Archive for November, 2019

Blackpaint 658 – TV Robots, Elevating Poets and the Topless Cellist

November 20, 2019

Tate Britain

This Gainsborough now on display; I’m sure I haven’t seen it before.  The structural resemblance to the famous Andrews portrait is obvious – but what about the disparity in size between the two figures?  Like one of those optical illusions you sometimes get on TV where two people are on a sofa together and one is much bigger than the other; but with those, I think, the nearer figure appears disproportionately larger – here, the woman is “closer” to the spectator…

 

Tate Modern – Nam June Paik, until 9th February 2020

Crowded, but good humoured throng; reminded me in that respect of the recent Franz West exhibition or the present Takis (see below and previous blogs).  Some items on display:  TV “Garden”, with a battery of TVs showing dancers in 60s clothes dancing to Rock around the Clock; A Buddha looking at himself on a little TV; a camera on tripod “staring” at an egg on a pedestal, as if examining it as well as filming it; robots assembled from old TVs, radios, electronic bits and pieces; Rauschenberg-like junk pieces, resembling R’s “Gluts”; batteries of TVs, showing those super-rapid pattern changes that are too fast for you to pin down visually (or maybe mentally – or both); the earnest madman Beuys, he of the fat, felt, wolves and blackboards, everywhere in films and photographs, as well as Merce Cunningham and John Cage, all three collaborators with Paik at one time or another;  the fabulous Charlotte Moorman, the “topless Cellist”, playing the back of a man (Paik?) in photos and film, along with a collection of her stage costumes; and the even more fabulous Janis Joplin on stage, in a psychedelic film shown on all four walls of the last room, along with Beuys blowing in a mike, shoals of fish, Moorman on stage, a choir of Native Americans….

 

Can you pin those images down as they flash up in front of you and disappear?  No, me neither can I…

 

That’s me on the right, while my much older friend looks on admiringly.

 

Influence of Rauschenberg?  And Beuys maybe??

 

A pair of amiable robots…

 

And another.

 

An electronic “shrine”, collaboration with Beuys, I think; Beuysian sticks and metal bowls and pots.

 

Takis, again – Tate Modern, but finished in October.

 

Even though exhibition now finished, had to put in this amazing photo of a Takis happening, in which he elevated a crash-helmeted poet with the use of magnets (or so it says in the blurb on the wall).

Another Takis piece, which provided a rare and welcome splash of colour in this tech-heavy exhibition.

Carrie, dir. Brian de Palma (1976)

This was on TV around Hallowe’en night; the brilliant Sissie Spacek shimmering in white slow motion on the stage, seconds later drenched in pig’s blood, glaring in at the horrified audience and sending the lot up in flames…  I have to say that I still went cold all over when the hand shot out of the grave and grasped the lone survivor by the wrist.  I think only “The Ring” can also do this for me now.

Some of my life studies to end with, black acrylic on paper, done with a fan brush:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint

20.11.19

 

Blackpaint 657 – Cow on Wheels, Slamming Gate, Flat Brick Skirts

November 8, 2019

Venice Biennale continued

Seems like weeks ago now – but here is the remainder of my pick:

 

Italian Pavilion

This is in the firm of a labyrinth with melted human remains at various points, as well as an artificial beach set up with deck chairs and umbrellas – and the above.

 

Peruvian Pavilion

Several billboard-size paintings like the above; indigenous peoples displayed, ironically, I assume, in leisure/glamour poses.

 

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Uruguayan Pavilion

Great collection of little paintings and drawings, like the above.

 

Serbian Pavilion.

Contrasting paintings (colourful and snappy) and sculpture, in old Communist heroic style.

 

Belgian Pavilion.

A series of unsettling tableaux, making up a sort of asylum of demented characters like those in the picture.

 

Great Britain 

Works by Cathy Wilkes.

Assemblages and paintings, in bland, pastel shades like the above, which refer to domestic, “feminised” surroundings suggesting (to me) a sort of restricted, imprisoned existence – maybe that’s just the meaning I expect such pieces to carry.  The piece is a moulded pregnant female belly.

 

German Pavilion.

Large boulders distributed around a space divided by marked out lines on the floor, as in the picture.   Loud, whining, screaming noises.  According to the handbook, “architectural elements, sound, sculptures and installations create a space that makes the economic, political and social conflicts of the present day socially tangible…” and so on.  This is very typical of the handbook, which is strong on interpretation, but gives one very little idea of the actual nature of the exhibits.

The Greek pavilion provides another good example of this.  My diary entry reads: “GREECE – Liked this one; video of Christos and his mate making bean stew – courgettes, beans – toms? Why not?.. and some celery.  His mate preferred the chicken.  Also, thousands of upside-down jam (?) pots, crammed together on the floor, so you could walk on them.”  The handbook says:”Sounds, moving images and architectural elements dub the pavilion building with new layers of meaning: translucent and open, the past and the future coexist in a condition of active present, where the ardour of the instantaneous allows for interpretations of the past to configure in an associative and instinctive manner.”

 

 

Czech Republic.  Stanislav Kolibal

Liked this one.  Terrific geometric drawings and sculptures, some with string, some with melted ends.

 

Nordic Countries Pavilion.

Artificial tree trunks, more boulders (see Germany) and hanging sheets of vari-coloured latex “seaweed”.  It’s all to do with environment, climate change and mass extinction, obviously, I guess.

From here on, displays by single artists in the Central Pavilion of the Giardini:

 

Soham Gupta, Kolkata

 

Zhanna Kadyrova, Ukraine

 

Henry Taylor, LA

 

 

Ulrike Muller, Austrian, works in LA

 

 

Njideka Akunyili Crosby – Born Nigeria, lives and works in LA

These collages, together with the paintings of Michael Armitage (below) were my favourites in this section.

 

Nabuqi, Beijing

Cow on wheels, on track – what could be more profound?

 

This could, I suppose…Shilpa Gupta, Mumbai,

Gate slams periodically into white wall, slowly demolishing, or at least, damaging it.  Shades of Kapoor…

 

 

 

 

Three works by Michael Armitage, born in Kenya, lives and works in London and Nairobi.

Big, sometimes crudely coloured and drawn African paintings, suggestive of hand-painted posters; some with pink undercoat shining through, like Poussin (or Harold Gilman).

OK, enough with the Biennale-

 

Had to include this photograph I took last week, of the house opposite, which is having a loft installed.  Two apparently cloaked figures stand motionless behind the polythene sheets, while a yellow-clad guitarist plays his instrument at the front of the building…

 

Across the Great Divide

Blackpaint

8.11.19