Archive for February, 2023

Blackpaint 712 – Spain at the RA, Bacon (not) in Moscow

February 26, 2023

Spain and the Hispanic World

Royal Academy until 10th April 2023

I found this exhibition to be a little underwhelming, but possibly this was due to the crowds of elderly punters like me with poor eyesight, standing right up close to see the detail and read the blurb – and block the view of others. There are a few Goyas – the Duchess of Alba is there – and some lovely small drawings; and a few by Velasquez, portraits again – but no Riberas, a big disappointment for me. I do love a huge stretched out figure being flogged or preferably flayed. Sorry, I mean for aesthetic reasons, of course, colour, depiction of musculature etc.

Probably best to see this as a historical exhibition with a few terrific art works studded about.

Never seen a rider in this position in a sculpture or piece of pottery before.

Something startling about these busts too – also pottery I think, and probably saints. I guess its the naturalism, the expressions and the fact that they are painted. They look like something out of a Samuel Beckett play – that one where they sit in dustbins, “End Game”….

El Greco of course. I can never decide whether I like the distortion and those livid colours. Sometimes I do, other times I find them – well, unlikeable. But they are always memorable, which is justification enough, as if they need me to approve of them. Well, yes, in this case I like the distortion and disparities, so that’s alright then,,,

Everybody in the gallery was jostling for a better look at these and photographing them so I felt I needed to as well. They are tiny by the way, maybe three or four inches tall.

Skipped a couple of centuries now: this is Sorella. Rather like Singer Sargent, I think, this one anyway.

Another Sorella – light on slippery wet skin. Sort of garish – see also “The Penitents”, two pics down.

Didn’t get the name of this artist, but he’s a contemporary of Sorella. That jewel-like palette and pattern reminds me a little bit of Gustave Moreau.

The Penitents (Sorolla)

This is a panel from a series of five (?) by Sorolla, depicting the essence of Spain. I found it to be rather stereotypical; hot, dusty, horses, donkeys and carts, nuns and tricorns.

Moore and Bacon together at Tate Britain

Some of Francis Bacon’s paintings have been hung in the gallery housing the Henry Moore sculptures; may have been there for weeks, I wouldn’t know – but I found it to be something of a revelation to me. I’d never really thought that the two were similar in any way, but they bounce off each other wonderfully to my mind.

Bacon hadn’t a great regard for Moore’s work, according to James Birch in his engrossing memoir “Bacon in Moscow” (Cheerio 2022) : “As the date of the exhibition approached, Francis was already looking beyond it and talking to me about the things he still wanted to do… Unusually for him, he talked about art and other artists: particularly about Henry Moore, LS Lowry and Carel Weight. He gave a “Nero’s thumbs down” to their work.” (p.145)

I highly recommend Birch’s book with its odd title – Bacon never got to go to Moscow, although his paintings did – it’s in that anecdotal, gossipy style of Bacon books by Michael Peppiatt and Daniel Farson that is probably most appropriate to the painter and his routine of well-oiled lunches, gambling and heroic drinking.

There are some shocks though. At the end of the book, Birch relates how he was a passenger in a car driven by a woman friend who had a “wonky headlight”. She was stopped by the traffic police and taken to their car: “Most traffic fines could be avoided with a bribe of roubles but watching from my seat I saw Leila’s head bobbing up and down and realised, to my horror, that the bribe on this occasion was oral sex. There was so much civic unrest, violence, rape and police brutality in every city as the Soviet Union broke up that perhaps it was not a surprise (that this happened). Leila and I never spoke about the incident.”(p.166).

Yiadom – Boakwe at Tate B

I reviewed this exhibition last blog and referred to the puzzling titles, which are wilfully obscure – but I gave no examples. So, here’s one; this picture is called “Tie the Temptress to the Trojan”

Also to be seen at Tate Modern

A few pieces that caught my eye in the regular galleries –

Jimmy Durham – I think a Native American artist, if that’s the correct or acceptable term this evening – and irrelevant , maybe – reminiscent of Rauschenburg and Ed Kienholz.

Love this assemblage but didn’t get the artist’s name. There’s a tea strainer in there somewhere.

And back to Tate Britain –

Matthew Smith

Francis Bacon (obviously)

Couple of mine to finish;

Phil in pen and ink

Phil in pen and ink 2

N -Scraper

That’s all for now, folks!

Blackpaint Feb 26 2023