Archive for the ‘Painting, Traditional, Modern and Abstract, Conceptual art’ Category

Blackpaint 672 – Bomberg, Deneuve and Angels’ Wings

May 28, 2020

Bomberg

Continuing from last blog on Roy Oxlade and Bomberg, I’ve now finished the Oxlade book “Art and Instinct” and I’m somewhat wiser, but by no means completely clear on Bomberg’s main message – or the “Approach”, as he called it (Bomberg tended to capitalise throughout his writings, most of which, in the Oxlade book at least, were unpublished notes).  Two things are clear – he was regarded as a guru by his students, who tended to make works which obviously reveal his influence (see Creffield and Dorothy Mead, for example) and he had an overwhelming sense of mission, to deliver art, and art teaching,  from the “errors” propounded by William Coldstream and others.  Coldstream was  imposing the LTS (learn to see) system on students, which was based on “accurate” observation, measurement, the rules of perspective and proportion developed during the Renaissance.  This precluded a freshness of approach, strapped students into a visual and practical straitjacket and prevented them from finding “the Spirit in the Mass”, to use Bomberg’s phrase.

What was, or is, the “Spirit in the Mass”?  Not sure.  There’s some religious or at least metaphysical stuff in there, obviously – but is it any more than “forget the rules, respond to the subject as you see fit, try to find the essentials, whatever they are, of the object which you are drawing or painting”?  I was surprised, when I looked into Bomberg’s work, to find how poerful and varied it is.  Some examples below.  I’ve left out the early, semi-abstract ones, “Mud Bath” and “Jiu Jutsu” as I’ve discussed them elsewhere.  Also I left out the Palestine paintings – “accurate”, but flat and boring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a few; I love the way he paints women and I was surprised at the erotic charge in some of the pictures.  And that mountainscape.  Check him out – there’s a great sequence on YouTube.

Coronavirus Updates

We in the UK have, for the last six or seven weeks, had the benefit if a daily update on the progress of the pandemic here, delivered mostly by the government minister of the day, flanked, at a proper distance, by a scientist or two.  Certain idiosyncracies of vocabulary and phraseology have developed over that time, repetitions that maybe have already been noted in the press – I wouldn’t know as I stopped buying papers weeks ago – they can carry the virus.

Of the politicians on offer, my favourite is Dominic Raab, because he resembles  Simon Cadell, who played Mr. Geoffrey in “Hi De Hi”.  Anyway – “Incredible”; everyone is working incredibly hard under incredibly difficult circs, doing an incredible job.  Related to this is ” the clock“, which again, everyone is working round“Granular”; I think Jonathan Van Tam, the scientist, introduced this one.  It’s to do with looking really closely at evidence, getting right down to the real nitty gritty to quote the old song – and coming up with a really close analysis – not smooth, but – well – grainy.

And phrases; the way they evaluate the questions put to them, especially those from the public; “I think that’s an incredibly good question” – Matt Hancock is the master of this – “I really do think that’s a really great question” –  then they proceed to avoid answering it, usually by “paying tribute” to “the incredible work” being done by health care workers, researchers, or whoever it might be.  This sounds snotty – I don’t mean it to be; I’ve less time for the arrogant journalists who think they are the real government.

 

Truffaut’s Films

The Last Metro, Deneuve and Depardieu both on fabulous form in Truffaut’s WW11 piece, about an actor/manager (Deneuve) trying to keep a theatre going in occupied Paris, while her Jewish playwright husband hides in the cellar from the Nazis.

 

The next best in the box set; Fanny Ardant this time, with Depardieu; she moves in next door, not knowing that D, her former lover,  lives there.  Smouldering, as Barry Norman probably said.

Angels’ Wings

Jan van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece (detail)

This picture appeared in the RA magazine, and my partner was intrigued by the wings.  They look as if they’re cut from a melon, she said – green on the outside and sort of fleshy glistening inside,  I looked at some other examples to see – as far as I can make out, they are a one=off.

 

Ghirlandaio, Coronation of the Virgin (detail)

Nice splash of red, yellow and blue here…

 

Fra Angelico, The Last Judgement (detail)

Beautifully marked – but no recognisable pattern..

 

 

Fra Angelico, The Annunciation (detail)

Butterfly wings, definitely.

 

Dieric Bouts, the Road to Paradise (detail)

Lovely blue ones – and presumably, holes cut into the robes.  Must be difficult to get on.

Raphael, The Archangel Michael (detail)

Hint of snakeskin here – look at that fore-edge.

 

To finish, a revamped painting of mine, which I noticed “after the fact” sort of bore a resemblance to the theme – but not to the quality, of course…

Angel Wings (formerly Lost in the Woods)

Blackpaint

29.5.20

Blackpaint 671 – Oxlade and Lancaster, Drawing and Swimming

May 17, 2020

Roy Oxlade, Art and Instinct (Ziggurat Books, 2010)

Oxlade, Figure on Chair, 1985

I have been reading, with growing interest, this artist’s book of essays and criticism, “Instinct and Art”.  Oxlade, who died in 2014, was an alumnus of Bomberg’s 2nd Borough Group, and had a thoroughly worked-out approach to painting and drawing.  As can be seen from the examples below, his art was representational or figurative – but in some cases, only just.  The casual viewer might think that they are abstract, mostly, but with the odd bit of “real world” –  a cartoon coffee pot or lemon squeezer

 

, say, thrown in the mix.  This was a direct result of his attitude to art and to art school teaching.  To put it simply and, no doubt, crudely, three things were (and are) undermining artistic creativity: first, the art market, with all the evils of naked capitalism; second, the tendency of art schools and the public to see drawing and painting as skills-based activities in which “accurate” reproduction of the “real world” is the goal – and third, conceptual art, from Duchamp through to Hirst.

Obviously, the last has long superceded the second and had done so even when Oxlade was writing in the earliest of these essays.  As far as drawing is concerned, Oxlade says it should bear a    metaphorical, not literal, relationship to the real world – which we all know is there, so we don’t need to reproduce it.  Children, before they are corrupted by adult conceptions, are truly creative, since they see freshly and draw directly; same goes, to a lesser degree, for untutored adults, until someone (an art teacher, say) tells them they are “doing it wrong”.  Oxlade doesn’t mention CoBrA, but I guess his attitude fits in perfectly with the likes of Appel, Jorn, Constant etc.

So, he’s an odd mix; left-wing, anti-elitist, egalitarian, anti-Renaissance – and yet, very definite, almost autocratic in the expression of his views – in print anyway.  There’s a strange elitism in there somehow.  No doubt this has nothing to do with his years as a Bomberg student…  More about this when I’ve finished the book.

 

 

The Swimmer dir. Frank Perry (1968)

 

Ploughing through the DVDs during the lockdown, I watched this again and re-read the Cheever story afterwards:  I regard both the story and the film as masterworks in their own right.  Eleanor Perry, the screenwriter has added a number of scenes (the teenage babysitter, the race with the horse, the neglected boy by the empty pool and the long interplay with the ex “mistress”) which point up Ned Merrill’s sexual/class sense of entitlement, his Peter Pan naivete and the  sense of unease, mental slippage and lack of self awareness.

Some other added or developed scenes bring an element of class and race politics in, but they fit perfectly, no false notes: his crass (but well meant) comments to the black chauffeur; the confrontation with the Biswangers over the hot dog cart; and above all, the meeting with Howie and his wife at the public swimming pool.  Burt Lancaster is fantastic throughout as the affable, athletic, confident. blindly insensitive – and, it turns out, mentally ill – Neddy Merrill.  The ending, when he finally reaches his house in the storm, is devastating.

The Cheever story has two things that are striking and not in the film: firstly, Merrill is mystified by the stars- they seem to be autumn constellations, not those of high summer (the film takes place in daylight; in the story, Ned arrives home after dark); secondly, Ned bursts into tears at the end.  Hard to imagine Burt Lancaster bringing that off…

A couple of my new – well, recently adapted – paintings to end:

Black Night

 

Still Life with Red Pot

Blackpaint

17/5/20

Blackpaint 670 – Basquiat, Chabrol, Audran – and Blackpaint

May 3, 2020

 

Basquiat – Rage to Riches (BBC4)

Stunning pictures; fantastic colours.  Especially good when his cartoonish figures are combined with a swishy “AbEx” background, reminiscent of Twombly and Rauschenburg.  Great story about his visit to Twombly’s studio – he was brought there by another artist as a big fan of Twombly, and was told to leave by T’s gallerist – very revealing of the prejudices of the time – all gone now, of course..  A lot of influential critics suffered from  motes in the eye as far as Basquiat was concerned, I think – I wonder why?  Maybe they felt he was over-praised at the time.  Fascinating to see too, the rather touching irritation expressed by Andy Warhol in one excerpt, when he felt that Basquiat had failed to give him his due, in some way that I didn’t quite get…

 

Films of Claude Chabrol

I’ve been watching my DVD set of the great director’s films; the sombre music, often a cello piece, the colour somehow drained in most films (not Le Boucher, though) and the great interaction of his troupe of regulars: Jean Yanne, Michel Bouquet, and above all, Stephane Audran (Chabrol’s wife), with her mask-like beauty concealing her thoughts – that was very much her thing.  “Social” niceties, sympathy, good manners, humour, she could perform to satisfy convention and politeness; but she conveyed the impression that there was much more going on beneath the surface.

Stephane Audran and Jean Yanne in Le Boucher (1970)

 

Stephane Audran in “La Femme Infidele” (1969)

Chabrol is not, to my mind, “the French Hitchcock”; the plots are far less contrived (with the possible exception of Les Biches) than Hitchcock’s – none of them really contain a mystery.  They are about ordinary everyday concerns – love, lust, greed, jealousy, revenge – and the whodunit element is absent.  The last film in the set is his version of Madame Bovary, with Isabelle Huppert, never better, as Emma and Jean Yanne as the chemist Homais; a big contrast to his role as Le Boucher back in 1970.

I like all the films, except for “Les Biches”; perhaps “Juste Avant la Nuit” (1971) is the most intriguing.  A man (Michel Bouquet) kills his mistress in the course of an S&M sex session.  He then feels compelled to confess – and everyone, even the victim’s husband, seem compelled to forgive him and persuade him not to give himself up.

Bovary, of course, is a horrific story in several respects; Chabrol’s version is rather… softer, perhaps, than Sokurov’s Bovary, rather bafflingly called “Save and Protect” (1990).  It does, however, have a great ballroom scene, not quite rivalling that in “The Leopard” or the one in Sokurov’s “Russian Ark” – but pretty good, all the same…  Interesting that Chabrol and Sokurov chose to do the book within a year of each other, maybe in production at the same time.

Blackpaint’s Paintings

I’ve finally managed to get a couple of paintings done, despite a heavy schedule of crossword puzzles, reading Beevor’s battle books, pounding sweatily on a treadmill and tea drinking.  I present them below for your delectation – or derision:

Over the Hill

Still Life with Tomatoes and Steak

Blackpaint

3rd May 2020

Blackpaint 669 – From the Lockdown

April 15, 2020

Some pictures that I really like

Very lame heading, I know, but no exhibitions accessible during the lockdown, so I’m forced to improvise and go back to the archives.

 

Red Nude, Karel Appel (Ghent)

He can smash those colours together and they never turn into mud.  the black ground too…

 

Sleeping Child, Will Barnet (Washington)

I’d never heard of this US artist, despite the fact that he lived to over 100 (died 2012) and ran a famous print studio in the States.  Very stylised, Japanese-y…

 

The Entombment, Caravaggio (Vatican)

Nothing needs to be said about this – so I’ll say nothing.

 

Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling, Holbein (London)

Is there another portraitist who comes anywhere near Holbein?  Might get a blog out of that in the future…

 

Orange and Black Wall, Franz Kline (Madrid)

The colours here I think  detract from the trademark starkness of Kline’s monochrome pictures – but they add something too; variety obviously!

 

The Rape of Europa. Titian (Boston)

There was a TV prog last week on the series of paintings which Titian did for Philip II of Spain.  The paintings are, or were, on exhibition at the National Gallery – but the lockdown has closed the NG.  Some of the TV prog was taken up with discussion about objectification and sexualisation of women by male artists and purchasers.  Mary Beard opined at the end that the pictures should be shown because they tell us a lot about sexual violence against women.

I seem to recall reading or hearing on TV somewhere that the word rape, as in the example above and in the various kidnappings of the Sabine women, meant abduction, rather than the assault itself.  That’s clearly the case with Titian’s painting – yet Beard asserted several times (I think) that we were seeing a rape in progress.  It’s confusing for us old, white men.

 

Comtesse d’Haussonville, Ingres (New York)

Stunning portrait, but like the paintings in the Tate Britain’s “British Baroque” exhibition, the real focus of interest is the dress.

 

Cemetery in Corsica 1948, John Minton

A re-showing last week of Mark Gatiss’ great documentary on the painter, teacher and illustrator John Minton.  I have to say that I loved the Cornish pictures, reminiscent as they were of Sutherland and Piper, but found the bright colours of his Thameside paintings rather jarring.  I really like this Corsican one with the green sky, though.

 

I haven’t mentioned any films of late; in recent weeks, however, the virus has led me to do little else but watch DVDs.  Here are a few-

 

Caravaggio, Derek Jarman (1987)

Tilda Swinton as Lena, an angel with a dirty face.  I don’t know if Jarman’s film has any connection to historical reality, but it’s certainly visually brilliant, especially the colours and the bodies on show – all swathed in Caravaggian blacknesses as above.  Sean Bean and Dexter Fletcher sneer, grin threateningly, brandish knives, pop their pecs and sweat glossily and Nigel Terry, as the adult Caravaggio, has the necessary authority – and looks just like the painter.  There is also the impish Dawn Archibald, who does amazing things with her body – to loosen up after modelling.  I was saddened to discover that she died in her 50s in 2016, having been a peace activist for some time in the Edinburgh Women in Black group. RIP.

Dawn Archibald in Caravaggio

 

Le Jour se Leve, Marcel Carne (1939)

Jean Gabin and Arletty in a Parisian bar, prior to the killing of the dog trainer (don’t ask) and the ensuing siege in the top apartment.  Gabin’s character, despite the gangster cap and hard man expression, works as a paint sprayer and rides a drop handle bike…

 

Hotel du Nord, Marcel Carne (1938)

Arletty again, this time with pimp Louis Jouvet and a couple of police heavies.  Arletty, also a star of Carne’s Les Enfants du Paradis, was imprisoned for collaboration after WW11; she “had an affair” (seems a quaint phrase to me now) with a German officer who later became a diplomat in Africa – and was eaten by a crocodile.  Which has nothing to do with the merits of the film; like the other two Carne fims mentioned, it’s still sort of hypnotic and archetypal in settings, characters and story.

To end, two recent paintings of mine:

Drop in the Ocean

Sonia’s Twisting Pose

Blackpaint

15th April 2020

Blackpaint 668 – Imaginary Tennis and Desperate Housewives

March 29, 2020

Blow Up, dir.Antonioni (1966)

Saw this for the first time last night, having recently visited Maryon Park in Charlton, where the “murder” was committed.  I love those swinging London films, especially if they’re directed by a foreigner – they get things slightly wrong, making the films even more quaint than the 60’s in London really were..  Nothing I can put my finger on, though.  Fabulous location shots around South East London – instant nostalgia.

Vanessa Redgrave strives to convince us that she fancies photographer David Hemmings, going to the lengths of stripping off (top only, though) for him; we don’t see what happens next so maybe they just have tea and then she leaves, with the negatives of the murder that she came for.

Wait a minute – what’s that painting on the wall?  Yes, it’s an Alan Davie!

Lighting not good here though.

Anyway, the film ends back in Maryon Park, with Hemmings watching a mimed tennis match (don’t ask, as they say), with Julian Chagrin and partner using imaginary racquets and an imaginary ball.  Hemmings picks up the “ball” and mimes throwing it back – I take this to be a suggestion that the murder was imaginary too.  But then he did go back to the park at night and saw the body… Maybe it was all a dream; it WAS the 60s after all.

No galleries open, of course, but I want to post, so just a few old pictures until I can get round to painting.  Should be able to, with three months at least ahead.

 

 

Road to Damascus – very like Caravaggio, I think you’ll agree.

 

Figure Study 1

 

Figure Study 2

 

Desperate Housewives

 

Old Cambridge Circus

Blackpaint

29th March 2020

 

 

 

Blackpaint 667 – From the Belly of the Beast

March 18, 2020

British Surrealism at Dulwich Picture Gallery until 17th May

Well, it was to be until 17th May; now, gallery is shut down for the duration of the crisis.  I was surprised by how good or interesting some of these paintings are; like many people, I loved surrealism in my teens and twenties, but sort of grew tired of it of it when I discovered colour, texture and form in paint.  I’m less interested in the stories paintings tell, than in paintings as sensual entities in themselves.  Here, there’s plenty to enjoy in the pictures before you even have to try to understand them.  So, below are some of the pictures that please me as arrangements of paint on canvas, not necessarily as surrealistic experiences:

La Cathedrale Engloutie, Ithell Colquhoun

Colquhoun is the most interesting painter here (apart from Bacon and Freud, who have one painting each in the exhibition).  Reminds me I need to make a dental appointment, if I make it through the pandemic…

 

The Oneiroscopist, Edith Rimmington

Yes, Rimmington does a good surreal bird.  Has it eaten the deep sea diver, or is the helmet its own?  If so, how does it get the helmet on over the beak?  Sorry, getting involved in the narrative…

 

Aftermath, Marion Adnams

I used to have a skull the same as this – fox, I think – that I found in an abandoned Scout hut in 1962 or 63 – no bow, though.  I see there’s barbed wire on the parapet, so I guess it may date from WW2 – the picture, not the skull.

 

Graham Sutherland

Slightly blurred photo, sorry; and that’s my reflection in the glass.  Is it really a surrealist painting or one of Sutherland’s stylised landscapes?  I love the colours.

 

The Old Maids, Leonora Carrington

Elongated women, small heads, crab-like chair, naughty monkey – classic Carrington.  I still mix her up with Dorothea Tanning (style, name, Max Ernst connection) and also with  Leonor Fini…

 

Nocturnal Drama (Fantasy), Merlyn Evans (detail)

Reflection in glass again, I’m afraid.  Such a good painting, though.

 

Guardian of Memories, Eileen Agar

You can get this one on a tea towel at DPG – when it re-opens of course.  Great sharp image and execution – Agar is the other champion here, bigger name than Colquhoun.

 

Francis Bacon

Bacon’s dogs remind me of Bonnard’s cows.  I think I read somewhere that the face of the tree thing is supposed to be Goebbels or Goering…

Some other great stuff, but it’s all on hold now.

 

Dulwich Picture Gallery Collection

Copy of work in Uffizi by Cristofano Allori

Surrealistic handbag?  Fabulous little painting. Judith with head of Holofernes, of course.

Willem de Kooning

Just to illustrate that pretentious nonsense I wrote at the beginning, about paintings that you like not for the “story” but for the paint itself, here are a few from the Master (the Mistress would be Joan Mitchell, naturally).

 

I hardly dare to include my own latest painting to follow this group, but it’s my blog, not de Kooning’s, so here it is, entitled “Lockdown” – not for the content, but for the times:

Lockdown

Blackpaint

17/3/20

 

 

Blackpaint 666 – The Number of the Beast

March 14, 2020

Giotto, Last Judgement

For no reason other than the number of this blog, I’ve been tempted to include some representations of the Christian Devil – of course, he’s not actually a Christian, but a rather important figure in Christian theology – so you will find some more famous ones below.  Now I’m worried that it might be misogynistic of me to assume a male devil; then again, it might be sexist to speculate that the devil could be female.  Anyway, no female representations of the Evil One available – there was Marty Robbins’ “Devil Woman” back in the 60s, but that was a song, not a picture.

 

Carlos Bunga, Whitechapel Gallery 

An intriguing exhibition by this Portuguese artist, located in the  dark downstairs hall of the Whitechapel;  a few paintings like that below; old carpentry and similar tools, chairs and bits and pieces hanging from the walls; a pile of breeze blocks on one delicate table, an old sewing machine on another.  The columns and spaces in the hall enclosed in huge panels of hardboard in a sort of Christo building wrap; and artificially produced decay and stress marks on the same.  The info refers to Bunga’s admiration for Shaker conservation and work/life habits – but doesn’t really explain the exhibition.   That’s a good thing though, isn’t it?

Slightly Richter-ish?  (Gerhard, that is)

Things fall apart…

 

 

There was a Brazilian artist exhibited recently at the Whitechapel who also piled stuff up on tables, but with her it was masses of clay…  Her name was Anna Maria Maiolino.

Here he is again – Grunewald, Isenheim Altar (detail)

 

More Picasso on Paper at the RA

The Picasso is really so large that I think more pictures are justified than the few in the last blog – so here’s a few more:

Slightly blurred, I’m afraid; this is one of the late series of etchings he did with the assistance of the Crommelynks – a period of intense productivity that reminds you of Van Gogh’s last month on Earth.

 

Artist and his model series…

 

Lovely little, little picture  – sort of Cezanne-ish?

 

Like a music hall act…

 

Simple but perfect really.

 

National Gallery

Another blurred photo of a beautiful painting, by an anonymous Italian artist.  I’ve included it for two reasons: first, it’s absolutely beautiful, and memorable for the colours and for the toothless old woman; and second, I visited St. Mary’s Rotherhithe, the Mayflower church, the same week and found this copy over the altar.  It’s identical and was done by one Florence Nicholson in memory of her grandfather, who worshipped at the church.  The commemorating plaque makes no mention of the original; maybe they didn’t know it was a copy.

 

And again – Giotto, Judas and Devil.  Note the money bag J is receiving; the thirty pieces of silver….

 

And here’s mine – Judgement

 

And a new one – Mark of the Beast

Blackpaint

14/03/20

Blackpaint 665 – Picasso, Bomberg and the Old Masters

March 5, 2020

Picasso on Paper, Royal Academy until 13th April

This is an unexpectedly huge show, covering his whole career, kicking off with the Blue Period beggar and his girl, facing you as you enter, and with a fabulous Blue Period self portrait as well – neither of which are works on paper, but the RA seems often to stray from the stated theme (for example, the Lucian Freud “self portraits”, several of which were nothing of the sort).  Who cares, anyway, except for critics, as long as the paintings are good…

The Blue Period is followed by the Rose Period, more great paintings and works on paper.  It seems that both of these periods lasted about two years; strange that Picasso could confine himself to long periods using the same palette, given his drive for invention and furious work rate.  Anyway, some highlights below as always, with my perceptive and amusing comment where necessary:

 

 

Portrait of Stravinsky, from about 1920, I believe; it’s charcoal over pencil, with some erasure, it appears.  Quite conventional for that date, after Desmoiselles d’Avignon from 1907 and the Cubist works.

 

Shepherd; wideset eyes, rather bland expression (the shepherd, not the sheep).

 

Minotaur painting; I love the shape that the drooping horse makes over the arm of the monster.

 

There are a number of these heads with the bulbous nose which starts at the top of the forehead; I think the model was Marie – Therese Walther.

 

A companion to the Stravinsky drawing from the same period.  This one I at first thought was accomplished in a single line drawing with no errors, or pentimenti, to give them the polite term.  When you look closely, though, there are faint pencil marks, one under her bottom lip for example – so he was human after all.

 

Big late painting, from the Tate Modern, in one of the last rooms, with several brothel pictures, mostly etchings, I think.

 

An earlier work, painting and collage.  I’ll be going again, so no doubt more pictures to follow.

Three punters discussing the Picasso animatedly.

 

Young David Bomberg and the Old Masters at the National Gallery until 1st March

Small (free) exhibition in one room; the idea is to show how Bomberg was influenced by Old Masters in his work.  The early “exploding” abstracts are there; Mud Bath, Jiu Jitsu and The Hold, along with some sketches and preparatory drawings of the same – but so far as I can see, they don’t relate to the supposed theme – no OM influence.  The ones that do are below:

Bomberg stated that he wanted to do a self-portrait full face, looking straight at the viewer, like the Botticelli youth in the red cap.   Here they are; the Botticelli slightly blurred.

 

This picture was painted in 1919, commissioned by the Canadian government to commemorate the Canadian war effort.  It shows sappers in action and was not well received by the Canadians, who felt the style and colours were inappropriate.  Bomberg had been influenced by the El Greco painting below; you can clearly see the shapes and colours of the El Greco in the Bomberg painting. even though this photo  only shows a part.

 

Uncut Gems, dirs. Josh and Bennie Safdie (2019)

Starring Adam Sandler, who is very clearly channeling Al Pacino here, this film reminded me in an odd way of “Dog Day Afternoon”: the same shouting and swagger, the same sudden violence and the same lack of realistic expectation in the main character.  At first, it’s too noisy; the score runs relentlessly through the dialogue making it hard to hear – hard to stand, even – but you are drawn in, and once in…

Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon

 

One of mine to finish…

Midnight Rider

Blackpaint

5.3.20

 

 

Blackpaint 664 – It’s Figurative Week, here at the blog

February 17, 2020

British Baroque: Power and Illusion, at Tate Britain until 19th April

Fantastic exhibition, despite Jonathan Jones in the Guardian.  It covers the years 1660 – 1714, the reigns of Charles II, James II, William and Mary and Queen Anne. Below is the centre piece of the first room, by Verrio; great explosion of figures fanning out from the upper centre figure of Charles II.  We’ve seen plenty of Rubens and Van Dyck in recent years, so although they sort of haunt, from an earlier era, this show of largely lesser mortals, their absence is definitely not fatal.

 

Antonio Verrio, “The Sea Triumph of Charles II”, 1674

 

This is the Earl of Rochester; I take it that the monkey is a comment on the nature of his poetry – but maybe he really had one, or the artist did; “No really, my Lord, the monkey will look wonderful in the picture…”

 

This picture carries a warning about the “demeaning” depiction of the black youngsters cavorting around the central character.  Stunning blue robe though …

 

I think this is the Duke of Monmouth, presumably channeling John the Baptist – or Bo Peep.

 

You get the impression at this show – or at least I did – that these artists are really interested in the dresses and fabrics, and how they drape and fold; the subjects, their faces, are secondary (a lot of these court beauties look pretty similar anyway).  Once or twice, I thought the artist could have done the dress and setting and left a hole for the face.  This silver silk or satin, shiny as Bacofoil, for instance.

Illusion

Trompe l’oeil plays a big part in this show, as it was very fashionable in the period.  Some examples below:

 

Hang on – isn’t that last Monday’s Guardian at the top?

 

This stand up, cut out figure could be placed in a dark  corridor or even the corner of a guest’s room in your mansion; what a laugh that would be when you suddenly caught sight of it…

 

The bottom half of the door is the real thing; the top half with the fiddle and no light streaks on the inlets (or whatever you call them) is a painting.  Maybe that’s obvious – a friend had to point it out to me.

 

Various parrots, a peacock, pheasants, a jay, a lapwing, turtle dove and a couple I can’t identify, all together as you would see them in the wild…

 

We’ve left “Illusion” now and are back in the world of beautiful (?) children and the dressing up box.

 

This is Matthew Prior, the writer, painted by Godfrey Kneller, and distinguished in this show by the lack of a resplendent wig – the only male, apart from children and servants, without one, I think.

 

Peter Lely, Anne Hyde, Duchess of York, 1661

That’s the lady in the painting, not the foreground.  Again, look at the sumptious rendition of the dress; colours recall Titian and Veronese, I think.  More of these fantastic swagger portraits next blog.

 

Radical Figures – Painting in the New Millennium,  at the Whitechapel Gallery, until 10th May

To quote from the booklet, “…ten artists who represent the body….to tell compelling stories and explore vital social concerns.  Largely avoiding the conventions of realism, they ….explore timely subjects, including gender and sexuality, society and politics, race and body image.”

 

Daniel Richter, Asger, Bill and Mark

That is, Asger Jorn, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko.

 

Daniel Richter – Tarifa

About as close as this exhibition gets to a straightforward visual depiction of a single event.  The black sky and midnight sea, I think, are rather overwhelming…

 

Michael Armitage

I love the washy green and pinks; saw a lot of his stuff in Venice last year, like hand-painted film posters, somehow.  These paintings are quite different.

 

Christina Quarles

The entwined bodies, flattened field (“pressing against the confines of the canvas”, to quote the booklet again) and smooth, graphic style remind me somewhat of the Australian artist Brett Whiteley, although the exploration of “female, black and queer identity” was not Whiteley’s aim…

 

Ryan Mosley

I think this must be Teaching Snakes to be Snakes – I must get into the habit of photographing the titles, like all the other bloggers you see in galleries…

 

 

Tschabalala Self

Love those brick wall legs, that brick wall torso.

 

Nicole Eisenman, Progress Real and Imagined (detail)

This is from the second panel of a diptych, “a creation story or apocalypse unfolding in an Arctic landscape”; the booklet mentions Bosch and Brueghel; I must say I thought first of Bosch because of the multiplicity of outlandish events rather than the great detail which the booklet cites – but now I’m thinking Mexican muralists, Rivera above all.  Intentions completely different, of course.

And some of mine to end with..

Bent

 

Man of Sorrows

 

Armpit

Blackpaint

17th February 2020

Blackpaint 663 – Bookcases, Talc and other Hazards

February 8, 2020

Tate Modern Free Galleries

I took a trip round the galleries of Tate Modern last week to see what new works were on display, or what old ones had been moved to a new place – here are a few examples of both:

Modigliani, his lover Jeanne Hebuterne

Not really any problem of identification here – but great painting, I’m sure you will agree.

 

Mary Martin – bit of a contrast to the Modigliani; but I love the colour and a handy little shelf for toothpaste or razor if you chose to hang it in the bathroom….

 

William Gear

Hope I’ve got this up the right way – I think I have.  I like the jaggedness of the images; looks like a tangle of tumbling bodies; fall of angels maybe?  I didn’t get the title…

 

Karel Appel

This is an old one in a new place – it used to be in the old Surrealism room. for some reason.  The colours don’t seem to me to be typical Appel; more like his old CoBrA colleague Constant (one of whose works is next to this one).

 

Jackson Pollock

I remember seeing this in the Pollock exhibition at Tate Liverpool a few years ago; it’s quite late Pollock, I think, with representation creeping back.  I probably said then that I can see a chameleon hiding, not very well, in the trees…

Helen Frankenthaler

There is a Frankenthaler room at the moment, six or seven pictures; a couple of examples below, the first one with her characteristic staining process, the second much later, from the 80s, I believe.

 

 

Dora Maar

This is a huge exhibition, surprising number of rooms unfolding before you with Maar’s many and varied works, organised into subject sections: street photography from London, Paris and Barcelona; Surrealism; World War 2; Picasso’s influence (some of P’s paintings, notably the weeping woman’s head) as well as a few of Maar’s own paintings; some abstract photos; camera-less photos – and so on.

To be candid, it does appear that everything she ever produced has been excavated from the studio, museums, collections and the garden shed, framed tastefully and displayed here.  And, to be fair, a lot of this is brilliant – for example, the pictures below and the street stuff.  In fact, it’s a little strange to be complaining about there being too much in an exhibition; you don’t have to look at all of it (but of course you do, if you’re a completist like me – can’t break away until you’ve walked past them all and then gone back through to the way in).

 

Another one of my fantastic female backs – see also Ginger Rogers in Swing Time, Kitaj’s Marynka Smoking.

 

..and another great back – although the star head sort of distracts the eye.  My carping shouldn’t put the prospective visitor off; it’s well worth one visit, or two, if you’ve got Tate membership and don’t have to shell out every time.

 

The cover of my Penguin Modern Classics copy of Forster’s novel.  The painting is Interior, by Edward Le Bas, and it’s in the collection of Tate Britain.   Looks a bit Scottish Colourist to me…

As for the book, I found it irritatingly flowery, with little facetious homilies to the reader (reminded me of George Eliot in that respect, especially Silas Marner); and there’s that odd thing that Forster shares with Virginia Woolf, of killing off characters suddenly and rather perfunctorily.  I’d remembered that Bast died when a bookcase fell on him – but not that it was precipitated by Charles Wilcox’s sword attack.   I should have written “spoiler alert”, of course, but I wanted to avoid cliche.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

It’s good to have Larry David, Houellebecq’s American soul brother, back.  Pity that the sonorous Funkhouser (Bob Einstein)  has passed on.  A public safety function in the first episode too, warning of the dangers of talcum powder.

Blackpaint pictures to finish:

Adrian with big legs

Imogen with long leg

Blackpaint

8.02.20