Archive for July, 2018

Blackpaint 624 – Hodgkin, Prager, Murtha and Kubrick

July 23, 2018

Howard Hodgkin at Gagosian – until 28th July only, so go now.

These are Hodgkin’s last paintings; as can be seen, there are few surprises for those familiar with his work, but absolutely no evidence of decline as far as I can see,  The colours, textures and impact are as strong as ever.  They are all oil on wood.

Bombay Afternoon, 2016

 

Love Song, 2015

Floating dots…

 

Darkness at noon, 2015-2016

I wonder if the title is anything to do with the Koestler classic.

 

I love the floating quality of many (push-pull colours) and the tracts of bare wood, and of course the way the brushstrokes wander over the frames (where there are frames).

Aftermath, Steppenwolf

Mentioned Hesse’s Steppenwolf in last but one blog;  I forgot to say that the jazz dance scenes inevitably conjure Otto Dix’s Metropolis and one or two paintings at Tate Britain’s current “Aftermath” exhibition – notably, one by William Roberts, called “The Jazz Club”, I think.

Dr Strangelove, dir. Stanley Kubrick (1964) – Chill’s last flight

Chill Wills atop his nuclear bomb

This pretty much tore up anything in the way of current “satire” on show on British TV last week and jumped up and down on it.  Sellers is unapproachable in his three roles as Strangelove, the US President and Mandrake, as is Sterling Hayden, as is George C Scott – but I found myself willing Chill on to his target, as “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” played insistently in a minor key on the soundtrack.

 

Alex Prager,  and Tish Murtha at the Photographers Gallery

Prager’s large photographs are like stills from films, which is exactly what many (all?) of them are; the placid, plastic features of the girl below like something from a Hitchcock film (there is a still of a pigeon attack on another woman); struggling survivors of some sea disaster, floating in vivid green water, a helicopter’s eye view; a woman hanging in mid air from the bonnet of car.

The other type of Prager photo is the crowd scene, like the beach below.  Lots of hired actors, each performing some mundane but strangely complete task (they look posed, as they are).  In each picture (according to the notes on the PG walls) a woman seems to be anxious and apart – not sure which woman in the photo below.  Then, I went into the curtained film room and saw that many of the photos were stills.

 

Tish Murtha’s, by contrast, are all monochrome and are photos of children and teenagers amusing themselves in the cobbled streets of Elswick, Newcastle in the 70s.  Roughly dressed, jumping on to mattresses from derelict buildings, pushing younger siblings in old prams, playing street games – bulletins from a disappeared world before computer games and mobile phones.

She moved to London, and there are Soho photos of strip clubs, punters and performers, cross dressing acts; also powerful, but without the fascination of the Elswick pictures.  At times, there is a chiming with the Prager stuff – who is the rather smartly dressed teenage girl with the glamorous shoes; what is she doing?

An Elswick picture – something rather Last Supper about this image.

 

National Gallery – the early galleries

Fabulous diptych – adult Christ in Mary’s arms and green Man of Sorrows on the right.

Never seen this one before – because it’s not finished it looks modern.  Could be from Lord Leighton or a Preraph, maybe.

 

Suez Canal Zone

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Blackpaint 623 – Ghosts, Outsiders, Vampires and the Steppenwolf

July 8, 2018

A Ghost Story dir. David Lowery, 2017

Clear reference to “Hallowe’en” here in Casey Affleck’s sheety outfit – and maybe also Guston’s Klansmen, but that’s probably pushing it too far.  it’s basically sentimental,  as all ghost stories are (even MR James), relying as they do on some sort of continued existence after death; there are, however, a couple of moments – the Indian attack on the homesteaders and its aftermath, for instance.  The score is metallic and whining, like a lathe or drill and tends to drive the listener to madness for the first, maybe, 15 minutes.

Steppenwolf and Nausea (and the Outsider)

 

I read these two books at roughly the same time, back at the start of the 70s; recently re-read them both and was surprised at how many similarities there were.  Hesse’s novel is from 1926 and Sartre’s 12 years later; both deal with alienation from “bourgeois” society, a disgust and rejection of common values and they share a sense of apartness; the protagonists are outsiders, looking with disgust at their fellow beings,  In the case of Roquentin, Sartre’s hero, the alienation takes the form of a psychological dis-ease, in which things and people lose any meaning and seem almost to congeal in some way.

Obviously, these are just the sort of themes that students would lap up; being an outsider, contempt for the common herd,  being misunderstood, being in some sense special; we loved all that Steppenwolf stuff:  “Magic Theatre Not for Everyone”- and in Nausea: “I had dinner at the Rendez-vous des Cheminots.   Since the patronne was there, I had to fuck her, but it was really out of politeness…”  Yeah!  That’s the sort of thing we Outsiders did, or would have, given the opportunity…

I wonder if these books are still much read by today’s students.

Saatchi Gallery – Known Unknowns, until August.

Sometimes at Saatchi, you get some real pleasures in amongst these lesser-known artists.  Four of my favourites below – Mona Osman’s vampirish cartoons, colourful cowboys et al from Danny Fox, texture in abundance from Daniel Crews-Chubb and mishaps with tables and legs from Stuart Middleton.  Actually, I think Fox and Crews-Chubb might not be part of “Known Unknowns” – not sure, but they’re there anyway.

Mona Osman

 

Mona Osman

 

Danny Fox

 

Daniel Crews-Chubb.   It’s a bit de Kooning Woman, isn’t it?

 

Stuart Middleton

 

Royal Academy Summer Show

I wasn’t that impressed with this year’s summer show and my reaction was only slightly influenced by being rejected yet again.  It all seemed a bit too much like Grayson Perry-type stuff; quirky, trendy, funny, gimmicky.  There’s a portrait of Nigel Farage, for example; but it’s not very good (but it’s not supposed to be, because it’s ironic…)  It  wears thin pretty quickly for me.

RA – 250 years of Summer Show

This, on the other hand, contains some brilliant paintings, Turner, Gainsborough, John Collier’s fabulous “The Prodigal Daughter” (photo was too dark), and this beautiful Sandra Blow and the Kitaj below that:

Sandra Blow

 

The Killer-Critic Assassinated by his Widower Even, RB Kitaj (1997)

 

Enough for now – my seasonally titled piece below (for overseas readers, we in the UK are undergoing something of a heatwave).

Let the Sizzle Begin..  (Collage)

Blackpaint

8.07.17