Archive for June, 2019

Blackpaint 648 – Cornwall, Caland, Goncharova

June 26, 2019

Tate St. Ives

This was like a visit to a load of old friends.  The light in the all white building, with the huge, vivid Patrick Heron window and the flanking mirror windows set at angles to display the beach and sea, seems to set these mostly abstract works off beautifully; the way some of them are spaced out on the ground floor foyer, the Joan Mitchell and Peter Lanyon below, for instance, shows them to their best advantage,  Below, some of my favourites:

Winifred Nicholson, not Ben, as might be expected

 

Another Winifred Nicholson, by way of contrast to the above.

 

Great view through archway; sculpture by Lanyon, painting Brian Wynter (don’t know who did the pots)

 

Winifred Barns-Graham, “Red Form”

 

Karel Appel

 

Appel (detail) – you can get an idea of how thick the paint is laid on.

 

Alan Davie, “Fish God” – love the bent shark penis…

 

Joan Mitchell – lovely brush sweeps, drips and colours, as always

 

Peter Lanyon, “Thermals” – you’re in that churning ocean…

 

Huguette Caland, Tate St. Ives until 1st September

Mostly work from the late 60s and 70s, Lebanese/American artist, specialising in stylised erotica; lips, breasts and bottoms, to be more exact, as can be seen from examples below.  Some of the drawings we saw at the Venice Biennale by her a couple of years ago were far more graphic than these, as I recall…  She was the daughter of the Lebanon’s first president, by the way, so probably no advantage there.

 

I like the fuzziness of the line.. wonder what the inspiration was…

 

A style distinctly reminiscent of Beatles record covers, “Yellow submarine”, perhaps – and maybe a touch of Terry Gilliam?

 

The forerunner of all those bare tits on plastic aprons, worn by barbecuing men…

 

Natalia Goncharova, Tata Modern until 8th September

Pre-Revolutionary painter; strange, we tend (I do anyway) to think of the 1917 revolution kicking off a period of wild experiment, creativity and openness in the arts – whereas it was all already going on, with the likes of Goncharova.

 

I like her chunky, big-footed women, roughly carved out of wood by the look of them.

 

Touch of Gauguin about this one.

 

Not keen on this – too Lempiska for me –  but it demonstrates the range.

 

Costume design, not sure for what, maybe le Coq d’Or; for my money, her costume designs are better than her paintings.  There’s a great film excerpt of a ballet performance with Goncharova’s costumes, I think in Canada in the 50s…

Novel on Yellow Paper, Stevie Smith

I thought this would be a quick easy read when I picked it up as a 2nd hand Penguin Modern Classic in Suffolk recently.  It’s very thin, after all, and there’s a faux naif self-portrait by Smith on the cover – looks childish.  Turns out that it’s tougher going than Virginia Woolf and even as difficult as some bits of Joyce (not Finnegan, obviously – although she does have a sort of arch private way of expressing herself, very irritating at times).  I think that Glenda Jackson played her in a film and, I suppose it’s suggestion, but I can’t imagine anyone’s voice other than Jackson’s, as I read it.  No discernible plot – a collection of random remembrances and observations on all sorts; religion, education, sex, Germany, Nazism (it was written in the 30s),,

Prater Violet, Christopher Isherwood

Also thin, Penguin Modern Classic, written in the 30s, a portrait of a Jewish emigre film director, making a pot boiler romantic fantasy movie in London, with Isherwood as the young writer assisting him.  MUCH easier read than Smith; now to re-read “Mr. Norris Changes Trains” and the other Berlin books.

A couple of collages and a couple of paintings to end with; I think I’ve found a sort of 60s SF American paperback cover style with the blue and yellow men below.

Seated Woman Collage

 

 

Standing Woman Collage

 

Blue Man

 

Yellow Man

Blackpaint, 26/06/19

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blackpaint 647- Three at TB; Bowling, Nelson and VG

June 15, 2019

Frank Bowling, Tate Britain until 26th August

Brilliant show, and a real revelation.  I’d seen Bowling’s poured paintings a few years back at the Tate Britain, when they devoted a single room to them; in addition, there was the huge spiral staircase one that was on permanent display there (and which is in this show, of course), so I knew he’d had a Pop Art period, a sort of Hockney/Kitaj/Blake phase – see the first painting below.  There’s even a girl with a Who-type target on her tee shirt in another one.  The figurative elements gradually receded, however, until he arrived at pure abstraction – for a while, anyway.

 

 

I’d not seen these vast map jobs in screaming colours, though; Africa, South America, Europe, USA, and Asia are all there somewhere – though not necessarily in the usual positions (and, obviously, not all in the example below).

Bowling wanted – I think he still does – to be thought of as a painter, not as a black painter.  The poured paintings, for example, are not really about anything but colour and maybe texture; the properties of the paint.  When he went to the USA, he was out of step – his choice – with some of the black painters who were overtly political – some of their work was recently shown at the Tate Modern.  There is some politics on show here; this one (I think) is called “The Middle Passage”, a reference to the slavers’ sea route – but most of the (often long and oblique) titles are clearly personal, not political.

 

 

An example of the poured paintings, which he did on a tilting table of his own devising.

After the poured paintings, there is an “encrusted” period (see above); thick slathers of acrylic paint, often scraped or shaped into squares that look like slices of bread submerged in pigment.  Chunks or banana shapes of polystyrene are sometimes present, shipwrecked in the paint.  Still the colours though, are paramount.

 

 

These last two – the bottom one is huge, the other a much smaller panel shape – are quite recent; 2014-ish, I think.  So he’s still doing great work in his 80s.  Best in London, in my opinion, depending on whether the Bellany/Davie show is still on at Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery.

 

Van Gogh and Britain, Tate Britain until 11th August

My fourth (or is it fifth?) visit to this show, and it’s still packed  every time.  You can get in OK but you will have to peer over shoulders or use binoculars to read the captions.  I think some of the links that the show seeks to make are rather contentious; I can’t see much similarity or evidence of VG influence in the Bomberg self portrait below, despite the caption.

 

 

Another Bomberg and the only still life I’ve seen by him; I suppose you could make a case for some VG influence here…  Great vase of flowers though. exploding in all directions – makes “still life” a ridiculous description, really.

 

The Asset Strippers, Mike Nelson, Tate Britain until 6th October

Nelson has been round the country, buying up redundant plant and machinery, which he presents as if each piece were a piece of sculpture in an exhibition.  Some are combined, that is, balanced or stacked on top of each other.  Lathes, milling machines, jacks, scales, agricultural machinery – is that a threshing machine? – knitting machines, sequin machines…  You think “Look at that machine!  It’s really complicated and it does one specific job.  What if someone says,” There’s a better way of doing that, we can skip that bit of the process by doing a or b or c…. “; That’s it for the machine – now it IS a piece of sculpture – or scrap.

 

Not sure what the “bed” of sleeping bags is supposed to represent, if anything.  Everyone in the exhibition seemed to be smiling, the old ones (and there were many) wallowing nostalgia; younger visitors trying to work out what the stuff was for.

That’s the three shows currently at Tate Britain; next time, Goncharova at Tate Modern and Huguette Caland at Tate St. Ives.

Three really old ones of mine to finish –

Angelico Tower

 

 

Fish Head

 

 

Red Guard

Blackpaint, 15/06/19

 

 

Blackpaint 646 – Rembrandt, Richter, Caro, Saatchi

June 4, 2019

Rembrandt, Visions of the Self, Gagosian, ended 18th May

Sorry – missed the boat to recommend this one; but it was very good.  Just a bunch of self-portraits really, linked to or inspired by Rembrandt’s selfies.  A selection below, as always:

 

Untitled 2011 by Urs Fischer; Cast in wax.

 

Cindy Sherman, in disguise of course…

Baselitz – seems to be adjusting his dress…

 

Dora Maar – a searching gaze…

Others on display included Howard Hodgkin, Bacon, Jenny Savile and of course, Rembrandt himself.

 

Richter, Overpainted Photographs,  Gagosian Davies Street W1, on until 8th June

Only four days to go, well worth a look.  They’re not much more than postcard size, by the way.  Simple idea, but some great effects.

 

 

 

 

Caro, Seven Decades, Annely Juda, until 2nd July

Interesting to see some of Caro’s early pieces, from before his big conceptual breakthrough (connected metal components, displayed on the floor instead of some sort of platform).  The drawing on the wall below is of a bull, but reminds me of David Smith’s flat plane arrangements, like Hudson River Landscape of 1951.  The two small figures – Bernard Meadows, or maybe Elizabeth Frink (was she later or his contemporary?)

 

 

Touch of the Guillotine about this one…

 

Speaking Trumpet from the lower decks?

 

Navigational instruments?

Kaleidoscope, Saatchi Gallery, Kings Road, until 11th June

Another short time one, I’m afraid; several interesting and one really good young painter.

Pierre Carreau, AquaViva series

French artist, working in the Caribbean.  I’ve no idea if these photographic images are manipulated in any way, and if so, how – but the waves depicted seem somehow to be frozen, or solidified, or maybe coated in oil.  Maybe it’s the size of them, coupled with a high shutter speed.

 

Whitney Bedford

Appropriately nautical- sounding name, this American artist’s work, according to the Saatchi booklet, was created at the time of the Iraq war and they are “sort-of-salon paintings about empire and war in very pop colours”.  Can’t say I got the connection with war, but I did get the very pop colours.

 

Florence Hutchings

 

Florence Hutchings again

Great paintings; big, roughly textured, loosely collaged in places, big rich colours.  They’re sort of Braque-ish, I think.  I look forward to seeing more of her work.  Only 22, apparently, based in London.

 

Tillman Kaiser

Austrian, from Vienna.  Booklet says his paintings “echo a likeness to the art of stained glass windows” and he says he is interested in symmetries.  Some of his paintings represent patterns of swirling heads and reminded me strongly of works by Ellen Gallagher.

 

Saatchi, Gallery 8: “Arctic: New Frontier” by Yuri Kozyrev and Kadir Van Lohuizen

Kozyrev’s pictures are of Russian Arctic ports and the Nomadic people of the region; van Lohuizen’s are of Spitzberg Island in the Svalbard peninsula.  Some are breathtaking scenery; some rather depressing scenes of workers revving jet skis in great clouds of exhaust, or of giant, impressive pieces of plant in bright yellow against a blinding white background of snow and ice.

As always, one of mine to finish with:

Ocean of Storms

Blackpaint

4/06/19