

Ken Price, Bay Area sculptor (see him in “The Cool School” film about the Ferus Gallery, Walter Hoppe and Irving Blum and their artists, fantastic film);  yes, there are his big breast shaped ceramics, nipples pointing to the roof.  Unbelievably, this whole collection of outlandish pieces are ceramic; several look like molten lava, others like huge gemstones, and there are a pair of high gloss pots, as if to show he can do conventional brilliantly too.

Next door, there is another galleryful of his drawings in colourful inks.  Those ones of the naked women are a little Aubrey Beardsley, a little R. Crumb…

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400 Blows, Truffaut, 1959

400-blows

I’ve been meaning to buy this DVD for ages.  A school rebel film, developing into a reform school film. it’s the forerunner of several British films.  I reckon Ken Loach saw the games master leading the boys through town at the trot – Brian Glover, those shorts,  in the football match in “Kes”.  I reckon “Scum” too – and “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner” at the end.  When the boy pockets the cash he steals from home, he swings his shoulders just like Jean Gabin.

Another one of mine to end with:

time-and-place-no-8

Time and Place No 8

Blackpaint

29/1/17

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Blackpaint 583 – Ignored Women, Mahler and Bloom, Soutine and Schwabacher

January 22, 2017

London Art Fair

Finishes today (Sunday) unfortunately; below, a selection of the best paintings on view:

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John Minton

Medieval quality to this, somehow..

 

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Graham Sutherland (of course) – that blue, with the orange…

 

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Robyn Denny three piece – before he went geometric/minimalist…

 

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Leigh Davis – just a fabulous little painting, touch of Lanyon, maybe?

 

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William Crozier – I love the dry, spiky roughness of his earlier work.  There was another one that I didn’t get a photo of, again with that fiery roughness; if you look at his images online, they are somehow gentler, more “at rest”; I guess they are later.

 

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A couple of Crozier watercolours, to illustrate what I mean by “at rest”.

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Audrey Grant

I love these rough portraits – there’s a bit of early Hockney there, and Nathan Oliviera and Manuel Neri (Bay Area, 60s ).

In addition to these were : a single flower in a vase against a grey/pink background by Euan Uglow; a beautiful yellow Craigie Aicheson; an Uglow-like dresser (cabinet, not person) by William Brooker;  a couple of unusual Ivon Hitchens – unusual, because they contained figures.  And the brilliant usual suspects, Allan Davie, Adrian Heath, Roger Hilton and a single Gillian Ayres, lozenge shaped and pink – or was it grey? – background.

Mahler, Ken Russell (1974)

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Robert Powell in the main role, strong resemblance to the real Mahler, judging by the photographs.  Great start; dream sequence of a blazing chalet, Georgina Hale (Alma Mahler) emerging, writhing, from a white cocoon on a rocky shore.  Some vigorously rendered Jewish stereotypes from the likes of Lee Montague, Miriam Karlin and John Bluthal as parents and family of the young Mahler – maybe a little too vigorous for today’s tastes – and Cosima Wagner (Antonia Ellis) , in a German helmet and black bondage bodice, in front of a giant sword, waving a whiplash and yelling commands at a timorous Mahler as he undergoes his conversion from Judaism to Christianity to further his career.  Are there swastikas?  I’m pretty sure there are, maybe carved in the rocks…no, just checked; there’s one on her backside.

I’m sure it happened exactly as Ken portrayed it.  Brings to mind the Nighttown scene in Ulysses, when the brothel madam Bella Cohen bullies the hapless Leopold Bloom, transformed as he is into one of Cohen’s girls…

The music, of course, is fantastic, although mainly, I think, from the first three symphonies, and Kindertotenlieder.

Soutine

At last, found a book on the weird and influential Chaim Soutine; it’s by Klaus H Carl and is published by Parkstone International.  The English is bizarre at times and Carl tends to regard the reader as a complete ignoramus – but the illustrations are great and it’s only a tenner (in Foyles).

Those bent faces and tables and pots, breakneck angles and steps in the landscapes, people walking leaning way over to one side – remind me of Sokurov’s “Mother and Son”.  And if you like texture, Soutine is your man.

Women AbExes

Another book, “Women of Abstract Expressionism”, Joan Marter (ed), Yale University Press 2016.  Based on a Denver exhibition, it documents a number of lesser-known, or ignored, women abexes, beyond Frankenthaler, Mitchell, Krasner, Hartigan and Elaine de Kooning.  I’ve mentioned Pat Passlof before; best of the rest as far as I’m concerned, are Perle Fine, Ethel Schwabacher, Deborah Remington and Mary Abbott.

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Ethel Schwabacher – Origins i, 1958

The American Scene – prints from Hopper to Pollock (Stephen Coppel, British Museum Press 2008)

The last book recommendation, this is being sold off cheaply at the British Museum, along with a number of other catalogues.  It has some fantastic stuff –  Grant Wood, James E Allen, Robert Gwathmey – well, they are mostly brilliant.  Also, they have the complete Kitaj prints for a fiver – or they did when I went.

One of mine to end with:

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Time and Place, No.7

Blackpaint

22/01/17

Blackpaint 582 – Muddy Clothes, Bloody Sex, Endless Poetry

January 14, 2017

Tate Britain – Paolozzi

Early films by Paolozzi showing; influence of Picabia, Ernst, Metropolis immediately evident – as is Paolozzi’s apparent influence on Monty Python.  An intriguing soundtrack by the serialist composer Elisabeth Lutyens – must find out more about her.

paolozzi

Design Museum

It’s now in the former Commonwealth Institute building, up at Holland Park (High Street Kensington tube).  There’s a permanent exhibition (free) and two for which you have to pay – a Design Prize exhibition and one called, for reasons which I didn’t ascertain, “Love and Fear”.

Prize competition – jewellery from air pollution, Scandi I think; Nunhead London, a Green building community centre, opposite and responding to (architecturally) a pub; bike helmet lights… and a lot of other stuff.

“Love and Fear” – Gers (traditional Mongolian dwellings, I’d thought were called  yurts) made out of thick carpet-like material; apparently the Mongolians, because of their nomadic history and life style have little sense of community.  Chinese dresses and cloaks, mud-coloured, presented on a bed of…mud; a whale/dolphin saver project; an inquisitive electronic crane thing that inspects you with it’s robot eye but soon loses interest.

Permanent exhibition – no chronology in display, irritating for some of us who are used to absorbing things in date order – or indeed, any order – display wall (below) reminded me of the Millenium Dome exhibition in which random objects were spattered randomly over a similar wall.  Mops, skateboard (I think), Tube symbol, bicycle…

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The old Bush TV – yes, we had one – and the white 60s one (Courreges, the Avengers maybe), Sony Walkman, etc.

(Below) Cardigan made from human hair, part of a school project.  All clothes on display looked to be made from old oven gloves, teflon or metal; dark, harsh, Japanese-y in style, gender-less..

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There was a hospital-like smell in the building; an amalgam of disinfectant, medicine and cooking; the signage was bad – had to ask the way to the toilets, and as often, difficult to find the captions to some exhibits.  In the bookshop area, interesting books were displayed high and out of reach.  Piled on the lower shelves beneath, but still sealed in plastic, so unbrowseable.  All attendants wore immaculate black aprons for some reason.  Why are design museums always so badly designed?

The building, on the other hand, is great; huge, ship-like curved ceilings, built around 68, I think, by Pawson.

Endless Poetry (Jodorowsky, 2016, ICA)

It starts where “Dance of Reality” finishes; same actors, plus Jod’s older son.  Mother still singing her lines, Father still a screwed-up bully (kicking his “thieving” customers repeatedly as they lie cowering on the floor); still the masks, cardboard trains and store fronts, dwarves, skeleton suits, red devils.   Plenty to shock the shockable; hanging suicide, rampant penises, graphic sex with a menstruating woman (who has dwarfism) – but all somehow OK because of the relentless – well, optimism.  Jod’s younger self actually says “Life is beautiful!” at one point – so laugh and smile through the pain, bereavement, torture, disappointment; there’s nothing else you can do.  So what, if it all burns down, you can’t take it with you…  It’s Fellini, of course, but rather explicit; the message, that is.

I think I can take maybe one more episode of this, without it becoming slightly winsome.

Jodorowsky’s Magic Real-ish autobiography (sort of),  “Where the Bird Sings Best”, is out in Restless Books; the similarity to Maya Angelou suggested by the title is misleading.

Maggi Hambling, Touch (British Museum print room)

I wasn’t keen on Hambling’s drawings before – I thought they made her subjects look thorny and scabby.  There are two superb life sketches in this show, however, and three small figure studies on a matt black background that are just as good.  See also her portrait of the dying Cedric Morris.  John Berger and Stephen Fry are instantly recognisable from across the room.

From Clouet to Courbet (also BM print room)

Clouet like Holbein, but without that spark of life that makes Holbein unique.  Two lovely Ingres,  a great Gericault, and these two:

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Attributed to Biard.  Touch of Spike Milligan out of Kirk Douglas?

 

toulouse-lautrec

Lautrec, of course.

 

little-sea-jetty

Little Sea Quay

 

little-ice-fall

Little Ice Fall

Blackpaint

14.1.16