Posts Tagged ‘Adrian Heath’

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

 

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Blackpaint 480 – Phallic Forests, Greek Mist and the old East End

January 29, 2015

Emily Carr, Dulwich Picture Gallery

Canadian North-West painter, died in 1945, did forests, abandoned Canadian tribal villages, totem poles, sea canoes…  She had several different styles – two  of these paintings could be Duncan Grant, a few others are close to Fauves, there’s a room of swirly treescapes that could be anthroposophical (except the colours were different), a few more that used the Van Gogh short line marks… Many of the paintings are oil on paper, which is not the best medium; they look somewhat brown and dowdy.  Canvases are better.  Oddly, she had connections with Mark Tobey, who I had always thought was a sort of abstract expressionist – his paintings are often in books on AbExes, anyway.  Turns out he was a “spiritual” painter (Baha’i faith) so they’re not really abex at all – more like visions of heaven or wherever.  The other painter mentioned in the exhibition blurb in connection with her  is the execrable Lawren Harris, member of the Seven, and painter of the white blancmange mountains (see previous Blackpaint).

Tree trunks and totem poles – bit phallic, really.  I could see her in therapy with Rebecca Front on “Psychobitches” (Sky Arts)…

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London Countryway

For the last five years, a couple of friends and I have been walking in the countryside around Orpington in Kent (we only have one map) and following the various “Green” urban footpaths around London.  Judging by the following, Jonathan Meades had already done all our routes.  I came across this in his essay “Hamas and Kibbutz” – it’s pretty close to poetry:

…roads to nowhere whose gravel aggregate is that of ad hoc Second World War fighter runways, decrepit Victorian oriental pumping stations, rats, asbestos sheets piled up in what for obvious reasons  cannot be called pyres, supermarket trolleys in toxic canals, rotting foxes, used condoms,  pitta bread with green mould, ancient chevaux de frise, newish chevaux de frise, polythene bags caught on branches and billowing like windsocks, greasy carpet tiles, countless gauges of wire – sturdy strands it takes industrial kit to cut through, wire gates in metal frames, rolls of barbed wire like magnified hair curlers in an old time northern sitcom, chicken wire, rusting grids of reinforcing wire – flaking private/keep out signs that have been ignored since the day they were erected, goose grass, artificial hillocks of smelt, collapsing Nissen huts, huts full stop, shacks built out of doors and car panels, skeins of torn tights in milky puddles, metal stakes with pointed tops, burnt-out cars, burnt-out houses,  abandoned cars, abandoned chemical drums, abandoned cooking oil drums, abandoned washing machine drums, squashed feathers, tidal mud, an embanked former railway line, fences made of horizontal planks, fences made of vertical planks, a shoe, vestigial lanes lined with May bushes, a hawser, soggy burlap sacks, ground elder, a wheelless buggy, perished underlay, buddleia,  a pavement blocked by a container, cracked plastic pipes, a ceramic rheostat, a car battery warehouse constellated with CCTV cameras, a couple of scraggy horses on a patch of mud, the Germolene – pink premises of a salmon smoker, sluice gates, swarf Alps, a crumpled Portakabin, a concrete block the size of a van, bricked-up windows,  travellers’ caravans and washing lines, a ravine filled with worn car tyres, jackdaws, herons, jays, a petrol pump pitted and crisp as an overcooked biscuit, traffic cones, oxygen cylinders, a bridge made of railway sleepers across duckweed, an oasis of scrupulously tended allotments. (2008)

From “Museum Without Walls”, Jonathan Meades, Unbound pbk, £12.99

Voyage to Cythera, Theo Angelopoulos (1984)

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Stern, tall, uncompromising old rebel, dancing in the mist at the top of a mountain, back home in Greece after 30 years’ exile in the Soviet Union.  Later, towed out by the police, alone on a floating platform, in sheeting rain, to international waters.  Finally, joined by his wife, having cut the rope, drifting off together into the mist.  Fantastic – and timely, with the Greek elections.  Go Tsipras! Re-negotiate those terms….  You have time, as there are another four Angelopoulos DVDs in my Xmas box set….

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Nigel Henderson at Tate Britain

Free exhibition in the room to right at top of coloured stairs; it’s about the work of Paolozzi, the Smithsons, Henderson and two other photographers whose names escape me.  There’s a continually changing  triptych of slides projected on the wall,showing the very square Paolozzi – looks like a wrestler – seated amongst collections of Modernist art – think I saw an Adrian Heath – with Henderson’s fabulous photos of the old East End popping up right and left.  Old shops, markets, bombed-out waste land, coronation celebrations, cranes, under floor central heating… I’ll stop now, before this becomes another Meades – style list.

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Water Engine 2 

 Blackpaint

29.01.15

 

 

Blackpaint 420 – Australia at the RA; Whiteley’s Murder Pictures

November 7, 2013

Australia at the Royal Academy

This exhibition has had an astonishingly savage reception in some quarters, notably from Waldemar Januszczak and from Brian Sewell, who slates the aboriginal painters as ravaged by alcohol and trotting out pictures that are meaningless, when divorced from their ritual tribal functions.  Adrian Searle is also exercised by the omissions and patchiness of the show.  Clearly, it has bitten off too much to chew – impossible to do a whole continent thoroughly, with the rich and complex aboriginal cultures and the European tradition.  Still, there’s some great stuff to see, so you can go and be stimulated and entertained AND pontificate about how sketchy and incomplete the exhibition is…

To start with the aboriginal paintings; they are segregated from the others for the most part.  They are surprisingly huge and striking; there is one that is just like a Per Kirkeby, red, pink and white in a tower- or hill- like structure.  Another in this first room is a huge white square with pink and blue borders, with a wave-like swoosh in the centre; it looks like a tapestry.  Everywhere there are concentric circles, stars, giant figures built from blobs and stars of paint; “Cyclone Tracy” by Rover Thomas, a black funnel-shaped swathe through a striped landscape; another showing the story of a cannibal old woman who lived in a cave and ate kidnapped children.  It’s like a map – a blob in the middle is the woman’s cave.

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Cyclone Tracy by Rover Thomas

There are paintings from the early days of European settlement; a couple that look almost like Caspar David Friedrich.  the early Euros obviously had difficulty seeing with “Australian” eyes.  Later, there are the Australian Impressionists, Roberts and Streeton etc. ; diggings, camps, sheep shearing; a great picture, “Lost”, a girl adrift in a eucalyptus forest; a radiant moonrise, a pink/grey dawn.  if you stand in the centre of the room, you can see there is an Australian colour set – dusty, tawny, orange but bleached out.

Then, we are at the modernist section; Sidney Harbour Bridge, painted by Grace Cossington Smith , who also painted the beautiful screen, like something Duncan Grant might have painted at Charleston.  Flesh hunks roasting on a beach, the sand and sea represented by blazing bands of yellow and blue; a collection of athletic, Lempicka-like figures tossing balls to each other, showing off.

Now the Nolans; several Ned Kellys – police at a burning beacon, Ned’s sister quilting the inside of his helmet, the shootout at Glenrowan.  And an odd one with a parrot (see below).

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Now the 60s 0n – a Brett Whiteley of a bay, orange with small boats –

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Olsen’s “Sydney Sun”, which hangs above you like a mirror over a bed – so I’m told – a bilious yellow, and compared by Januszczak to diarrhoea; two pictures by Fred Williams, small fragments and twists of paint in flat landscapes of grey and brown; a black and white Fairweather, a lot like Bryan Wynter and an enormous Arthur Boyd – a roughly drawn white figure, like a Bacon, on a black background, with a window looking out on a blazing white yard.

In the later galleries, two things of note – Fiona Hall’s set of opened sardine tins, with silver trees growing from the tops, containing not sardines, but penises, vaginas, and other “artefacts of a sexual nature”.  And a great abstract landscape, brown, grey, splattered, brushwork rather like Rose Wylie, with a bright, cream channel down the middle.  I think it was by Elizabeth Cummings but I can’t find it on the net.  Anyway, great exhibition, despite the savaging.

Brett Whiteley

I was so impressed by this painter that I bought the Thames and Hudson “Art and Life” catalogue at the RA.  The influences on him are quite obvious;  Diebenkorn in the early abstracts, maybe a little Adrian Heath too; William Scott – there’s a frying pan – and Roger Hilton, in the drawn line.  In both the drawings and the paintings, line and colour, Francis Bacon.  But he’s so good that he’s much more than the sum of these influences.  I prefer the earlier stuff, but fantastic.

The Christie Pictures

In the mid 60s, Whiteley was living in London and he became interested in the sex murders carried out in Notting Hill by John Christie in the 40s and 50s at 10 Rillington Place.  Whiteley did a series of paintings and drawings relating to the murders, some depicting Christie actually carrying out the killings.  The paintings are indistinct; they show naked bodies (Christie and the victim) fragmented and entwined and several show the penis-like nozzle of the gas pipe he used to gas the women.

When you flick through the book, you are struck first by how great the drawings and paintings are and you derive pleasure from them.  Then you read the titles, and you are repelled by the subject matter.  Still great art though?  see what you think.

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I suppose there is a precedent for this; Sickert’s depiction of the Camden Town murder, say – or the Goya Disasters of War.  The sexual content in the Whiteleys adds another disturbing layer, though.  I wonder where they are – it’s hard to imagine anyone having them on the living room wall.  I bet they’re in storage in a gallery archive.

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The Stadium

Blackpaint

7/11/13

Blackpaint 375 – Sexual Politics and the Ozenfant Coincidence

January 7, 2013

Out of sync. this week, because of the annual review, so will do a short one today and another on Thursday to get back on track.

Contre Toi

DVD of French film featuring Kristin Scott Thomas as a doctor, abducted by a young man whose wife died following childbirth attended by KST.  She is held captive in a bricked up cellar room and treated brutally – knife at throat, denied water, pushed around and eventually punched in the eye, after he tries to force her to masturbate him (he soon desists).  Naturally – it’s a French film – she soon starts to feel affection for him; he’s lonely, like her, and of course, there’s Stockholm Syndrome…

She escapes, turns the tables on him, takes him to bed wearing a very fetching slip – her, not him – so the sex we have been expecting is the inevitable pay off.  But she then turns him in.  So, interesting sexual politics; abducted, threatened, assaulted – of course, she has to fall for him.  But it’s OK, because she got free and CHOSE (sort of) to do it – and she gets him put away.  It’s written and directed by a woman, Lola Doillon.

The Ozenfant Co-incidence

I got Alasdair Gray’s Lanark for Christmas; I’d just got to the bit where Lanark meets Dr. Ozenfant when I stopped reading for the day.  Minutes later, I was reading Jane Rye’s great book on Adrian Heath and happened to see, in the notes, a reference to “Apres le cubisme” by Amedee Ozenfant and someone else.  What are the chances? Coincidence, you say;  I wonder…  then again, Gray is an artist and might well have studied or come across the book…

This is only one example of mysterious cosmic forces that I have noted – see previous Blackpaints on “The Taylor Vincent Ad”, Blackpaint’s Law of Spurious Plausibility and my convincing argument that Shakespeare was the reincarnation of Michelangelo.

Adrian Heath

Before leaving the Heath book, I was intrigued to see that, whilst teaching at Cosham, he used an exercise in which he developed a sort of abstracted landscape out of a figure drawing.  It’s a pretty common exercise apparently, and I only mention it because I find that I’ve done more or less the same thing in most of my last dozen or so paintings – maybe even more.  He does it better though.

Commenting on Heath’s practice of making preparatory drawings or sketches for his paintings, Rye writes,”This practice was certainly at odds with the ideas of the American expressionists who regarded preliminary drawing as a decadent practice incompatible with true spontaneity” (p.141).  Well,  yes, you would have thought so – but Franz Kline and de Kooning both used sketches and indeed, DK imported whole images from previous paintings.  They LOOK spontaneous though…

OK, stopping now; more on Thursday.

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Blackpaint

7.1.13

Blackpaint 373 – Orpheus, Oedipus and Human Nature

December 27, 2012

Through the Looking Glass

A strange confluence of coincidence this week.  First, I watched Cocteau’s “Orphee”, in which Death (in the form of de Cacares) leads her slaves and victims through mirrors into the Underworld or back; then, in the Russian “Master and Margarita”, currently showing on Sky Arts TV, a character takes the same route into a room.

Later in the same episode, a writer, taken forcibly to a psychiatric hospital, attempts to escape by jumping through a closed window – splat!! – reinforced glass.  And, to complete the parallels, the repeat of the Christmas “Father Ted” (lingerie department, Golden Cleric, Father Tod Unctious) Father Jack does the window exit, to meet the Plexiglass Ted has installed.  Strange forces definitely at work.

“Orphee” special effects still impressive to me, compared to the sophisticated stuff around now; I suppose because they have a dreamlike atmosphere that comes mostly from their simplicity – maybe the ramshackle, improvised feel corresponds to my typical dream landscape; shabby, disintegrating, dimly lit, soiled….  I was interested to hear that the proto Bohemian crowd of poets and artists in the opening cafe and brawl scenes were genuine Left Bankers, recruited by Juliette Greco for Cocteau.  They look anything but genuine.

Oedipus Rex

Pasolini masterpiece that I saw decades ago at university; blinding North African colours – although it may have been filmed in Italy – the outlandish helmets and crowns, and above all, the wild music at the wedding scene.  Fantastic contrast to “Orphee” – I recommend watching the two DVDs at one session.

The Hunt

A film actually on release, that you can see at a cinema, rather than on DVD at home.  By Thomas Vinterberg, of Dogme fame (with Von Trier).  Vinterberg made “Festen”, the brilliant black comedy(?)about a celebration of the birthday of an incestuous patriarch.  His son exposes him as a rapist in a speech; the assembled family members rally behind the father.  Unfortunately, Vinterberg spoils it at the end; when notes from his dead daughter prove the patriarch guilty, the people turn away from him in disgust.  It would have been better, more sour, more “true”, if they’d stuck to him to preserve respectability.

“The Hunt” also deals with child abuse. A teacher is falsely accused; the community, all his friends, turn against him with no proof offered.  He is ostracised, attacked, victimised in a number of ways.  At the end, however, the community accepts his innocence, welcomes him back into the fold – and he is also prepared, outwardly at least, to go back to “how things were”.

This, I think, doesn’t ring true; when people find out they are wrong and have treated someone unjustly, they don’t apologise, or even “forgive and forget” – they resent the victim for being innocent and putting them in the wrong.  They’ll find a reason why it was his fault.  And after all, “No smoke without fire”, so he was probably guilty anyway.  Is this a pessimistic view of human nature?  Possibly…

Adrian Heath

Reading the Jane Rye book on this British artist and I have to say his work is magnificent; the colours are  great, not something I necessarily expected from reading about his cerebral and considered approach to painting; also the painterly surfaces, the contrast of rough and smooth.  I recommend you check him out if you don’t know his work.

My Review of the Year in next blog.

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Blackpaint

Saint’s Head

27.12.12

Blackpaint 365 – Heroic Mannerism in the Ironic Park

November 2, 2012

Harryhausen

I’ve been referring to the great film modeller as Harry Harryhausen; I now find, sadly from his obit., that it was RAY Harryhausen.  Sorry Ray – apposite really, as I’ve been in Budapest for a few days, and visited..

Memento Park

This is where they put a number of the Communist – era socialist realist and- what to call them? heroic mannerist?- statues to pose and beckon to each other across the grass and gravel paths.  Amongst these monstrosities is a memorial to the Hungarian International Brigade that fought with the Republicans in Spain; the unfortunate volunteers resemble, to me, the inhabitants of that island of Goonies that were in the old Popeye cartoon (apologies to my younger reader).  Some of these statues remind me of Ray Harryhausen’s work.

I was quite impressed that, so relatively soon after the end of communist rule, Hungarians can treat these relics with the irony shown here.

Budapest Fine Art Museum, Heroes Square

A Cezanne exhibition, Cezanne and the Past, in the museum at the moment; many of his drawings of Old Masters, and some paintings which were surprisingly bad.  BUT – there was Madame Cezanne with her striped, picket-fence skirt (best picture), Madame C. in Blue, with her face almost a Modigliani (second best) – and “Basket of Apples” and “Kitchen Table”; fabulous fruit and tablecloths, tilting to the spectator.  In both, the table fore-edges are out of line, as if there were two small tables in each picture, the divide hidden by the snowy tablecloths.  My partner insists that this is part of the intentional (and revolutionary) distortion – I can’t see it, I think he just couldn’t be bothered to re-jig it.

In the permanent exhibition, which we had to shoot through at speed, I noted the following:

Sassetta, St. Thomas Aquinas in Prayer – beautiful, Duccio-like green “framing” – my favourite picture.

Maso di Banco; obviously “influenced” by Giotto – or maybe the other way round? No – one of Giotto’s best pupils.

Lorenzo Monaco – a cut-out crucifixion; never seen anything like it;

Bosch – “The Bacchus Singers”; one with a finger down his throat, puking on the floor behind the oblivious others;

Bosch again – a very damaged copy of a section of “Garden of Earthly Delights”;

Lucas Cranach – Salome with John B’s head, smirking at the spectator, really pleased with herself; JB looking less so;

Pieter Brueghel – John the Baptist (in happier days) sermon; the one with the woman in the Japanese hat.

Hans Holbein the Elder – “the Dormition of the Virgin”, in a style so much more archaic than the realist portraits of his genius son (although H the Younger’s biblical scenes were not so different);

A couple of brilliant Bonnards – look at them from across the room to see them as abstracts, they work brilliantly.

And lots more, will finish next blog.

Adrian Heath

Thought he was a minor painter, sort of link between London and St.Ives; but I’ve just got the new Lund Humphries book by Jane Rye – he was staggeringly good.  There are obvious similarities in places to Poliakoff, Terry Frost (a friend and also ex -POW) and Roger Hilton; but I think they are richer and more interesting than any of them.  Rye is right when she talks about the sense of calmness, balance, and chaos breaking through.  they are just beautiful and I can’t over-praise them.

Andriassy

Blackpaint

2/11/12

Blackpaint 321 – Yorkshire, Blackburn and the Leopard

January 23, 2012

Hockney at the RA

The weekend papers full of hype for this – Roy Hattersley droning on about Yorkshire, bringing in Captain Cook and other irrelevancies, interviews with bussed-down Yorkshire painters groups, Yorkshire tourist board planning Hockney tours…  More about Hockney’s “superlative” drawing skills,” richness and exuberance” of the colours.  I have to say that none of the repros I have seen particularly demonstrate Hockney’s (undoubted) drawing skills and some of the green, orange and Ribena colours look like no colours I have seen in “real life”, in Yorkshire or anywhere else.  An artist called Jim Bruce – not a Yorkshireman – tellingly referred to Hockney’s landscapes as “abstract”, while enthusing about them to an interviewer.  Laura Cumming in the Observer says “He is not primarily interested in the ever-changing rhetoric of weather, light or nature.  He is thinking about picture making..”   She refers to the colours as “Matisse crossed with Walt Disney” and I persist in being reminded of the animated Lord of the Rings.

The size of the paintings must contribute to the feeling of “Event”; I touched on the previous display of Hockney big trees at the Tate Britain when writing about John Martin’s spectaculars recently.  Interestingly, with regard to hype, I see that the Leonardo exhibition is described as “overpraised” in today’s Guardian.  Don’t think any critics had the nerve to say that when it opened.

Having said all that, the Hockneys are definitely distinctive; you couldn’t mistake the pictures for anyone else’s work and that’s something to prize, for sure.

London Art Fair

Acquired tickets for this, which normally cost £18 entrance fee, expecting a lot of dross; instead, saw the best British painting I have seen all year.  Admittedly, most of it was  St. Ives or other oldies, but that’s the rut I’m stuck in.  My partner tells me that the recession is leading collectors to sell off some good stuff, but I’m unconvinced; lots of cash around at the top end, I think.  Anyway, some lovely, brilliantly coloured Anthony Frosts (Terry’s son), loads of Alan Davie, including a great one on thick brown wrapping paper, Roger Hilton poster paints and others from earlier, loads of little Sutherlands, Keith Vaughans and great early Sandra Blows, when she was using sand and suchlike.  Several Ivon Hitchens, Prunella Clough, and a totally uncharacteristic Patrick Heron, that was bright little colours on a black base.  The best pictures were as follows:

Peter Lanyon, large oblong panel, with unusual, intense orange -red section and an almost grafitti feel to it; 

John Blackburn, new to me, but born 1932; beautiful white and blue panels on an upright rectangle, tucked away at back, very like Paul Feiler;

Paul Feiler (born 1918, Britain’s greatest living abstract painter), white and off-white square with red and blue broken and concealed lines breaking surface here and there; 

Adrian Heath, who taught Terry Frost in POW camp, Poliakoff-like geometric shapes in various colours, resembling collage;

Robin Denny, a big, wild, dark blue Ab Ex effort, so fantastic I stepped back carelessly for a better look, straight into a gent who was also gazing at it.  On the way home, we saw his (Denny’s) coloured rods design on Embankment tube – hard to believe same bloke did both.

Also in Embankment station, a besuited Peter Blake, several of whose works were on show at the Angel.

Three other painters whose work I liked were Mark Surridge, little Lanyon-y panels; Rebecca Salter, gauzey, gossamer surfaces to her canvases,; and Chloe Lamb, whose abstracts, often in variations of ochre, I loved, but thought the paint could have been slapped on more thickly.  There is another Chloe Lamb, featuring on Google.

The Leopard, Visconti

Made in 1963, just seen the DVD.  Sicily in Garibaldi’s time, eras ending, the stately old aristos intermarrying with the new bourgeoisie – Burt Lancaster surprisingly perfect, once you get used to the dubbed voice; another sumptuous, hypnotic ball to go with the one in Russian Ark; those quirky mazurkas.  And Romolo Valli, the hotel manager in Death in Venice, here a sycophant priest.  And music by Nino Rota.

Old one, I’m afraid; batteries in my camera gone.

Blackpaint

23/01/12