Posts Tagged ‘Beuys’

Blackpaint 545 – Cheese graters, Fingernails and Tulips

May 14, 2016

Mona Hatoum, “Over my Dead Body” at Tate Modern

Annoyingly, the labels on the wall by each installation tell you not only the title, year made and materials used but also what Hatoum is “saying” in the piece – I’d avoid reading them.  Having said that, I can’t really do anything but list some of the works.  But I can’t resist mentioning the odd perceived similarity to other artists here and there…

  • A black cube made of iron filings, clinging to each other in rope-like coils – I thought of the Kaaba.  My favourite piece;
  • Paper “drawings” with hair, fingernails and other personal bits attached (all those feminist artists who put things in cabinets);
  • Maps, lots of them, in neon, globes or graven into dozens of blocks of soap (Boetti);
  • A cabinet of glass hand grenades and lots of toy soldiers;
  • Batteries of wire rabbit hutches (but no rabbits);
  • Five-tier sets of metal bunks (Beuys);
  • A room with a table and chair, the back of which protrudes through the table top; on the wall, a small cage containing a ball of black hair, a dormitory bed and a musty smell (Magritte);

 

mona hatoum

  • Giant cheese-grater furniture (above);
  • A roomful of domestic torture instruments, egg whisks for example, all wired up with lights and buzzers;
  • A round pit filled with fine sand, combed into ridges and smoothed out incessantly (Kapoor);
  • Wire barbs on metal rods suspended from the ceiling;
  • Hair sculpture and a fence of plaited hair;
  • A film projected on the floor of an internal medical probe- heart, throat, gut maybe.

Baselitz at White Cube, Bermondsey

A huge, white galleryful of Baselitz’ upside-down figures, men and women, singly and in couples, white on black and blue backgrounds, or suffused with a rose wash.  Backgrounds spattery and ringed (cups or paint tins?) and blotched as if by an old pen nib – remember those?  By way of contrast, a number of male figures, heads cropped, NOT upside-down but on their sides, as if whizzing round the walls of the gallery in pursuit of each other, garlanded by chains of white drips round the feet and elsewhere.  For some reason, I was reminded of that light bulb figure dancing to the harmonica at the start of the Old Grey Whistle Test.  The figures, although rough and raggedly drawn, are strangely appealing; my partner especially liked the feet.

Also a couple of rooms containing ink and wash poster-sized pictures of… naked, upside-down men and women, rather similar to the large paintings.  No-one could accuse Baselitz of failing to explore the theme thoroughly.

 

baselitz1

 

baselitz2

 

Eurovision Song Contest

Graham Norton’s coverage relentlessly positive tonight – all songs “catchy” or “lovely” or “really sincere”; only the very mildest, harmless irony here and there.  Rise up, Wogan.  I think someone has had a word with Graham on behalf of the government.

Ran, Kurosawa (1985)

Ran

Breathtaking spectacle, unrelenting bloody slaughter in battle, murder, suicide – completely devoid of emotional engagement, except in regard to the androgynous Clown, who I quite liked.  Oddly, “Ran” popped up in a Luisa Berlin story I read the morning after I watched the film on TV; a character recounted the plot to her sister.  Berlin’s short story collection “A Manual for Cleaning Women” is a brilliant book; she’s been compared to Raymond Carver, I think reasonably.

 

 

wip2

Still Life with Tulips – work in progress; spot the Baselitz influence.

Blackpaint

14.05.16

Blackpaint 388 – Zizek, Trockel, Callan and Mona

April 4, 2013

Zizek, YODD

Year of Living Dangerously (2011).  So full of ideas and observations, crackling and fizzing, mostly undeveloped, unexplained, dropped for something else, that it’s impossible to critique a chapter, let alone the whole book.  For instance:  “capitalism without capitalists” – only managers on super salaries and bonuses now, running businesses owned by banks run by managers on super salaries, like a big beehive with honey but no queen… that’s a book’s -worth of theory, needing development and explication – but no, move on. Bit of invective maybe, those who disagree are morons…

I like his analysis of The Wire; how the McNultys and Freamons and the rest help to prop up the system by going outside the rules, making it seem that capitalism can deliver some justice (except it can’t, because they fail).  This reminded me of “Callan”, a British TV series in the 60’s.  Callan, played superbly by Edward Woodward, was a tough, indignant little man who lived in a dingy London bedsit; when the British state needed a dirty undercover job done, a Russian spy assassinated maybe, Callan got a call and a brown envelope.  If something went wrong, he would be on his own; the state would deny knowledge.  He bristled with morality, of course; his public school controllers were all about expediency and hypocrisy.

Not the same, I know; The Wire crew operate without sanction, Callan was a (secret) secret servant of the state.  Powerful idea, though; I assumed for years  that every democratic state has a Callan or two, to do those jobs which “need to be done”, but which can’t be acknowledged.  I don’t think I’m alone in this; the Hilda Murrell case comes to mind and the conspiracy theories about Dr Kelly’s suicide.  Some people seem to be convinced these were murders, although if so, they were highly incompetent and to no credible purpose.

Rosemary Trockel at the Serpentine Gallery

  • Starts with dozens of little pictures, collages, photos, drawings, some like Marlene Dumas a little; the young German pop fan, Emin-like drawing of a man kneeling and puking in a toilet, adverts…
  • Wall hangings made from coloured strands of wool, vertical or horizontal, some threadbare, some perfect, with bright, jazzy colours on black..
  • Ceramic plaques, like great splats or badges of quartz or fool’s gold, or shiny, glazed china spladged against the wall..
  • Glass cases with tableaux and assemblages – a flat photographic girl bending up at the front end, as if reading, while a baby sleeps in a cot, with a fat black fly on its face (baby not cot);  a furry tendriled sac behind baby’s head inflate and deflates like breathing…
  • and lots more.

trockel

It made me think of Beuys – the fabric and the cases, I suppose.  I felt constipated during and after, which I feel was a reaction to the air of clutter and stuffiness – but constipated in a good way.

Theory of Validating Crapness – the Mona Lisa

Here goes with the first VC (see last blog):

It’s the white line coming from the region of her left ear.  Seems to be a rock shelf, but doesn’t correspond to anything on left side of head.  Nevertheless, it  adds something…I think – although now, it’s beginning to irritate me.  Is it damage and restoration, maybe?

mona lisa

The Secret in Their Eyes

Brilliant Argentinian film, set in present day and in 1974, during the Dirty War; palpable “chemistry” between the two –  mature leads.  The surprise ending echoes a Nabokov short story called “Russian Spoken Here”.  Despite the melodrama and the unashamedly romantic core, a real pleasure.

Little Dorrit

Dickens really knows how to end a book; I was dreading another ten chapters or so, to tie up some of the loose ends (I think they were loose – I couldn’t quite grasp the details of the financial arrangements), but I needn’t have worried.  Dickens was obviously bored too, so he made the house fall down and bury the villain.  Job done – marry the hero and heroine to each other and on with the next page turner…  The thing is, you can never tell how much more there is to go, if you’re reading a Collected Works on a Kindle; I started on 57% and finished, 30+ chapters later, on 60%!

??????????

Memento Park

Blackpaint

04.04.13

Blackpaint 242

January 16, 2011

Tate Modern

Dropped in the other day for a quick look; at first, same old pictures – although Jorn’s “Letters to my son” gone, and Dubuffet’s scraped pink picture there instead.  But there are a few new ones:

Shiramoto – “Holes”.  A grey and white abstract surface with holes bashed through – Shiramoto a member of Gutai, a movement that liked the tension and contrast of “delicacy and violence”, “destruction and creation” – very Japanese, that, chrysanthemums and samurai swords; it’s the delicacy bit.  Loads of others, The Austrians like Nitsch for instance, did the violence; not the delicacy, though.

Carol Schneeman – Video installation, bikini-clad girls slipping and sliding in a treacly substance – paint? Hard to tell, it’s black and white.  Engaging.

Francis Bacon – A big triptych; Dyer on the left panel, indistinct sexual wrestling in the centre, Francis on the right.  Dyer’s left leg is elided to a point, Bacon’s melting into a sheet of pink ectoplasm, echoing the disappearing lines of the Sarmantos in the adjoining room.

Beuys – His herd of sledges, loaded with felt and fat, escaping from the Volkswagen van – have escaped, and so has the van.  In their place, three or four new pieces: a photo of Beuys in his hat and long, heavy coat; “Campaign Bed”, institutional grey blankets with batteries(?) rolled underneath; “Accumulator”, a cell with wires attached to two clay balls, the source of power; and “Monument to a stag”, metal antlers, or rather some horn-like metal pipes and appendages.  The squad of red-brown turds by the girder are still there, though.

Lee Krasner – “Gothic Landscape”, dominated by crude black lanceolate blades, driving diagonally across canvas has little patches and touches of white, mint green and pink can be detected in the interstices.  Never noticed them before, which is why I’m mentioning this painting – it’s not a new, or newly-hung one.

Uffizi

Two strange paintings:

Pontormo – “The Supper at Emmaus”.  Floating above Christ’s head is a glowing pyramid, with an open eye in the centre of the outfacing plane.  The commentary says it is the symbol of the Trinity and was added later, but I think it is a Freemasonry symbol.  Presumably the Freemasons adopted it. On the floor, a skull-like dog face peers out, chewing in a bone and a couple of cats lurk amongst the human and table legs.

Rosso Fiorentino – “Madonna dello Spedalingo”.  The eyes of the Christ child and, to a lesser extent, those of all the surrounding figures, are large and sooty black – the effect, in reproduction, is as if someone had taken scissors to them.  The saint on the right looks like Death, from a Death and the Maiden.

Leonardo – The Fiorentino has to be the creepiest Christ child in Renaissance art – but the boy in “Madonna of the Carnation” must be the fleshiest (although Leonardo’s babies are always on the heavy side; see “Madonna Benois” or “The Virgin if the Rocks”).

Cezanne

A couple of Cezannes that you would never recognise as C’s if you didn’t know.  “The Orgy”, informed by Veronese’s “Wedding at Cana” – fleshy, writhing bodies round a white, tilted table against a cold, darkening blue sky; and “Temptation of St. Anthony”, more fleshy buttocks and bellies, poor St. Anthony accosted by a naked. writhing woman – the whole thing against a black background.

Listening to “Carrickfergus”, Van Morrison:

“I’m drunk today and I’m rarely sober;

A handsome rover from town to town,

Ah, but I am sick and my days are numbered,

So come all you young men and lay me down”.

Blackpaint

16.01.11