Posts Tagged ‘Breaking the Ice Moscow Art 1960 – 1980s’

Blackpaint 378 – Urinals and Wooden Specs

January 24, 2013

Breaking the Ice: Moscow Art 1960 – 80s

I’ve now visited this show again (Saatchi Gallery until 21st Feb) and will try to do it a little more justice than last time.

Vladimir Nemukhin and Lydia Masterkova, colourful and energetic abstracts with overtones of Kandinsky and anthropop colours.  Yuri Zlotnikov, like dots and lines and dashes escaped from Malevich’s Constructivist abstracts.  Oleg Tselkov’s bulky, masklike faces, remind one of Botero maybe or even Lempicka in the execution.  Oskar Rabin’s black, grey and white Caligari houses and streets and crucified vodka bottle and fish.  Dmitri Plavinsky’s scabrous grey tablets, like Rosetta Stones studded with bits and pieces. Dimitri Krasnopevtsev’s distorted dungeon stairs and arches in grey, black and white.

Ilya Kabakov’s rough, Socialist Realist pastiches that he “attacked” with an axe in a studio Happening, or stick paper rosettes on in neat lines.  Rough, giant wooden Soviet (rose-coloured?) spectacles, and a rickety wooden Tatlin tower model – who did those? – and Lenin meeting Giacometti man (Leonid Sokov).  Alexander Kosolapov’s Suprematist Urinals – really smart or “cherry”, as the LA Cool School artists would say; bet they’d sell in the gift shop.  And Warhol pastiches with Soviet imagery – bit obvious, but funny.  The best painting by Victor Pivovarov, big, pastel colours, looks abstract until you see the figures on the sides.  Colours reminded me of Gary Hume.  Couldn’t find it online.

So: the obvious reaction is admiration that this work was produced at all, given the lack of opportunity to show without state interference.  Great show, especially for free and with the main event downstairs, the contemporary Russian art.

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The Garden of the Finzi Contini

Vittorio de Sica’s sunlit but harrowing film from the 70’s with Dominique Sanda as the doomed heroine – the pre-deportation scenes in the schoolhouse are hard to bear.  Unfortunately, I have a tendency (like many others, I suspect) to be assailed by inappropriate thoughts at grave moments; I couldn’t help but notice Sanda’s occasional resemblance to the Lady Penelope puppet in  Thunderbirds.  

The London Art Fair

Discussing this last week, I forgot to mention the fantastic photos of Homer Sykes; British folk customs caught 30 – 40 years ago, including the great Britannia Coconut Dancers at Bacup in Lancashire.  Also, Ian Beesley’s photos, featured last week in the Guardian.  Google them both and see some great images.

Warhol

Some early drawings by Warhol featured (again in the Guardian) and the owner compares them to Schiele, saying they show a brilliant talent.  Well, maybe – but so what?  Surely the least important thing about Warhol is his ability to draw hands “properly”; it’s that Robert Hughes bit again – you can’t be a proper artist unless you can draw properly.

Fernando Pessoa

I’m reading his “Book of Disquiet” – cross between Sartre in “Nausea” mode (lots of things make him sick), Celine and a slight touch of Adrian Mole.  He’s got my number on art though: “The downfall of classical ideals made all men potential artists, and therefore bad artists.  When art depended on solid construction and the careful observance of rules, few could attempt to be artists, and a fair number of these were quite good.  But when art, instead of being understood as creation, became merely an expression of feelings, then anyone could be an artist, because everyone has feelings.”  That’s me then.

A Prophet

Watched this brilliant, long, French prison film again and I have to mention Niels Arestrup, as the ageing Corsican gangster Luciani; poignant scene when the other Corsicans sing as they leave him behind and even more, when el-Djebena is released from the hole and “transfers” to the Muslims.

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Bloody Window

Blackpaint 

24.01.13

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