Posts Tagged ‘Ben Nicholson’

Blackpaint 563 – Khakhar, Sutherland, Malick and Corbyn – Solicitors

July 22, 2016

Bhupen Khakhar, Tate Modern

khakhar tiger

Tiger and Stag

X 8

Man with Five Penises Suffering from Runny Nose

Douanier Rousseau, Chagall (a bit), Ben Nicholson in his panto horse phase, that big fresh green hill in the Dora Carrington painting in Tate B.  Maybe Hockney in his cartoony  “boys together” phase, but without the painterliness – or maybe that’s just the gay subject matter.  Man with five penises (all arising from same area) quite an arresting image – not sure if it’s anatomically correct, though..  There’s a portrait – not sure if it’s a self portrait – that’s very reminiscent of Lowry.

khakhar2

Man in Pub (that’s a glove he’s holding)

Graham Sutherland

Writing last blog about Georgia O’Keeffe, I was rambling on about how I didn’t like her skull and antler paintings, because they just replicated the correct details of same, against a pastel background.  Looking at a book of Sutherland’s work, I see what can be done with objects like skulls and bones beyond anatomical accuracy, and also with landscape:

Horned Forms 1944 Graham Sutherland OM 1903-1980 Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1966 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T00834

Horned Forms 

sutherland2

Twisted Tree Form

 

sutherland3

Stone in Estuary

 

sutherland clark1

Sunset between Two Hills

The main thing is that they have some texture and weight and they don’t have that awful smooth Lempicka finish, like Athena Reproductions (are they still going?  Probably not – you would need to be old enough to remember the tennis girl walking away…).

tennis girl

The Tree of Life, 2011 (dir.Terence Malick)

After watching Sorrentino’s “Youth” last week and comparing it stylistically to Malick’s film, I thought I should check the source again.  I think the comparison holds (although Malick’s is the superior film) – but I was even more struck by the similarities of Malick’s to Tarkovsky’s style.

Brad Pitt’s performance as the father is very good; decent, talented, sensitive, loving – but with a streak of cruelty, wilfulness, self-pity, self-righteousness and self-regard.  you see him through his children’s and his wife’s eyes and feel the weight of his benign oppression.

pitt

And beautiful, troubled Jessica Chastain, always cuddling the boys and hanging up billowing washing, it seems – reminds me of the wife in Bo Widerberg’s “Adalen 31”, tearing up her dead husband’s shirt to polish the windows…

Jeremy (Corbyn, of course)

Apart from a couple of minor disagreements over Trident and Brexit, I’m a great admirer of Corbyn; he always seems reasonable and unruffled and polite and never more than a bit tetchy, considering the unrelenting shower of abuse he’s getting from Labour MPs and the media.  The other day in the Trident debate, he sounded remarkably sane and May sounded barking mad.  I agree with May, but I could well be mad too.

corbyn

But who are these women in their long summer dresses with the beatific smiles who seem to drift along behind him in the photo?  Very disquieting – touch of Manson about it. And they should ditch the “Momentum” tee shirts and Jeremy should stop clapping with them when they applaud him – looks like North Korea.  Actually, that’s a bit strong; everybody does it on British quiz shows now, don’t they?  They clap themselves for getting the answer right, or for being “absolutely brilliant contestants”…

Life Drawings 

Haven’t finished a decent (or indeed, any) painting for weeks, so I’m reduced to posting my life class efforts again.

male nude back

Jeremy Corbyn, back view – no, not really….

sad man nude

Sad Man Sitting

 

fat man nude

Fat Bloke Nude

That’s it for now; no political comment next time, I promise.

Blackpaint

22/7/16

 

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Blackpaint 501- Dress Like Hepworth, Swear like Swearengen

June 28, 2015

Barbara Hepworth; Sculpture for a Modern World. Tate Britain 

The first thing to say about this is how small it feels.  There are seven areas shown in the map of the exhibition, but it actually feels like about four rooms.  In the first, there are a number of small works by her contemporaries as well as Hepworth ; John Skeaping, Epstein, Gaudier – Brzeska, Eric Gill, some of which are as good or better than hers.  I love the larger pair of doves by Epstein, with their deadpan expressions and pointed bills; then there’s the yellow cats, Skeaping I think, and Gill’s “Eve”.  There are also a number of beautifully smooth eggs and cylinders, assemblages of spheres and cuboids that cry out to be felt – which is, no doubt, why they are under glass.

 

Doves 1914-15 Sir Jacob Epstein 1880-1959 Purchased 1973 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T01820

Epstein’s Doves

There is a room which is dominated by the paintings of Ben Nicholson, a succession of dreary Picasso-like black heads – maybe I’ve seen too much Nicholson of late – and those works of Hepworth’s that are strung with wires, like the ones by Naum Gabo (and I think Henry Moore did some too – did they all have the same idea at the same time?).

Then, there are the interlocking segments of burnished wood, like so many pieces of classy furniture from the 50s; you wouldn’t be surprised to find the nutty wood cocooning a radio or radiogram.  A couple of breeze block walls  with greening metal pieces hidden round corners, as if reproducing the effect of the pieces in her garden at St Ives.

The exhibition ends rather suddenly – it took us about 40 minutes to go round the lot.

Sculpture with Colour (Deep Blue and Red) 1940 Dame Barbara Hepworth 1903-1975 Presented by the executors of the artist's estate 1980 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T03133

Sculpture with Colour (Deep Blue and Red) Hepworth

There are a number of purchasing opportunities, prints, scarves, pottery and a range of Hepworth-inspired clothing: a duffle jacket and a sort of canvas/linen shirt for sculpting in, so you can dress like her as you hack at the marble in your back garden, cigarette in mouth, drink on the table.

RA Summer Show (again)

A few more names and works to look out for:

Phyllida Barlow – a sculpture actually made of wood, that looks like rough old square-cut concrete conduit chunks stuck together; looks great in the context of more refined pieces, shying away from it in horror.

John Carter – brightly coloured plaques with small window-like notches cut into them; like walls of some North African fortress.

Phillip King – two small, colourful abstract drawings, in the corner next to his sculptural assemblage (I think the lop-sided window shape with the neon would make a good piece on its own, separated from the rest of the dreck he has attached it to; it would be like an early Martial Raysse).

 

Guston at Timothy Taylor Gallery

guston tt

Near the taxi-polluted Berkeley Square (the nightingale would have died choking), a prime collection of Gustons, ranging from unfamiliar free line drawings, through the big pink, red, green black and grey abstracts – only one, I think – to the cartoons.  Yes, I know they are more profound and painterly, not really cartoons but ironic appropriations of the form, look at the way he uses paint, and so on… but they still look like cartoons to me and he was a big fan (obviously) of the stupendous Robert Crumb.

There is a Nixon Phlebitis and a picture in which he lays out his motifs – bloodshot eyeballs, lit fags, various detritus – as if preparing to stick them into a picture.

The paint actually is worth a mention; it’s oily and thick and greasy in places, looking still wet and viscous – and dirty.  Lovely.

Deadwood, the box set

Saving the last episode for tomorrow night.  They could never make this series now, could they?  I think it was made 2005 – 6.  Non-stop obscene language, constant racial epithets – there’s a character called the Nigger General –  casual sex and sexual violence, heroic drinking, drug use, throat cutting, eye gouging…  I’ve enjoyed every episode immensely and the music over the end credits is stunning – Bukka White, Memphis Slim,  Keb Mo’.  Ian McShane as Al Swearengen certainly laid Lovejoy to rest.

Three of mine to finish-

 

amanda in red and black

Amanda in Black and Red

sonia blurred

Sonia, Blurred (the model was pissed when I did this one)

red and blue canals1

Seagulls over Sorrento

Blackpaint

28.06.15

 

Blackpaint 387 – The Theory of Validating Crapness

March 28, 2013

Jeremy Gardiner at Kings Place

This was one of those few exhibitions where you are actually excited to see the first few pictures from the floor below – or was it above?  I can never remember with Kings Place and its multi-levels – and you want to hurry to see the rest.  My first thought was how much they look like Schwitters collages from a bit of a distance; then I saw one, framed by the doorway to the large room, which had an obvious affinity to Peter Lanyon – swirls, greys, cold, clean blue – then, inside the room, four or five larger pictures that were stylised views over a bay and clearly recalled Ben Nicholson.

Many of the paintings are acrylic on birchwood, built up with plaques of jesmonite, giving a sort of rough marquetry effect.  They appear to be abstract at first, suggesting coastline, cloud, aerial landscape, rock; then you notice that they contain actual features of landscape, although not necessarily “correctly” placed – another resemblance to Lanyon, many of whose works are not really abstract at all.  The colours certainly resemble Lanyon, and John Tunnard as well.  The only reference which I didn’t get was to Diebenkorn – maybe in the aerial landscape thing, but not in appearance.

In addition to the paintings – one of which contains a moulding of an ammonite, maybe there are more – there are the monoprints.  These are mostly long, textured banners of heavy duty watercolour paper, printed with pictures of fossils, microscopic organisms, tracts of what look like contour lines of coast and hill… for some reason, they reminded me (incongruously) of prints by Sigmar Polke.

We stuck around for the tour and talk; Gardiner gave us a softly-spoken geology lesson and a” journey through geological time and space” from the Jurassic Coast of Devon to tin mines in Cornwall (the Levant Mine of Lanyon’s famous picture) and the coast of Brazil.  Proust got a mention; the white-haired audience of retired teachers nodded and smiled.  Then, we also retired, to egg, sausage and chips in the Turkish cafe up the road, in the company of mud-spattered building workers in high-vis jackets, from the huge site opposite.

Blackpaint’s Theory of Validating Crapness

Over the last three years of blogging, I have developed and promoted a number of original theories and observations:  they include “Michelangelo Didn’t do Trees”;  Blackpaint’s Theory of Spurious Plausibility; Shakespeare was Michelangelo Re-incarnated; and “The Taylor-Vincent Ad: Mistakes take on a Life of Their Own”.  Here is a new one, born when I rang my partner, urging her to look up Gardiner on Google and see the brilliant paintings.

She was less than overwhelmed – partly because I was so enthusiastic, but also because (she felt) they were too attractive, too formulaic, too saleable… briefly, not crap enough.  To be sure, Gardiner’s online images are disappointing, compared to the real thing; I still think he’s great; but the “not crap enough” idea inspired me to formulate the above.

The “Validating Crapness” is that element which prevents the picture being too perfect, too trite.  It may, for instance, be smudges, dribbles, finger marks, a scratch, an incongruous patch of colour (NOT the old Turner red spot, like the one on the picture in the doorway mentioned above); it may be a wobbly line, or anything that undermines perfection.  I realise this is very close to the old “beauty must have a flaw” thing- I’m going further.  My theory demands a real element of crap, a small pustule rather than a dimple.  In future blogs, I shall be identifying the VC in famous paintings, both modern works and Old Masters; watch this space.

Lightfields and The Sopranos

The first of these two programmes, a ghost story in which the action takes place at three different times in turns (1940s, 1975, present day) was on ITV1 and was a serial over five(?) weekly episodes; the acting was mostly good, the story was mildly absorbing – but then, as it finished, I realised I’d been watching children’s telly – anodyne, pretty, cliched, ridiculous.  Midwives, Downton, Selfridge, Mayday (apart from Leslie Manville, of course) – where’s all the offensive stuff gone from the mainstream channels?,

Then, the Sopranos, the one with Tony’s food poisoning, the talking fish, the fur coat and Big Pussy’s murder on the boat – funny, violent, sexy,  tragic, with an ironic distance maintained throughout – although that’s probably a contradiction.

Tate at Yourpaintings

Latest recommendations from above:

Ben Nicholson, “June 1937” (1937);

Keith Vaughan, “Leaping Figure” (1951);

Franz Kline, “Meryon”, (1960-61); my erstwhile favourite painting, I used to call it the Bridge;

franz kline

And Jankel Adler, “No Man’s Land”, 1943.

And here’s my one, called “Carbonara”.  Certainly one or two VC elements on show;

??????????

Blackpaint

28.03.13

Blackpaint 350 – Bomberg, Belle and Munch

July 12, 2012

Picasso and Britain

Last days at the Tate Britain, so went again.  The Duncan Grants I still like, in spite of everyone else, it seems; especially “Interior at Golden Square”; also, one or two of the Nicholsons, especially the pink one.  The Picassos themselves blow everything else out of the water, of course, for confidence, inventiveness, use of colour… but there are a couple of duff ones (see previous Blackpaint ).

Bomberg at South Bank University

Turns out that only four or five of the drawings and paintings on show at the moment are Bombergs – but this was not a disappointment, as those by his followers  are great.  There is a beautiful charcoal sketch by Edna Mann, of a nude woman stoopimg to pick up something from the floorpaintings that are very Auerbach in colour and structure by Dennis Creffield;  Cezanne-like bathers heavily outlined in black by Cliff Holden; and a big, dark, swerving, black-outlined head by Dorothy Mead.  Great little exhibition, and more to be shown in October, I was told.

Patrick Keiller at Tate Britain

This “exhibit” comprises an exhibition within an exhibition, based on the “Robinson Institute”, a fictional entity based on a fictional character invented by Keiller.  It is concerned with English landscape (which I got, without reading) and the development of capitalism (which I didn’t).  Along with Keiller’s own photographs, some brilliant, interesting works by Turner, James Ward, Paul Nash, Gursky, James Boswell, John Latham (huge black blot), Fiona Banner (small black blot)…..  I find these fictional conceits increasingly irritating – why not just stick a load of paintings you like together, like Grayson Perry at Bexhill a couple of years ago? – then again, Keiller has used the Robinson thing before, so it’s got the integrity of a previous history.

Edvard Munch at Tate Modern  

This, I have to say, is the worst exhibition I’ve ever seen.  Or, to be fair, it’s a very good exhibition of one of the worst painters I’ve ever seen.  The paintings are in dead colours, crudely painted, many figures cursorily executed with round, turnipy heads.  One “Kiss” looked like a man kissing a Labrador standing on its hind legs.  There is a series of seven or eight “Weeping Woman”s, in which she looks like a pale corpse, going greenish here and there, like something out of “The Shining”.  His wallpaper – lots of claustrophobic interiors – looks as if it’s patterned with dried blood.  Banal, flesh-creeping subject matter:  vampire women, a post-sex (rape?) scene, operating theatres with huge blood stains, a man aiming a rifle at someone through a window..  Lots of photographs, with “ghosts” hovering in them, but too small for me to keep looking at.  It’s crap, but good value – there’s lots of it.  I never did understand why The Scream has resonated with so many people.

Belle de Jour 

The original, Bunuel – Deneuve, of course.  What does the Japanese customer have in his little box?  Why does the coffin rock beneath Severine at the Duke’s?  And did Rebekah Brookes get the idea for the demure, white-collared, black Leverson dress from Belle, rather than the Salem witch trials, as the papers and TV here suggested?

Melancholia

It’s drenched in Tarkovsky, on second viewing; “Hunters in the Snow”, the music, the theme, even (“Nostalgia”)…

Blackpaint

13/07/12

Blackpaint 73

February 22, 2010

Brighton

In the art galleryand museum near the Pavilion today.  Two interesting paintings: a Christopher Wood and a William Scott.  The Wood was a Modigliani-like (well, a bit) portrait of a young woman with an oddly reddish face; the Scott was figurative – a couple.  I looked for it on the net, but couldn’t find it – however, I did find one fantastic, ochre – based abstract which was very like a Lanyon and which has made me determined to look out a book of his stuff in the British Library tomorrow.  Previously, I thought Scott  just did frying pans and dinner tables, phallic salt cellars and black pictures (see Tate Britain).  Now I think he’s the business.

Christopher Wood by the way, was an early St.Ives man, went down there with Ben Nicholson, did stylised figurative paintings and jumped or walked in front of a train, at Bristol I think, in 1930  (actually, it was Salisbury, not Bristol).

One other beautiful thing in the museum is a group photo of rockers on the Old Steine in 1964, either Easter or Whitsun, the time of one of the battles with the Mods.  There’s something timeless and touching about them with the long hair and the roll-ups and the leathers – they remind me of squaddies or a works outing, and they look so young and innocent and unthreatening, at this distance…

Blackpaint

21.02.10