Posts Tagged ‘Boetti’

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 362 – Squirrel Suicide and Beuys Hanging at the Whitechapel

October 10, 2012

Whitechapel Gallery

Giuseppe Penone – Giant “felled” tree, in bronze,  cut into sections and hollowed so that you can look right through it – almost; there’s a curve at one end.  The branches are naked and lopped, like the upright real trees by the same artist  in the Arte Povera bit of the Tate Modern.  But as well as being made of bronze, this one is lined with crinkly gold stuff.  So – it’s like a Bond Street version of an Anselm Kiefer, or a Damien dry run before he thought of the skull.

Maurizio Catellan

There’s a small exhibition by this artist, famous for the pope felled by a meteorite in the Sensations exhibition and for the horse halfway to the ceiling with its head stuck into the wall.  This is show is small in both senses; the famous squirrel suicide (sprawled across a table, tiny gun on floor, empty glass, possibly poison) is on the floor against the wall.  it’s tiny but then of course it is – it’s squirrel-sized.  For some reason, I was surprised;  I expected a giant squirrel.

A small man in a grey felt suit hangs by the collar from a peg on an upright trolley; slick black hair, prominent, curved nose.  I saw the felt suit and thought, “Beuys” – but unfortunately, didn’t say it to my friend.  A moment later, I read the wall blurb and it identified the suit as a reference to Beuys.  Cursed the missed opportunity to make an informed comment in a loud voice within earshot of the attendant.

A huge industrial rubble bag filled with bricks and – rubble.  Apparently, from an art gallery in Sicily bombed by the Mafia.

A large circular rug on the floor, made from the design of the label on a box of Bel Paese cheese. And that’s about it, apart from a couple of unremarkable neons.  The squirrel scenario and the hanging Beuys I liked – the cheese rug reminded me of Boetti and the maps.

Eyes Wide Shut

Watched this mildly erotic Kubrick film over several evenings, 40 minutes a hit (it’s pretty long) and was surprised it was good – I remember it being widely slated on release.  What was really striking, however, was the dialogue between Cruise and Kidman in the grass smoking scene – they both, but particularly Cruise, seem to be channeling Jack Nicholson in “the Shining”.  That thing where Nicholson, as Torrance, repeats the last thing that Shelley Duval has said in that mocking, disbelieving way – Cruise does it several times.  “The Shining” was, of course, a Kubrick film so presumably it’s the direction.  The lighting, too, at the first party, reminded me of the bar scene with Delbert Grady; very intense on the faces, enhancing the shadows and highlights.

Freedom of Expression

Having signed petitions about Pussy Riot and others banged up abroad, I was alarmed to see jail and community service sentences being handed out in the UK for posting stuff on the net that was “grossly offensive”; not life-threatening, or part of a campaign of harrassment, but grossly offensive.  How do we criticise other countries and protest about free speech issues when we start locking people up for saying or writing offensive things?  The youth who posted the “joke” about the missing girl deserves our censure and disapproval but if you start jailing people for that, you are faced with the problem of definition – who decides what’s offensive, and to whom?  The answer is the judges,of course – and we all agree with them…

 

Servan

Figure Collage

Blackpaint

10/10/12

Blackpaint 330 – Guns, Knives, Spaghetti and Rubbish

March 12, 2012

Niki de Saint Phalle

I have been looking at her “Shooting Piece” for many short periods, during the last 11 days – reason being, it’s on the March page of our Tate calendar, which hangs on the toilet door.  On Saturday, at the Tate, I had the chance to look at it in the flesh, or rather, plaster.  It’s a white plaque of thick, rumpled plaster, down which several trails of paint –  red, blue, yellow, violet – have been allowed to dribble.  It seems that she put paint into polythene bags, buried them in the plaster, and invited fellow artists – Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg – to fire bullets into the work.  The paint released then ran down, in and out of the ridges randomly (sorry about the inadvertent alliteration).

I like the work; I find it pleasing visually and quite memorable.  I think I could have gone on liking the work and not knowing how it was produced, without being troubled by it.  Or rather, now that I know, it doesn’t alter my feelings in any way.  Is it now a joint work by Saint Phalle, JJ and RR?  Does the element of chance add or subtract meaning?   Not for me; I respond to its looks, not the information I have about its origins, the intentions of the artist, its context, in short.  Very shallow, maybe, but a good rule of thumb in galleries – unless you want to spend a lot of time peering at wall info, or blocking everybody’s view while you listen to some long audio commentary.

Igor and Svetlana Kopystansky

I watched their film, made in Chelsea district of NY over 2 years.  Called “Incidents”, it’s basically rubbish blowing about the streets in strong winds.  It’s hard to avoid the thought that they may have cheated by introducing particularly interesting bits of rubbish – why is this cheating?  Don’t know – it turns the film into something manufactured, rather than observed (but editing, which they of course did, does that as well).  Completely contradicts what I said about Saint Phalle, but blogger’s privilege…  Anyway, these plastic bags, cartons, bits and pieces slide and whirl about, occasionally pouncing on other bits like predators or mating insects.  Reminded me of one of those Czech cartoons you used to get on TV when they had a slot to fill.

Alighiero Boetti

At the Tate Modern.  Starts with a bunch of Arte Povera pieces, such as a perspex cube containing a sort of chest made from a variety of brown materials like bamboo and spaghetti; huge rolls of stiff paper, pulled out like a giant’s toilet roll.  Lots of writings on large yellowing paper sheets, noughts and crosses, alphabets, little broken symbols like Braille crossed with pixcels (not easy on the eye. requiring close study); letter/word colour tiles, that were almost the same as pieces by Gavin Turk, shown in a weekend paper a couple of weeks ago – some sort of hommage, presumably?

Aircraft drawn on blue in biro, apparently,; “Tutti” – tapestry wall hangings with everything in them, crammed in – bones, horses, people, trumpets…..; and the famous Afghan map hangings in bright colours, countries with flags embroidered on them.  Did it in 20 minutes, having not been stirred to serious thought or moved to tears by visual splendours.  I’d put it in the same slot as the Orozco show, a while back.

Colquhoun and MacBryde

I was interested to read in the Bristow book, “The Last Bohemians”, that Ken Russell made a BBC film about them for Monitor – only 10 minutes long, entitled “Scottish Painters”.  From Bristow’s description, it sounds like a serious study of their painting techniques and work.  A few years later, when Ken was in more florid mode,  would he have included the scene, related by Bristow, of a drunken, naked Colquhoun chasing a drunken, naked MacBryde around a front garden in Wembley, waving a knife. and lit up by occasional lightning?  I don’t think he could have resisted..

Stained Glass

Blackpaint

12/3/12