Blackpaint 641 – All About Me and my Partner

March 24, 2019

Sprout Gallery

This blog is a departure from all others; we are exhibiting at the world-famous Sprout Gallery in London (Moyser Road Tooting, to be precise) until Sunday 31st March, i.e. ONE WEEK only left so I thought it only fair to devote a blog to it at this time, so that readers across the globe can arrange to fly in before we close.  So – no trenchant, perceptive arts critique this week, just staggeringly wonderful painting, reasonably priced too….

 

Left to right: Yellow Triangles 1 and 2 (Marion Jones), StormFront and The World Turned Upside Down 1 (Blackpaint)

 

No Exit 2 and Old Blue (Marion Jones)

Clockwise from top left: Bloody Glacier, Suez Canal Zone, Still Life Blue Jug on Fire, Zig-Zag Path (Blackpaint)

 

Midnight Train to Nowheresville, The World Turned Upside Down 2 (Blackpaint)

 

Left to right: Storm Front, World Turned upside Down 1, Oceanic Divide (Blackpaint)

 

Come and see.  Normal service will be resumed next blog.

Blackpaint

24/3/19

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Blackpaint 640 – Bill Viola, Michelangelo, Ken Kiff and Fellini – the sublime and…

March 5, 2019

Bill Viola and Michelangelo, RA

No photos allowed, so can only comment on this.  The Michelangelo drawings, Archers Shooting at a Herm, notably, are as wonderful as one might expect and would constitute a great exhibition alone (as I think several have, a few years back at the Courtauld – I’m sure Tityas was there and Phaeton). It seems to me an enormous stroke of hubris to display them with Viola’s works, as if there were something fundamental that they had in common.  As it is, it strikes me as two separate exhibitions in one space.

As for Viola’s videos and installations, there’s no doubt that they are striking – who wouldn’t pause and watch transfixed as a baby emerges from the mother, who squats facing the camera?  I’ve been there (childbirth) three times, but I was always at the other end so the view was obscured.   At the other end of this triptych, Viola’s mother is dying – one might think filming to be an intrusion at such a time, but I suppose it’s easier than getting a stranger or his/her family to consent…  Can’t remember what’s in between; life, presumably.

My favourite of the Viola’s is the one with the diving figure that never arrives at the surface of the pool.  Reflected in the water can be seen the upside down images of poolside people walking – but they are not there.  The most annoying film is that of the two old people examining their naked. scrawny bodies with pencil torches – saw this in Bilbao a while ago and it annoyed me there too.

Here’s a Viola from Bilbao – not in this exhibition, but it will give you an idea…

 

Ken Kiff, Sainsbury Centre, UEA Norwich, until 23rd April 2019

This is without question the strangest exhibition I’ve seen for a very long time.  Kiff, who died in 2001, started a sequence of paintings in 1971 that eventually ran to around two hundred.  He called it – The Sequence.  The catalogue refers to Bosch, Klee, Chagall and Samuel Palmer as possible influences, or “fellow travellers” at least, and the Jungian influences are hard to miss; or so the book tells me.  Ovid, Yeats and Rilke also get a mention.  He was in psychoanalysis from 1959 onwards and this also informs the work, to say the least.

No title given in book

 

Love and shadow – sorry about the reflection; she’s holding his leg, by the way, not a stick

 

Crouching Man (1)

 

Dignified man in a respectable London suburb, passed by a girl

Talking with a psychoanalyst; night sky – the analyst is the black seated figure; the pointing finger is mine

The poet; Mayakovsky – For what its worth, Kiff is wrong – Mayakovsky shot himself in the chest, not the head (photograph in David King’s brilliant book, “Red Star over Russia”).

 

(Woman with) protruding tongue – reflection again

The works are all small (the largest is 113×76 cm) and are in acrylic on paper, gummed to board.  The book claims him as, for a time, a very influential figure in British art.  I can’t see any obvious evidence of his influence, however; he seems a complete one-off to me.

City of Women (Fellini, 1980)

Watched the DVD of this fevered and feverish film, starring Anna Prucnal and “Fellini’s favourite alter ego”, Marcello Mastroianni as Snaporaz,  and was deeply moved.  In the age of #MeToo, it seems to me that Fellini’s film still has much of relevance to tell us.

Next time, Don McCullin, Franz West and Dorothea Tanning.

 

Free Radicals

Blackpaint

05 March  19

Blackpaint 639 – Irvin, Lanyon, Frink and Malle

February 20, 2019

Albert Irvin and Abstract Impressionism – RWA Bristol until 3rd March 2019 – so hurry to visit!

Following hard upon my enthusiastic review of the Bonnard exhibition at Tate Modern, another positive reaction to the above; I’m sure I’ll soon find an exhibition to hate, but in the meantime, this is really very good.  Not only a great collection of huge, colourful Irvins, but also Brit kitchen sinkers (Bratby, Coker), abstractionists (Lanyon, Hoyland, Beattie, Blow) and American AbExes (de Kooning, Pollock, Jack Tworkov, Grace Hartigan, Newman, Motherwell, Sam Francis).

I’m putting the sizes of these paintings in, since size is one of the main things emphasised by all the British painters in their reaction to the exhibition of US ab exes at the Tate in 1959 – although not all the American pictures on show here are huge; a de Kooning, Motherwell’s “Ulysses”, the Hartigan and the Francis are smallish.

Unless otherwise stated, the Irvins are done in acrylics, which he started using in 1971.  He painted with canvases either against the wall or on the floor, supported by paint cans in the corners to allow air beneath so the paint would dry more quickly.  The catalogue, with a revealing interview with Basil Beattie, a close friend of Irvin, is great at £15.

Untitled 6, 1975, 178×203

Oranges (colours, not the fruit) make a regular appearance in Irvin’s work.  Early on, he used a lot of black in his paintings in keeping with the spirit of the times – but. as can be seen, this soon disappeared, along with most earth colours, apart from the odd patch of yellow ochre, from his paintings and prints.  As Beattie says, there’s no angst in Irvin’s work.

 

Wall of early-ish Irvins

See the black?

 

Untitled 3, mid 70s, 213×305

OK, wide dark slash here – exception to the rule.

 

Kestrel, 1981, 213×305

 

Almada, 1985, 213×305

 

Irvin, Sky 1960, oil on hardboard, 122×183

Lanyon was a big influence early on, as can be seen here.  Compare it to the Lanyon below:

 

Lanyon – St Ives Bay, oil on masonite 1957, 122×183

 

Irvin, Fallen Child in Corridor, oil on hardboard, 1955, 122×77

Example of Irvin’s figurative work in the 50s.

 

Peter Coker, Table and Chair, oil and sand on fibreboard, 1955, 153×122

I love this Coker – the extreme tilt of the table. the flayed head (cow’s?) on the surface; why doesn’t it all slide off?  On the down side, there’s the lemon headed kid, reminiscent of some Mintons, Joan Eardley maybe.  I thought of Colquhoun and MacBryde too, but no, too realist and dowdy.

 

Irvin, Untitled 2, oil on canvas, 1966, 152×127

A rare oil among the Irvin abstracts – note the trickle downs, absent from the acrylic works.

 

John Hoyland, Ivanhoe 16.3.81, 1981, acrylics, 183×167

A very nice (I’m determined not to use any more hackneyed superlatives) Hoyland from the Brit abstractionist section.  Hoyland got Irvin in on an exhibition at the Hayward, from which he got his gallery, Gimpel Fils.  no photos of the Americans, I’m afraid – not allowed.  But check out the Tworkov, “Cradle”, and the Sam Francis especially.  The Grace Hartigan is not her best and I could never “get” Barnett Newman.

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

Just down the road from the Irvin exhibition, this collection, containing the lovely Bouts below, with the refreshingly everyday BVM (is that a chocolate she’s about to give the baby Jesus? and what’s wrong with his left leg?)

Dieric Bouts

…and this treatment (below) of the Annunciation by Berchem, which looks as if it was done by the studio of Jeff Koons a year or two ago.  without the irony though – if Koons IS being ironic…

The Annunciation to the Shepherds, Nicolaes Berchem the Elder, 1656

 

Lanyon – who else?

Other moderns on show are Rose Wylie, Aubrey Williams and Auerbach.  More next blog.

Elizabeth Frink, Sainsbury Centre. UEA, Norwich until 24th February 2019 – so go straight from Bristol!

I thought Frink was some formidable old Iron Lady – turns out she was a ringer for Germaine Greer, so certainly not a FOIL, in the 70s anyway.  The sculptures are superlative and often funny – probably unintentionally – like the two running men, but I think the best in the show are ink on paper drawings called “Cuchulain”, a mythical Irish hero.  No images online that I could find…

Au Revoir Les Enfants dir. Louis Malle, (1987)

Rather devastating in a quiet way, film about a Jewish boy being hidden in a Catholic boarding school in WW2 France.  It seems that it was autobiographical, another take on collaboration and resistance to go with “Lacombe, Lucien”.  Essential viewing for these times.  Essential reading: “If This is a Man”, Primo Levi; essential listening: Ralph McTell’s “Peppers and Tomatoes”.

Next time, definitely Bill Viola, Ken Kiff, Don McCullin.  And Michelangelo.

To the Dream Lighthouse

Blackpaint

20/02/19

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 638 – Asger, Louis, Lorenzo and the Singing Raspberry

February 8, 2019

Amadeo Lorenzato, David Zwirner Gallery W1 until 9th February

You’ll have to hurry if you want to see this one – ends on Saturday!  He’s a Brazilian artist, about whom I have no information; don’t even know if he’s living.  The paintings are small, mostly around 19×15 or 16 inches.  They have a strange, “combed” surface – that’s to say it looks like he’s run a comb through the wet paint.  Most are titled “Untitled” and these three are all undated.  Dates for the others are 1971 – 1993.  There are two that look a little like miniature Hockneys, those treescapes of Yorkshire he’s been doing over the last few years.  The Zwirner Gallery is in Grafton Street.

 

 

 

Asger Jorn, Per Kirkeby, Tal R, Victoria Miro Gallery W1 until 23rd March

Jorn and Kirkeby among my favourite artists; never heard of Tal R and he seems to me to be unlike the other two.  The Guardian reviewed this exhibition last Saturday and dealt only with Tal R, whose works, the reviewer found, concealed perhaps sinister secrets behind the unrevealing facades and fences in his works.

Jorn and Kirkeby both dealt with Scandinavian myth and also with historical themes; Stalingrad and the battle of Copenhagen come to mind, both Jorn, I think.

 

Asger Jorn, “Overlord and Underlings”, 1951

Typical Jorn mythic figures…

 

Per Kirkeby, “Untitled”, 1964

 

Tal R, “punta de chroores”, 2006

That’s not Tal R in the picture, but a punter, rapt, by the look of him.  Oil and pins on cardboard, wood, artist-made frame.

 

Per Kirkeby, “Untitled”, 1964

Very Jorn-like, this one, with the floating jelly fish figure emerging from the black and reaching towards the reddish outline figure (looks like a female symbol or one of those Egyptian crosses, an ankh).

 

Jorn, “Aurorapide”, 67-68

Lovely, thick, swirling paint…

 

Jorn, “Untitled”, 1943

 

Jorn, “Black Lac Blues”, 1960

Great title, great painting – love the crusty, creosote-y surface.

 

Richard Pousette-Dart, Pace Gallery, Burlington Gardens W1 until 20th February

Pousette-Dart is the lost Abstract Expressionist – he was in the famous photo with Pollock, Kline, de Kooning, Rothko et al, Hedda Stern the only woman, in the foreground.  To be honest, the smaller works like that below strike me as not especially great; they look to me a little like surrealist automatic drawings, or maybe the early Rothkos.  Most of the pictures are the usual Ab-Ex size, that is to say huge; they are “all over”, densely coloured and figured canvases like those of Mark Tobey – another “Ab-Ex” who really wasn’t.

Lorenzo Lotto, National Gallery

This is absolutely the best free exhibition in London at the moment; several of the portraits are up there with Holbein – well, nearly, overstated a little maybe – and there is a madonna and child with a couple of saints in which the colours are superlative; Mary’s dress is a sort of raspberry which sings against blues and a lovely ochre.  No photos, I’m afraid.

Louis Malle’s Films

Lacombe, Lucien (1974)

Got a box set of 10 Malle films for £25 from Fopp at Cambridge Circus; same box costs £54 odd at the BFI.  Tragically, Fopp is owned by HMV, so its demise might not be far away, if this Canadian buyer decides not to keep it afloat.  Where will all the old gits like me go to get their CDs, DVDs and vinyl?  Another one gone into the darkness, maybe, like Gaby’s and Koenig and Blackwells a while ago…

Anyway, I’d always thought that Malle was a bit soft, bit romantic; turns out not so.  Seen six so far, and apart from “Zazie Dans le Metro”, they have all been about transgression.  “Lift to the Scaffold” is about murder, both planned and random, “The Lovers”, adultery (and child desertion), “The Fire Within”, alcoholism and suicide, “Murmur of the Heart”, incest (mother and son) and “Lacombe, Lucien”, collaboration with the Nazis and anti-semitism.  So quite strong stuff, but done with a light touch.  His use of music is brilliant too.  Scaffold has Miles Davis, Lovers a Brahms string quartet, Fire, Eric Satie, Heart, Charlie Parker –  and Lucien, Django Reinhardt.  I can’t think of a more exciting opening than Lucien tearing along country lanes on his bike to the strains of Django and Grappelly tearing through “Swing 42”.

 

Dream South Bank

Blackpaint

07/02/19

Blackpaint 637 – Bonnard, Nolan and Lift to the Scaffold

January 31, 2019

Bonnard, Tate Modern

I can’t really recommend this show too highly; I’ve been looking forward to it for weeks, been twice already and like everyone else, took photos of everything possible.  The colours are beautiful; mauves, blues, oranges, yellows (don’t know why I’m listing them, you can get a fair idea from my crappy, fuzzy snapshots below – all the good, clear ones were taken by my partner.

I was surprised at Adrian Searle’s negative review in the Guardian; despite giving a reasonably fair assessment of Bonnard’s achievement, he ended by saying he couldn’t get away from it fast enough.  No accounting for taste and Bonnard WAS a pretty dyed-in-the-wool bourgeois – he certainly looked it, anyway.  I suppose it’s all a bit old, white, privileged, domestic, smug, middle-class for Guardianista taste – but at least he’s Euro, not British.  Wonder what he thinks of Matisse?

One thing Adrian Searle is right about is Bonnard’s wobbly portrayals of people.  The faces are pretty rudimentary; Monchaty, his lover, for example, in the first real portrait in the exhibition.  One of the Marthes, emerging from the bath(s), actually looks like a sea lion to me.  Now and then, though, they are close to Degas.  While I am on about resemblances, here’s a few:  Peter Doig, Klimt, Degas, Vuillard, Goncharova, Van Gogh.  Didn’t bother with titles; too crowded to get them.

Something that the exhibition touched on was Renee Monchaty’s suicide, after Bonnard had decided to marry Marthe.  It didn’t say that Bonnard found her body in the bath.  This is of interest, given that Bonnard spent years after, painting Marthe in, and getting out of , the bath – you’d have thought he would avoid the setting.

 

.

Very fuzzy – a bit Vienna Secessionist, I think, with that monumental prone nude on the wall.  Dodgy armpit..

 

 

Detail of a garden – Doig-y?

 

Unusual sharpness to door frame.

 

In one of the rooms, some frames have been removed – I think the result is a big improvement on those great wooden gilt jobs.

 

Very poor photo, great painting, VAST bath (in one picture, it looks to be floating about six feet off the ground.  I think some of the background is reminiscent of Klimt.

 

Love the various planes of colour in this and the woman just visible through the opening.

 

Bonnard’s windows and doors are often wobbly; when the scene is outside, it can look like a heat shimmer.

 

 

Very unusual scene for Bonnard; non-domestic setting, lots of people.  Placement and execution of distant figures rather like Lowry, the colours pastel-like.

 

This one says Van Gogh to me (or might, if it was a person, not a painting…)

 

I love the orange cow, or calf, on the left – that’s where I got Goncharova from.  The painting’s massive, by the way.

 

Lovely painting – no comment necessary.

 

Ditto.

Sidney Nolan, BBC4

Some stunners in this great programme last week – and also some not so stunning (to my eye, anyway).  I was surprised that some of his portraits, especially the early ones, reminded me a little of (early) Lucian Freud; some of the later ones, veiled and distorted, of Bacon.  Here and there, you could see vegetation and rock as Bacon would have rendered it – and also, maybe, Michael Andrews.  And an echo, sometimes, of John Bellany (maybe that should be the other way round, but anyway).

 

 

 

 

touch of Brett Whiteley here?

Lift to the Scaffold, dir Louis Malle (1958)

Doing what the French do best.

Otherwise known as Elevator to the Gallows, tense, clear, cold film noir with perfect Miles Davis music and beautiful Jeanne Moreau, haunting rainy Paris by night, searching for her lover (Maurice Ronet, above right) – who is stuck in the elevator, after killing her husband on the top floor.  Like a fool, he left the rope and grapple he used to scale a couple of floors to the victim’s office, dangling from the balcony and had to go back to get it….  A couple of juvenile delinquents, as they used to be called, nick his car and his gun and go on a spree, just to complicate matters further.

Here’s mine for this week:

Slouching to be Born

Next blog – Bill Viola and Michelangelo at the RA.

Blackpaint

30.01.19

 

 

 

Blackpaint 636 – Vishniac, Wallace, Schiele and the Giant Slug

January 24, 2019

Roman Vishniac, Photographers Gallery, until 24th February

Unique and fascinating photos of  life in pre – war Jewish ghettos in Poland, resettlement camps in Europe and Israel after the war as well as war-ravaged Germany and miscellaneous pictures of life in the USA at that time (is that Josh White on guitar? it is!) .  A selection below:

Somehow, looks earlier than 1935; I would have guessed the early 20s, or even 1919 – the soldiers look more like Freikorps than regulars…

 

Berlin street –  see the statues over the doorway.

 

Pre-war Berlin – love the saint/patriarch on the right, watching the men up the ladders.

 

Wallace Collection – Manchester Square W1.

Great paintings in an ornate – to put it conservatively – setting; in fact, I find the gold leaf and plush a bit too rich for my taste, but it fits the paintings right enough.  As usual, a few of my favourites below:

 

Esaias Boursse

A beautiful little jewel of a painting – look at the bonnet and the fabrics; super realism, visual poetry.

 

Gabriel Metsu

Reminded me of that Velazquez with the fish and the servant woman in the foreground and Christ in the room behind..

 

Van Der Velde

A couple of lovely seascapes by the master.  The frames are just too much for me, so I cropped the second one.

 

Van der Velde

 

Watteau

An early Dejeuner sur l’herbe, but without the nude woman and the men in top hats – so nothing like it really… but still….

 

Jan Weenix

Weenix had to be included, both because I like his name and because he is the master of dead game, especially hares.

Plenty more to look out for: more Watteaus and Lancrets, a Canaletto with a tiny Dutch flag on a vessel exactly equidistant from left and right side of the canvas (well spotted, Bernard); and some interesting Richard Bonningtons – I’d thought he did intricate scenes of ships’ rigging and the like, but some nice theatrical pictures here.  And some lovely Rubens sketches.

 

Renzo Piano, RA – ended 20th January, unfortunately.  

I felt I had to include this building, which I think is a film museum in New York – it looks like a big slug to me.  I rather like it.

 

Egon Schiele at the RA, on with drawings by Klimt  until 3rd Feb- a couple more.

Some homosexual activity to offset the risque pictures of women I posted a couple of weeks ago…

 

…and back to women…

The Passenger, dir Michelangelo Antonioni (1975)

This is on at the BFI at the South Bank in a new print.  I watched it on my DVD.

The three main characters in one shot – Jenny Runacre, with the long legs, in the phone booth; Jack Nicholson with his back to us; and Maria Schneider with the bag.  Don’t know who the receptionist is.

One of the things about this film is the scene at the end, in which a character is shot in a hotel room, while the camera gazes from the room’s interior at the window through which the fatal shot is fired.  I’ve watched it over and over, and I still can’t pinpoint it.

 

Detail of “Golem“, one of my old ones.  Next blog – Bonnard at the Tate Modern.  Nice.

Blackpaint

24/01/18

Blackpaint 635 – London Art Fair

January 17, 2019

London Art Fair, Angel, until Sunday 20th January 2019

This is only on for the next three days, so I’m rushing out this special edition of Blackpaint’s Blog to give the world my highlights – which are as follows: (hardly any words this time – but few necessary, really)

William Nicholson

 

Albert Irvin

 

Euan Uglow

 

Adrian Heath

…and a whole wall of Adrian Heath – or half of it, anyway

 

Martin Brewster

detail from the Brewster – love that scraping…

 

John Hubbard

 

Didn’t get the name of this artist (Stephen somebody) but I love the rough, built-up surface – it’s like a mixture of Roy Oxlade, say, and Leon Kossoff.  There’s a whole room of these, and they’re great.  (28th Jan – It’s Stephen Newton.  Apologies to Stephen for not getting the name before)

Rose Hilton

The top one called to me across a crowded room; pity about that frame.

 

Peter Kinley

Not keen on the yellow, but I like the rest…

Audrey Grant

I loved these figure studies – the bottom two remind me of a famous de Kooning, I think it’s called “The Visit”.

 

Patrick Procktor – Terrific portrait; I think it’s exhibited by the Redfern Gallery.

Again, didn’t get artist’s name, but thoroughly endorse the sentiment.

 

As always, one of mine to finish-

Still Life with Hyacinths and Milk Jug 

Blackpaint

17/01/19

 

Blackpaint 634 – Review of the Year; a Jaundiced and Unbalanced Appreciation…

January 2, 2019

Exhibitions of the Year

Great shows this year:  All Too Human (Tate Britain), with that Bacon landscape and Freud’s portrait of Frank Auerbach; Charles 1 (RA) with the giant Mantegnas and Van Dyck silks and satins; Aftermath (Tate Britain), with the airborne Kathe Kollwitz, Grosz, Beckmann, Kirchner, Dix and some British artists too; and, obviously, the Bellini-Mantegna show at the National Gallery.  And, obviously, the Picasso 1932 (Tate Modern).

Of the big ones, I enjoyed Bellini/Mantegna the most, as well as Oceania at the RA, but since this is totally my blog and I don’t have to bother with paying due respect, my favourite shows were as follows:

Roy Oxlade at Alison Jaques

Amy Sillman, Camden Arts Centre

Ed Kienholz at Blain Southern

Howard Hodgkin at Gagosian

Joe Bradley, also Gagosian

Disappointment of the Year

Ribera at Dulwich Picture Gallery- fantastic;  but just not enough HUGE flayings (I think they’re at the Prado).

 

Photography

Alex Prager and Tish Murtha at Photographers Gallery – totally different, but both fascinating.

 

Films

Cold War (Pawlikowsky) – hands -down winner on a number of fronts, including music, cinematography, acting and just seriousness really.  I thought the ending was unnecessarily final…

Roma (Cuaron) – Christmas Eve film at Carlton Soho; Black and white, set in Mexico in 1970 ish, examines the relationship between a young Indian maid/nanny and her middle-class, European descended employers.  Shares all the attributes of “Cold War” except the music and has some real “wake-up” set pieces: street riots, a murder in a department store, a nail-biting childbirth sequence in a chaotic hospital, a near drowning – but none of this is melodramatic. in the sense that it somehow emerges from and sinks back into the main narrative, if that makes sense.  The martial arts and the airplane are good too.

TV

Trust

Great on every level; Donald Sutherland, Luca Marinelli, Hilary Swank – the whole cast brilliant.  Superlative.

Snowfall

Gets better all the time – except now, the great Mexican boxer is dead and his lover bereft…

The Sinner

One or two unbelievable moments (I use “unbelievable” in terms of the series’ own logic, not real reality); “They” would never have allowed Bill Pullman’s detective to take a convicted murderer on an outing alone.  Very tense and steamy, notwithstanding.

John Minton – Mark Gatiss’ absorbing documentary on the illustrator/painter.

Sad deaths this year – well, these are the ones I’m sad about

Tony Joe White – grinning rocker from the swamps

Dudley Sutton – best known as Tinker in Lovejoy, but he’ll always be the baby-faced killer in “The Boys” to me.

Some of my pictures to end with, as always:

Ochre Back

The Southern Ocean

Blackpaint

2/1/19

Happy New Year (if it is your new year)

 

Blackpaint 633 – Joe Bradley, Brent Wadden, Bellini, Mantegna and Me

December 24, 2018

Joe Bradley, “Day World”,  at the Gagosian W1

I’m sorry to say that it’s too late to see these great paintings at the Gagosian – the exhibition finished a week or so ago.  Even so, I think it’s worth putting the photos up, so readers might look Bradley’s work up online.

As can be seen, they are rough-surfaced in places and generally  “painterly” – hate the jargon – one or two resemble street art with their broken, spattered surfaces.  I think they have that shimmery quality that some of Rothko’s have and the bright palette of, maybe, Albert Irvin?  Maybe that’s pushing it, but I really like them.

 

Hard Time

 

High Rise

 

Black Peter

 

Day Rite

All the works are dated 2018; apart from “Hard Time” (and the drawings I haven’t mentioned), they are all over 200 cms each way.

 

Brent Wadden at the Pace Gallery until 10th January

By way of total contrast – well, actually, they are similar in size and all done this year – are these pieces, which are “handwoven fibers, wool, cotton and acrylic on canvas”.  I didn’t like them at first, thought they were well-crafted but anaemic – but I find they have grown on me.  I like the awkward, crooked join-ups in the middle and the way that the one at the bottom looks as if it’s painted with wide sweeps of emulsion and scraped a bit with a …scraper thing.

 

 

 

 

They are all titled “Untitled”.  Bradley was born in 1975 in Maine, now living in New York;  Wadden is slightly younger (1979) and was born in Nova Scotia, now living in Berlin and Vancouver.

Bellini and Mantegna at the National Gallery

Bellini Resurrection

It turns out that that they were brothers in law, Mantegna a few years older.  Giovanni Bellini was influenced by Mantegna at first; the latter was sort of self-made, while Bellini’s family were painting “royalty” in Venice.

The early, smaller ones (Georgione size) by both painters had those weirdly shaped, sharply defined rocky landscapes; Bellini later gave up on deserts and reverted to lush Italian landscape backgrounds instead.

Some paintings, by both, are startlingly bad.  A Bellini piece, “Feast of the Gods”, looks like a bunch of drunken peasants, one with a shiny comedy helmet; the women have the serene Bellini faces – see his Madonnas, usually that teenage babysitter model – but strangely distorted, one with a flattened nose…  Another, early one has a really unconvincing desert backdrop like stage scenery.  And that Christ in the painting above, emerging from the tomb and shooting straight up in the air with no muscular movement, like a cardboard cutout.  Worse, though, is a Mantegna of Christ being lifted up by two angels, they look like a singing trio.

But – some are fantastic.  There is a beautiful St Jerome by Bellini (again, Georgione comes to mind) and the Loredan.  This latter is oil on poplar and is rich and gleaming; some of the others, on canvas, are rather dry surfaced.  As for Mantegna, there are three of those huge ones of Caesar’s triumphal march that were in the Charles I exhibition at the RA a while back.  I like the one with the elephants and the grinning horse.  Much more to say, but I want to publish this before Christmas.

Venice Marathon October 2018

That’s me in the Vietcong headband, with my number one son, about to finish in the rather unusual prevailing conditions.  Two more sons, somewhere ahead in the water.

 

Two recent pictures to end with-

 

Still Life with Blue Vase on Fire

Blackpaint

 

Mystery  Train to Nowheresville on the Lost Highway

Blackpaint

24.12.18

 

 

Blackpaint 632 – Horse Head, Flick Knife and Trick Mirrors

December 15, 2018

British Museum Print Room – New Acquisitions

Great prints, from Rembrandt to Auerbach and beyond, a small sample of which follows – annoyingly, I didn’t take note of all the names, but decided to trust my memory (not a good decision).  However, you get an idea and can look it up online, no doubt…

 

James Ward

 

Did know who did this, but now forgotten…. oh yes, Villon, Marcel Duchamp’s brother

 

Fred Williams

 

Afro

 

Bea somebody, an Australian

Another forgotten name….

Always worth keeping tabs on the Print Room at the BM, they mount some excellent exhibitions and they’re free to get in.

The Boys, dir. Sidney J Furie (1962)

Another excellent recent resurrection on the Talking Pictures channel, a story of four Teds, attempting to have a night “up West” on virtually no money between them, creating minor disruption in dance halls, cinema queues, aboard a bus and in the street, who wind up charged with the murder of a nightwatchman at a garage, killed in the course of a robbery that nets 15 shillings (75p).

The story emerges in flashbacks during the courtroom examinations and cross examinations and the cast list is distinguished, if you are British and of “a certain age” – otherwise, it will mean nothing.  Richard Todd and Robert Morley as prosecution and defence barristers, Felix Aylmer as the judge, Patrick Magee as a parent, Wilfred Brambell as a lavatory attendant…  “The Boys” themselves are: Ronald Lacey, Jess Conrad, Tony Garnett (later a distinguished director and collaborator with Ken Loach) and finally, the wonderful Dudley Sutton (above, with the flick knife, cleaning his nails in the totally unthreatening and unprovocative manner he uses habitually in the film).  Another baby-faced tearaway, like Richard Attenborough as Pinky in “Brighton Rock”, Sutton has a memorable scene just standing, legs apart, engrossed in cleaning his nails, in the doorway of a snooker hall, unsettling the occupants for some reason…  The other boys are excellent too and there are the location shots, which make it worth watching alone.  And yes, there WAS a film called “Hungry for Love”, in English anyway, with Signoret, Mastroianni and Riva; that’s the film showing where the boys disturb the queue.

Dudley Sutton’s best film work, I think, unless with Ken Russell and Vanessa Redgrave in “The Devils”, tossing a charred bone, remains of Oliver Reed, to the demented Mother Superior, Redgrave….

Space Shifters, Hayward Gallery

Some big names from the west coast “Cool School”, Larry Bell and Ken Irwin, and also Anish Kapoor and Yayoi Kusama, with a flood of silver reflecting spheres the size of bowling balls, but with no spots on them, or penises attached;  basically, this is a set of novelties and illusions, distorting mirrors and such like.  I was craving paintings within a few minutes, but none were forthcoming.

 

 

Distorting mirrors, like an old fairground (read “The Dwarf”, Ray Bradbury short story, in “The Small Assassin” collection).

 

See those rocks?  They look green through the glass, but are in fact silver – or have I got that the wrong way round?

 

Burne-Jones, Tate Britain (again)

A few more from the BJ; I thought the figures on the right below were very reminiscent of Michelangelo’s Sistine altar wall:

 

 

Great Perseus and Andromeda here, giving us a frontal view of A (see back view in last blog):

 

Atlas – hated this, included it as contrast to P and A above.

One of mine to finish, as always:

Oceanic Divide

Blackpaint

15.12.18