Posts Tagged ‘Albert Oehlen’

Blackpaint 530 – The Angels, the Superhighway and the Deer Hunter

January 31, 2016

London Art Fair, the Angel Islington

Finished last week, I’m afraid;  a great little “exhibition-within-the-exhibition” from the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings; my favourite was the “Winter Landscape” by Barns-Graham – tiny but good.

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Wilhelmina Barns-Graham

Other highlights below:

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Dorothy Mead 

A Bomberg disciple – but these are every bit as good as DB, in my view.

 

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Keith Vaughan

Very unusual Vaughan – touch of Bacon in the middle, possibly?

 

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Alan Davie

There were dozens of Davies (and Roger Hiltons and quite a few Hitchens); high quality ratio though, with his trademark symbols, lovely blues and yellows and rough surfaces.

Electronic Superhighway, Whitechapel Gallery

Private view of this on Thursday night; the usual roar and surge of the crowd to get to the free drinks before 7.00pm, after which time you have to pay.

The term was coined by Nam June Paik, whose exhibit was one of those – maybe the first one of those –  batteries of TVs, each showing a recurring series of visually explosive images too fast for you to grasp more than one at a time, with an accompaniment of cacophonous sound.  The theme of the exhibition is the effect of computers and the internet on art.  The theme was more evident in some pieces than others…

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Deathoknocko, Albert Oehlen

Combination of computerised inkjet and hand painting.

sedgley

Peter Sedgley

Light projection from 1970.

 

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Celia Hempton

These are screen-size paintings of images from the internet – some – ahem! – rather controversial, perhaps…

 

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Vera Molnar

Several printout works from 60s and 70s.

Rabelais and Joyce

As I get further into “Gargantua and Pantagruel”, the more I am struck by the similarities to “Finnegans Wake”.  The long list of books in the library of St. Victor with their ridiculous titles is only one small step back from Joyce, as are the encounters with the Limousin who speaks gibberish and Panurge,  who talks sense – but in a variety of languages, including Hebrew and Basque(!) that his interlocutors can’t understand.

I got quite excited about this “discovery”, wondering if there was a thesis knocking about on the subject in some European or US university – then I read the excellent translator’s introduction by JM Cohen.  There it all was, similarities of Rabelais and Joyce, written in 1954…..

However, I feel that there are sufficient grounds to advance another of my reincarnation propositions here (see previous Blackpaints, which prove that Shakespeare was the reincarnation of Michelangelo).  Both Rabelais (or Alcofribas Nasir, as he called himself – work it out) and Joyce did long lists; both spoke and used a variety of languages, some rather obscure, in their works; and both wrote passages – in Joyce’s case, hundreds of pages – of “nonsense”.  Case proven.

The Deer Hunter

I had one of those cinematic moments last night, when you’re in a noisy public place and suddenly everything goes sort of silent, or merges into an unspecific background drone and things go slow motion.  Could well be wrong, but I think it was “The Deer Hunter” – wedding scene maybe, Meryl Streep dancing and laughing – it’s a cliche, of course, probably used in loads of films by now.

Anyway, I was sitting in a packed and roaring Tooting pub, third pint of London Stout before me, celebrating my eldest son’s birthday and engagement.  I looked at the bar and there they were, the three brothers and their girlfriends, laughing and shouting to each other above the noise, eyes shining – and the Deer Hunter moment clocked in, inside my head, and lasted probably only a couple of seconds.  Then I was aware of it and it went.  First, I was happy and proud; then I had a moment of near dread; everything changes, it will never be like this again…

So those effects are cliches, melodramatic and worn out; but very effective, nonetheless.

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Exterminating Angel (work in prog)

Blackpaint

31/01/16

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Blackpaint 522 – Cartels, Carpaccio, Cheever

November 27, 2015

Cartel Land, Matthew Heineman (2015)

This compelling documentary, about a self-defence militia in Mexico, set up by a charismatic doctor to defend his local towns and  villages against the Knights Templar cartel, is rather problematic.  There are a number of scenes that must surely be reconstructions, as the camera appears to be always in the right place to get the crucial shot and soundbite for the purpose of the narrative.  If it’s just the result of bravery, luck and brilliant editing, it’s stunning.  I’ve no doubt that the shoot  outs are genuine; at one point, someone appears to give the order on the soundtrack for a suspect to be murdered – and these are the good guys.  In the light of the beheadings, hangings, torture and rape shown and described, it’s not surprising that the “autodefensas” are likely to be merciless to the perpetrators when they catch them, I suppose.

cartel

It all goes wrong, of course; corruption sets in, the “autodefensas” are infiltrated by gangsters,  who form their own cartel within, the doctor turns out to be a sleaze who chats up young women on camera; he ends up in prison, having been betrayed by his erstwhile “officers”, who are co-opted by a corrupt government.

There is a parallel story about Tim Foley and his Arizona Border Recon, an American paramilitary force resisting incursions by “cartel members”.  Their operations seem rather pathetic, in comparison.

More from Venice

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Carpaccio, Accademia

Love those hats.

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Bellini,  Correr Museum

 

Albert Oehlen

Oehlen Hetzler

A beautiful catalogue published by the Galerie Max Hetzler of an exhibition seven or eight large paintings from 2014.  They are all on wood panels, with a white background; gestural, patches and flickering lines of fairly subdued colours, mostly including a grey cloud; no spray or computer work in these.  The trickle downs and freshness or the colours recall 60s Joan Mitchell.  And the cover unfolds into a poster of one of the paintings – pretty good for £14 odd.

John Cheever

I find his short stories just get better every time I read them; I’m on my third trip through the Collected Stories now.  They are polished, funny, often sad, sometimes shocking, sardonic, wise, brilliantly readable and they never pall, which is surprising, given the quite narrow social milieu in which they are set; New York/New England, upper middle class, servants, mansion apartments, holiday homes, leafy suburbs.  I’ve just finished “The Housebreaker of Shady Hill”.  I don’t think he’s a great novelist, however.  I’ve read most of them and the only memorable one, I think, is “Falconer”, his short prison novel.  The others just strike me as the short stories extended unnecessarily.

Finally finished a couple of new paintings:

Ospedale

Ospedale

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Black Storm

Blackpaint

27.11.15

Blackpaint 513 – My Show and the Slade’s, Patti, Andrei and the Fonz

October 6, 2015

Slade MA/MFA Interim Show, UCL

A futuristic cityscape, made out of dark wood with the odd chair or table leg showing; aprons and other garments (see below) hanging on pegs over women’s shoes; “jewel/gold” encrusted domestic articles, kettles etc.; a plate of sliced toast with a plastic container of jam in a darkened room; huge old black steam locos fuming away on a video in another darkened room; a vertical cigar smouldering on video (towering inferno, 9/11) – and some paintings, in those bright, dry colours (Sillman, Oehlen, German sort of thing.  Flat, thin paint, fashionable lack of texture.  Examples below:

Alexander Page 1

Alexander Page

 

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Luxin Su

 

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Tae Yeon Kim

 

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Olivia Bax

I hope I haven’t misidentified any of these artists; why don’t the students put BIG name cards up next to the work, instead of leaving little stacks of cards in the corner?

Open House Wandsworth

All my paintings and those of my partner Marion Jones on show and for sale at absurdly low prices, Saturday and Sunday 16th and 17th October, 11.00am – 6.00pm at 84 Ribblesdale Road London SW16 6SE, including those below:

Megiddo

Megiddo – Actually, this one’s gone.

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Red and Blue Lines on Ochre

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Seagulls over Sorrento

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Geometry 1

asger's revenge

Asger’s Revenge

port jackson

Woodpecker

work in prog 1

Blue Crouch

Blue Crouch

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Water Engine 2

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Standing Nude

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Islares

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Redleg

 

Wild Tales, dir. Damian Szifron (2014)

Spanish/Argentinian.  A portmanteau film, six stories about revenge, rage, duplicity, infidelity.  The first story was a real shock because of a horrible echo of the Germanwings murders.  Other echoes, for elderly filmgoers: Duel, Marathon Man, Carrie, Short Cuts (marginal, but that chef looks just like Lyle Lovett in the cake story).

Just Kids, Patti Smith 

I bought Smith’s book about herself and Robert Mapplethorpe after finishing Viv Albertine’s great autobiography – I sort of thought they might be similar; outspoken, opinionated, edgy, gritty…  Wrong, so far.  Smith writes in a rather stilted style by today’s standards – she writes, for instance, about “garments”, not clothes.  At times, she reads more like Jane Austen than, say, Lou Reed.  Consider this passage: “I had not yet comprehended that Robert’s conflicted behavior related to his sexuality.  I knew he deeply cared for me, but it occurred to me that he had tired of me physically.  In some ways I felt betrayed, but in reality it was I who had betrayed him.”

OK, Austen probably wouldn’t have mentioned sexuality.  This shouldn’t put you off, by the way; her portrait of counter culture in 60s US is fascinating.  The other night on TV, I happened on one of those gruesome tribute concerts, where a big star sits in the audience while other stars sing to him/her; it was Springsteen’s turn and Patti was singing the great “Because the Night”; “..Because the night belongs to lovers, because the night belongs to – (smile, gesture) – BRUCE!”  Sometimes, nothing is more destructive than age and success.  Patti looking a lot like Henry Winkler these days, I think.

patti fonz

 

Andrei Rublev, Tarkovsky

Just finished watching this masterpiece again and it struck me that Boris the boy bellmaker is the counterpart of a Young Communist zealot, cajoling, threatening, forcing the doubting workforce to perform the impossible, in the face of terrible obstacles.  Violence, bullying, sternness, squalor, the interspersion of sentimentality with horrible cruelty (eyes put out) – all the common features of Russian literature and cinema (Karamazov, for instance).  And unforgettable images, of course.

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Reflections I, 

Blackpaint, 6.10.2015

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 494 – House of Leaves, Murder in Moscow and Eric in Dulwich

May 10, 2015

Down Dog

Down Dog

I’m deeply traumatised by the election result and the prospect of 56 SNP-ers coming to take all our English money away and leave us defenceless against Russia et al, so tonight’s blog will be short and hurriedly written (no change there then, I’m tempted to write – but I won’t because I’m trying to avoid cliche).

House of Leaves, Mark Danielewsky

Now a hundred or so pages into this experimental horror(?) novel, with several hundred more to go – but since many of these pages are blank or nearly so, might just make it.  The experimentation, so far at least, consists of a labyrinthine structure of textual references, many obviously fictional, some probably real authors but fictional works, some probably the other way round.  There are “windows” of text which is reversed on the obverse page, as if the paper were transparent; some of the refs continue over numerous pages and are printed upside down.

At the core of this playfulness are two continuous narratives, one an intermittent commentary on the other, which can be read in a conventional way – so the “experimentation” forms a sort of packaging for the story and as such, can be more or less ignored – you still get the gist.  One of the narratives is rather flat and impersonal in tone, an “objective” report of events; the commentary is slangy, wild, peppered with expletives and full of graphic sexual and chemical encounters, real or imagined.  It reads a bit like the Stephen King of The Dark Half.

So, an experimental novel, rather like most of BS Johnson; odd- looking textual things going on, little jokes and metaphors dancing around – but a solid central narrative core provided by identifiable narrative voices (so far).

NOT Finnegans Wake, then; Joyce’s dream language retains the power to subvert, corrupt, or, at least, to flavour anything else you choose to read after putting Finnegan down.

Ravilious at Dulwich Picture Gallery

Went round this in half an hour, as the gallery was about to close; the pictures – and there are plenty of them – have a delicate beauty and cleanliness, but can be rather bloodless in bulk.  The best ones. I think, are those where he has used darker hues, obviously night ones like that below.  His other weakness, to my mind, is the human figure; his people tend to be stiff and cartoon-ish.  Great illustrator though, reminiscent of Paul Nash and maybe Ben and Winifred Nicolson.

ravilious

Force Majeure, Ruben Ostlund

A funny film, looking at the aftermath of an avalanche threatening (apparently) diners at a ski resort restaurant; how one’s behaviour stands up to examination when the danger has passed.  As is the convention, male behaviour is unheroic, selfish, foolhardy, self-justifying, self-obsessed, vain, pathetic and consequently very funny.  The women tend to be relaxed, responsible, caring, t0lerantly amused – perhaps stressed by the demands and insecurities of the men, but basically proper people.  The Scandinavian norm.

There is a terrifying sequence in which an incompetent (male) coach driver attempts to get his laden vehicle round hairpin bends above a chasm – couldn’t watch it.

force majeure

This is Moscow Speaking, Yuli Daniel

I first read this in 1970 at university and just re-read it; it’s fantastic – tough, poetic, fearless.  It’s 1960 in Moscow – the authorities announce August 10th to be Public Murder Day.  All citizens over 16 can kill who they choose, certain categories (police, prison officers) excepted…

It got Daniel 5 years in prison, along with Andrei Sinyavsky.  Alexander Ginzberg also got 5 years for protesting at the imprisonment – and eventually, Daniel’s wife got 4 years for opposing the invasion of Czechoslovakia.

Tate Modern, Painting After Technology

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Club Foot, Amy Sillman

Great “new” works on display at Tate Modern, notably by Amy Sillman, Albert Oelhen, Christopher Wool and Mark Bradford.  And a most wonderful huge Sam Francis; see it through the arch, it looks much better from a distance.

And nearby, in the Geometric bit, two great Pasmores and a black-based, coloured Mary Martin sculpture.

 

port jackson

 Blackpaint

10.05.15

Blackpaint 428 – Light, Frozen Horses, Murder in England

January 3, 2014

Sources of Light (cont.)

I was pursuing Morton Feldman’s schema last week, in which he says that the light in Rembrandt’s pictures is “without source”, Caravaggio’s “raking light”, etc.  Here’s another couple of examples:

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Caravaggio, St.Paul

Light from above and front right?

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Rembrandt, Night Watch

Light from the front?  I can’t really see any real difference in the approach to lighting of these two artists.   Feldman might mean that there is no obvious source of light in the picture, window or candle, say – but its the same for Caravaggio surely….

Amy Sillman – One Lump or Two

My partner got this fantastic book for Christmas; I’ve written about her once before, but then I think I’d only seen a couple of her paintings.  She reminds me a bit of Brett Whiteley or Albert Oehlen, in that she often mixes up figurative with abstract; her drawing line is a little like Whiteley’s, too and hence like Roger Hilton.  But the colours are very distinctive – the reds, oranges and greens.,

My favourite paintings in the book are Birdwatcher (below) and A long Drawing, again reminiscent of Whiteley.

amy sillman birdwatcher

Birdwatcher

So, I strongly recommend that you buy this book – my partner tells me the text is not great; that thing where critics can’t resist telling you what pictures they can see in abstracts – but the pictures make up for it.

My Winnipeg

Guy Maddin’s 2007 fantasy biography of his snowbound, sleepwalking hometown, where in 1942, fake German soldiers invaded the town to promote the sale of (Allied) war bonds – true – and racehorses escaped from a stable fire to plunge into a local river and be instantly frozen, with their heads and necks poking up through the ice – legend.

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Sightseers

On TV over Christmas, Ben Wheatley’s uncomfortable comedy murder spree around the blue john mines and the pencil museum.  A while through it, I realised it was a sort of twisted (per)version of Mike Leigh’s “Nuts in May” – in this version however, the self-righteous countryside guardians are brained or run over by Wheatley’s even more self-righteous anti-hero.  He also kills litter louts, though.  Seen three of his now; A Field in England, Sightseers and Kill List – all worth watching, if you like the English countryside as a backdrop to quite serious, nasty violence with a touch of paganism.

One more film – an old one, Chabrol’s Les Noces Rouges (1973)

Michel Piccoli and Stephane Audran as the lovers who murder her husband in a Postman Always Rings Twice burning car set-up.  As soon as these two come on screen, it conjures Bunuel, of course; Discreet Charm and Belle de Jour, and is the better for it.  Not really obvious why they murder the husband, since he is willing to ignore their affair in exchange for Piccoli’s collusion in some mildly dodgy land deal; maybe Audran couldn’t accept her husband’s acquiescence.  seems psychologically plausible, anyway.

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In The Studio

Cap Frehel

Cap Frehel – an old one, but no new ones painted yet

Blackpaint

2.01.13

Blackpaint 383 – Eva Hesse, Cork Street, Lichtenstein

February 28, 2013

Philippe Vandenberg at Hauser and Wirth, Piccadilly

Belgian painter, roughly painted scenes of flagellation, animal mutilation and anal intercourse in a pastoral setting.  Hints of Breugel in the settings and busyness, Raqib Shaw in the shock content, plain to see but small enough to miss unless you look properly and early Per Kirkeby a little, in the general look of the paintings.  These comparisons make the work sound much better than it is, I have to say.

Cork Street

Some great painting to be seen at the moment; I don’t bother with the names of the galleries – just drop in to all of them.

Anthony Frost

Arresting pictures in his characteristic blazing colours, like landscapes painted on rough, irregular “beds” of cord netting, board and canvas – maybe 50’s Sandra Blow with bright colours, even Diebenkorn, ditto.

Alf Lohr

At the Adam Gallery – big semi-abstract canvases using staining, runs down, “spattering” (looks like, but apparently he does it with masking fluid) and a variety of other techniques that produce busy canvases reminiscent of Albert Oehlen or even Ofili, as regards shapes and colours.

Kurt Schwitters

A number of beautiful small collages that match some of the best ones at the current Tate Britain show.

Eva Hesse at Hauser and Wirth, Savile Row

This is a great free show, not to be missed.  Drawings of Heath Robinson-type stuff – but not quite.  They remind you of domestic appliances: bedside lights, food mixers, cables, plugs, but they’re not.  Smaller ones are vividly coloured, blues, reds…  larger ones contain some blatant phallic tubing, and several look like dressmaking patterns – but not quite!  The one I want is in the corner – a white horn shape contained within a looping drawing on parchment.  There are also some hybrids – vividly coloured plaques with sculpted centres and “protuberances” poking or dangling, or just clinging to them.  Great drawings, beautifully executed and witty.  Sort of anti-Vandenberg.

eva hesse1

Photographers Gallery 

Went again to see the Letinsky.  Two of those food and paper collages are quite powerful – they are the darker ones and dominate all the other pictures.  One looks, from a distance, like mist boiling up a cliff side, the fruit dropping over the edge into the void.  Or not – it’s only fruit on a tablecloth…

Upstairs, on the fifth floor, the collages of Jan Svoboda; textured wall surfaces, framed to make lovely abstracts.

Roy Lichtenstein at Tate Modern

Student bedroom poster stuff; it’s so well known, needs no description from me.  His stuff leaves me cold, although I admit it has an immediate impact and is historically vital, original, vibrant and so on.  I don’t get much out of it because there’s no texture.  The only ones I liked were the small ones where he’d done gestural strokes across the flat surfaces, giving it a bit of roughness.  A.ll the critics I’ve read ignored or dismissed those ones.

de Kooning

His painting “Whose Name was Writ on Water”, completed in 1975, apparently had areas of soft paint that started to “bleed” down the canvas – only an inch or so, but movement all the same – in 1997!  Perhaps those stories about Auerbach’s surfaces slipping glacially weren’t myths after all…

Le Serpent

Another of those French thrillers in which a wealthy media/arts/TV bourgeois is targeted by someone he victimised in childhood (Hidden).  The French seem to love to torture the self-satisfied, leftie, softy middle classes – “Lemmings”, maybe, fits in here too.  OK, “Hidden” is Michael Haneke, so it’s director is not French – but it feels like a real French film.  Great villain in Serpent, though.

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Pink Dockyards

Blackpaint

28.02.13

Blackpaint 361 – Bronze, Snow and Fire

October 4, 2012

Bronze, Royal Academy

This exhibition fulfils one of the most important criteria for me – there’s not too much to read.  In the half-light of the RA, this is quite a relief.  if you want to learn about the processes, you can; but the technical stuff is in a section of its own that you can pass by, without feeling that you’ve missed out.

The most impressive exhibit confronts you as you enter.  It’s a statue of a dancer (one leg missing) that was dredged up from the sea bed off Sicily, I think.  There is speculation that it is the work of Praxiteles, but this is probably hype, I would guess.  The motion frozen, the roughnesses of the surface, and the unfussy perfection of the modelling are something to see.

Then there is the long Etruscan Shadow Spirit, smiling to itself, the image of a Giacommetti figure – except smoother.  Then there is the Greek horse’s head, very like the Elgin one in the British Museum, the Etruscan Chimaera, the Scandinavian chariot of the sun and the Austrian carriage nearby – and the beautiful Benin and Ife heads…  I’ll stop now, before I list the lot.

The main impression it left me was the contrast between the beauty of the rough, or unpolished, or sparely decorated surfaces of artefacts of ancient civilisations (apart from those of India, Burma and China – no-one could call them unadorned): and the hideous, often huge, dark brown, highly polished contortions of the Renaissance : there is, for example, a huge wild boar that I think is the ugliest sculpture I’ve ever seen, although made with consummate skill and no doubt perfectly accurate in every detail.

There are exceptions, of course:  Cellini (well, of course) for one.  Interesting to see one of de Kooning’s Clamdiggers, like something risen from a bog clothed in clods of mud in a Harryhausen film, and the Jasper Johns beer cans, another dK connection (he gave Johns the idea).

Anna Karenina

This film, starring Keira Knightley in the title role, came as a surprise in that it moves back and forth between the stage, the theatre and naturalism.  In this respect, it is the descendent of Olivier’s “Henry V”, made during WW2, which starts and ends on the stage, but changes with great subtlety throughout.  The other work it recalls is “Oh What a Lovely War!”, which moves back and forth between the battlefields and Brighton Pier.  As reviewers have remarked, the choreographing of movements and the stage settings in Karenina lead you to expect the actors to do a song at any moment.

There are a few other film and art references:  the ball scene has a bit where the minor characters disappear and Anna and Vronsky are dancing alone (cf. West Side Story);  the beginning of the horse race sequence has echoes of My Fair Lady Ascot scenes; Anna and Vronsky wound together in white bedsheets reminds one of a Lucian Freud painting and there are touches of Renoir and Manet too.  Keira Knightley, certainly beautiful, and outstanding in this role, has a way of stretching her long throat forwards and thrusting her chin that gives her an almost insect-like appearance at times – like a praying mantis.  I thought she was too vivid for Vronsky at first, but Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s weakness, in his toy soldier white uniform, proved actually just right for the character.  The horse race scene is the outstanding moment.

Although reviewers have praised the cinematography, and the film is flushed with luscious reds and crisp snow whites, I missed a certain sharpness in the detail.  At the end, raindrops fall on oak leaves in extreme close up – they haven’t got that crystalline Bela Tarr look.  Maybe it’s easier to do in black and white.

Rita Ackermann

At Hauser and Wirth in Piccadilly.  Eight huge blood-red and blue abstracts under the title “Fire by Days”.  Actually, they look as if they might be human figures going up in flames.  Very impressive, and intriguing, in that it looks as if she has used sand to texture them here and there, although the leaflet only says oil, spray paint and acrylic.  She seems to have painted creases in the canvas on one at least (first on left, top left of canvas) whilst another has a thick seam running down the left side, as if two canvases joined.  Apparently, she worked out from a paint spill in her studio.  In the basement are blue skeins of oil on paper titled “Fire by Day Blues” and in the upstairs gallery, a series of distorted portraits of the same face – Fire by Days The Fool.  I think the red ones are great.  I looked through her book (£40.00) and found resemblances to Albert Oehlen and other German Expressionists of the 80s.

Blackpaint

4.10.12

Blackpaint 324 – Willem Working for the WPA; a New Deal for Bankers

February 11, 2012

De Kooning again

In the DK retrospective (Thames and Hudson 2011), that obsession with flat surface comes up again inevitably in the first essay, an overview of DK’s career by John Elderfield.  He points out that DK boasted of painting “on top” of the surface, going one better than the other AbExes to create a sort of 3D effect, I suppose.  You can see this quite clearly in the photo of Willem and Elaine standing in front of one of the “Woman” series; the painting looks like a sort of meringue, spilling out and over the edges of the painting.

Also fascinating to learn (for me, anyway) is that his late, post 1983 paintings, the ones that look like toy snakes writhing about on a clean white background, were not painted like that; when x-rayed, they show his usual tangled and overdrawn charcoal and paint strokes.  The difference is that he has painted over them in thick white, hiding the pentimenti, as I am told they are called, and giving that empty effect.  However they were produced, I still find them deeply depressing to look at, after the richness of the earlier work.

Richter and Oehlen

Similarities between these two painters, presumably the result of coincidence or the influence of the former over the latter:  the depth and layering effect of their abstracts, as if they were made of layers of glass with different marks, and space between each layer.  As Camille Morineau explains in the “Panorama” book on Richter, R often has cylindrical columns, originally from his “Candles” drawings; flat, geometric shapes of colour, green triangles for example; and the famous squeegee sweeps, which she describes as producing the effect of a brush sweep, blown up to big proportions.

Oehlen does his layers too – typically, computer generated images blown up, controlled paint “explosions” and often, a collaged element, the whole giving a hybrid effect of airbrush, painterly and collaged layers.

WPA

Returning to de Kooning for a moment, I was surprised to read that WPA artists had to produce a painting every six weeks and were paid the same as a construction worker on the East River Drive project – $23.86 a week!

Sounds good to me – pity there’s no enthusiasm for New Deal policies now.  What about training up a cohort of idealistic students and activists to run Lloyds and RBS for the taxpayer, for a good salary with no or minimal bonuses?  They could be like the FBI or the Untouchables. only trained in “ethical” banking practices (or at least, not screwing the customer) so that the shower we have now can take their expertise to Hong Kong or wherever, like they’re always promising to.

Martin Rowson

Best Rowson cartoon for a long while in the Guardian, Friday – caption “Eeeeeeeesing!”, Mervyn King pissing against a wall in Threadneedle Street, while a Fat Cat laps it up from the gutter, Osborne leaning against his fat flank.  But with Rowson, you have to be really well informed to get it all – what’s the tumbleweed, Martin?

I see that today’s compulsive grammatical tic is the use of inverted commas – will try to avoid in future.

Tarkovsky

Geoff Dyer has a new book, “Zona”, about the above’s film, “Stalker”; it was reviewed in Sunday’s Observer and I was pleased that the reviewer coupled Tarkovsky and my other favourite Bela Tarr, as the two most difficult and patience-trying directors.  I have to agree, I suppose; couldn’t really get through most of their films more than once in the cinema – but on DVD, no problem.  Tarkovsky or Bela for half an hour, stop DVD to watch Neighbours or Holby, back to Stalker or Satantango.

Life Drawing

I was told the shoulders were good in this one, but the body was “crap”  (not doing well with the inverted commas).

And here’s the proper painting – still in progress, it’s a big canvas for me, 60*40″.

Blackpaint

11.02.12

Blackpaint 315 – Splat!! on the Windscreen

December 27, 2011

Holmes; a Game of Shadows

With Robert Downey Jr as Holmes and Jude Law as Watson, the latest Guy Ritchie film was almost fast-moving enough to counter the graveyard cold of the Streatham cinema in which I saw it on Christmas Eve.  As there were only eight customers, including myself, I assume that the only way the cinema could operate was by eliminating overheads – such as heating. 

anyway, the film has the predictable joke Germans and Frenchmen, a French gypsy camp at which Irish fiddle music is played, and a My Fair Lady version of London.  The fight scenes are those loud ones which are too fast to see what’s going on, but in Martial arts tradition, blows are occasionally slowed to stop time and then concluded in a sort of sucking rush.  The same happens with bullets passing through sleeves or the bark of trees.  there is a wonderful set piece in the Paris Opera – Don Giovanni – and another in a snow-bound forest, involving artillery and mortar fire.  There are shades of the Saragossa Manuscript trick that he used in “Snatch”, with the milk carton splattering the car windscreen, at least once.  Basically, an unexplained event happens and is explained later.  In the Saragossa Manuscript, it is a man falling through a ceiling into a trunk; in Ritchie’s film, it is Holmes flinging Watson’s new wife from a train into the waters of a lake far below.

There is a hint of Chronos in the clinking and closing of metal breeches and hinges, and the disguises Downey uses are presumably taken from theart of Liu Bolin, the camouflage artist – by the time the credits came up, I was too chilled to notice whether he got a credit.  Great film, anyway (not Bela Tarr, though).

Liu Bolin

Albert Oelhen

Got a really expensive book on Oelhen from the Whitechapel Gallery, and was surprised to read that he used a computer to generate basic images in some pictures and then painted on top of them.  He calls the process “educating” the pictures.  An Oelhen painting may include collage, computer generation, Ab-Ex style gestural painting, airbrushing and elements of surrealism.

Oelhen

Best Picture

Best picture I have seen in the flesh this year was Asger Jorn’s “Green Ballet” at the Guggenheim Bilbao.  Best pictures in books recently were in the Vitamin B2 collection, by Vaida Caivanho and Amy Sillman. 

Here is my last picture this year:  Figures in a Landscape 2.

Blackpaint, 27.12.11

 

Blackpaint 142

May 27, 2010

WordPress advises bloggers to start with an eyecatching headline, so here goes:

Artists and cannibalism

Diego Rivera claims in his autobiography that in 1904, he and companions lived off corpses that they bought from a local mortuary and ate.  This claim is uncorroborated; I got it from Mary Roach’s’s book “Stiff” (Penguin 2004).  More gratuitous sensationalism as soon as I come across it.

Some more abstract (or near abstract – or just a bit abstract, but good) art to look at

These are all to be seen in the Taschen “Art of the 20th Century”, I recommend you buy it and no, I don’t have shares in Taschen.

  • Nicolas de Stael, Portrait of Anne, 1953
  • Jonathan Borofsky, Canoe Painting, 1978
  • Jules Olitsky, Strip Heresy, 1964
  • Larry Rivers, Africa 1, 1962/3
  • Hans Hoffmann, the Ocean, 1957

In addition, there are “Untitled”s by Walter Stohrer, Albert Oehlen and Per Kirkeby that are all excellent, the last resembling a flame bursting in midnight blue.  There is easily enough in this book to send you straight to the canvas ready to chuck the pigment on – and then to give up in despair, several hours later, wondering how they make such beautiful pictures.

Now I’m thoroughly depressed, so signing off for the night, and resorting to the bottle.

Blackpaint

26.05.10