Archive for December, 2018

Blackpaint 633 – Joe Bradley, Brent Wadden, Bellini, Mantegna and Me

December 24, 2018

Joe Bradley, “Day World”,  at the Gagosian W1

I’m sorry to say that it’s too late to see these great paintings at the Gagosian – the exhibition finished a week or so ago.  Even so, I think it’s worth putting the photos up, so readers might look Bradley’s work up online.

As can be seen, they are rough-surfaced in places and generally  “painterly” – hate the jargon – one or two resemble street art with their broken, spattered surfaces.  I think they have that shimmery quality that some of Rothko’s have and the bright palette of, maybe, Albert Irvin?  Maybe that’s pushing it, but I really like them.

 

Hard Time

 

High Rise

 

Black Peter

 

Day Rite

All the works are dated 2018; apart from “Hard Time” (and the drawings I haven’t mentioned), they are all over 200 cms each way.

 

Brent Wadden at the Pace Gallery until 10th January

By way of total contrast – well, actually, they are similar in size and all done this year – are these pieces, which are “handwoven fibers, wool, cotton and acrylic on canvas”.  I didn’t like them at first, thought they were well-crafted but anaemic – but I find they have grown on me.  I like the awkward, crooked join-ups in the middle and the way that the one at the bottom looks as if it’s painted with wide sweeps of emulsion and scraped a bit with a …scraper thing.

 

 

 

 

They are all titled “Untitled”.  Bradley was born in 1975 in Maine, now living in New York;  Wadden is slightly younger (1979) and was born in Nova Scotia, now living in Berlin and Vancouver.

Bellini and Mantegna at the National Gallery

Bellini Resurrection

It turns out that that they were brothers in law, Mantegna a few years older.  Giovanni Bellini was influenced by Mantegna at first; the latter was sort of self-made, while Bellini’s family were painting “royalty” in Venice.

The early, smaller ones (Georgione size) by both painters had those weirdly shaped, sharply defined rocky landscapes; Bellini later gave up on deserts and reverted to lush Italian landscape backgrounds instead.

Some paintings, by both, are startlingly bad.  A Bellini piece, “Feast of the Gods”, looks like a bunch of drunken peasants, one with a shiny comedy helmet; the women have the serene Bellini faces – see his Madonnas, usually that teenage babysitter model – but strangely distorted, one with a flattened nose…  Another, early one has a really unconvincing desert backdrop like stage scenery.  And that Christ in the painting above, emerging from the tomb and shooting straight up in the air with no muscular movement, like a cardboard cutout.  Worse, though, is a Mantegna of Christ being lifted up by two angels, they look like a singing trio.

But – some are fantastic.  There is a beautiful St Jerome by Bellini (again, Georgione comes to mind) and the Loredan.  This latter is oil on poplar and is rich and gleaming; some of the others, on canvas, are rather dry surfaced.  As for Mantegna, there are three of those huge ones of Caesar’s triumphal march that were in the Charles I exhibition at the RA a while back.  I like the one with the elephants and the grinning horse.  Much more to say, but I want to publish this before Christmas.

Venice Marathon October 2018

That’s me in the Vietcong headband, with my number one son, about to finish in the rather unusual prevailing conditions.  Two more sons, somewhere ahead in the water.

 

Two recent pictures to end with-

 

Still Life with Blue Vase on Fire

Blackpaint

 

Mystery  Train to Nowheresville on the Lost Highway

Blackpaint

24.12.18

 

 

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Blackpaint 632 – Horse Head, Flick Knife and Trick Mirrors

December 15, 2018

British Museum Print Room – New Acquisitions

Great prints, from Rembrandt to Auerbach and beyond, a small sample of which follows – annoyingly, I didn’t take note of all the names, but decided to trust my memory (not a good decision).  However, you get an idea and can look it up online, no doubt…

 

James Ward

 

Did know who did this, but now forgotten…. oh yes, Villon, Marcel Duchamp’s brother

 

Fred Williams

 

Afro

 

Bea somebody, an Australian

Another forgotten name….

Always worth keeping tabs on the Print Room at the BM, they mount some excellent exhibitions and they’re free to get in.

The Boys, dir. Sidney J Furie (1962)

Another excellent recent resurrection on the Talking Pictures channel, a story of four Teds, attempting to have a night “up West” on virtually no money between them, creating minor disruption in dance halls, cinema queues, aboard a bus and in the street, who wind up charged with the murder of a nightwatchman at a garage, killed in the course of a robbery that nets 15 shillings (75p).

The story emerges in flashbacks during the courtroom examinations and cross examinations and the cast list is distinguished, if you are British and of “a certain age” – otherwise, it will mean nothing.  Richard Todd and Robert Morley as prosecution and defence barristers, Felix Aylmer as the judge, Patrick Magee as a parent, Wilfred Brambell as a lavatory attendant…  “The Boys” themselves are: Ronald Lacey, Jess Conrad, Tony Garnett (later a distinguished director and collaborator with Ken Loach) and finally, the wonderful Dudley Sutton (above, with the flick knife, cleaning his nails in the totally unthreatening and unprovocative manner he uses habitually in the film).  Another baby-faced tearaway, like Richard Attenborough as Pinky in “Brighton Rock”, Sutton has a memorable scene just standing, legs apart, engrossed in cleaning his nails, in the doorway of a snooker hall, unsettling the occupants for some reason…  The other boys are excellent too and there are the location shots, which make it worth watching alone.  And yes, there WAS a film called “Hungry for Love”, in English anyway, with Signoret, Mastroianni and Riva; that’s the film showing where the boys disturb the queue.

Dudley Sutton’s best film work, I think, unless with Ken Russell and Vanessa Redgrave in “The Devils”, tossing a charred bone, remains of Oliver Reed, to the demented Mother Superior, Redgrave….

Space Shifters, Hayward Gallery

Some big names from the west coast “Cool School”, Larry Bell and Ken Irwin, and also Anish Kapoor and Yayoi Kusama, with a flood of silver reflecting spheres the size of bowling balls, but with no spots on them, or penises attached;  basically, this is a set of novelties and illusions, distorting mirrors and such like.  I was craving paintings within a few minutes, but none were forthcoming.

 

 

Distorting mirrors, like an old fairground (read “The Dwarf”, Ray Bradbury short story, in “The Small Assassin” collection).

 

See those rocks?  They look green through the glass, but are in fact silver – or have I got that the wrong way round?

 

Burne-Jones, Tate Britain (again)

A few more from the BJ; I thought the figures on the right below were very reminiscent of Michelangelo’s Sistine altar wall:

 

 

Great Perseus and Andromeda here, giving us a frontal view of A (see back view in last blog):

 

Atlas – hated this, included it as contrast to P and A above.

One of mine to finish, as always:

Oceanic Divide

Blackpaint

15.12.18

 

 

 

Blackpaint 631 – Oceania, Klimt and Schiele – All in the Best Possible Taste

December 5, 2018

Oceania, RA – Closes 10th December!

Fantastic exhibition, this – above, canoe splashboards, on which the decoration is superficially, but noticeably similar to Celtic motifs.  Not what makes them good, of course, but just in passing.  Most of the exhibits are from Papua New Guinea, Hawaii, the Solomons, Tonga, Admiralty Islands, etc.; memorable ones are (deep breath):

canoes with carved animals and prostrate human figures, HUGE steering paddles, aforementioned Celtic- style splashboards, a totemic column (?) with figures climbing it, fantastic double- headed god carved in wood, Hawaiian heads with Teddy Boy hairstyles and huge, grimacing jaws, scowling, pop-eyed masks covered with tiny orange feathers, pearl shell eyes, dog’s teeth, the deity from the Empson poem (I think), encrusted with little figures, strip cartoon wooden gravings, one telling the story of a man with a penis long enough to bridge a lagoon, navigation maps composed of shells and string, triangular faces and breasts, women and men with Egyptian-style cylindrical beards (?), fearsome clubs, whale dentistry… and tons more, all done with consummate skill, imagination and taste as well as meeting specific practical and spiritual requirements.

Additionally, there is the enormous moving – diorama? – by Lisa Reihana, that was at last year’s Venice Biennale, depicting the arrival of the Europeans in a sort of composite Oceania – some great dancing by grass-skirted maidens and muscular young men, wrestling – no judo moves, I was interested to note – and a group of white-painted, naked male figures, surely Australian aboriginals, performing an emu dance… Had to leave at this point, so I missed the interaction with Captain Cook’s men, which was a pity as that was the political point of the whole thing.

I’m afraid that I have treated the whole thing as a series of beautiful objects that tickle my aesthetic tastebuds, devoid of their context, stripped of political, historical, cultural, social significance – but the reader can probably get that elsewhere, or work it out for… themself?  My advice is to see it soon – closes on 10th December

Klimt and Schiele Drawings, RA

This is upstairs from Oceania, in the Sackler Gallery of the RA.  When we went, it was absolutely packed, which goes some way toward explaining (but not excusing) the slightly blurred nature of the photos – had to take them fast, whilst being jostled.  Klimt: delicate, light but beautifully accurate, daring but tasteful poses… Schiele – not so much.  But I love them… On until 3rd February 2019.

Klimt

 

Klimt

 

Schiele

 

Schiele

 

Schiele

 

Some People, dir. Clive Donner (1962) on Talking Pictures Channel

Recently shown on my now favourite old films channel, I remember seeing this at the pictures – I must have been 13 or 14.  It’s a bit worthy, being a sort of advert for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, which the star, Kenneth More, was concerned with.  It has some great shots of Bristol in the 60’s but what I’d completely forgotten was a motorbiking sequence, resulting in a hair-raising accident involving a removals van.  Also starring Ray Brooks (Cathy Come Home) and David Hemmings again.

Ray Brooks and Angela Douglas – the black actor (I think his name in the film was Jimmy) isn’t in the Wikipedia cast list…

Faces in the Crowd

Wrote about this great Whitechapel show from 2005 last week; below, this astonishing photo of Rockwell, leading American Nazi, in uniform, with henchmen, surrounded by suited African-Americans.  I assume this extraordinary juxtaposition came about because the Black Muslims advocated a form of separation of the races…

Eve Arnold’s shot of Lincoln Rockwell at Black Muslim meeting

 

Below, my latest effort, based, as can be seen,  on a photo of the large police station just off the Strand…

 

Just Off the Strand

Blackpaint

5.12.18