Archive for September, 2017

Blackpaint 606 – St.Ives now, Matisse, Bigelow, Donleavy

September 18, 2017

Penwith Gallery, St. Ives

We went all the way to Cornwall to visit Tate St. Ives, only to find that the gallery is being rebuilt and is closed until 14th October.  Still, a few nice things at the Penwith in town:

Karen McEndoo

 

KM again

 

David Moore

I like this prone figure study, a little like Tracey Emin’s drawings at first glance.  Generally, you could see the unmistakeable influence of 60s St. Ives painters immediately – Lanyon, Roger Hilton, Paul Feiler, Terry Frost (there were several Andrew Frost paintings and prints, not that he is particularly like his father) – but some nice stuff, nevertheless.  Everyone’s influenced by someone and these are pretty good influences…

JP Donleavy

 

A fulsome obituary in the Guardian last week mentioned Donleavy’s hatred of feminism and skill at boxing, as well as praising his “comic” novel “The Ginger Man”, comparing Donleavy to Joyce (!), and perpetuating the view of Dangerfield, the protagonist, as a sort of roguish, charming ne’er do well, a hard-drinking broth of a boy.  It failed to comment on the scenes in which Dangerfield beats up his wife and threatens and assaults a girlfriend.  I found these scenes shocking when I recently re-read the book after 40-odd years, although I don’t recall them from my first reading – shows how sensibilities have changed, maybe.  Still, I was surprised that no-one on the vigilant Guardian staff commented, and that no readers wrote in.  See also Blackpaint 596 and 589.

Zero Dark Thirty, dir. Kathryn Bigelow (2012)

I sat up until nearly 3.00am, watching this riveting film about the finding and killing of Bin Laden.  I was not surprised at its gripping force –  after all, Bigelow made “Point Break” and “The Hurt Locker” – nor at the lack of moral commentary.  The torture scenes prompted no soul-searching on the part of Maya, Jessica Chastain’s heroine, or anyone else; it was part of the job in hand.  I recalled scenes from Pontecorvo’s “Battle for Algiers” (1966), in which Algerians were tortured with electric shocks and blow torches; Pontecorvo’s Mathieu, the French para commander, asked critical journalists: “Must France remain in Algeria?  Then you must accept these methods” – or words to that effect.  Then again, Pontecorvo was a Marxist; Bigelow’s politics I’m not sure about, but I’d guess somewhere around Clint Eastwood.

Matisse in the Studio, RA (until 12th November)

I saw this weeks ago, but didn’t get round to doing it; it’s got some of the actual objects that Matisse depicted in his paintings, chairs, figures and so on, next to the paintings themselves.  Couldn’t take photos and don’t remember much (except that the paintings and sculptures were great, of course) so I’ll just copy the notes I made at the time:

  • The chair one – with the chair.
  • The red/gold prone figure – with the figure.
  • The Italian Woman – that one with the cut away left shoulder (viewer’s left)
  • The portrait of the woman with the black shaping “guidelines”.  Apart from the woman below, the reader will have to search these out on the net – or go to the exhibition, of course.

The Italian Woman

Two of mine to end with –

Wood before the Yat

 

Rough Flower

Blackpaint

18.09.17

 

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Blackpaint 605 – Naked in the Woods, Slaughter in the Deserts

September 4, 2017

Playground Structure  (Blain Southern Gallery, Hanover Square W1. until 16th September)

Nice exhibition of abstract painters – and one photographer, Jeff Wall – with little to connect them, beyond the fact that they all use a form of grid structure and play around with it, subverting it in various ways.  The exception is again Wall, whose large photograph is of a climbing frame in a suburban park.  For me, the most interesting is Joan Snyder, two of whose works are below.  BS have a great catalogue of Snyder’s stuff, but it’s for display only and I haven’t yet found a copy for sale.  Ed Moses is here too – two of his masking tape pieces, a watercolour and an ink and graphite drawing on paper.

New Squares, Joan Snyder 2015

 

Snyder, Untitled, 1969

 

Gregory Crewdson, Cathedral of the Pines, Photographers Gallery until 8th October

Crewdson photographic scenarios that resemble film stills; you are often looking for a narrative – what’s going on here, why is there a police car parked under the trees, what are these two women doing, waiting outside a hut in the forest?  Often, the question is, why are they half naked or clad only in a dirty slip, gazing into a mirror or out of a window?  The pensive down -dressing is one motif here; others are forest, thick snow, brown wooden interiors, an air of decaying melancholy and sometimes menace.  They resemble film stills, but also rather flat, super-realist paintings.  For comparison, the painter George Shaw occurred to me; also Sally Mann. and maybe a touch of David Lynch…    Worth a visit.

I think this one is titled “Haircut”.

 

BP Portrait Prize, NPG

Interesting this year to see some of the influences in this year’s Turtle Burners’ prize (as well as the astounding technical skill on display, as always):  I saw obvious and several evidence of Lucian Freud, one Stanley Spencer, one Bomberg and one Elisabeth Peyton.  I admired greatly the prize-winning little portrait below.

Gabi, by Henry Christian – Slain

 

Fahrelnissa Zeid, Tate Modern until 8th Ocober

This is on in the new bit of the TM, second level.  She was a Turkish woman, “born into an elite Ottoman family”,  married an Iraqi prince, who was ambassador to Germany, as well as sometime regent of his country.  She was mainly active from the 40s through to the 60s, following abstract styles as shown below, before, oddly,  returning to portraiture.  Who else has done this?  I suppose Malevich (political pressure played a part there though) – maybe Bomberg and Guston too, although not to portraiture really – abstract to figurative, though.  Having mentioned Bomberg,  I thought there was a passing, superficial resemblance in the splintered, multicoloured patterns to Bomberg’s pre -WW1 pictures “Jiu- Jitsu” and “the Baths”.

 

 

 

 

Other new Tate Stuff

Some new work that has shown up in the regular galleries since my last visit:

“Disparates – A little night music”

This drawing by Peter de Francia has obvious echoes of Beckmann’s “Night” and Grosz’s work in general – maybe a touch of Rego too?

 

An assembly by Germaine Richier – echoes of Wifredo Lam.

 

Il Topo (Alexander Jodorowsky, 1970)

 

I’ve finally got hold of this cult movie, championed by John Lennon and kept off the screens for years by Allen Klein.  It’s in a box set with “Fando y Lis” and “The Holy Mountain” and, inexplicably, separate CDs of the musical scores;  padding really.

“Topo” is a quest picture, set in the Mexican  (?) deserts, a lone, black leather-clad gunman with his young (naked) son behind him on the horse.  He soon dumps and apparently forgets him and picks up a couple of beautiful women – one he rescues from a murderous bandit “general”, the other just appears – and embarks on a mission to find several other top gun hands and kill them.  Bloody massacres, throat cutting, castration, whipping, amputees, dwarfs, lynchings and at the end, a suicide obviously inspired by the monks in Vietnam.  But it’s not all fun – there’s a spiritual dimension too.

Aware, as I occasionally am, that criticism is more than just listing possible influences and resemblances, I nevertheless feel compelled to do so – so here goes:

Bunuel, especially Simon of the Desert:  Pasolini (Oedipus Rex, Matthew and the surprisingly sweet soundtrack – music plays a big part in Paso’s films, unlike those of the deaf Bunuel); spaghetti westerns, of course; The Wild Bunch; Toshiro Mifune in Sanjuro etc.; Freaks.  And Fellini, Jodorowsky’s acknowledged maestro. ” Fando” and “Holy Mountain” I’ll deal with next time.

 

Storm Front

Blackpaint

4/09/17