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

Blackpaint 597 – Striders and Chariots and Modern Art in Madrid

May 22, 2017

Giacometti at Tate Modern

Well I know he’s great and the creator of unmistakeable, iconic figures that define stillness and movement and contain both humour and pathos – but he is a little repetitive.  You say that the repetition is a mark  of his obsessive drive to attain the unattainable,  a heroic, almost tragic striving for perfection…but he is a little same-y.  Maybe I’ve seen too much Giacometti (NPG a while back, Sainsbury Centre in Norwich more recently); but this is a big exhibition with lots of rooms.  Maybe it’s the breathless hero-worship he seems to inspire in the women art lovers of my generation, that I suspect has as much to do with the brooding, rugged, Italian peasant features as the art.

Anyway, the good things:

  • The dancing, or falling figure on the posters.

  • The Chariot figure on wheels.
  • The flint axe-head sculptures, cut off below the shoulders, several of which, to me, seem to resemble the Duke of Edinburgh, Her Majesty the Queen,  Princess Margaret and Charles de Gaulle.

  • The pictures on board or canvas that he has blackened so that they resemble sheets of lead, from which the even darker features of his sitters loom; a change from his usual ochre, orange, grey and black, with thin, ink-like lines.
  • The outsize figures, including the strider in the last room (a ringer for Prince Phillip, if he’d had his hands behind his back); a welcome change from the usual size.  It’s a good exhibition, essential probably, so don’t be put off by my jaded comments.

 

Reina Sofia Museum (of 20th Century Art), Madrid

I’ve just spent four days in Madrid, three of them in art museums, so pretty much enough for three blogs.  The first of these we entered at 4.00pm, “fresh” off the plane – and emerged at closing time, 9.00pm, hungry and dehydrated.  Not because we couldn’t find the exit, but because there was so much excellent art to see.  I’m just going to put up our photos with, here and there, my perceptive and witty comments to add to your visual enjoyment.

Schwitters

Behind glass, so my partner’s form can be made out in the centre, taking the photo and enhancing the quality of the artwork.

Ortiz

Lovely little cubist picture.

Oscar Dominguez

He of Decalcomania fame – lots of Dominguez in this museum.

 

Another Dominguez – The Thrower.

It’s rather hard to make out, but it’s a legless, headless and handless black torso, with a thick shard of glass chopping into it at the top.  Compare these two little assemblages as Surrealist images with the Dali painting below:

Dali, The Invisible Man

It seems to me that the Dominguez pieces express in each case a clear idea, or at most a couple of ideas, succinctly, rather as Magritte does.  They are surrealistic, that is to say contradictory or paradoxical (to be “properly” Surrealist, I think they should also be dreamlike – not sure they are); but they also have clarity.  That, I think, is not the case with the Dali, despite the facility of depiction and the multiple images detract from the painting.   Then again, I don’t like Dali – but then, I’m not that keen on Magritte either, so moving on –

Picasso – no comment necessary.

Picasso again – just to point out the roughness (or texture, or painterliness) of the grey, orange and red areas in the lower picture; unusual, I think, in Picasso’s work and  the better for it – not that the untextured stuff isn’t stupendous…

 

Angeles Santos, The Gathering (1929)

There were several paintings by Santos and another painter, whose name escapes me, f.rom the 20s and 30s, in this style – I include them because they remind me rather strongly of Paula Rego’s work (although I much prefer Rego’s execution).

And then, a roomful of CoBrA stuff, to my surprise:

 

Corneille – I like the yellow with the red line.

Appel, Figures

And then,  rooms of abstract expressionism, Tachisme and pop Art:

Yves Klein, his version of Nike

Tapies, Blue with four Red Bars.  Does what it says on the can.

 

Guerrero – It’s a (huge) matchbook with a few missing.

There’s a lot more to see (Bruce Connor, Bay Area and LA artist, and the making of “Guernica” – both special exhibitions, so NO PHOTO, por favor!) so you’ll need to go to Madrid forthwith.  Next time, the Prado.

Here are a couple of mine:

Seated Back, pastel blue

 

Seated Front, pastel green

Blackpaint

21/05/17

 

Blackpaint 596 – Bigfoot, Ginger Man and Newfoundland

May 9, 2017

Willow Creek (2013, dir. Bobcat Goldthwaite)

This is a film that must have cost next to nothing to make, being a found-footage horror film about a pair of seekers after Bigfoot, or the Sasquatch as it is known by cryptozoologists.  Actually, it’s not a pair of seekers – Jim is the obsessive, Kelly his girlfriend is along for the ride.

Very cheap and pretty much like a spoof, until they get deep in the woods.  There is then a sequence where they cower in their tent in the night, while something “vocalises”, hits sticks together and bashes against the tent.  It goes on for about 20 minutes and is riveting – well, terrifying.  Probably if I saw it again, it would be nothing, but first time round…

The real thing.. no, really

I’m avoiding cliches again, so I’ll just say one meets a sticky end and the other a fate worse than death.  Watch it if it shows up again (the film, not Bigfoot); I wouldn’t have persisted with it if I hadn’t seen two documentaries on the Discovery channel about the Dyatlov Pass Incident in the Urals in 1959, which led to the unexplained violent deaths of nine Russian students.  Anyway, good film, not to be watched before you go camping in the woods.

The Ginger Man, JP Donleavy

I’ve written about this quite shocking book before and have just finished it.  It ends with another burst of violence against a woman who has the gall to be defiant to the disgusting “hero”, Sebastian Dangerfield; he slaps her repeatedly, threatens to use his boots on her and she of course submits, agreeing to give up her career as an actress and become a willing sex-slave to this thug, who can’t countenance  a woman of “his” having any independence.  Every woman in the book submits willingly to him, despite his constant drunken state, violence and dirty, bizarre clothing and behaviour.  It’s written in a sub-Joycean style – rip-off, really, from the vernacular sections of Ulysses – that was, surprisingly, highly praised.

Really, what shocks me about it is that I read it back in the 60s, maybe 1968 – and I thought it was hilarious.  So did most others of my age who read it then, male and female.  Or at least, they don’t remember the violence.  I remembered the drunken parade in the kangaroo suit as if it was the main event; it lasts a few pages and results in an unconvincing pub brawl, with KOs and injuries.

So, it’s a book “of its time” – tells you a lot about our attitudes then; not only teenagers like me, but grown-up literary critics regarded it as a sort of bawdy, joyous, drunken “romp” and Dangerfield as an incorrigible, lovable rogue.  I think there are certain similarities in the eccentricities and makeshift nature of the surroundings to Joyce Carey’s hugely superior “The Horse’s Mouth”.

Two new pictures to end with; I’ve given up trying to pretend my abstracts don’t look like landscapes.  Haven’t done any exhibitions, having been stuck in a gallery for two weeks, staring at my own paintings…

The Banks of Newfoundland

 

Panamatic Isthmus

Blackpaint

09/05/17

Blackpaint 595 – It’s British – but is it all Queer?

April 24, 2017

Queer British Art 1861 – 1967

There is a fair bit of great painting in this show, some of it problematic in terms of its queerness.  When you see a Tom of Finland show, like that at the ICA a while back, or Mapplethorpe photos, as in Helsinki, there are no doubts – it’s full- on queerness.  Here, it’s not so clear.  The Hockney “Physique” picture apart, none of the paintings below are queer in the sense of openly celebrating queerness.  Hardly surprising, given the discriminatory laws in force in Britain between those dates – however, what makes the Singer Sargent portrait of Vernon Lee “queer art”?  Or the Laura Knight self-portrait, of her painting a female nude?  Or William Strang’s picture of the woman in the red hat?  The answers, presumably, are that Sargent and Vernon Lee were both queer, as was Vita Sackville-West (the sitter for the Strang portrait) and Knight’s self-portrait was a conscious protest against the art school ban on women artists painting nude women models.

Anyway, the riches on offer include:

  • Three beautiful Keith Vaughans in his characteristic blue, cream and brown hues, all figure studies I think, including the one below.  Best in show (Crufts again);
  • The Laura Knight self-portrait I mentioned;
  • A couple of terrific Patrick Proctors, quite like Hockney – but different;
  • Ethel Sands – shades of Harold Gilman, Sickert and Vuillard, I thought;
  • A Lord Leighton classical theme that looks like a Bright Young Things fancy dress ball;  fine-boned, handsome youths with lower lips seemingly a-tremble;
  • Duncan Grant swimmers and divers.
  • There are Cecil Beaton and Angus McBean photographs and posters for cross-dressing music hall acts Vesta Tilley et al.

 

Henry Scott Tuke

 

Vernon Lee (author of “The Virgin of the Seven Daggers”) by Singer Sargent

 

Hockney, of course

 

Keith Vaughan

In addition, there are some interesting oddities, such as Oscar Wilde’s cell door from Reading Gaol and Noel Coward’s dressing gown.  Go and see it; interesting history – not all the art is great, because the queerness is maybe more important here than the quality – but enough is great to make a visit worthwhile.  Still not totally comfortable with the idea of using “queer” out loud, though…

Cataracticus

Blackpaint

 

Still on for another week and several paintings still unsold!

Blackpaint

24/04/17

Blackpaint 594 – Reaping the Rye in Notting Hill

April 17, 2017

Out of Blixen, Riotous Company, Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill Gate

Kathryn Hunter (below) in the play which consists of four Blixen/Dinesen stories, stitched together with a little biographical narrative from Hunter as Blixen.  In the photo below she is playing a 13 year old girl; elsewhere in the play, she imitates a fish – rather effectively, in both cases.  I remember seeing her as Richard III at the Globe some 15 years ago; she seems to have unlimited powers of transformation.

The staging is varied – few tricks missed,  Mia Theil Have, playing at various times a peregrine falcon, an exotic dancer and a (bogus) angel, loses no opportunity to climb up into the stage curtains and utilise them as ship’s rigging or heavenly wings; she is most striking, though, as a peasant woman reaping imaginary rye with an imaginary sickle, all around the auditorium – like an animated Russian propaganda poster.  There are also stilts, a mobile piano, some minimal audience involvement and earth, or possibly grain, falling onto the stage from the heights (to crunch underfoot, during Blixen’s piece).  It’s pretty much magic realism.  I see Blixen as a bit like Frida Kahlo – Kahlo shattered by her tram accident in youth, Blixen afflicted by syphilis inherited from her father, I believe.  She’s popular with feminists; Paul Tickell, the writer of this piece, says she draws “in particular on the feminism which began to emerge out of the 18th century Enlightenment”.  It’s on until 22nd April.

Selfie to Self-Expression,  Saatchi Gallery, Sloane Square

Well, is it art?  Some is, for sure.  Fantastic exhibition if you are a teacher in search of a good trip out for the kids (judging by the number of school groups there on the days I went).

There’s a room of illuminated photographic panels with famous self-portraits that could never be assembled if you wanted the originals:  three of the famous old age  Rembrandts, Courbet, Manet, Renoir, Cezanne, Basquiat, Warhol, Freud, Spencer, Van Gogh, and Velasquez’ Las Meninas.

Then, a room of proper selfies: Russian daredevils atop skyscrapers, a swimmer kissing sharks – and another with a great white approaching fast behind him, Brad and Jolie, Cumberbatch photobombing U2, and so on.

Novelty tech as below; a creepy room where you appear in surveillance mode; a selection of creative self-portraits entered for an exhibition, containing some brilliant work. Highly recommended – I’ve been twice.

 

Who can this miserable old git be, with the glamorous, smoky-eyed woman?

 

The same pair, I think…

 

Russian jail tattoos, part of selfie exhibition.

 

Get Out (dir, Jordan Peele, 2017)

Starring Daniel Kaluuya, great in “Black Mirror”,  a warning to black American men to beware of white girlfriends with liberal parents.  Whatever you do, don’t go to visit for the weekend…

It’s full of references to other films: I got “The Prophet” (the deer scene), “Night of the Living Dead” (Romero’s original B&W), “Les Yeux sans Visage” (the surgery scene), “Under the Skin” (the Sunken Place) – not to mention “Stepford Wives”, which all reviews – well, mention.

When I saw it, at the Brixton Ritzy, there were only two black people in the cinema; a woman and her daughter, I think, sitting in front of me.  They were talking intermittently,  in a sort of Gogglebox way:  “Oh he’s not going in there, is he?  Get out now, you fool!” – that sort of thing.  Suddenly, a young woman’s voice, slight accent, French maybe – “Ladies; please can you stop talking?  Thank you”, from across the aisle.  Meanwhile, on screen, the black hero struggled to save himself from the Obama-loving white liberals.  The ironies abound.

Keith Tyson, Turn Back Now, at Jerwood Gallery (Hastings)

Keith Tyson

Tyson’s pictures are displayed as above, in a sort of 19th century Royal Academy Exhibition way. wall to wall.  They are so varied as to defy description, except to say that many have whimsical, surreal or ironic commentary.  I liked some, for instance, the rather Festival of Britain ones in the picture above.

The permanent collection at the Jerwood, although small, contains some beautiful pieces, by Michael Ayrton, David Jones, John Wells, Barnes-Graham and others – especially Eileen Agar, who has a room to herself:

Eileen Agar – rather like Colquhoun and MacBryde, I thought

 

Agar again

 

Christopher Wood

Next week, Queer British Art at Tate Britain.  Readers in London during the next two weeks may like to visit our annual exhibition at Sprout Gallery (see below):

Western Approaches (WIP)

Blackpaint

17/04/17

 

 

Blackpaint 593 – The Fly on the Lobster and the Cold, Hard Stare

April 5, 2017

Wolfgang Tillmans – again (Tate Modern)

Second visit to Wolfie at Tate Modern and photos of some of the – photos I mentioned last time: above, the drainpipe (obviously);  below, the fly on the shellfish (appetising!) –

 

– and here, one of those huge aerial shots that are in focus throughout the range (excuse the technical inadequacy – my description I mean, not Tillman’s photo).

Additionally, you should look out for the leaden sea (Richter, Roni Horn), the blue tee shirt man and the dark disco shot.  They’re all good, really, apart maybe from the makeweight pics of his cluttered desks and the disassembled computer bits..

Drawing Biennale at  the Drawing Room until 26th April (Unit 8 Rich Estate, 46 Willow Walk. London SE1)

“Over 200 unique works on paper”, all for sale in an online auction between 12 – 26 April).  Plenty of big names (Caivano, Gormley, Hatoum, Joffe, Turk, Perry,  Kentridge, Bob & Roberta….) and an astonishingly – well, no, surprisingly –  broad definition of drawing, as if that mattered.  Writing-drawings, graph printout drawings, photo-drawings, collage drawings, painting-drawings, a woven textile drawing, even some pencil and charcoal drawings. A few pictured below:

Patti Smith of course; not a fantastic likeness really…

 

 

Once again, note how my partner has managed to incorporate her image into Gotz’ picture; clever.  An excellent show of real quality drawings, not at all just knocked out in response to a request for a small piece to be auctioned.

Here’s one of mine; not in show, but open to offers, of course…

Blackpaint

Free State of Jones, dir. Gary Ross (2016)

Gruelling chunk of American Civil War “history” – but how much is true? – in which an alliance of escaped slaves and poor whites take on the Confederate army in Mississippi.  Violent, at times inspiring, at times confused.  Matthew McConaughey has ample opportunity to do his brilliant cold, hard stare; a little less convincing when he has to do compassion.

Chaos and Night, Henry de Montherlant

Re-read this after half a century; I’d always thought of it as a comedy, this story of Celestino, an impossible old Spanish anarchist exile in Paris.  It is funny, but I’d forgotten the end, in which his death mirrors the death of the bulls he has just seen slaughtered in the ring.  He finally comes to a realisation:

“There was life, which was confused, incoherent and unstable, and then whatever exists before a man’s life and after it, which was fixed and absolute.  The loudspeaker had spoken truly: there was chaos, which was life, and night, which was whatever exists before life and after life (Chaos and Night, two characters in the divine comedy of Hesiod, whom Celestino had never read).  There was non-sense, which was life, and non-being, which was what exists before life and after it.”

So, yes, a comic novel – but with the odd unfunny bit.

Chaos and Night

Blackpaint 

5/04/17

 

Blackpaint 592 – Acid Colours, Alabaster and Lost Cities

March 28, 2017

Maria Lassnig – A Painting Survey, 1950-2007 (Hauser & Wirth, Savile Row W1, until 29th April)

Austrian painter (1919-2014), worked in Vienna.  Gallery blurb says she was influenced by Kokoschka’s colours and Schiele’s figuration; I think I can see an affinity with Dumas and Chantal Joffe, but I guess any influence would have come from Lassnig to them, because of the dates.

The figures below are her least extreme, perhaps; her bodies are usually squat and sawn-off, the faces porcine with upturned snouts.  Her colours are rather like those livid ones that are left over from a box of paints when you have used up all the good ones – lemon yellows, yellowy greens, sickly oranges, radioactive mauves.

 

I like the delicacy of the hands and breasts of the left hand seated figure; not so taken with the one on the right.

 

Like the shoulder and the green hair.

 

Great abstract – don’t know why.

 

That mauve is deadly; kills human cells by radiation.

 

Looks like a rabbit hurtling full-tilt towards viewer – but it’s not; male and female figures, apparently.

 

Lewitt, Orozco, Richter, Spalletti. Toroni (Marian Goodman Gallery, Lower John St. W1, until 8th April)

The title of this exhibition is: “The supreme rifts….a measured propinquity” – whatever that means.

There are two Richters: one of those thin multi-coloured, computer -made stripe ones, that make your eyes ache – and a frame carrying several large, hanging, glass plates.

The Spalletti I liked were these alabaster slabs on a plinth (below) – they look good enough to eat, as if made of coconut or a translucent white cheese.

 

Spalletti

There is a room of Lewitt walls upstairs (see below); there is a dappled effect in the paint, or rather inks, which could have been sprayed on, but I guess were done by someone with a roller.

 

Sol Lewitt

 

The Lost City of Z (Dir. James Gray, 2017)

A staggeringly old-fashioned account of Percy Fawcett’s obsessive, repeated expeditions into Bolivian rain forest in search of a pre-Christian civilisation, ending of course, in his (and his son’s) disappearance.  Stilted, cliched script, Charlie Hunnam’s dodgy accent (Bring back Kenneth Branagh – bit old now, I know) and some feminist politics from Sienna Miller who wants to go with him, but has to stay home while he carries on up the jungle, having to put up with brief visits between expeditions (each visit resulting in a pregnancy).

The WW1 Somme battle scene is the worst bit; two fires on the muddy horizon are clearly from gas jets; as they go over the top, the men level their rifles and fire at the enemy as if in a western.  The Webley revolvers sound authentic though.

In the scene near the end, where Fawcett and his son are beset by angry aboriginals, I was reminded of that old film of Richard Attenborough in New Guinea, where the locals swarm down to surround him.  Happily for Attenborough, they turned out to be welcoming.

Eagle Annual stuff, about 1955 – lots of ecological message though, and some stunning scenery, but give me Aguirre, Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo and Embrace of the Serpent.

 

Borderlands

Blackpaint

27/3/17

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 591 – Churches, Poetry, Photography and Zombies

March 21, 2017

My latest painting (below); I’ve gone back to putting the painting first, in case there are some visitors who move on straight away – unlikely, I know…

Moscow Connections

Blackpaint

 

The Borderland, House of Leaves, Ash Wednesday

Wrote about the film “the Borderland” last week; a “found footage” film, in which a sort of Catholic psychic fraud squad  investigates dodgy claims of paranormal events in churches.  The investigators penetrate deep into the bowels of the church and become – absorbed – in their work.  I didn’t connect it last time, but it came to me that it strongly resembled Mark Danielewsky’s “House of Leaves”, although in “Leaves”, it’s not a church that is plumbed, but a house that is like the Tardis only more so; it goes deeper and deeper, darker and darker…  then, I came across this, in Eliot’s “Ash Wednesday”:

At the first turning of the second stair

I turned and saw below

The same shape twisted on the banister

Under the vapour in the fetid air

Struggling with the devil of the stairs who wears

The deceitful face of hope and despair.

At the second turning of the second stair

I left them twisting, turning below;

There were no more faces and the stair was dark,

Damp, jagged, like an old man’s mouth drivelling,

Beyond repair,

Or the toothed gullet of an aged shark.

The three (film, novel, poem) are not identical or even similar, I know, but they seemed to me to chime somehow.

Britain in Focus: A Photographic History (BBC4)

Brilliant images, especially those of the Sidney Street Siege and the soldiers’ own snapshots of life in the trenches; and Eamonn McCabe is a great photographer – but he’s not the most riveting presenter.  He’s a bit too diffident and self-effacing to hold your attention.  I was about to say that this might be a syndrome of photographers in general; then I thought of Norman Parkinson, Cecil Beaton, David Bailey and I realised how daft that is.

Just watched the last one in the series of three;  surprising images from the early 60’s of John Lennon and Paul McCartney taken by Jane Bown – they look completely different from usual, Lennon with a startled eye that is nothing like his default knowing, skeptical look.  She didn’t even use a light meter.  Then there were Martin Parr’s very funny colour “social” pictures and some fantastic colour pictures of young miners and pit ponies in mist, by John Bulmer.

I know now what it is with McCabe –  it’s his voice.  He’s like that priest in “Father Ted”, the one who nobody can understand because his voice is too boring to follow for more than a word or two.  Also, he nods too much at interviewees.  The programme makes a good case for the use of professional presenters.

Zombies

Since I’ve been writing about a horror film and horror novel, I thought I’d finish with two life drawings that were supposed to be simple action poses, but which turned out to resemble – well, see for yourselves:

Blackpaint

21/3/17

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 590 – Petrograd, Cream Soda, Adam and Eve and the Third Reich

March 14, 2017

Revolution: Russian Art 1917 – 32, RA

Plenty of history here, even if some of the art is  – not so good, it’s always historically interesting.  Quite an overlap with Margy Kinmonth’s recent film (see Blackpaint 577); Filonov’s obsessively detailed “outsider-ish” paintings, Lentulov and, especially Petrov-Vodkin, who has a whole room to himself.

  • Brodsky, “Lenin at the Smolny Institute” (1930).  The empty chair (below) – the wall plaque says it invites you to put yourself in it.  I prefer Kinmont’s gloss, that it is symbolic of Stalin’s coming ascendancy.

  • Rublev’s “primitive” Stalin (1930).  Rublev meant well; predictably, Stalin didn’t appreciate it, so it wasn’t exhibited publicly.
  • Pakhomov, “Reaper” (harvest, 1928) – great sweeping red and blue/green shapes amid the corn.  My favourite.

  • Lentulov, “New Jerusalem” – gates and tower, bit like Soutine’s townscapes;
  • Tatlin’s “Letaelin” – birdy wooden flying – well, not really – structures, obviously reminiscent of da Vinci’s.
  • Deineka, “Defence of Petrograd” – Filmic, two-tier; marchers in profile, lower tier off to the battlefront, upper tier wounded, returning.  Like Eisenstein.
  • Deineka, “Textile Workers” (below) – fit, strong women, big feet…

  • An interesting – but not especially good –  abstract by Lizak, “Walk” (1928);
  • Great ad (below) – “Of course, Cream Soda!” – I think the posters and ads are actually the best art on show, apart, maybe, from the Malevich “harlequin” figures , black square and some well-known abstracts.  There are also extracts from Eisenstein and Vertov films, and a bedroom constructed, floor included, from 3 or 4 ply cardboard.

America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s, RA

The “Fall” is the Wall Street Crash, of course.  Goes really well with the Russian exhibition, for some reason, I guess the left-wing leanings of most artists.  Figurative, mostly, but in a graphic, cartoon-ish way that differs from Socialist Realism.

  • Alice Neel’s proletarian portrait;
  • Hopper’s petrol pumps (below) and cinema usherette;
  • Shaw’s great “Wrigley’s Spearmint”;
  • Hart Benton’s “Cotton Fields” (below);
  • Stuart Davis’ colourful cartoon street scene (didn’t get the title);
  • Guston’s tondo, “Bombardment” (1937) – sort of Beckmann meets Picasso;
  • Grant Wood’s “Gothic”  of course, and a car accident on a country road (below) and a wooded valley with deep green sponge-like tree tops.  The Woods, in my opinion, best in show (What is this? Cruft’s ?)

 

Grant Wood

 

Thomas Hart Benton

Edward Hopper

Telegraph cartoon 

Bob, in the Telegraph the other day, did a parody of Michelangelo’s Adam and Eve; Theresa May, her face turned away from chancellor Hammond’s member, reaches for the apple “tax”.  They are then expelled from Eden.  Interesting to see the vitriol in the right-wing press, in response to the new NICS rates, which will hurt many middle-class self-employed Tory supporters.

A while back, Steve Bell in the Guardian, parodying Gillray,  commented on the relationship between May and Trump like this:

Some might consider these to be sexist responses, but there seems to have been no adverse comment, beyond a passing remark on Bell’s cartoon by that bloke from the Mail, on Sky’s “The Papers”.  I guess, Tory PMs are fair game and feminists think this stuff is OK, as long as it’s directed at May, or Amber Rudd, or Liz Truss…

While I’m on about politics, I should mention Ian McEwan’s talk in Barcelona.  The Guardian reported, no doubt inaccurately or out of context, that “he described the atmosphere in Britain as “foul” after a Brexit referendum that reminded him of Nazi Germany and an aftermath reminiscent of Robespierre’s Terror”.  He’s entitled to his opinion, of course, but so am I and I think this is a ridiculous overstatement. If it has ANY effect (in Britain, that is), it’s likely to drive moderate Brexit people towards the Right, which presumably, he wouldn’t want..

Hyacinths and Milk Jug, Still Life

Blackpaint

14/3/17

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 589 – Pablo, Vanessa, JP and John

March 7, 2017

Picasso Musee, Barcelona

Mainly early paintings and drawings.  His dad was a drawing professor, apparently.  Early stuff amazing for a youngster; the head in the drawing below the only error I could see, apart from dodgy legs on a bearded man on the end wall.  Several drawings very like Toulouse Lautrec.

 

picasso-life

Academic Study, done when he was around 14 – gratifying to see a slight error in positioning of the head….

1901 was a decisive year; three memorable pictures – the “Margot” below, the red dwarf girl and the still life (also below).

 

picasso-still-life

Still Life – like a Cezanne, but with each article “floating” separately on the table top.

 

picasso-woman

Portrait (Margot) – there’s that characteristic positioning of the head to one side.

Another favourite – Portrait of Madame Canals (1904)

Then, 1917, and lots of black cubist playing card pictures,; a gored horse, bowels falling out – “Guernica” of course, but bony quality, forerunner of the skulls and those bone people on the beach.

Then, 1931; the Marie-Berthe portrait, in which her nose comes direct from the forehead, like a stuck-on gourd.

A roomful of versions and sketches of “Las Meninas”, a roomful of “Columbines”, doves in a window overlooking a bay.  The doves are just circles with smaller circles and dashes at one end, for the head and beak.

Vanessa Bell, Dulwich Picture Gallery

Some really impressive paintings in this exhibition, showing her every bit as strong as Duncan Grant.  There is a group of portraits in the first or second room, including the Iris Tree and self portrait below, that I thought was particularly brilliant.  But the still lifes, landscapes and abstracts are also great.  Highly recommended.

 

Iris Tree, 1915

 

Still Life on Corner of Mantelpiece, 1914

 

Oranges and Lemons, 1914

 

Self Portrait, 1915

The Ginger Man, JP Donleavy

Got a second hand copy of this, which I read about fifty years ago when it was really popular.  Donleavy is also the author of A Fairy Tale of New York, the title of which the Pogues borrowed for their single with Kirsty McColl.   It was a book about drunken, ne’er- do-well Irish American students, carousing in Dublin.  If you read it, you will remember the toilet bowl emptying through the floor/ceiling when the chain is pulled and the drunken parade through Dublin in the kangaroo suit.  Stylistically, it’s an attempt at something like Bloom’s sections in Ulysses, stream of consciousness, verbless phrases, even the vocab and settings (Laestrigonians, Gerty MacDowell etc.).

What came as a very nasty surprise was this, on page 29; the “hero” is rowing with his wife, who has just slapped his face:  “Sebastian up off the table.  He drove his fist into Marion’s face.  She fell backward against the cupboard.  Dishes crashing to the floor…..Took the child’s pillow from under its head and pressed it hard on the screaming mouth.”  His wife manages to save the child and Sebastian hits the streets to drink away his worries.  Next time his wife appears in the novel, she succumbs very willingly to his sexual prowess; the punch and the attempted murder are forgotten – but she is still angry about his language, laziness et al.

The point of this is that neither I nor my partner remembered the violence; we both thought of it as one of those cult books and films  about anarchistic, comical drunks and druggies you read when you are a young rebel;  Sort of a post- WW2 “Withnail and I”.  I checked the net – no mention of the violence, but I did discover it had been selected as one of the 100 best novels of the 20th century by the Modern Library.  Reviewers, such as Jay McInerney, refer to Dangerfield’s rogue-ish charm.

Lone Star (1996)/Matewan (1987), John Sayles

Saw Lone Star on TV a few days ago; the presence of Kris Kristofferson and Matthew McConaughey AND Chris Cooper in the same film should be enough to guarantee it – and yes, it’s got racial tension,  violence, some tame sex, a mystery body, murders and McConaughey doing that cold, flat stare from behind a revolver.  But somehow, it’s irritating, to me at least.  It checks too many boxes in terms of the competing interests and “issues” of the various groups, whites, Latinos, blacks, Native Americans.  And the nice people win in the end.  Matewan, set amongst West virginia coal miners and also starring Cooper, has a cathartic shoot-out (necessary in this sort of film) and the good people win here too – but only temporarily;  The old evil capitalism re-asserts itself at the end.  More violent, more pessimistic, more better.

I find myself wondering how “Deadwood” would have turned out with Sayles as director…

 

Little Lake Shore

Blackpaint

7/3/17

Blackpaint 588 – Fundamental! Wolfie and Hockers at the Tates

February 27, 2017

Wolfgang Tillmans, Tate Modern

Huge blown-up photos on the walls, but also desktops full of his “snaps” (and pro-Remain, anti-Brexit propaganda posters/leaflets he presumably produced).  He calls each room an “installation”, the nature of which he expounds in the booklet, to avoid explanations on the walls.  My favourite below:

 

tillmans-1

Try to see that right arm and hand as a leg and foot and you get a totally different image…

Additionally, you can see –

A drainpipe and drainhole, with water running down through soggy litter; an amazing starscape over a dark hillside; a male bumhole close-up; a close-up of a vagina which appears to be that of a transsexual, judging by the hairy legs (echo of the famous Courbet picture); several large, beautiful colour field abstracts, red and ochre mainly, recalling Hoyland or more, Diebenkorn’s desert colours combined with his Ocean Park structures; crystalline car headlight; that strange shape of the swimmer picking his foot; enormous, rather touching blow-ups of delicate weeds sprouting in his backyard – and a simple image of a man in a blue T shirt, that is startlingly clear and 3D, when looked back on through the arch, from a short distance – try it.  And, of course, those great ones of pigment threads, slowly floating and whirling in fluid.  Great exhibition; Tillmans can find beauty in strange places – drains, for example.  Not sure about the other apertures.

Hockney, Tate Britain

After the big RA Hockney exhibition of 2012, I was expecting a bit of deja-vu; there was a bit, but I was surprised at how informative and enjoyable the Tate show is.  I’ve been twice, on a Saturday and a Thursday, and both times, the Tate was rammed with white-haired, retired schoolteacher types, along with the tourists and students.  Hockney is definitely a Treasure of Middle England, comparable, I guess, to Alan Bennett in his fanbase.

I reckon there are about ten or twelve different “sections”, some of them being distinct phases in his painting, others different areas of activity; here’s my breakdown of the show:

  • The earliest real Hockneys from the early 60s – textured, splashy paint, cartoon boys, areas of raw linen, words and letters (cf.Johns), jokey content – Boys Together, Typhoo Tea, toothpaste, the boys speeding towards Italy (see below).  I can’t get away from seeing a similarity to Bacon in the brushwork, splatters and bare surfaces here, if not the content (although one of the shower ones could be).

hockney-italy

Flight to Italy

  • Next, the Kitaj-like ones, where Hockney makes well-drawn, naturalistic figures, often alongside flat cartoon characters (see below).  Various palm tree and pyramid pieces, chaps in pants on bed or in shower.

Hockney, David; Man in a Museum (or You're in the Wrong Movie); British Council Collection; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/man-in-a-museum-or-youre-in-the-wrong-movie-176794

Man in a Museum (You’re in the Wrong Movie)

  • Swimming pools, snakey surface reflections, Bigger Splash of course.
  • A roomful of drawings, from early “cartoons” through beautifully, sparingly executed portraits, Kitaj, Kasmin etc.
  • Raw red USA desert canyons and Yorkshire Dales – hills and winding roads, flattened against invisible glass of the surface, shining with vivid colours, which I thought were a bit much in 2012, but I see from a TV film on Hockney last night are pretty accurate.  That one of hawthorn trees with maggot blossoms and the Van Gogh pink and grey sky..
  • A room of beautifully drawn but underwhelming drawings of woodland scenes.
  • The static portraits of Ossie Clark, Celia Birtwell, Henry Geldzahler, Hockney’s parents  et al; they recall della Francesca in the respect that the characters appear self-absorbed, or at least, uninvolved with each other.  There is a della Francesca on the wall behind Geldzahler, Baptism of Christ, I think.
  • Piercingly psychedelic verandahs, blue with red flowerpots, overlooking fiercely green lawns.  Those flowerpots really cut through.
  • A roomful of his composite videos of wood and meadowland in different seasons, taken by a battery of cameras from a moving car.
  • Ipad drawings and pictures he has worked up from them.
  • The psychedelic woods and landscapes from the 2012 exhibition.

I like the early stuff best, but it’s an impressive body of work, to understate the case.

To finish, a series of quick life drawings done with a brush and black acrylic.  Picasso at Barcelona next time.

 

woman-with-fan1

 

woman-with-fan2

woman-with-fan3

 

woman-with-fan4

 

woman-with-fan5

 

woman-with-fan6

Woman with Fan, 1 – 6

Blackpaint

26/2/17