Posts Tagged ‘Asger Jorn’

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

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Blackpaint 542 – The Milk Jug, the Swan and the Devil’s Arse

April 23, 2016

Rijksmuseum

vermeer milkjug

Distant view over the heads of dozens of Dutch school students of the fabulous milk jug Vermeer and a number of Rembrandts, notably the turbaned self portrait and the young self portrait with the wiry hair and round eyes – and of course, the Night Watch, guns at the ready, about to accidentally shoot each other if not careful.  Also the Jewish Wedding and several others – fabulous, if you can get near them.

 

Rembrandt turban

From these galleries, only the huge swan taking off straight at you grabbed my attention.

swan

Jan Asselijn

There was a great exhibition of Breitners, however (see Blackpaint 341), picture after picture of Geesje Kwak, androgynous figure in a series of lush kimonos and in the nude.  He was clearly seriously obsessed.

breitner kimono

breitner nude

Little like Uglow, this one, I think.

In the 1100 – 1600 bit, there were these two highlights:

gerini

Altarpiece by Gerini – the reds and orange with that gold.

terracotta girl

Terracotta Girl – could be the BVM but no halo – maybe a saint,  couldn’t find a label so I don’t know.

And, tucked away upstairs, some lovely Appels, this one in particular:

Appel rijks

Stadelijk Museum

Stunning discovery for me – two favourite de Koonings and a huge, trickled – down Asger Jorn all in the same room:

asger jorn

Asger Jorn – didn’t get the title; something about swan’s wings beating, I think (that swan again…)

 

dk rosy

Rosy Fingered Dawn at Louse Point, de Kooning

dk north

North Atlantic Light, de Kooning

 

 

beanery

The Beanery, Ed Keinholz

The notice over the bar warns “Fagots” to keep out; all the customers (slumped over tables, propped up at the bar) have clock heads; a soundtrack of “Macnamara’s Band” with a hubbub of voices plays on a loop (Keinholz recorded it at the bar).  It’s funny, grubby and creepy and you queue to go in one at a time, admitted by a solemn museum guard.

The Canterbury Tales, dir. Pasolini (1972)

Cruder, but to my mind, every bit as good as Pasolini’s “Decameron”.  Several well-known British character actors in there – Hugh Griffiths as a lecherous old Sir January to Josephine Chaplin’s beautiful and – to put it mildly – disengaged May; Robin Askwith, in a break from the “Confessions” series, screwing away upstairs in a brothel and emerging to piss liberally over the amused clientele below.  In one scene, there as many naked women as there are on the cover of the celebrated Jimi Hendrix LP.  Pasolini smiling thinly to himself as Chaucer, recording the stories ( the one where the friars emerge from the Devil’s arse in Hell is perhaps the best).  And a great soundtrack mainly from Topic Records, especially Frank McPeak’s “The Auld Piper” from the “Jack of All Trades ” LP.

devils arse

Devil’s Arse with emerging friar – actually, maybe it’s a demon’s arse , because the Devil is played by the great, menacing Pasolini actor Franco Citti and he is showing the new arrival around Hell.

Also making a brief appearance at the start of the film is the wrestler Adrian Street, familiar from Jeremy Deller’s work.

Next time, CoBrA in Amstelveen and Delacroix at the National Gallery.

wip1

Work in Progress – St. George, of course (who else could it be, today?  Shakespeare, I suppose…)

Blackpaint

23.04.16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 539 – the Firm of Repin, Serov, Vrubel, Astrup, and Vinyl

April 2, 2016

Russia and the Arts: the age of Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky ( National Portrait Gallery)

Lovely show.  I’ve started with Repin, who is the most famous, but I think Serov and Vrubel run him pretty close.

russia turgenev

Repin, Turgenev – great hands, aren’t they?

 

russia repin stasov

Repin, Stasov – surely Michael Gambon in a Russian shirt..

russia countess.

Repin, Baroness Hildebrandt – love the red star hat; probably not a revolutionary though…

Serov, Madame Ermolova – Really impressive full-length painting of this theatrical woman in a jet-black dress; I thought Singer Sargent at first, but now I think maybe more like Toulouse-Lautrec in execution.  However, can’t find a picture, so you will have to go see.

Russia Vrubel

Vrubel, Mamontov – Jonathan Jones reckons it’s sort of pre-Cubist, the angles and especially the shirtfront.  I think it looks like a Sickert, or maybe even Ruskin Spear.

 

Russia Morozov

Serov again, Morozov – reminds me of a Scottish Colourist, Fergusson or Cadell, with those flowers behind.

Nightcrawler (2013), Dan Gilroy

Gyllenhaal’s eyes must surely have been “enhanced”; They looked too big to be real to me.  He reminded me of a meerkat.  Obvious comparisons: Jim Carrey in “Cable Guy” and maybe Robin Williams in “One Hour Photo”.  I’d be interested to know just how far they were pushing it; are there really TV stations in LA that would show footage of murder victims in a private house, filmed before the arrival of the police (even with faces and wounds pixillated)?

Vinyl

I liked the comment about Elvis, singing Polk Salad Annie in Vegas: “He’s singing about lettuce…”.  It’s way by far the best thing on TV at the moment.  The man who played Elvis in the white- suited Vegas era was brilliant.

Art of Scandinavia, BBC4

What happened to the 20th century?  The Denmark episode dealt with LEGO and furniture and the Danes’ supposed love for cosy miniaturism in architecture – no mention of Asger Jorn, Per Kirkeby, CoBrA…

Swedish episode was better;  Zorn, Gan(?) – but then, more furniture and design, model housing for 30’s factory workers…  The only 21st century art mentioned was the graffiti artist who covers everything in black swirls.  More painting in future, please (and sculpture, I suppose).

Nikolai Astrup (Dulwich Picture Gallery

Norwegian painter, died 1928.

astrup woodcut

My first impression on entering the gallery was green – and brown and blue, but mostly green.  The canvases are nearly all landscapes, or lakescapes, with trees and they are  crowded.  There are blossoms that recall Hockney’s “maggot” hawthorns from his huge show a few years ago; there is a breast-shaped dark mountain that pops up in several pictures.  Where there are people, they are mostly women or girls in long peasant dresses that remind me of Munch’s figures.  In the last room, the green is relieved a little by yellow, in a series of pictures depicting enormous bonfires in the dusk.  His brushwork is somewhat rough and blurry – one of the most effective pictures was of Monet-like blurred trees in twilight with a couple of lanterns glowing in the background.

He also did woodcuts, which show a distinct Japanese influence (and a much lighter green), like the one above.

 

St. Anthony 1

St. Anthony and his Pig

Blackpaint

02.04.16

 

 

Blackpaint 511 – Pollock, Fury and One-Note Plinky

September 14, 2015

Jackson Pollock, Blind Spots (Tate Liverpool)

This is a great little exhibition – about fifty pictures? – mostly from 1951 – 55, when his best stuff was supposed to have been done and decline set in.  There are a few drip paintings from 1947-9, by way of context; staggering delicacy and intricacy in the twining of the coloured skeins, rendering laughable the comment in the Telegraph Review section that there is “more to Pollock than flinging paint violently onto canvas”, as if that is what he had ever done.

The large drip painting, although beautiful, does remind you (or me, anyway)of a Formica table top from the fifties.  It’s the size, shape and the continuation of the pattern on the edges (because he did them on unprimed canvas on the floor and stretched them on supports afterwards).

Some favourites below:

pollock no 8 1952  

No.8, 1952

This one strongly reminiscent of Asger Jorn – I’m thinking “Letter to my Son” (Tate Modern).  It’s the little heads swimming about.

pollock no14 1951

No.14, 1951

Is that a chameleon, stepping through the undergrowth? Probably not…

 

Pollock no 12 1952

No.12, 1952

The big colourful one that Frank O’ Hara called a great “gigolo of a picture”.

As well as Jorn, you can see Picasso here and there.  There are a couple of sets of prints, which I think  conflict a little with Pollock’s spontaneous ethic; not just a driven genius then, a bit of business acumen there.  A bit like De Kooning, deciding to “harvest” the newspaper sheets he placed on his paintings in the 60s, to keep the paint from drying too quickly; shift them a little to smear the image and you have a “Monoprint” that can be signed and sold, instead of chucked away.

Constellations, Tate Liverpool

The paintings in this collection are arranged in “constellations”, which ignore chronology and geography and bounce off each other in some not always apparent fashion.  Fine, if you know plenty already but not helpful if you want a more art-historical approach.  I realise this sounds like the eternally carping Jonathan Jones, but in this respect, he has a point.  Some highlights below:

gaudier brjeska

Henri Gaudier Brjeska

 

dieter roth

Dieter Roth – I think it goes this way round.

 

bonnard window

Pierre Bonnard

pistoletto

Michelangelo Pistoletto

What’s she feeling for there?  Rather like my partner’s side of the bed.

Billy Fury

billy fury

Superb statue, by Tom Murphy,  of the great singer on the Albert Dock; the stance and the profile are perfect – I missed that lop-sided sneer/smile he used to do, though.  “So near, yet so far away”..

Carver and Kidman 

A very tenuous connection – rather like Constellations – here: I’d just been reading the Raymond Carver story about the boy who is run over on his birthday and slips into a coma, when Nicole appeared on TV in a film called “Rabbit Hole” – in which her son has been run over, chasing his dog across a road.  The film is actually about his parents “coming to terms” and it employs that awful, universal, plink-plunk sequence of slow, single piano notes to signify melancholy – I think I’ve actually heard it in news bulletins, behind “special reports” by journalists “on the spot”.  Thank goodness for the likes of Carver and Cheever and Wolff ; you couldn’t do one-note plinky behind films of their stories (I can think of three, “the Swimmer”, “Short Cuts” and “Jindabyne”).

Jodorowsky, Santa Sangre

Mexico, circus, clowns, knife-throwers, women wrestlers, ecstatic religion… arms chopped off, throats cut, murder by throwing knife and samurai sword, acid flung on genitals…the funeral of an elephant, the resurrection of a host of murdered “brides”…and it manages to be sentimental too, with an accompaniment of emotive Mexican song.  Possibly some one-note plinky, even.

sidelined WIP

Work in “Progress”

Blackpaint

14.12.15

 

 

 

Blackpaint 506 – Light through the Thorns, Parrots in Boxes, Budgies in Trunks

August 8, 2015

William Gear – A Centenary Exhibition, Redfern Gallery, Cork Street W1

gear redfern 1

A couple of blogs ago (Blackpaint 502), I wrote about the Neil Stokoe exhibition at the Redfern, to which I’d gone. expecting William Gear.  Now the Gear is on, until September 5th and it’s well worth the trip to Green Park tube and the heat of Piccadilly to see it.

Gear exhibited with CoBra in 1949 – he and Stephen Gilbert were the only British artists – but I have to say, I don’t think he has a lot in common with painters like Appel; his work strikes me as much more like Adrian Heath, Bryan Wynter and even sometimes Patrick Heron, than the wilder, thicker, more gestural products of Appel and Jorn.  There is one painting, however, “Le Marche aux Fleurs” (1947), which could easily have been an early Jorn.

There are several recurring features of Gear’s work, the most prominent, perhaps, being the tangled bundle of jagged, hooked, thorn-like shapes he seemed to fling across his canvases, so that the patches of bright colour seem to peep out through a thicket of scrub.  The shapes are often, but not always, black.  Gear isn’t afraid of yellow; he uses a full spectrum, but it’s the yellow and black that stay with you after the Redfern.

Triangular grids are another feature, and there are a number of works like “Black Form on Red”(1957), that comprise two or three colours used in large, simple shapes, looking rather like sheets of thin leather or felt, collaged onto the canvas – Poliakoff, maybe, or Burri.  An influence that is suggested in the catalogue is that of Nicolas de Stael – I couldn’t see that, I have to say.

gear redfern 3

Good exhibition, in association with the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne, where Gear was the curator in the 60s.  There was a great black, thorny self-portrait on show at the Pallant House in Chichester recently; maybe its still there.  made me think of Tony Bevan, a bit.

gear redfern 2

Joseph Cornell at the RA

cornell 1

This is an exhibition for those, and there are many of them apparently, who like quaint objects and photographs displayed in shallow boxes.  Inevitably, there is a large overlap with the likes of Max Ernst, Rene Magritte and other European surrealists; the difference being that, whereas Ernst, for example, also painted and sculpted, Cornell stuck to the box formula permanently.  Clearly, he had a thing for parrots and cockatoos; his work goes completely against the grain of North American art of the time (40s and 50s) in two ways – it’s small and it’s in boxes.  Although there were later, feminist, artists in the states who put things in drawers and boxes to display them – not parrots, though, as I recall….

cornell2

The Swimmer, Frank Perry (1968) DVD

I think John Cheever’s short story is a masterpiece of the form, one of the best of the 20th century; hard to think of others so perfect, maybe a couple of Joyce’s Dubliners or Margaret Atwood’s Serpent’s Egg.  The film is also a work of art, though very much of its era (Hamlisch’s lush theme music, coupled with jagged Johnny Staccato jazz riffs and some eye -watering psychedelic visuals).  Burt Lancaster is brilliant as the ageing playboy Ned Merrill, in his budgie smuggler trunks, swimming home across the county, by way of the “river” of swimming pools of his “friends”.  Lancaster is by turns genuinely creepy and strangely sympathetic, despite his insensitivity. The pools are not there for freeloading swimmers to propel their sweaty bodies through.

 

The Longest Journey, EM Forster

Even though I’m currently re-reading “Finnegans Wake”, Forster’s book is the strangest, most difficult novel I’ve struggled through for ages; I had to keep going back and reading bits over again to make sense of it.  the problem is twofold – the language: very arch, ironic, riddled with Edwardian Oxbridge phraseology and slang – and the concerns; “love children”, family disgrace, inheritance, the intellect v. the physical, the prosaic v.the poetic, genetic flaws, town and country, social class… Actually, that’s quite a lot and I’m sure I missed plenty.

I was interested to see that Forster kills his characters  in an even more offhand way than Virginia Woolf; a “hurt” at football, a drowning and a steam train across the knees- the last completely unsignalled (sorry) and dispassionate: “It is also a man’s duty to save his own life, and therefore he tried.  The train went over his knees.  He died up in Cadover, whispering “You have been right,” to Mrs Failing”.  That’s it.

 

finsbury mud 2

 

Finsbury Mud 2,

Blackpaint

08.08.15

 

Blackpaint 459 – Martial, Andre and Oscar at the Pompidou

August 22, 2014

Martial Raysse at the Pompidou Centre

I’d never heard of this artist until now; I suppose he’s a sort of Richard Hamilton – pop art, ideas man, always changing, cutting edge.  His early stuff is a combination of the matt face portraits along the lines of Warhol, often combined with neon bits (see below).  He also did a lot of neon sculptures;   A painting with the corner missing, replaced with a piece of neon that makes a corner frame.  the colours are vivid, the pictures striking and witty.

Then, paintings with additions, such as a set of antlers, becoming more extensive, until at least half sculpture – Stella, or maybe Bill Woodrow.

raysse2

raysse3

Later, he did massive canvases, peopled by partying mobs of strange, incongruous people in bright, almost painfully bright colours.  This phase reminds me of the sort of paintings that appeared in the recent Saatchi exhibition; strange groups doing strange, suggestive things (see previous Blackpaint).  A completely bonkers short film called “Jesus Cola”, in which a professor is a sort of quiz contestant, answering questions, usually with an emphatic “NON!”  Cut to youths playing at cowboys, one “shooting” all the others with a toy pistol, to what sounded like Dylan’s “Oxford Town” speeded up to the Nth degree.

raysse4

Some ceramics, mobiles made from clothes pegs etc., like sinister charms hung from trees in “Blair Witch” or “True Detective” and the odd painting of banal, everyday articles like the basket of fruit above.  And then the stranger and stranger ensemble paintings in vile colours.

He’s the most expensive French living artist, apparently; a real find for me.

Pompidou permanent collection

Some real beauties in the permanent collection –   my favourites are:

Andre Kertesz photos of New York

kertesz1

That’s a pigeon taking off.

kertesz2

Reminds me of Brueghel.

Marc Chagall’s bride and groom.

chagall pomp

Asger Jorn (of course)

jorn pomp

 

Karel Appel (of course)

appel pomp

 

And this fantastic portrait of Brancusi by Kokoschka.

kok pomp

 

OK, enough Pompidou for now; more next blog.

A Separation (cont.)

I was halfway through when I wrote about this film last week; it got even better in the second half, with a potential murder accusation (of an unborn child, under Iranian law).  Ended inconclusively, I think without a taking of sides; could be wrong though – I’d need a rigorous feminist analysis to be sure.

Like Someone in Love

Kiarostami film, set in Japan, concerning an odd triangle of young student/prostitute, elderly professor/client and boyfriend/mechanic/thug.  The last is unaware of his girlfriend’s job; the film concerns the attempts of the girl and the client to keep it that way.  Like “a Separation”, it ends inconclusively – but no other similarities, apart from the nationality of the directors.

The tone of the film is indeterminate; at times, I thought I was watching a gentle comedy – the elderly client is a benign grandfatherly type, who only wants company for dinner and someone to listen to Ella Fitzgerald with him.  He eschews the opportunity to sleep with the girl.   Then it gets darker as he loses control of the situation with the boyfriend.

The night scenes from a taxi in the Japanese city – Tokyo? – are beautifully photographed but it’s not breathtaking, like “The Wind Will Carry Us”, for example; the only other Kiarostami film I know.  Reminded me of “I’m in the Mood for Love”, maybe, but probably its just the use of a torch song title.

 

006

 

Theory Split 2

 

 

??????????

 

Theory Split 2 

Blackpaint, 22.08.14

 

 

 

Blackpaint 454 – South American Abstracts, Magic Realism and Dead Drunk Danes

July 11, 2014

Radical Geometry at the Royal Academy

South American geometric abstract art from Brazil (Sao Paolo, Rio), Uruguay and Argentina (Montevideo and Buenos Aires) and Venezuela (Caracas).  I’m always surprised to see this sort of art, geometric and minimalist, coming from SA – I suppose I expect it to be sort of wild and profuse, colourful like the Amazon jungle; Mireilles maybe.  This exhibition is nothing like that at all; collectively, it reminded me of modernist decor in a Corbusier mansion – some of the ceramic wall plaques have overtones of the Festival of Britain.  The highlights for me were:

Brazil

Oiticica’s wobbly squares – indeed, everything on Oiticica’s wall.

oiticica1

Lygia Pape’s lovely woodcuts – surfaces of wood and unique in this company.

lygia pape

Lygia Clark’s triangular works, in a variety of formats, opening out in surprising ways.

Willis de Castro’s minimalist, single colour plaques with tiny marginal “bits”.

de castro1

Looks much better than this in the gallery.

Uruguay

Torres-Garcia’s Klee – like tablets of images.

torres-garcia

 

Venezuela 

Carlos Cruz-Diez – this is the man who does the light saturated, coloured rooms (see Blackpaint on the Hayward light show some time back).  A wall- length series of graduated coloured light slats, glass I think, or maybe perspex, to finish the exhibition.

Asger Jorn – Restless Rebel

This book of essays and great pictures about my Scando hero is a revelation; I knew he did a whole lot of different stuff – the paintings of trolls and mythic animals, the ceramics, the mosaics and murals at the house in Albisola, the illustrated books, the altered (“detourned”) kitsch pictures – but I didn’t realise that there was always a philosophical underpinning to what he did.  Even if it was – well, a bit eccentric.  He kicked off with Marxism, but wasn’t content with dialectical materialism; he invented “triolectics”, that’s three forces involved in the conflict – thesis, antithesis and something else (artistic creativity, I think).

Famously, he was a founder member of Cobra – he also contributed to the split, by taking up with Constant’s wife and alienating the Dutch contingent.  No doubt there were ideological differences too. There was his “Scandinavian Institute of Comparative Vandalism” and the liaison with Guy Debord in the Situationist International, which he funded, despite Debord’s opposition to artists’ involvement(!).

Then there was the telegram he sent to Harry Guggenheim, who had the nerve to award him a prize of $2500 in 1964: “Go to hell with your money bastard.Never asked for it.  Against all decensy mix artist against his will in your publicity….Jorn.”

So – full ideological back up throughout.  But I still like him because he did really colourful, vigorous, writhing paintings with birds and trolls and other things lurking in them and he mixed a whole load of different colours successfully, like de Kooning and Joan Mitchell, say, and of course, Karel Appel.

dead-drunk-danes

Asger Jorn, Dead Drunk Danes

Ingmar Bergman, Fanny and Alexander

This appears to be turning into the Scandinavian post – apart from all the South American stuff above, of course; but maybe there’s a connection here too.  I’d always thought Fanny and Alexander was one of those lush Visconti-type films, Death in Venice or the Leopard maybe, and was set in Russia.  Wrong – it concerns the Ekdahls, a wealthy Swedish family and it has a very dark Gothic story-line and strong elements of magic realism in it.

What it also has is a magnificent speech at the end, going for (and touching) Shakespearian once or twice: “We must live in the little world… The world is a den of thieves and night is falling….Evil breaks its chains and runs through the world like a mad dog….The poison affects us all…no-one escapes…Therefore let us be happy while we are happy…

Well, maybe more Beckett than Shakespeare, except for the last bit, of course.

Urban Art

Exhibiting tomorrow at Urban Art, Josephine Avenue, Brixton London – in the street with 200 other artists, 10.00am to 6.00pm, Sunday too.  Please come and buy the painting below and many more that have appeared in this blog.

 

 

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Islares Farewell

Blackpaint

11.07.14

Blackpaint 417 – Size Matters; Big it Up

October 18, 2013

Paul Klee at Tate Britain 

Some of these are quite nice.  Not a ringing endorsement, I know, but my genuine reaction.  Klee is a techniques man ; his “oil transfer” drawings are an example – the method produces a yellow-brown, stained background on which the spidery lines of the drawing appear to be roughly scorched in.  Then, there are the dots; tiny, variegated blobs of colour that produce a tapestry or carpet effect – which is tasteful and nice.  There are the dark tiles of midnight blue and grey and black with a disc of bright yellow and a patch of orange; “Full moon and fire”, or some such title – no prize for spotting the moon…

klee1

There are a lot of fish, tastefully drawn and coloured; little imp figures that recall – or maybe prefigure – Victor Brauner and other surrealists; many of the pieces remind one of rock and cave drawings, thick black lines done with a scorched stick, maybe.  Hot air baloon heads, spider web drawings…, there’s a touch of those early Mondrians, with the interlocking lines before he moved on to squares.  And maybe a bit of Asger Jorn, without the texture…

klee2

What I really missed, however, was some size.  They are all small; after five or so rooms, you want to see something by some drunken American abstract expressionist who has crashed his car into the Tate front door, strode in trailing fag smoke and whisky fumes, and started to hurl paint over a five metre square canvas, stretched on the floor (canvas, not drunken ab-ex).

When you look at the catalogue, however, the pictures look beautiful – glowing and luminous.  That’s the way to see them, in a book.

Unrelated

Joanna Hogg’s 2007 film, I think it’s the first of a trilogy, with “Archipelago” and her latest film “Exhibition”, with Liam Gillick, Viv Albertine and Tom Hiddleston.  In “Unrelated”,   Kathryn Worth plays Anna, a middle -aged  woman on a Tuscan holiday with her best friend’s family, including Tom Hiddleston as the eldest son.  She tries to keep up with the “youngs”, swimming naked, smoking dope, fancying Hiddleston, and ultimately being politely rebuffed by him when she makes the offer.  Anna is taking time out from her partner but staying in touch with him by means of anguished mobile phone conversations at the top of hills – shades of Kiarostami’s “The Wind will Carry Us”.  Again, the acting is totally believable: Hiddleston and Worth are fantastic and excruciating.

The cinematographer is Owen Curtis, but the look is the same as “Archipelago”;  those doorway shots, light limning figures in bedsheets in dark rooms, Tuscan landscapes instead of the Scilly Isles, but that same Old Master quality of light on the skin in the close-ups.  The director of photography for “Archipelago” is Ed Rutherford, so I guess it must be Hogg herself who sets the look of the films.  Just great; can’t wait to see the latest film.

Jacob’s Room

I’m now on the third novel in Virginia Woolf’s collected works (NOT illustrated by R Crumb, more’s the pity), after “The Voyage Out” and “Night and Day” – for the first time, I realise how she could possibly be compared to James Joyce, in terms of narrative experimentation.  the first two were conventional; in “Jacob’s Room”, you have to wait for the next page to find out where you are (or more accurately, where Jacob is) and what’s going on.  Incredibly annoying, but I’m still reading.. no doubt, I’ll end up thinking she’s a genius.  Could be worse, could be Jane Austen.

Phil Chevron

Died recently – wrote “Thousands Are Sailing”, the Pogues classic, which if you never did anything else of note…..

003

 

Meeting at Roissy

Blackpaint

18.10.13

Blackpaint 356 – Night Fishing, Rick and Ilsa, Sidney’s Fez

August 30, 2012

Away from wi-fi so couldn’t publish last week.

Colour

Thought I’d pick out some paintings that demonstrate startling or memorable colours this week, so here goes:

Picasso, Night Fishing at Antibes (1939).  Indigo, Claret and verdigris green.   Look how much he’s packed in, too – not only the boat, the man with the spear, the fish, sea, birds, but the quayside and a woman with a bike.

De Kooning, Woman with Bicycle.  The Picasso suggested this to me – maybe to DK too.  He chucks in all the colours but manages to make them look fresh.

Per Kirkeby, Flight into Egypt, 1996.  The flaring reds and oranges against that blue, and the textures.  The red and blue combo shows up in aseveral done in 1995 -6; Nikopeja I and II, Siege of Constantinople and an Untitled (Asger Jorn had a stage of giving apparently abstract pictures historical titles too – maybe an influence there).

Patrick Heron, Fourteen Discs (1963).  Two fried eggs – one with a green yolk and blue “white”; the other, natural yolk, green “white”.

Jorn, King of Hades. 1942.  Grid of black bars, sea green/blue and fiery red/orange glimmering through.

Casablanca

Saw this all the way through in one go for the first time last night and was, of course, bowled over.  The dodgy sets, the Wilson, Keppel and Betty costumes of the waiters, Sidney’s fez, Conrad Veidt’s unconvincing (?) German officer, Claud Rains’ apparent infatuation with Bogart (“If I were a woman, I’d want to marry him”, or words to that effect) – and Ingrid Bergman, sexier even than Ginger Rodgers.  The dialogue so full of quotations, and that song; I’d assumed it was by someone famous, Irving Berlin or Cole Porter, but no – Herman Hupfield.  Dooley Wilson was Sam; he was a drummer who couldn’t play the piano – but it’s his voice on “as Time Goes By”.  Acted with Lena Horne and Bill Robinson in “Stormy Weather”.

In the Paris flashback, Bogart looked to me uncannily like Robert Wagner.  I know it’s prurient, but did Rick and Ilsa “renew their relationship” in Rick’s flat over the club?  It seems to me it was implied by the fade out after she pulled the gun on him.  I’d like to think so – but then, they’d always have Casablanca, as well as Paris…

Top 10 films

Critics recently did one of these, so here’s mine, with reason in brief:

Satantango (Bela Tarr) – they plod through the relentless rain, across a darkening plain, to majestic, melancholic accordion music…

Amarcord (Fellini) – the fog scene, and meeting the ocean liner in the rowing boats….

L’Atalante  (Vigo) – the underwater scene and the clarity of the filming.

Mirror (Tarkovsky) – she raises her head from the tub, hair over her face, ropes of water spraying around – and everything else really, the fire, the snow scene, the newsreel of the balloon ascent.

The Leopard (Visconti) – Burt and Claudia dancing at the ball; stunning…

Russian Ark (Sokurov) – That staircase at the end as they flock down to oblivion dressed in their Napoleonic finery.

Death in Venice (Visconti) – Bogarde throughout, the Mahler 4th and 5th, the ginger player with the front teeth missing, the tut-tutting hotel manager (also in Leopard, what’s his name?)

Women in Love (Ken Russell) – Glenda radiant, Oliver brooding and smouldering, Eleanor Bron’s dance. the naked wrestling…

I realise none of these films contain any meaningful sex scenes,  so next blog will contain my top five high quality films containing sizzling sex; why only five?   Only seen five.

Sables – les – Pins

Blackpaint

30.08.12

Blackpaint 341 – Ballet Girls, Donkeys and Buckets

May 10, 2012

Charcoal and pencil

The first is great to use, the second a chore.  I’ve acquired a cheap book of Degas’ drawings, mostly ballet girls, and have been copying them; the legs are the most difficult – feet always pointing in some improbable direction.  That, and getting them to look like the young girls they are – mine keep coming out too old, somehow.  They haven’t got that slight dumpiness or sturdiness that Degas’ girls have got.  That line of his is just great.  Also, the two servants with the laundry baskets and the ones that are grooming the horse (or horses, it transpired, as I was drawing – the head belonged to a second horse looking over, NOT to the first horse looking back – if you see what I mean).

Can’t somehow get the same buzz from pencil – too laborious, can’t just smear the dust with my thumb to get shading like I can with the charc, got to draw parallel lines.

St.  Ives since the Fifties

A cheapo catalogue of a 2006 exhibition at the Katharine House Gallery in Marlborough I got in Campbell’s, that bookshop opposite Tate Modern.  I mention it because there is some great stuff in it from St Ives people I didn’t know of; chief of these is Rachael Kantaris, two lovely etchings and an acrylic by her, touch of Hilton in that black line through the fleecy white.  Then, Tony Shiels who was born in 1938 but is new to me; three gouache and watercolour, very reminiscent of Lanyon (senior), best being “St.Ives Sea Head” from 1960.  Also some stunning Terry Frost Lorca illustrations – and loads more.

Kantaris

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen at Rotterdam

Also from Campbell’s, only two quid, a catalogue of this museum, to which I’m heading at the first opportunity – assuming it’s still open, as there’s no date in the catalogue as far as I can see – can’t be bothered to read the text.  Anyway, some stunning stuff in it, the chief being Karel Appel, “Farmer with a Donkey and Bucket”, from 1950.  It’s a painted stable door – with a bucket hanging on the bottom. 

Appel

Then, there’s Asger Jorn, “The Town of Ivory Towers” from 1955 – dark green and dried-blood red, deeply scored and looking rather like a stained glass window; can’t find a picture on Google.

Then, de Kooning – “The Cliff of the Palisade with Hudson River, Weehawken, New Jersey, 1963” – which actually looks like a figure study in white and brown, on an ochre and blue background.  There’s a great Dali self-portrait in pencil and black ink on paper – heavy sketched like a Jim Dine or Kitaj life drawing, like no other Dali I’ve ever seen.  Three great van Dongens, including “A Finger on her Cheek” – don’t know why I like him so much, apart from the name.  Maybe it’s the crudity of the colours and the energy of the line….

One other painting to mention, “The Earring, 1893”, by George Hendrik Breitner – never heard of him before.  beautiful long, straight flower vase of a woman looking in a mirror, Whistler maybe, Japan definitely. bit Klimt, but just a bit… 

Breitner

1900, Bertolucci

I saw this way back in the 70s when it first came out, and I was dismayed to see it again and find that it’s dubbed (presumably because most of the big male stars – Lancaster, de Niro, Donald Sutherland, Stering Hayden – are American.  This gives it a terrible spaghetti western sound – probably would be great with subtitles.  It also has two, perhaps three, of the most dislikeable child actors, doing all that rite of passage stuff – comparing willies. masturbating in the fields, wrestling and slagging each other off – haven’t seen the second DVD yet, but no doubt they compete for the same girl…

Can this really be the Bertolucci who coaxed such subtle and understated performances from Brando and Schneider in “Last Tango”?

Blackpaint

Figure Drawing 6