Posts Tagged ‘Barry Flanagan’

Blackpaint 304

November 10, 2011

A Canterbury Tale

The opening scenes of this strange Powell and Pressburger film are justly famous; Chaucer’s band of pilgrims ride towards the town (Pardoner, for example, clearly recognisable); the knight flies his falcon, which soars and becomes a Spitfire.  Cut back to knight – same face, but now topped by a 1940’s soldier’s helmet.  Fantastic, poignant – but I couldn’t help thinking that Eisenstein, or his editor, would have done it better.  There is a jump between the bird and the plane, not a smooth transformation.  Maybe I’m wrong; no expert.

It seems to me to be a strange, foreigner’s vision of rural England.  Dennis Price is an unlikely sergeant, with the accent of a toff – his cold eyes and brusque manner seem more appropriate to the serial killer he played in “Kind Hearts and Coronets” than the would-be church organist he plays here.

Then there is the absolute weirdness of the “glue man” story; a local (toff) magistrate, disguised as a soldier,  attacks young girls at night and pours glue in their hair.  Why?  To dissuade them from going with soldiers encamped nearby, who might be distracted from attending the magistrate’s local history lectures and learning about the Pilgrims’ Way.  I think I’ve got that right.

Nevertheless, it has a magic about it and some wonderful scenes of rural Kent in the 40’s – and there are the accents too.

John Martin “Apocalypse”

At the Tate Britain.  A whole Martin exhibition is interesting, but he suffers from the repetition of Apocalyptic and biblical scenes – I liked his paintings much better when there were just a couple of them in the old “Nutter’s Gallery” as we called it, decades ago, in cruder, crueller times.  Martin needs some Dadds and others to vary it a bit.  The searing, shiny pink deserves a special mention, as do the glaring reds and yellows.  His angels, I think are rather Turnerish and I see he uses scraping on rocks and mountains, as Turner did sometimes.  One or two pictures had that bejewelled quality that Gustave Moreau’s paintings have. 

 His version of Milton’s Pandaemonium looks just like the Houses of Parliament; the wall notes, indeed, say he was influenced by the plans for the same.  When all is said, though, he does a great lightning bolt and Earth turning upside-down.

Barry Flanagan

Also at the TB.  Later work is the sinister giant bronze hares, but I preferred (predictably) the earlier stuff – thick coils of yellow rope snaking across the floor, sacking, hessian (hanging and folded) or stuffed tightly with sand to make shrivelled vegetable shapes, or those odd, upright, cut-off tubes of sacking that look like shapes from a David Shrigley cartoon.  Wigwam shapes made from thick cut branches, bark still on – bit of a Beuys vibe, I might say, if I were not afraid of appearing pretentious.  And a few beautiful drawings, one of a figure lying prostrate, which look as if they were executed in a single, perfect stroke (OK, he probably had a few tries, picked the best and chucked the others away); impressive, anyway.

Biennale

Nick Relph – video with blue and yellow filters, hand drawn, over film – appeared to be about GIs in Korea or WW2, phasing into another one about the production of textiles.  Colours punchy and saturated, like Rist.

RH Quaytman – beautiful, black and white photographic print of sun on the surface of a lake, then zoomed in and enlarged in next one.  A sort of fractured, distressed quality to them, reminscent of Richter’s white pictures, I think.

Blackpaint (Chris Lessware)

10.11.11

Blackpaint 260

March 14, 2011

Mark Wallinger

Video installation  in the Tate Britain.  It’s been there for some time, but I took  the time to sit and watch it on Sunday.  It’s a film of people, mostly business types, coming through the exit gates at an airport, in slow motion, to some beautiful early church music.  The music and slow motion turn the whole thing into a ballet and endow every movement and facial expression with significance; raised eyebrows, for instance, to convey nonchalance, perhaps; a quick check of the mobile, a squaring of the shoulders..  At one point, a young man, student maybe, enters from the right with a cup of coffee, cutting into the path of a woman who has just come through the gate.  A collision seems inevitable, but no – they pass by as if the other did not exist.  In the final seconds of the loop, a young woman runs into the picture and towards the camera, again, close to an emerging passenger – and again, it’s as if they are unaware of the other’s presence.  The sort of exhibit that makes you want to go back to see if you missed anything.

Keith Arnatt

His “Artist as a Shadow of his Former Self” is worth a look (in the same room); just a photo of his truncated shadow on a brick wall, but with the title, and the wall, of course,  it felt related somehow to Banksy’s stuff, only years earlier.

Barry Flanagan

A whole room of lovely small drawings, actually prints, I think, of simple line drawings with a couple of portraits that reminded me of early Hockney.

Turner

Looking at the “Sea Monsters” in the flesh, so to speak, I noticed yet another imponderable – on the immediate left of the “face” (or the left hand fish, as I am coming to think of it) there is a thing like a head with a cap on top and blunt face with no nose.  Another sea monster??

Michelangelo

Vincent thought Michelangelo did legs too long – but that it didn’t matter; there was truth in the distortion.  He doesn’t say which piece or pieces he is referring to, unfortunately.  I have to say that I haven’t noticed any particular leg distortion, but I do have a problem with the breasts on “Dawn”, part of the Lorenzo de’  Medici tomb.  As Alan Bennett made one of his History Boys say, she has a man’s torso with a woman’s breasts stuck on – or words to that effect.  Or, maybe he was referring to the female figure on the Giuliano de’ Medici tomb, where the breasts are even more “stuck on”.

Michelangelo’s drawings of the Tasks of Hercules in the Royal Library at Windsor show poor Hercules getting a really painful looking chomp on the backside from one of the heads of the Lernean Hydra.  He wrestles with other heads and necks in the classic Laocoon pose.

Bela Tarr

The Wallinger shows how the right music and slow motion can make the ordinary fascinating and full of moment; Tarr’s film, “The Man from London” (see Blackpaint 256 ) uses the music in this way throughout throughout – instead of slow motion, however, he uses stillness and a development from dark to lit, blurred to clear.  In one sequence, a character is walking along a harbour wall and the camera, travelling with him, swings in such a way that he appears to be making no progress against the background at all – indeed, it looks as if he is walking forwards but moving backwards.  Highly unsettling.

Blackpaint

14.03.11