Posts Tagged ‘Bruce McLean’

Blackpaint 543 – The oranges are not the only fruit…

April 30, 2016

Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art at the National Gallery

Gauguin still life

Gauguin, Still Life with a Delacroix

I have to say that I thought the Delacroixs (is that the proper plural?) were awful, on the whole.  They were melodramatic, exotic in a bad way and somehow dowdy; the brushwork looked dry and the colours lurid.  Then I looked at the work online and it was brilliant – luscious brushwork, fervid energy, piercing colour.  Just shows how photography has a glamorising effect on paintings, something I’ve noted before.

Then again, it could be I’ve been corrupted by all those repros you used to get in furniture shops in the 50s and 60s; Arab boys, Spanish flamenco dancers, harbour scenes – Delacroix is just too exotic for me.

The stunning Gauguin still life above is, for my money, the best thing on show, but there are great paintings by Degas, Redon, Moreau (not so great), Cezanne, two more Gauguins (one brilliant, the other terrible) and some awful Renoirs – but I have a blind spot about the latter, can’t stand his work.

Better show a Delacroix, after all, it’s his show, so:

delacroix algerian women

Algerian Women in their Apartments

See, it looks great as a photo.

Making your Ears Tingle

I’m reading Kings II in the King James Bible at the moment and here are three quotations that made me sit up:

Hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you? (2 Kings 18, 27)

Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle. (2 Kings 21, 12)

…and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down. (2 Kings 22, 13).

Pithy, eh?

The Hollow Crown – Richard II

hollow crown

Ben Whishaw perfectly cast, in my view; not an easy play to make work with all that rhyming verse – brilliant poetry, but it can sound quaint as dialogue, which it never does in this version.

The director does three art things in the murder scene at the end:

He has Richard, naked except for a loincloth, clamber to his feet, first sticking his rear high in the air in a direct echo of the Bacon/Muybridge boy;

Richard is slaughtered by crossbow arrows – up to now, he’s been Christ, now he’s St. Sebastian;

His body is dragged in a coffin before the usurper, Henry IV.  The corpse is twisted in the manner of those curving Christs on the crucifix by Cimabue et al.

 

Conceptual Art in Britain 1964 – 1979 (Tate Britain)

keith arnatt

I was determined to go round this without spending hours reading.  Consequently, I was round it in about fifteen minutes; there’s not much to look at apart from words.

A pyramid of oranges by Roeloff Louw from which you are supposed to help yourself (I presume they replace them);

oranges

A photo sequence of Keith Arnatt eating his own words (above);

A photo sequence of KA gradually disappearing into a hole in the ground;

Bruce McLean (in a photo sequence), performing contortions in spaces between plinths;

Michael Craig – Martin‘s glass of water/oak tree;

A long rolled-up fabric “machine” in the colours of the stars and stripes by John Latham – didn’t find out what it did;

A heap of builder’s sand by Barry Flanagan;

Some vitrines with magazines in them, some about the Singing Sculpture by Gilbert and George, in which they painted themselves gold – very influential maybe, given the resemblance to the living sculptures outside the National Gallery.

The rest was writing, including much work by Art & Language – strong on the latter, not much of the former.  Some quite turgid Marxism on one wall – turned out to be Trotsky.  I don’t scorn conceptual work, I should say; I just don’t see it as useful for me to speculate on the concepts which may or may not be involved; probably get them wrong, anyway.

Two of mine, to finish:

St.George

St.George Death Stroke (WIP from last blog)

And my attempt at a still life, in homage to Gauguin:

still life

Still Life with Pomegranate 

Blackpaint 

30.04.16

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 510 – Jodorowsky’s Dad, Albertine’s Trials, Captain Lee’s Toes

September 4, 2015

Dance of Reality, Alejandro Jodorowsky (2013) at the ICA

jodorowsky

A sort of fictional, magical realist biography of his father, set in a mining town in Chile.  Greek theatre – style masks on extras, his mother – huge breasts, low -cut dress – sings all her dialogue, opera style.  The film has a Technicolor feel; there are clowns, dwarves, rioting amputees (casualties from the mines); scenes of:

  • bullying and violence against a child (the Jodorowsky character);
  • forced sex between his parents;
  • mother urinating on father, to cure him of disease;
  • suicides by shooting and hanging;
  • mother and son, both naked, blacking each other up with shoe polish (don’t ask);
  • a live burial;
  • police attacking and beating amputee miners;
  • graphic torture scenes – hanging by the arms, electrical prongs attached to genitals.

All this and more, but the film was light, funny and – embarrassing term – uplifting at the end.  Obvious Fellini influence and similarities to Angelopoulos (departure on raft at the end).  The light is so different from the Greek films though; denser, thicker somehow.

The story is basically the trials of Jodo’s bullying, ultra-macho, Stalinist father; his “journey” from this authoritarianism to the acquisition of humanity and gentleness.  Brilliant film.

Little Pictures at Tate Britain

I thought I’d highlight some of the smaller paintings in the current display; the ones that glow at you across the galleries, overshadowed in many cases by huge narrative Victorian efforts.  No further comment required, I think.

tate b ludgate

Ludgate Circus, Jacques – Emile Blanche

 

tate b holman hunt

Cornfield at Ewell, Holman Hunt

tate b ford madox brown

The Hayfield, Ford Madox Brown

 

tate b3

Battersea Reach, Walter Greaves

 

tate b1

Top – Vollendam Holland, Elizabeth Forbes

Bottom – Mounts Bay, Norman Garstin

 

Captain Lee’s feet, Tate Britain

This very strange portrait – it always looks to me as if Lee is in one of those dreams where you’ve forgotten to put your trousers on – is actually a portrait of the whole man, not just his legs and feet.  But I happened to notice that the feet, or rather the toes, are rendered as if copied from a photograph.  They’re very long.  The feet, however. are small – too small, I think.

tate b2

Captain Lee, Geerhaerts

 

Imperial War Museum

Some “new” paintings at the museum; Ceri Richards, the great Leonard Rosoman, Ravilious; there’s a roomful of Peter Kennard’s collaged anti- missile missile posters and paintings. The most striking work, however, is Bruce McLean’s “Broadside”.  It’s the sinking of the Sheffield, I think – but I just like the colours, unreformed abstractionist that I am.

(c) Bruce McLean; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

 

Clothes Clothes Clothes, Music Music Music, Boys Boys Boys, by Viv Albertine

Last week, I was writing about “Hard to be A God”, the Russian film which is mostly shot in extreme close-up, making it difficult to get context.  Albertine’s book is similar in this respect; it’s episodic and written in present tense throughout, which must be hard to do, because you have to be thinking as you though then. So it often comes across as naive, portentous, and volatile- but it’s also really gripping.  I stormed through it and enjoyed it greatly.  She’s very candid, spends pages saying how shy and self-conscious and lacking in confidence she is – and then reveals things that you can’t imagine yourself doing.  Very brave and not ghosted, like lots of other music bios.  Halfway through a brutal attack by a lover, in which he has her on he knees, with her face pressed to the floor, she tells us she is wearing “a stripy blue-and -white sailor-style Sonia Rykiel cardigan with an appliqued red silk heart on it, knee-length red linen skirt cut on the bias…”; that’s devotion to fashion.

Two other reasons I liked it – Albertine featured in the brilliant Joanna Hogg’s last film “The Exhibition” and was great (as was Liam Gillick, who gets a bit of a rough ride in the book) – and she re-bought the Island sampler “Nice Enough to Eat” second hand – as did I, and very good it is too.

Synapse back

Synapse Back

Blackpaint

 

 

Blackpaint 431- Coalhouse Walker and the Shithouse Wall

January 23, 2014

More from London Art Fair

Three more delights from the above show at the Angel:

Peter Kinley

art fair kinley

Bruce McLean

art fair bruce McLean

Reg Butler

art fair butler

Generally speaking, a great fair this year for abstract work of the 50s and 60s, but some current delights too, in the form of prints by Albert Irvin and Anthony Frost et al.

The Bay Area Painters by Thomas Williams

The bay in the title is San Francisco Bay.  Finally bought this book after lusting and pawing over it in Foyles for weeks; I was freshly astounded by the acrimony engendered by the decision of David Park, then Bischoff, then Diebenkorn to “go figurative”.  they were accused of cowardice, apostasy and treachery by Hassel Smith, Clifford Still and others. It sort of mirrors the “Judas” cries when Dylan went electric, or the earlier mutual contempt of the “mouldy fig” trad jazz fans and the be-boppers.  Perhaps an indication of the depth of feeling was that Park not only renounced abstraction, but deposited all his abstract work at the local dump.

I also find it fascinating and amusing that the critics Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg thought Abstract Expressionism the correct form for Marxists – the prevailing form of “Marxist” art in the Soviet Union being Socialist Realism, about as far from AbEx, and indeed, from the figuration of Park and Bischoff (and de Kooning, who was getting anti-figuration flak for his “Woman” series) as it is possible to imagine.

I love the machismo of these painters, both abstract and figurative; the greatest compliment paid by Douglas MacAgy, the Principal, to a student was “You paint with your cock”!  Clifford Still, on receiving praise for a canvas, would describe it as OK “to wipe his my ass on”; Hassel Smith said he wanted people to say of his paintings, “I wouldn’t hang that on my shithouse wall”.  I like this comment so much that I am putting a series of Shithouse Wall paintings – mine, not Smith’s – on Twitter.

Heaven’s Gate DVD

This is the Michael Cimino cut, the one which is supposed to be a masterpiece, NOT the hatchet job that was the original release.  there are, however, some real problems.  The sound is terrible; Kris Kristofferson swallows his words after speaking them into his beard.  The script alternates between mumbled, earnest exchanges and collective shouting and screaming, often in – Polish? Latvian?  Isabelle Huppert seems strangely unmoved by the slaughter of her girls in the brothel; granted she has just been raped and the rapists killed in front of her by Kristofferson – but you’d think she would show some dismay at the girls’ murders.

Ragtime, EL Doctorow

I watched them filming this in New York in 1980, but never saw the finished film (James Cagney’s last film, I think).  Got it for Christmas and enjoying it greatly.  It’s a mix of real historical characters and fictional ones – Coalhouse Walker Jr., the ragtime pianist and revolutionary, is fictional but Jim Europe’s band, in which he plays, was real.  I looked up Coalhouse to see if he was real; it reminded me of looking up the vignettes in My Winnipeg a few weeks ago.

Finally, look for more Shithouse Wall pictures on Twitter.

No new paintings this month, so here’s an old one.

??????????

 

Atlantic Bar

Blackpaint

23.01.14