Posts Tagged ‘Amy Sillman’

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)

 

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Blackpaint 628 – Skinned Alive in Dulwich and Striped in Hanover Square

October 21, 2018

Jusepe de Ribera, Dulwich Picture Gallery

The most effective heir to Caravaggio, Spanish painter who worked in Naples (1591 – 1652)

I’ve been looking forward to this exhibition for months, having seen fantastic de Riberas in the Prado last year; vast canvases of stretched, prostrated male bodies undergoing torture… hang on, this is becoming rather weird.  They are not actually all that gruesome and it’s the brilliant rendition (unfortunate term, but the correct one) of the human body that’s fantastic, not the torture or bloodshed.

There are only four or five large canvases in Dulwich – St.Bartholomew, about to be skinned alive (two of those, I think); Marsyas, being flayed by Apollo; St Sebastian, having his arrows pulled out by a couple of women (the women rather perfunctory – de Ribera seems more interested in men).  There is a portrait of a man holding a knife and a flayed human skin, obviously inspired by the Michelangelo self portrait on the Sistine wall.

Additionally, there are a number of beautiful little drawings, some in red chalk, that are reminiscent in style of Leonardo, but Goya immediately comes to mind; the subject matter?  Executions, tortures such as the strappado, hangings, crucifixions, facial deformations…  You can imagine the visitor to Ribera’s studio, after seeing these: “And the one you’re working on at the moment, upstairs – would that be a harbour scene or some nice flowers in a jug, with butterflies?  Oh, a flaying…”.

 

St Sebastian

The sprawling male bodies are the obvious focal point – the skin often white or greyish, grainy, rippled over the belly, livid white and scooped out by shadow in turn.  Wher the flaying is actually in progress, it is the foot or arm that is being “done” and is easy to miss.  De Ribera is also pretty hot on fabric; see the example below.

 

By coincidence, the night before going to this, I watched the film “Bone Tomahawk” (dir. S.Craig Zahler, 2015) on TV, in which cave-dwelling cannibal throwbacks scalp a living man, then upend him and chop him in two from the crutch; it seemed to make an appropriate double with Ribera.

Amy Sillman, Camden Arts Centre, Finchley Road tube

By way of slight contrast, this beautiful set of paintings and drawings, and a cartoon film in the overheated Camden Arts Centre.  Lovely big, green, pink, blue abstract canvases (see below) and cartoony characters, like the crawling, vomiting (?) creature that make their way, like Kentridge’s people and coffee pots, into the film.  The pictures have surface; sometimes hard, smooth and glazed, sometimes rough, scraped, paint in bobbles and rills.  She seems, again like Kentridge and many other artists, to have recurring images; the thing that looks like an old vinyl record pickup in “TV in Bed” below; or is it an unconscious deep sea diver, lying on his back on the sea bed and wearing flippers…

Apart from Kentridge, Guston (the pinks), Oehlen and for some reason, Marlene Dumas came to mind.

 

What the Axe Knows

 

TV in Bed

 

Slant

 

 

 

Sean Scully, “Uninsideout”, Blain/Southern, Hanover Square

For some reason, someone tweeted that Scully “should be ashamed of himself” for this exhibition…  Why?  He did stripes before and he’s doing stripes now – what’s wrong with these stripes?  Too colourful, maybe…

Anyway, they are huge; lush, syrupy sweeps of paint on aluminium supports, very painterly, with a depth of colour like those he showed in that fabulous palace in Venice, at last year’s Biennale.  Additionally, there are a couple of enormous, quilt-like assemblages with inset panels (three pictures down, below).  Downstairs, smaller works on paper in pastel.  In Scully’s handwriting, some guff about clashing colours suggesting The Clash rock band – great art doesn’t, or shouldn’t need explanation or justification.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two of mine to finish with, somewhat smaller than Scully’s:

Ice Candle

Blackpaint

 

Little Crashing Out

Blackpaint

21.10.48

 

 

 

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

 

yuxin su 2

Luxin Su

 

tae yeon kim 1

Tae Yeon Kim

 

olivia bax

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.

red and blue on ochre 1

Red and Blue Lines on Ochre

red and blue canals1

Seagulls over Sorrento

geometry1

Geometry 1

asger's revenge

Asger’s Revenge

port jackson

Woodpecker

work in prog 1

Blue Crouch

Blue Crouch

water engine 2a

Water Engine 2

watercolour6

Standing Nude

photo

Islares

001

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.

reflections 2

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

club foot

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:

caravaggio st paul

Caravaggio, St.Paul

Light from above and front right?

night watch

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.

winnipeg

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.

??????????

In The Studio

Cap Frehel

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

Blackpaint

2.01.13

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

 

Blackpoint 32

January 8, 2010

Painting Abstraction – New Elements in Abstract Painting by  Bob Nickas

Very short one today.  Did Conceptual art yesterday, so I’ve been looking at  the above book which is exclusively about painting.  I realise that what I really like in painting is texture – a whole lot of the paintings in this book, although striking in many ways, colour, design, pattern, lack texture; that is to say, they are too smooth.  For me, a surface must be bumpy, clotted, smeared, grooved, gravelled, charcoaled, sanded, glassed, ragged or even fag-butted – or at least, it ought to look like it a bit.

Likewise the paint – it should be smeared, spattered maybe, thick here, thin and dry-brushed there.  Airbrush is OK, if, like Oehlen, it is sploshed and dragged over with a hand brush. 

So that’s why, in the above book, I look at Elizabeth Neel and Allison Miller and Amy Sillman and Katy Moran, before, say, Tomma Abts.

Listened to Schoenberg’s 2nd Chamber Symphony and realised that the first part is based around a figure that is note for note (it sounds to me) the same as one in Elgar’s “Falstaff”.  Coincidence, for sure.

Also “May you never” by John Martyn.

“And you never talk dirty behind my back,

And I know that there’s those who do…” 

Blackpaint

07.01.10