Posts Tagged ‘Bridget Riley’

Blackpaint 499 – The RA, the Internationale, Milk Cartons and Laundry Baskets

June 14, 2015

The Royal Academy Summer Show

Last blog, I identified the best picture in the show, which happened to be that of my partner, Marion Jones (Bars and Triangles, sold already).  It had a fleeting appearance on the Kirsty Wark BBC programme about the exhibition last night; about half a second, I think, so here’s another chance to see it:

marion RA

However, I feel I should I should mention some other pictures on display, so here goes:

Rose Hilton – Red Studio

rose

 

Hughie O’ Donoghue – Animal Farm

hughie

 

Frank Bowling – Pickerslift

frank

(It’s much bigger than this)

Christopher le Brun – Can’t or Won’t?

chris

(and so is this)

These are all big nobs; of the non – RAs and unknowns (to me, anyway) these two are the ones I liked best:

Arthur Neal – Studio and Garden

arthur

 

John O’Donnell – Winter

john

 

The BBC at War, BBC1

Just watched the first episode of this; interesting that William Joyce (Lord Haw Haw) had a British audience estimated at six million for his propaganda broadcasts from Germany; the JB Priestley broadcasts were set up by the BBC in competition.  Also, When the Germans invaded Russia, Churchill forbade, for a time, the playing of the Internationale as one of the anthems of the Allied nations; the music played on the programme to illustrate the eventual rescinding of the ban was NOT the Internationale, however, but the Soviet National Anthem.  Maybe the BBC doesn’t know the difference.

The Saragossa Manuscript, Wojciech Has (1965)

This Polish film is pure Bunuel, which perhaps explains Bunuel’s approving comment on the DVD box.  I think it contains the original delayed -action joke, where something happens mysteriously in one scene – and then is explained much later.  Guy Ritchie did it in “Snatch”, when a milk carton inexplicably explodes on a car windscreen and gets then chucked at the car later in the film.  In “Manuscript”, it involves a laundry basket.

Jonathan Jones

Another VERY definitive position adopted by Jones, this time regarding Bridget Riley.  Apparently, she’s more important than the figurative masters Bacon, Freud and Hockney because she provided the public with a new reality, based on a “scientific” approach to optical effect.  Only Howard Hodgkin is as important – his approach is poetic, though, whereas hers is (sort of) scientific.  The approach is quite reminiscent of Brian Sewell; black and white.  Anything reviewed is either brilliant and exposes the shoddiness and the bogus nature of some other artists – or it’s bogus and “silly” like Bacon at the Sainsbury Centre and is exposed as such by the brilliance of some other artists.

I’ve just seen “Fighting History” at Tate Britain, a show panned by Jonathan Jones as “moronic” in the Guardian the other day.  He’s right that it’s not great, but it’s nowhere near as bad as he says; my take on it next week.

 

geometry1

Geometry 2

Blackpaint

14.06.15

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Blackpaint 465 – Boyd’s Law, Nazis, Eyeballs and Ticky Tacky

October 17, 2014

William Boyd on Schiele

Boyd, writing in  last Saturday’s Guardian Review, praises  Egon Schiele (Courtauld Gallery exhibition opening on 23rd October) as a “phenomenal draughtsman”; fair enough, but he then goes on to revisit his argument that only great draughtsmen – there are only men in his list – can be “truly great”  painters:  “I believe that you can’t be a truly great painter if you’re not an excellent draughtsman.”  He cites Robert Hughes in support of this proposition: “..the naked figure, male and female (is) the ultimate test and validation, so the critic Robert Hughes has stated, of any artist.s merit and painterly ability.”   He (Boyd) goes on to single out Pollock: “Jackson Pollock, to name but one giant of modernism, is a pre-eminent example – he was a shockingly inept draughtsman – but there are dozens of others.” From the work of Pollock and these others, Boyd can tell – and so can we, he says –  that there is something “fundamentally lacking”.

Surely, this is nonsense.  How can you tell from Pollock’s “Lavender Mist” that he was a bad draughtsman?  Bridget Riley?  John Hoyland?  Joan Mitchell?  Gillian Ayres?  Rothko? All great painters, I would argue – but I’ve no idea if they could do a good figure drawing (apart from Rothko, who was no great shakes, I know).

To drag in Hughes is misleading, too, if you are going to have a go at Jackson – Hughes leaves little doubt in his essay on Pollock in “Nothing if not Critical”, that he regarded him as a true great, in spite of his limitations as a “draftsman”: “When he set up a repeated frieze of drawn motifs, as he did for Peggy Guggenheim in 1943, the result – as drawing – was rather monotonous.  But when he found he could throw lines of paint in the air, the laws of energy and fluid motion made up for the awkwardness of his fist, and from then on, there was no grace that he could not claim.  Compared with his paintings, the myth of Pollock hardly matters”.

The Schiele looks good, though; but a bit freaky, as if made for repro as posters for student bedrooms.  I think you’d soon get sick of them, despite the “phenomenal” skill involved.

schiele

 

 

Richard Tuttle at the Whitechapel Gallery

I went to the private view, sunk the regulation three glasses of fizzy wine, and now I’m going to be ungrateful;  I found this exhibition of the US minimalist to be very disappointing.  There are some beautiful prints, lithographs, or maybe monoprints, reproduced below; didn’t like the rest.  Tiny wall plaques with ticky-tacky little constructions stuck to them – one looked like a bed of cress; a sort of Schwitters construction like a giant mousetrap; bits of string in shapes on the floor; a few paintings combining blue and red marks on a white background with a lower section in black, oil stick maybe; sagging lumps of fabric, cut into odd shapes; some pieces that looked broken or collapsing on themselves (someone did similar stuff in a Turner Prize exhibition some years ago-can’t remember the name).  And poems, I think, on the walls, to go with the exhibits.  Didn’t read them.

richard tuttle

Sculpture at the Whitechapel

Don’t miss this.  There’s a de Kooning mud figure, a Schutte head on a tripod, some flayed figures by the Polish guy who was at the Biennale last year, a Louise Bourgeois that looks like a sawfish blade, a Henry Moore reclining figure…

Downfall

Had to watch it when it was on last week; third time, I think.  Goebbels and Magda are terrifying, Mohnke is great (the actor, not the real man; implicated in murder of British POWs at Wormhoudt) – and Traudl looks lovely in the German helmet…

downfall

Julia’s Eyes

Del Toro film, with some ludicrous bits, strongly relying on three “horrific” scenes: a knife through the mouth, a needle through the eye and a throat- cutting suicide (not as shocking as the one in “Hidden”).  Below, for your pleasure, I reproduce the needle moment and the eyeball cutting from Un Chien Andalou, by way of comparison.

julias eyes

un chien andalou

I think Chien still has the edge (pardon the pun).

Shark, Will Self

So, you’re reading away, inside someone’s head, hanging on and understanding maybe 70% – then, it all goes pear-shaped.  You’ve gone into someone else’s head without a signal and you might go a page or two without realising.  Then, you go back to look for the bit where it changed…  most annoying, but that’s experimental writing for you.

 

002

Samonas

Blackpaint

11.10.14

 

 

Blackpaint 294

September 13, 2011

Changing Times…

Edward Lucie-Smith, writing in 1969, refers to Bridget Riley as “Miss Riley”.  Male painters are referred to by their surnames: “Hockney”does this or that…  .  Lucie – Smith quotes Dr. Johnson with reference to computer – generated art: “Dr, Johnson’s remark about a woman preaching seems applicable: it is not that the computer does it well, but it is surprising that it can do it at all.”  Interestingly, he later refers to Barbara Hepworth as “Hepworth” – clearly a sign of respect.

In material from the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich, I am told that Mary Webb taught at Norwich School of Art – which has since been renamed “Norwich University College of the Arts”.  What bollocks all that is; Norwich Art School sounds much better, I think.

Days of Heaven

Finally got to see this great film again, at the BFI – I remember seeing it back in 1979 and thinking it was the best film I’d ever seen.  I remembered the name of Nestor Almendros, the cinematographer, but not that it was Terence Malick directing – the photography seemed far more important.  It was nearly as stunning the second time, but maybe a little less so, because my expectations were so high.  The narrative voice of the young girl provided a clear link to Badlands; parts of it, and parts of the dialogue sounded improvised.  I found Leo Kottke’s upbeat guitar music a bit irritating and there was one scene which came perilously close to that awful stretch in Gangs of New York, where everyone is doing their own street bit – juggling, fighting, drinking, picking a pocket…  The river scenes reminded me a little of Night of the Hunter.  Brooke Adams has somehow got a silent film face; I could easily see her with Chaplin, in Gold Rush, say.  Strange, beautiful eyes and that downturned mouth…

Fellini’s Casanova

And yes! The whale makes an appearance in this too, as a circus/freak show exhibit, like in Tarr’s Werckmeister, and Fellini’s own Satyricon (although not in a circus; hoisted from the sea).   I think there’s a thesis to be written on the role of rotting whale carcases in art house cinema.  Maybe you could stretch it to include huge, unidentified fish things, to get Dolce Vita in.

Degas and Picasso

Adrian Searle in today’s Guardian, says that the famous Degas statue of the Little Dancer was “the model for one of the figures in Picasso’s 1906 Demoiselles d’Avignon – or at least, this is the opinion of Richard Kendall, the curator of the Degas show at the RA.  I checked this out, and he can only mean the demoiselle on the left, as the viewer looks at the painting.  The posture and the head position are completely different, however, and the only resemblance I can see is between the right leg of the little dancer and the leg of the demoiselle – pretty thin, really (the idea, not the leg).

Diebenkorn

I have started to love that second abstract period; the way some of them combine the painterly-ness with the schematic, sort of half minimalism of all those ones that look like archways or windiws…  started to do some like that myself – only 35 years later, of course…

The song the spider sings

Blackpaint

Sept 13th 2011

Blackpaint 224

November 27, 2010

Last Suppers

Just watched Bunuel’s “Viridiana” again – and it has the best beggars’ banquet scene in it.  A nun invites the local beggar population to move into the mansion she inherited from her uncle (who hanged himself because she wouldn’t marry him).  As usual in Bunuel films,  naive (sanctimonious) kindness results in unexpected disaster – when she leaves them alone to go on an errand, they raid the cellars and kitchens, set themselves a sumptuous meal, get drunk, fight, fornicate, wreck the place.  At the climax of the feast, the drunken figures resolve themselves into a tableau of da Vinci’s “Last Supper”, grouped around a beggar “Christ”.

For some reason, this scene annoyed the church in Spain, where Bunuel directed the film after 25 years in exile, and it was suppressed by the Spanish government.

Bridget Riley

Read Hilary Spurling in the Guardian Review and found that, yet again, I must have missed something – there was a Rubens included in the exhibition.  Have to go again, but that won’t be a problem; the painting “Red on Red” that I mentioned was reproduced in the paper and looked even more beautiful than I remember.  The only problem is that it very faintly reminded me of a British Gas logo.

Asger Jorn

As always – well, often – happens when I look at art books,  I find myself reproducing in a general sort of way, the style or look, if not the techniques of artists I like.  I suppose this lurks around the plagiarism area, but it’s not conscious; it just happens.  I’ve been burrowing in Guy Atkins’ book “Jorn in Scandinavia 1930 – 53” and a very pale something of the following pictures seems to have lodged in my head and come out on the paper (run out of canvas, pro tem): “Wounded Beast”, “Buttadeo”, “Sickly Phantoms” and “Return to the Detested Town”.  These are all from 1951 and all feature heavy black scoring (looks like charcoal) around ghostly white or green faces, emerging from a maelstromic – is that a word? – background.  I seem to have picked up on the black scoring, for now anyway.

Bonnard  

Last Bonnard for a bit;  Bonnard was always revising his work and Julian Bell tells the story of Vuillard and Bonnard going to museums in which B’s works were displayed, where Bonnard would alter a picture with which he had become  dissatisfied, while Vuillard diverted the attendant.  I can’t believe this happened more than once, but a great story, nevertheless.

Quiz:  who did the “Broken Obelisk” sculpture at the Rothko Chapel in Houston?  Clue: not Rothko.

Blackpaint

27.11.10

Blackpaint 223

November 25, 2010

Bridget Riley at the National Gallery

This exhibition contains both Riley’s own works and those of artists she has herself chosen, presumably to illustrate her inspirations and connections with her paintings.  “Escape 3” is the first of her works on show.  It is a canvas of modulating grey and blue wavy horizontal lines.  When I looked at this in the gallery, it appeared to me that the top half was irregular in terms of the width of the lines and their spacing, whilst the lower half consisted of two areas which “tilted” towards the viewer like a hinged sandwich.

Later, I saw the exhibition reviewed on TV and it was obvious that this division was false; the undulating, horizontal lines are “crossed” by regularly- spaced “creases” running diagonally top to bottom.  Optical illusion, but I only “got” the proper illusion, as it were, when the TV distanced me from it.

Opposite is Mantegna’s “Introduction of the Cult of Cybele to Rome”.  Processions of celebrants going this way and that, very strong sculptural effect, almost 3D.  Riley says the painting has “an all – embracing rhythm with which he (Mantegna) builds horizontals and verticals”.  The connection is “the special nature of pictorial space” in his paintings.

The other paintings she has selected are Raphael’s “St.Catherine”, in which more rhythmic currents in the portrayal of robes, the wheel, the figure are present; and three small Seurat figures -in -landscape  sketches, which presumably resonate with her palette (as does the Raphael).

There are two huge paintings, one on linen, the other directly on the wall (executed by assistants), which are in pastelly blue, green, beige and orange and resemble  cut out and concertina’d paper decorations, leaning viewer’s left to right, and stretched across an area of wall.  “Arcadia”, on linen, was done in 2007, “Blue” this year, of course.  The rhythms are there, the colours echo the Seurats to a degree. 

 There is a whole wall covered with empty black circles, which intersect like Venn diagrams; a colourful, vertical stripes painting (like those Mod blazers from the 60’s – yes, I had one); and a shimmering, modulating – again- set of black through to white dots, set in a circular pattern.  The most striking work, I think, is “Red on Red”, a beautiful, flame-like image in red, pink, orange and Prussian blue.

So, at first glance, highly unlikely combination  of images, but possible to see what she is driving at.  I’m unable to swallow Andrew Graham – Dixon’s assertions that her work reflects her love of natural forms, however;  I think you can probably take ANY painter and set your terms wide enough to discover ANY influences, echoes, associations you like – or, at least, art journalists can.  Just chop and wave your hands, assert EMPHATICALLY and pause for dramatic effect before the last word.

Quiz; Who painted the tower at Neunen, over and over again (no, I mean paintings, not the actual tower)?

Blackpaint, unfinished yet.

25.11.10