Posts Tagged ‘Bloomberg New Contemporaries’

Blackpaint 577 – Saatchi Painters, Russian Painters, Russell and the Little People

December 4, 2016

Painters’ Painters, Saatchi Gallery

The only common denominator for these painters is the fact that they ARE painters – supposedly a rarity in this age of video and multi-media installation.  Actually, on reflection, there is another thing they have in common; the deadness of the painted surface.  None of them seem to glow; there is a liverish colour that many share in their backgrounds – as far as I can make out, it seems to be a mix of crimson, grey and maybe insipid cream, and/or mauve.  Where they are bright (as in Bjarne Melgaard, below), they are livid; still no glow.  The photographs actually glamourise the paintings a bit.

One other common factor – they’re all men.  But, to be fair, there are three women artists exhibiting individually in the upper galleries, and the last main exhibition was all women…

 

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Ryan Mosley

 

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Ryan Mosley

 

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Bjarne Melgaard

 

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Don’t know who did this one, but I love that right buttock…

The reason I made the adverse comments about colour is that I’ve twice visited the stupendous Rauschenberg exhibition at Tate Modern this week and the colours are rich and glowing.  The most staggering work – and there are many – is the Combine “Ace” (below), no photo of which comes anywhere near doing it justice.  Review next blog.

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Robert Rauschenberg, Ace.  This pic doesn’t do it justice, it has to be seen in the flesh, so to speak.

 

Also at Saatchi…  Not part of “Painters Painting”, there are separate exhibitions in the upper galleries by Phoebe Unwin and Mequitta Ahuja.

Phoebe Unwin

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I love this imprisoning criss-cross patterning.  Other works here by Unwin suggestive of Gerhard Richter’s faded photo style.

 

Mequitta Ahuja

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I still think there is a hint of Ofili in these great action portraits (surely selfies) of a woman with a cast in one eye.

 

Bloomberg New Contemporaries, ICA

Several arresting works, including these two:

Janina Lange, Shooting Clouds (video)

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Jamie Fitzpatrick, The King (wax sculpture)

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Revolution – New Art for a New World (Margy Kinmonth, 2016) – ICA

Fascinating documentary made by Kinmonth based on research in the Russian archives and interviews with curators and descendants of the artists discussed. The usual suspects are there; Malevich, Kandinsky, Chagall, Rodchenko – but also lesser known artists, namely:

Filonov, Lentulov, Klutsis, Konchalovsky, Popova, Stepanova and Petrov-Vodkin.

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Klutsis

 

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Petrov-Vodkin

The history is sort of GCSE level, but I guess Kinmonth wanted to get onto the art as soon as possible, so fair enough.  It’s sobering to remember the fate of some of these artists, in particular Klutsis and Meyerhold, the theatre director, both of whom were shot, after vicious beatings and torture in the case of Meyerhold.  Why? To wring out vital information about directing and screenprinting?

 

Dante’s Inferno, Ken Russell (1967)

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Oliver Reed and co-smoulderer Gala Mitchell as (respectively) Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Jane Morris, in this fabulous Ken Russell film for the BBC, made in 1967.  According to Russell’s film editor, Michael Bradsell, Reed had three “settings” – Smoulder 1, 2 and 3.  Russell would simply call out the number he wanted and Reed would deliver the appropriate intensity of smouldering look.

 

Little People

A couple of my life paintings to finish, from my series “Little People” (actually, it’s the canvases that are little, not the people – but anyway…)

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Faun’s Afternoon

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Man Sitting Uncomfortably

Blackpaint

4/12/16

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Blackpaint 524 – Karl, Kitaj and hanging about in the woods

December 13, 2015

A Death in the Family, My Struggle Vol.1,  Karl Ove Knausgard

The obsessive detail in which Knausgard describes the minutiae of everyday life can be crushing; when you see the denseness of the type on the Kindle page, no paragraphs in sight, it recalls Proust.  I’m glad to hear that reviewers have mentioned Proust in connection with his projected multi-volume memoir.  Others mention his unflinching confessional style, glossing over nothing for the sake of discretion. It’s surprisingly gripping, in the sense that you read page after page looking for somewhere to stop, thinking why doesn’t he just say he made tea, instead of telling you how he filled the kettle with water from the cold tap, pushed the button in, watched the red light glow….  Should he get up or should he have a wank?  The cartoonist Steve Bell broached this years ago in his “If” series; ex -Seaman Kipling posed himself the same question, but he described it as a “discreet Sherman”.

The critic James Wood described it as interesting, even when it is boring; I sort of see what he means.

Kitaj and his Life Drawings

I have to say I think Ron Kitaj’s life drawings are pretty much the business, so here’s a selection, some of which I’ve shown before:

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I know, male gaze and all that – but they are fantastic.

Bloomberg New Contemporaries, ICA

There were four stand out works for me:

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Katy Schwab

These are cross-stitch embroidery – pretty good, eh? There are four or five I think, and they are very small, but perfectly formed.  Made me think of Sonia Delaunay and Sophie Tauber -Arp.

 

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Jamie Fitzpatrick

The figure is made of wax – and he seems to have borrowed his paints from the artist below; the palette’s almost the same.

 

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James William Collins, “Ffion”

I thought a tiny bit Guston-y – but my partner frostily put me in my place, saying the colours were totally different to those of the great Phillip…

 

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Hilde Krohn Huse – Hanging in the Woods

A video sequence. in which the naked artist has contrived to suspend herself from a tree and undertakes a number of balletic or yogic movements which increasingly appear to be attempts to release herself.  It’s funny, sinister in the suicide connotations – and interesting to those of us who do life drawing, in the sense that you don’t often see the anatomy performing under such conditions.  I think next time I’m at Putney, I’ll suggest to the model they might try something similar; wonder what sort of reply I’ll get?

Carol, 2015 (dir. Todd Haynes)

Famously featuring Cate Blanchett as Carol and Rooney Mara as her younger lover.  It had a lot of effusive praise on “Film 2015”;  It looks great (that Zodiac palette, again, that you also see in the current Fargo series), the 50s cars and especially that train set in the department store) and the acting’s good, of course.  However, if it had been a male/female affair, it would have been unremarkable.  My attention strayed once or twice.

I had another attack of that thing where I catch glimpses of other faces; this time, it was Cate in profile with startled eyes and lips hanging open – Donald Sutherland in “Casanova”! And Rooney Mara, in a scene near the end, was suddenly the girl who plays Audrey Hepburn in the Galaxy chocolate advert.

The soundtrack was good, though; Billie Holiday singing “Easy Living” and a vocal group doing “One Mint Julep”.

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Heaven Only Knows 2

Blackpaint

12.12.15

 

Blackpaint 477 – Stockings, Skeletons and Sharks

January 11, 2015

Bloomberg New Contemporaries at the ICA

Another great little exhibition of young artists, only on until 25th January; only a quid to get in.  I liked Athena Papadopoulos (below), with a blue-based collage of stained, spotted and holed fabrics…

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Athena Papadopoulos

…and Yi Dai, with the three pieces below.  Those are stretched stockings around the edges and there are tiny hairs in the centre cracks.  Strangely repellent and yet somehow erotic…  perhaps I should get out more, as they say.

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Yi Dai

Additionally, there was a piece painted on thick cardboard that had to do with meat being minced and obesity(?) – but I’ve lost my notes and can’t remember the artist’s name.  I’ll drop in the ICA tomorrow and check.

There’s a roomful of  videos constantly playing upstairs, one of which appears to be a man in a covered market, straining pints of  thick yellow liquid through a hanging linen bag and then drinking it.  I thought it was paint until he started to drink; my partner thinks it was mango juice.  Not sure of the message – which is not a worry for me, as long as the images are arresting.

Conflict Time Photography, Tate Modern

This is on until March.  Photographs from various war zones, taken at the time of the conflict, then maybe ten years, thirty years, fifty years later.  A huge exhibition; lots of conflicts:

  • Iraq Desert Storm, 1991 – aerial colour shots of the desert, the blitzed convoy remains of the famous “turkey shoot”, dead tanks, a child’s shoes, half-buried in sand..
  • nuclear test site in Kazakhstan, towers like those you get in fire stations for the firefighters to practise on, stairs to nowhere – reminiscent of the Kiefer towers..
  • Hiroshima – distorted bottle, shadow of the ladder man, skullbone fused in helmet, billowing fire and smoke cloud, radiation scars..
  • McCullin’s Berlin photos – US soldiers, standing like saints or angels in the empty statue alcoves of a church..
  • uprooted WW11 bunkers on the French coast (the photos taken by the Wilsons for “Ruin Lust”)..
  • Spain – skeletons disinterred from the Civil War, one with hands crossed over ribs, resembling a mediaeval plague pit; for me, the most powerful visual in the exhibition..
  • Congo, Vietnam, Nicaragua..
  • Nazi party headquarters, Berlin bunkers and the Wolf’s Lair (Rastenburg)
  • strange photos of little wooden model houses, that turn out to be “torture houses” of the Communist regime in Latvia or Lithuania..

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Nebraska, Alexander Payne (Dir)

My Christmas DVD, featuring the great Bruce Dern as an irascible old git convinced he has won millions in a lottery, who keeps setting out to travel to Nebraska from Montana to collect the prize.  The landscapes are bleak and beautiful; it looks a lot like the Last Picture Show.  It’s funny and not too sentimental and if there were still such a thing, it would make a great double bill with King of Marvin Gardens, in which Dern starred with Jack Nicholson back in the 70s; come to think of it, there are similarities between the young and the old Dern and the long-suffering, protective roles of Nicholson and Will Forte, respectively Dern’s brother in Marvin Gardens and son in Nebraska (if that all makes sense).

Shark, Will Self

Finished this and grew to love it by the end.  The last section, which is fragmented and seems to involve several different voices, smacks strongly of Ulysses – at first I thought of Molly’s bit, but that’s more coherent, so maybe the hospital sequence or the Ormond…  Anyway, got to read it again to try and sort it out…

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 Phil Seated

 

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Phil Again 

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Sonia Seated 

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Amanda’s Back

Blackpaint, 

11.01.15

Je Suis Charlie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 426 – Wishbones, Hair Gel, Bergman and Buttock

December 20, 2013

Bloomberg New Contemporaries at the ICA

Some interesting stuff to see, some of which I recognise from degree shows at Chelsea:

Martin van den Bos, paintings in acrylic, emulsion and pencil resembling putty grey images slightly reminiscent of de Kooning women in monochrome – one called “Pear shaped Woman”.  I like these, probably because they are old-fashioned Ab Ex type images.

Catherine Hughes does window frames, which lean against the wall, with fluorescent lights loosely attached to their sides, “curtains” made from large digital prints.

Laura O’ Neill, “Boney P”, a large sculpture roughly in the form of a wishbone with feet – again, rather recalling de Kooning.  Nothing like the Clamdiggers really, but made me think of them…

Lauren Cohen, “Lunchbox”, a great little animation, roughly drawn figures morphing into fruits etc,; I love roughness and texture in drawing and painting, would like to see the original stills for these.

Yves Scherer, a plaque of fake grass, thickened and erected with hair gel, under glass – why is that good?  Who knows?

Adam Hogarth, another animation, the memorable feature of which is a doll’s anus apparently addressing the audience…

Joanna Piotrowska, three photos from FROWST (?); really striking, especially the one of the two girls in similar dresses, one gazing frankly at the viewer with her boyish face.  Best thing on show.

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There are a number of videos on show upstairs; the one I saw was by Fatma Busak, titled “Blessed are those who Come”, and shows a group of elderly Turkish men, grouped around a ruined temple (?) on the Turkish-Armenian border, so say the notes.  They are rather bemused by the attentions of a woman, her face veiled but her long black dress revealing a bare shoulder, who gives them each a piece of bread (although apparently it is a fast day) and cavorts around them as they discuss whether to stay there as asked and be filmed – or to go home.

In addition to the Bloomberg exhibition, there is a work by Zhang Enlai, who has done a painting which completely covers a large hall – you couldn’t call it a room, it’s more like a vault – and which consists of blue, green, cream, brown patches and smears of paint connected by lines and coils in an abstract pattern – or rather, no discernible pattern at all.  What interested me was that it looked great from outside the room, framed in the entrance; inside, it was rather underwhelming, although all-enveloping.

Persona

Ingmar Bergman’s famous film from 1966 featuring Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann; I sat watching it, predicting what would happen next – she’ll tear the photo in half, she’ll slap her face, she’ll step on the glass – then realised that this film was the origin of the cliches.  Anyway, seen it before, in 66 or 67, so I might even have buried memories.  You can’t miss the influence on Tarkovsky; the lingering close-ups on faces, the music, the landscape, the flashes of old film, the bits of newsreel…

Citizen Kane

Watched this again and was rather hard put to see why it is rated so highly by film buffs; great film, staggering set of Xanadu – but surely Vertov and Eisenstein and Gance were more technically innovative earlier.  I actually think Welles’ “The Trial” was more impressive.  Kane would be in my top 20, probably around 20.

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Woman with Red Buttock

Blackpaint

20.12.13

Happy Christmas to all readers who celebrate it.

Blackpaint 370 – Abstraction under the Soviets, New Contemporaries Over Here

December 6, 2012

Breaking the Ice: Moscow Art 1960 – 80s

This is on upstairs at the Saatchi and consists of three sorts of work, loosely speaking;  abstract (expressionist and constructivist, I suppose you could call it), surrealist and Pop Art.  The abstract works are somewhat derivative, but the wonder is they were done at all.  What would have been the rewards for producing this sort of work in that period?  Where could you show it?  There would have been suppression, destruction of the work, persecution, maybe imprisonment.  Maybe you could do them secretly, invite a few friends round to see, sell a few or give them to friends…  At the Venice Biennale last year, I saw photographs of brave abstractionists from this period who displayed their work collectively in the open air, sometimes in the snow, as art shows/demonstrations.  Inevitably, they would be broken up and the works destroyed, often with violence from the police.  I’m afraid I didn’t pay close enough attention to this exhibition, being tired after the big show downstairs (reviewed in last blog).  I’ll be going again to put that right.

Bloomberg New Contemporaries at the ICA

This turned out to be a great show and I thoroughly recommend it.  There were a number of paintings that really caught my attention but again, didn’t make a note of the names; when I go again, I’ll amend this blog to put it right.  In the meantime – small, dark-coloured, triangular paintings with dribbles, reminding me of Bram van Velde (motifs) and Varda Caivano (colours, especially that acid green/blue).  Also like Van Velde, two black on white canvases with a rectangles divided by crossing diagonals; sort of kite shapes.  Darkish watercolour blooms on brown, unbleached linen.  A video loop called “Going for a Stroll”, which showed a series of beautiful Japanese(?) women in stylish clothes, doing just that, on white stone bridges, in parks, by water, ornate surroundings.  What caught my attention here was one sequence in which the woman appeared to be bleached out by mist or maybe pixel degeneration in the film – made her look like a Sasnal or Richter picture animated.  A lovely, juicy painting, like a combination of Twombly and Christopher Wool – squiggly loops, dark red on grey – but what’s in the background?  Looks like a dark building…  On a TV in the middle of the gallery, a woman life model, trying out poses against a background of blue and yellow.

Upstairs, a big cinematic  video titled “Improvisation” – basically, an athletic male dancer carrying out a series of increasingly fast and complex African dance steps – real pleasure to watch.

The Beaches of Agnes

Agnes Varda’s great autobiographical film, a combination of history, surrealism, and playful reconstruction of her life in films and notably, her life with Jacques Demy; another real pleasure.

Blackpaint Exhibition

This weekend, 11.00am – 6.00pm, Saturday and Sunday, at Studio Blackpaint, 84 Ribblesdale Road, London SW16 (near-ish Tooting Bec tube).  Come and see the paintings featured in this blog and buy, if you wish.  Overseas visitors especially welcome – do I hear the planes heading in from USA, Australia, Brazil, Reunion, Ukraine, Vatican City…?

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Saints Heads

Blackpaint 

6.12.12

Blackpaint 319 – The Slipping Glimpser

January 16, 2012

De Kooning

I gave myself the Thames and Hudson Retrospective of DK for Christmas.  It seems to me that you need a label different from Abstract Expressionism to fit him – a third part of his work seems to me to be figures, another third landscape in some way and only maybe a third abstract.  Proportions probably wrong, but you get my drift, no doubt.  I was interested to read that he called himself a “slipping glimpser” – nice phrase, which I take to mean he tried to capture some fleeting moment, or movement, or impression that he received on the corner of the eye or maybe was gone before he could even identify it, like catching hold of a dream.  I’m not sure this would make any sense in the context of abst ract painting – but it certainly does with figurative.  Trying to think of other painters who do that, and Bacon and Auerbach come to mind. 

Sometimes it’s hard to describe or pin down painters’ techniques (or tricks – or is that the same thing?)   I remember in the Diebenkorn book, Jane Livingston talks about Dieb.’s subversion of his own graphic skills, to draw intentionally awkwardly, “even clumsily”, to achieve the effect he wanted.  I think that she means the achievement of a rich surface by means of  smeared or broken lines, reworkings with “ghost” marks left in, clotted, grooved or scraped areas.. or maybe she is referring to his figurative paintings, his drawing style. 

The Artist

Saw this last week, and was unable to understand the universal acclaim.  I found the jaunty music and silent movie cliche really irritating at first, but as the story deepened and the charm of the two stars took hold, I enjoyed it more.  Nevertheless, an hour after seeing it, it was fading from my mind.  The French do pastiche very well, though.  I used to go to the Django Reinhart Gypsy Jazz festival at Samois every year, and whatever type of jazz was being performed – blues, jug band, Glenn Miller, bebop – a French ensemble was there to do it perfectly.

Bloomberg New Contemporaries at the ICA

Website tells me this is now finished, but I was intrigued by the relatively few paintings and sculptures on show.  There was one that resembled a Frank Stella; dreamcatcher shape, smooth surfaces, straight lines, airbrushed – “cherry” as the Cool School would have called it; another, the opposite, roughly painted, crude colouring, called “Garden ghosts” I think; another composed of long green and brown and yellow(?) streaks, like an abstraction of a tropical tree, a bit Richter or Irvin maybe.  What occurred to me was that, despite their differences, they shared with the smaller sculptures the advantage of being easily saleable, transportable and hangable;  Ideal commodities, that is to say.  How the hell do you sell a shallow flight of stairs, leading to a narrow window, which lights up every few minutes? 

The Mystery of Appearance, Haunch of Venison, Bond Street

Free exhibition of English painters of 60s on – Auerbach, Freud, Bacon, Kossoff, Hockney et al.  Three beautiful Auerbachs, two of Primrose Hill, but the best a very small picture of a prone male(?) figure lying face down, it appears.  The background is dark grey or brown, with a raised central square panel, and the figure is picked out in loops or petals of white, green and blue-maybe yellow too-paint.  Then, there is a large Andrews, a reach of the Thames or some such that has a tract of mud and shifting sand that recalls the surface of the early Sandra Blow pictures.  Another Andrews is a large reception at Norwich Castle, showing Frank Thistlethwaite, the VC of University of East Anglia when I was there.  I recognised the painting – I think it hung somewhere at UEA, the Union maybe.  What I didn’t know was that the blobby nature of the faces wasn’t just bad brushwork, but a comment on the old Victorian- style VIP painting. Like Diebenkorn, intentionally clumsy.

Blackpaint

16.01.12