Archive for January, 2018

Blackpaint 615 – London Art Fair, Saatchi and Angelopoulos

January 30, 2018

London Art Fair

This was a couple of weekends ago, but I thought I might put up some of my favourites:


Chloe Lamb

Great little corner of abstracts.  One of her big ones is a little Lanyon-ish (didn’t see any Lanyons this year) but the colours are very strong, I think.


Dorothy Mead

Terrific drawing by the Bomberg acolyte.  I actually prefer her stuff to the Master.


William Brooker

I put up a photo of a Brooker painting at the fair last year; it was a beautiful table assemblage in that precise Coldstream/Uglow style (see below).  This one of the nude in bed reminds me more  of Sickert, however.


Patrick Proctor

Huge, screen-like painting – actually, they ARE screens in the picture, aren’t they?  Great painter, often similar to Hockney.


Duncan Grant

Typical Grant piece, maybe a little conventional, but I like it.


Iconoclasts – Art Out of the Mainstream, Saatchi Gallery

The Ice Cream Seller, Danny Fox

That blue cheered me up on a cold, dismal morning in the week.

The Professor, Josh Faught

Faught does loose textile pieces hung with bits and pieces, joke cards, badges, a spilt coffee cup, most of which relates to the gay scene in the US.  They are colourful and funny and sad.  I love that spilt coffee disc, made out of resin; had to touch it when the attendant wasn’t attending..


Corvid, Kate MccGwire

The external skin of this giant intertwining black sausage is composed of crow feathers – hence the title.


Philip Pearlstein, Saatchi Gallery until 25th March

Eight of Pearlstein’s intricate, crowded pictures of pallid, pensive nude women, sort of interacting with various props, mostly by being draped around them.  Sometimes, the toys, animals, dinosaurs and duck lures seem to be eyeing them.

Models and Blimp (1991)

Apparently, they are done from life, although the angles and proportions sometimes suggest photographs.

Theo Angelopoulos

I’ve just completed viewing another box set of this fantastic director’s films.  They are often “stately paced” and solemn; sometimes he lectures you on history through the mouths of the characters; but they are operatic, visually arresting, the ever- present music is plaintive and beautiful.  The Greek and Balkan landscapes are rough and mountainous; it’s often snowing, raining, flooding.  Groups or pairs of weary individuals lug dusty suitcases along empty streets to deserted railway stations, drink in shabby, bare cafes; suited men and women in 40s dresses dance to guitar, sax and accordion jazz in bare dance halls or on promenades, until Fascists. or police, or soldiers show up and everyone scatters; occasional outbreaks of violence, hangings, rapes, shootings – and the slow unrolling of history.  Often, he uses major international actors; Marcello Mastroianni, Harvey Keitel, Irene Jacob, Bruno Ganz, William Dafoe.

Ulysses’ Gaze (1995)

A giant, disassembled statue of Lenin floats down a Greek (or Romanian?) river to a new home.


The Weeping Meadow (2004)

Carcases of slaughtered sheep festoon a tree outside the village big house, to signify the neighbours’ disgust at the occupants’ actions.


The Dust of Time (2009)

Prisoners of the gulag climb and descend an open stairway in a snowbound Soviet landscape.




Flame Landscapes





Blackpaint 614 – Heavy Metal, Carnal Pots, Wenders and Peakies

January 19, 2018

Hauser and Wirth – Monica Sosnowska (until 10 Feb, 2018)

Polish artist, heavy duty sculptures made from metal and stone/concrete.  One, an L shaped girder, bent as if by a giant hand, with a neat fold; a white cylinder of metal, cut and rolled out – it took me a while to realise how it had been done – and a large concrete mushroom, studded with wrought metal rods.  See photos below.


H and W – Jakub Julian Ziolkowski; “Ian Moon” (until 10 Feb, 2018)

Round the corner at the other H and W gallery, Ziolkowsky’s crowded cartoon images, reminiscent of Raqib Shaw (if not as accomplished), forming large. colourful, writhing masses on the walls.  Like Shaw’s work, a multiplicity of sexual organs are very present; you don’t have to look hard to find them.

There are also a number of painted pots in a similar style. rather like large chamber pots.  “Ian Moon” is Ziolkowsky’s alter ego, I believe.



Photographers’ Gallery – Wim Wender’s Polaroids; Instant Stories (until 11 Feb, 2018)

Annoyingly small (well, they ARE polaroids), hundreds of images, mainly of America, many relating to his films.  I particularly remember a couple of twilight skyscraper – scapes, New York I think, with spear-like negative spaces in deep blue and a series of shots taken from planes.  Dennis Hopper in a cowboy hat is in there too.


Photographers’ Gallery – 4 Saints in 3 Acts – A Snapshot of the American Avant-Garde (until 11 Feb, 2018)

Photos of the all-black cast of Four Saints in Three Acts, a modernist opera, libretto by the (white) Gertrude Stein, music by the (white) Virgil Thomson.  Opened on Broadway in 1934.   Predictably, the usual exoticism is present, as can be seen from the pictures below; faint shades of Josephine Baker.  That’s not to disparage the intentions of the Stein and Thomson, or the quality of the music, neither of which are known to me.  In typical old white male style, I forgot to take note of the names of the black cast leaders, thinking the names would be in the info on the leaflet – they’re not.  For the record, they are: Edward Matthews (St. Ignatius); Beatrice Robinson-Wayne (St. Theresa 1); Bruce Howard (St. Theresa 2); Embry Bonner (St. Chavez).  This was the first time that Christian saints were portrayed by Afro-Americans in the USA.

Photos by Lee Miller and Carl Van Vechten are included in the exhibition.

Peaky Blinders DVD

I avoided watching this when it came out; I didn’t think the trailers looked like Birmingham in the 20s – more like Deadwood, with the smoke and the mud and the Chinese quarter.  I thought the accents were dodgy, especially Sam Neill’s Protestant Northern Irishman; I disliked the modern rock theme by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds; didn’t fit with the period.  And I find Cillian Murphy’s pale-eyed, sinister/appealing stare annoying.  And the detachable collars and big, floppy cloth caps with razor blade accessories.  As well as Deadwood, I thought of Les Miserables and even Game of Thrones.

I was given the first three series  on DVD for Christmas, however, and having watched the first, I now think it’s brilliant – as long as you forget Birmingham, the 20s and history.  The violence is operatic, the stories tight, the acting full-blooded, you could say; it’s in a world of its own.  Game of Thrones, even.

I haven’t done much painting over Christmas and New Year, so three so-so lifers to finish with:

Dominic 1,2 and 3




Blackpaint 613- Degas, Soutine, Orwell, Proust and Brexit

January 2, 2018

Soutine again

Revisited this great exhibition at the Courtauld ; waiters, bellboys, patrons (the french kind), with those dipping shoulders, bending faces, pouting lips, supercilious sneers, rich blue and blood red backgrounds.  You can see the influence he had on de Kooning, and maybe Bacon.  That big, long red one reminds me of Beckmann.

Degas et al at the National Gallery

The Degas is free; it’s on the ground floor, in a room after a collection of beautiful small landscapes, of which more in a moment.  Most of the Degas pictures are pastels but there are at least two in oils that look like pastels.  Some lovely sturdy ballerinas, that big brown/orange one of the maid combing out the woman’s hair (usually on display in the first Impressionism room to the right of the main entrance) and a great one of racehorses with jockeys up, in a downpour; a whirl of Russian women dancers.



As for the landscapes, I thought the most striking was by Lord Leighton, a jutting outcrop against green, from an unusual angle.

Also, a couple of great Boudins, distant families on the beach, Trouville I think.  He’s a “red spot” man.

Orwell, Notes on Nationalism

Just re-read this essay, written near the end of WW2, but staggeringly relevant today (relevance is something you find pretty much every time you pick up an Orwell book).  I recognised my own mindset immediately, with regard to the Brexit “debate” and resolved to think of Orwell every time I read the Guardian.  Doesn’t work though, unfortunately; still teeth grinding and swearing.  Orwell is often spectacularly wrong; for example, he thought in the early days of the war and maybe later, that Britain was bound to lose unless the war became a revolutionary war, with the Home Guard maybe playing the role of a People’s Militia.  But there is always reason and clarity in his writing and he draws attention to his own errors willingly.


I’m still ploughing through the books; on the fourth one now (title?).  It strikes me that the Dreyfus case, which keeps popping up in the salons of St. Germain and elsewhere, divided France in much the same way as the Brexit issue has divided Britain, perhaps not yet with the same degree of venom – but give it time…

Best exhibitions last year

Rauschenberg (Tate Modern)

Jasper Johns (Royal Academy)

Soutine (Courtauld)

Kabakovs (Tate Modern)

Holbein, Da Vinci, the Caraccis et al (National Portrait Gallery)

Best Films 2017

Get Out (dir. Jordan Peele)

Dunkirk (dir. Christopher Nolan)

Blade Runner 2049 (dir. Denis Villeneuve)

Best books 2017

The Dream Colony, Walter Hopps and Deborah Triesman

Road to Somewhere, David Goodhart

Caravaggio (Taschen)

Best TV 2017

Howards End

League of Gentlemen

Babylon Berlin

Best DVDs I’ve seen in 2017

Il Topo (Jodorowsky, 1970)

Caravaggio (Derek Jarman, 1986)

Blade Runner – the final cut (Ridley Scott, 2007)

Mahler (Ken Russell)

Mauve Nude


Black and White



Happy New Year.