Blackpaint 656 – Whitechapel, Venice and Houellebecq


Anna Maria Maiolino, Making Love Revolutionary, at Whitechapel Gallery until 12th January 2020

This exhibition contains many wonderful things, as does the current Venice Biennale; what readers may have realised over the years is that I’m not good at, or interested in, discovering or even having a stab at the meaning of a work of art.  It’s enough if the work pleases or interests me in itself, without explanations in reams of artspeak in catalogues or on a gallery wall.  Looking back, it seems I don’t do much more than put forward some possible similarities to other artists or works – and some of those links are pretty spurious.

And today’s blog is no different – so here are some examples of Maiolino’s work, with not much in the way of comment:

Clay, I believe , on a table.  The legs are not part of the artwork – although they improve the photo.

 

Her drawings on paper are very fine, clean and clear.

 

 

Magnets and iron filings come to mind (mine, anyway).  And black holes…

 

The spaceman has fish on a plate – and is that an otter… or beaver?

 

Several of Maiolino’s works are of this sort; paper or stiff card, cut and contained within a box-like frame, tight as a drum and sharply geometric.  Some have cords or rather threads attached in various ways.

 

Glistening piles – maybe a single joined-up tube of vari-coloured…matter, again on a table top, making a nice contrasting “book end” to the first illustration.  Anish Kapoor had several exhibits similar to this at Guggenheim Bilbao some nine years ago.  A liberating piece of work.

 

 

Venice Biennale: “May You Live in Interesting Times”

As with the last Biennale, diversity, migration, refugees are major concerns in the selection – although you wouldn’t know it from looking at many of the artworks.  The handbook is an essential guide to what somebody thinks the pieces represent, but you won’t be able to divine from it what the works actually consist of.  More of this, with examples, next blog.  Here are some of the individual contributions:

 

Tavares Strachan

This US artist is concerned with the African American contribution to the space programme; this piece is about a black astronaut who was killed in an accident, whilst training others.

 

Gabriel Rico

Coke (Pepsi?) bottle, carrot et al with light tubes.  Early Martial Raysse?

 

Yin Xiuzhen, “Trojan”

The giant figure is slumped forwards in the seat; coverings made from stretched shirts, jackets etc.

 

Martine Gutierrez

She does giant photos of herself in provocative positions with male mannequins.  Here she is, gazing – longingly? fearfully? – up from the pool at the suited and booted figure… a Houellebecq scenario, possibly (see below).

 

Cameron Jamie

These heads on sticks are inspired by the Austrian (?) Krampus legends.

 

Alexandra Bircken

Black vinyl “skins” hanging from the rafters – an obvious “Strange Fruit” reference…

 

Andra Ursuta

These “ice” sculptures are actually made from treated wax – very effective.

 

Danh Vo

Paint slapped and smeared and left to run down polished metal mirror – love this.

 

Zhanna Kadyrova

This is just a corner of a whole vegetable and meat market made from a variety of materials, from cardboard to cement.  Reminded me of Fischli and Weiss, who used to do these sort of realist assemblages made out of polystyrene mostly…

 

 

 

Michel Houellebecq, Serotonin

Just finished Houellebecq’s latest and I’m still struggling to understand why the Marxist intellectuals who make up my book group like him so much.  He’s arguably pretty, well VERY right wing (it’s not all irony, is it?), hates feminism, has absolutely nothing good to say about socialism, hates the EU, writes enthusiastically about the international sex industry, etc. etc.   He IS French however, so I suppose he appeals to the automatic anti-British leanings of many leftie intellectuals, as identified by Orwell years ago.  In Serotonin, he comes quite close to some romantic, even lyrical passages – so he offsets these with a sequence in which a German paedophile molests a young girl, apparently with her consent and for money.  That should be shocking enough, he maybe thinks, to prevent his becoming a National Treasure in France…  I wouldn’t bank on it; maybe he already is.

Two of my pictures to finish, as usual:

 

Soho Newsagent’s Window 1963 (1 and 2)

Blackpaint

October 2019

 

 

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