Posts Tagged ‘Anish Kapoor’

Blackpaint 296

September 28, 2011

Gerhard Richter

Tate Modern exhibition of above starting in October and an article by Tony McCarthy in Guardian Review on Saturday.  He identifies the “blur”in his pictures as a characteristic – but of course, Richter’s work is so diverse – some figurative, some abstract – that it’s impossible to say he just does this or does that; he does nearly all of it!

One thing that is annoying in the article – McCarthy suggests that “September”, series no.911 was regarded by Richter as an abstract image, until a friend pointed out that it was the planes hitting the World Trade Center.  Once it is said, the towers and the planes are apparent (the image is included in the article) – but it’s a stretch to believe that the artist could have done it unconsciously and just not noticed.  It suggests that abstract works – or Richter’s abstracts, anyway –  should be treated as “Where’s Wally” exercises; look for the hidden picture.

The huge Richters in the Tate Modern, for example; light filtered through the foliage onto the surface of water, down in the bayou, maybe?  Or the one called “791-4 Abstract Painting” in the Phaidon 20th Century Art Book (actually, that one looks pretty much like the Tate ones, acid colours and scrapes).

John Martin

The other Tate has the Martin exhiition on now – I intend to go tomorrow.  His huge Apocalyptic canvases were displayed as events, people paying an entrance fee and then filing past in awe – which of course, describes a modern exhibition; well, maybe not the awe..  But there was something different about these Victorian shows, in that people paid to see a phenomenon, a spectacle, rather than a work of art.  Parallels were perhaps the paintings of Frederic Church, the American landscape artist, whose blinding sunsets were in the American Sublime exhibition a few years ago – or Cruickshank’s Temperance work, which he toured in a crusade against the demon drink.

Modern parallels?  I was thinking maybe Hockney’s recent giant treescapes, Anish Kapoor’s wax cannon and Marsyas, and the Eliasson Weather installation in the Tate Turbine Hall.

Women in Love

Re-acquainted myself with Ken Russell’s version the other day and I was amazed at the restraint of the film, compared to “The Devils” or the Tchaikovsky one.  I’d forgotten how powerful Glenda Jackson and Oliver Reed were together, and the brilliant set pieces – the Eleanor Bron dance, Alan Bates running down to the river bleeding, Glenda Jackson frightening the Scottish Longhorns, and of course, Bates and Reed wrestling starkers in front of the blazing hearth; watch out for sparks, you two.

Gerald Crich freezing to death in the snow was echoed in “The Shining” by Jack Nicholson (or rather, King and Kubrick).  Watched this again on TV a week ago and really noticed how outlandish Nicholson’s changes of expression are in the scene where Delbert Grady (Philip Stone) cleans his jacket and gives him – advice – in the toilet.  I think it is the intensity of Grady’s manner contrastng with Torrance’s naughty boy demeanour…



Blackpaint 173

August 12, 2010

Guggenheim Bilbao (cont.)

Anish Kapoor

This is the exhibition that was on at the Royal Academy earlier this year.  Luckily, I missed it then; in the past, I’ve arrived at the Gug to find the main show is one I saw in London a few months earlier (for example Juan Munoz, a year or two ago).

In the first room, moulded piles/shapes of red and yellow pigments, like novelty blancmanges; a spiky one, one like a cartoon hero cape with an invisible Manga figure inside.  Must be sprayed with some sort of fixative.

Room Two has, set in the walls, giant pads like Ipod earphones, deep blue and concave.

In Room Three, mounds, columns, stacks, piles of cement turds, worms, sausages, mince, snake-like plaits; one like little figures boiling over in a sort of Apocalypse, vaguely like something done by the Chapman brothers.

Room Four: Huge distorting mirrors in various shapes, previously sited on the Sussex Downs.  Here, they were rather disappointing, in that you had to stand very close to them to see your distorted image, which tended to dismemberment, rather than the comic distortion of a fairground show.  Again, novelty.

Room Five: a whole room, empty, with one wall containing a recess painted yellow, giving a trompe-l’oeil effect of a mesh over a huge loudspeaker.

The next room contained the first of the red wax items, an enormous mechanical scraper rather like a stylus arm on an old record player, creating a flat, red wax disc by revolving and carving very s-l-o-w-l-y, like the Millennium Eye.  A rampart of red wax built up around the edge.

Finally, the famous gun.  Aimed at a high, white wall, firing red wax in cylindrical drums, presumably by compressed air.  Wall already covered with dried blood-red splotches, resembling magnified Twombly marks.  Gun is fired every 20 mins or so by a tall, overalled, po-faced operative, who loads the piece in a series of separate actions (fetching the drum from the stack, inserting wax plug in breech, winding barrel up, etc.), as if following orders inaudible to the rest of us.  There is then a wait of a few minutes for what? the compression to build, or the tension?  I suspect the latter.  Suddenly, as if on a signal, he fires, the wax splats against the wall, chunks drop or slide down.  Applause from the audience, which is ignored by the gunman, who marches off.  It’s a circus act – novelty and scale again, two main ingredients of Kapoor’s art.

I needed to find the toilets straight after, and I attribute this at least partly to Kapoor’s work – the cement turds, the big wax splotches, the build- up of compression and tension, cathartic release…  There were photographs, models and drawings of  other Kapoor  projects, not all realised, and more turd shapes, this time in chrome, were in evidence in these.   The most intriguing of these projects, I think called “Dante”, was a design for a sort of double belled trumpet-shaped tunnel, to have been excavated in the Downs, the bells forming entry and exit.

I realise now that the “train” was missing (in London, this passed through the gallery regularly, shaving the red wax blocks between which it passed); maybe the “record player” substituted for it.  All in all, I see Kapoor as a sort of assembler and ringmaster of novelties, a circus of giant amusements.  I think the stagey aspects of the whole  affair subvert the deeper significances some commentators seek to read into, for instance, the blood-red wax.

Another old one…

Red Desert by Blackpaint