Posts Tagged ‘Cecily Brown’

Blackpaint 280

June 14, 2011

L’Age d’Or

Good to hear the precise, rolling diction of Robert Short, one of my old teachers at UEA, doing the commentary on the DVD, clearly relishing the alchemical references to “shit and gold”.  I remember being told, along with the rest of my sorry class, to “Piss off, and come back next week when you’ve done the reading I set”, after we showed him uniform ignorance of Hegel’s “Philosophy of Right”.  Years later, and a teacher myself, I realised that he was probably not angry but happy at the opportunity to ditch, righteously, two hours of boring teaching and pursue his own hobby of making surrealist films.

Remember sitting behind him in a Norwich cinema, watching Bunuel’s “Milky Way”, he convulsed with laughter – the only one laughing; everyone else puzzled.

Cecily Brown 

Another pungent Guardian arts review, to follow Jonathan Jones’ Mark Leckey job – this one from Adrian Searle.  He describes her works currently on show at the Gagosian as “Turgid paintings that leave you in need of a lie-down”.  The problem for Searle is that she does very busy paintings in which figures, naked or getting there, are often to be seen in the throes of coitus – seen with difficulty, that is.  Searle feels he has to make the effort to decipher these figures and is annoyed at this.  “She paints hide-and-seek images in which there is lots of noodling about”, he says.  Given the subject matter of her paintings, it’s perhaps not surprising he needs a lie-down after looking at them.

But why do you have to make out the content?  What Brown does, in my view, like De Kooning – although obviously not as well – is to make paint look good on the surface; she uses a mix of “squirming marks, flurries and squiffs of paint” (Searle’s words), to which you might add scrapes, scratches, scrawls, drips and areas of flat colour, often in DK hues, that look great.  Apply the flick test; flick through a book of contemporary painters and you will stop at hers.  Adrian Searle could stop worrying about spotting the half-concealed athletics and enjoy the marks and colours on the surface.  Just because Brown likes a bit of sex, there’s no reason why this should spoil the viewer’s chaste appreciation of her art.

Clyde Hopkins

My partner has just given me a catalogue of this painter’s work from an exhibition at the Francis Graham-Dixon Gallery in 1990.  I’d not heard of him, but he used to be her tutor at Chelsea.  They are staggeringly beautiful, all of them, in brilliant reds, marmalade, black, yellow – lots of dots and heavy black scoring; some of them remind me of Jaap Wagemaker. Fantastic.

 

(This is one of mine, not Hopkins’)

Blackpaint

Tuesday 14th June

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Blackpaint 239

January 5, 2011

Mantegna

I’m back in the Uffizi catalogue today, looking at two works by the above:  The Madonna of the Rocks and the Adoration of the Magi triptych.  The latter was apparently not conceived as a triptych, but was put together later.  It consists of the Adoration, the Ascension (of Christ) and the Circumcision.

I’m always impressed by Mantegna’s hard, chiselled edges, the paint sculpted to give a relief effect at times; that, and his vivid, somehow cold colours that remind me of the Northern painters of the Netherlands.

The Madonna pre-dates Leonardo’s two versions of the Virgin of the Rocks (1493-5 and 1506-8); the Uffizi guide gives 1488-90 for the Mantegna, which was painted in Rome.  I wonder if Leonardo knew the painting, and whether “on the rocks” was a common setting or theme?  It seems rather a coincidence otherwise.

Mantegna’s virgin looks particularly doleful, whilst the pasty, pudgy faced Christ actually looks dead to me (I panicked a lot when my kids were young).  This dead look chimes rather with the tomb “visible below – an allusion to Christ’s sepulchre and a prediction of the destiny of the Child (sic) lying in the Virgin’s lap”, as the guide puts it.

The Adoration is a strange picture – sharply drawn against a cold, darkening blue sky, it features a circlet of those little putti, I think they’re called – winged half -babies, pinky red on the left, stone coloured on the right, surrounding the virgin and child as if mounted on a Christmas tree behind them.  A star – THE star – is set amongst four grown-up angels, immediately above the cave; the stable, presumably.  The tail of the star drops a perpendicular tail to the mother and baby, and there is a black, thread-like line, possibly a crack, dropping from the top of the picture down to the Magi.  the effect is that of grappling hooks and lines being lowered from heaven.

The Ascension also features a circlet of putti, all red this time, their little wings powering Christ’s ascent on a small round tablet of rock.   As he goes up, he grasps the pole of the red cross standard, like a boy scout on Church Parade.   A group of disciples gaze up at him, as well they might.

Cezanne

I’m very struck by the varying attraction of Cezanne’s paintings in the Phaidon book by Catherine Dean.  For me, they range from nothing much (Bay of Marseilles, seen from l’Estaque, Chestnut Trees at the Jas de Bouffon, building at Jas de Bouffon, Dr. Gachet’s House) to staggering (Lac d’Annecy, some Mont St. Victoires, Card Players, Boy in Red Waistcoat – with the really long right arm – the Still Lifes with apples and/or peaches and the fantastic Blue Vase).

The one that caught my attention today was “A Modern Olympia” – rather comical, cartoonish, especially the black servant whipping away the white sheet to reveal the naked woman, her legs scrunched up in front of her for modesty, before the upward gaze of the bearded, seated gentleman visitor – Cezanne himself?  Particularly striking, I thought, was the difference between this and all the other repros in the book.  I would never have guessed Cezanne.  The colours and the looseness of the brush strokes, as if the images were almost on the verge of disintegration, called to mind Cecily Brown – if only for a moment.

Rauschenberg

Cezanne’s picture is a “modernisation” of Manet’s 1863 Olympia, of course; I happened to come across Rauschenberg’s “Odalisque”, 1955-9, presumably another modernisation.  A stuffed white rooster stands atop an easel(?) on which is a colourful Rausch collage, topped by a small picture of a naked woman seated on the floor – looks like Marilyn, but I can’t quite make it out.

Fish Eye

Blackpaint

05.01.10

Blackpaint 200

September 27, 2010

Gerhard Hoehme

Fantastic painting, ” the Wild Blue Picture”,  in “Action Painting – Jackson Pollock” (Hatje Cantz).  Also a number of grey and/or cream collages involving pins and wires or threads wound round them, sometimes multi-coloured.  Have a look – more interesting than I’ve made them sound.  Hoehme, like Sam Francis and  Joseph Beuys, was a flier in WWII – he died in 1989.

Huang Yong Ping

Wrote about Huang’s work in last blog, but knew nothing about him (didn’t stop me writing, of course).  He left China in 1989 and has since lived in Paris.  I should havr included him in my list of artists who use strange materials (see Blackpaint 162) – he has used live snakes and scorpions and stuffed bats.  Had a show in UK at Curve in 2009; it commented on Anglo-Chinese history, mainly Palmerston and the Opium Wars.

Next example of artists whose work can be linked in a totally dubious way – (although I think this comparison is actually quite fair)

 Cecily Brown and Elizabeth Neel.  Have a look at their work on Google.  I think Neel’s is actually more abstract;  Brown tends to conceal bodies – often naked and engaged in sex – in a mass of foliage or swarming brush strokes.  They have a link through Bacon; neither resemble Bacon in style, but they both have used his scenarios and motifs. 

Gauguin

Since there is a “blockbuster” exhibition about to start, I thought I would get in early by mentioning “The Vision after the Sermon (Jacob and the Angel)” 1888.  It’s at the NG of Scotland in Edinburgh and I’ve probably written about it in an earlier blog.  That red against the white of the women’s caps… The women are watching the fight, but in their imaginations, of course.  To my eyes, its a totally atypical Gauguin and I would never have recognised it as such, without being told.

Seurat 

Whilst I’m in Edinburgh, mentally that is, I should refer to Seurat’s “la  Luzerne, Saint Denis”; recently, I realised that I had used the phrase “positively seethes” twice in quick succession, when referring to surfaces.  If I were still using the phrase, I would use it here.  Seurat’s field of alfalfa and poppies appears to be alive with worms of colour, red, yellow, green and blue.

Japan and China

Two works to mention, just because they are staggeringly beautiful and very old.  The first is Japanese, “The Tale of Genji”, sea(?) green and light brown on paper with a pattern of heads like abstract black clocks, by an unknown artist from 1130.  The Chinese one is by the Emperor Song Huizong, from 1112; it is entitled “Auspicious Cranes”.  Again, ink and colour, this time on silk, light brown mist(?) rises around the palace gateway and against the grey-blue sky, 2o cranes, black and white, circle or perch.  Both of these works are in the Phaidon “30,ooo years of art”.

No Name as yet – Blackpaint

 26.09.10

 

 

Blackpaint 196

September 21, 2010

Pushed fortime today, but I’ve been in the Tate Modern again, to see the “Chromatic Constructs” or whatever they are called.  Thought it was new, but realised when I got there it was Mary Martin etc., seen it before.  So.. to visit Jorn, Pollock and friends again.

Judit Riegl

“Guano”.  Canvas placed on floor underneath other paintings in progress – creating ripples on surface, which she painted over to create a slate-like consistency.  looks like a lithograph.  Took her 7 years.

Jorn

Looks dirty and dull close up, but clean and vivid from across room, cf. Appel at St.Ives and so many others.

Pollock

Jazz dance?  Seemed dead and trite, like 50’s wallpaper.  I think it’s those dodgy, Disney style black dancers, disguised as loops along the canvas.

Kline

Always powerful.  I don’t what he called it or said what it was, or was not – it’s always a bridge to me, black iron over misty white marshes.

Joan Mitchell 

The one on show in the Tate is quite an early one, relatively restrained, but its beautifully constructed and complex, even if her fantastic colour sense is reined in.

Viera de Silva

Not a good one; too tame and tricksy, not enough wild surface.

Some new books – new to me, anyway.  A beautiful Cecily Brown, weighing in at £40.00; full of de Kooning -like colours and brushwork, barely concealing obscene goings -on – and many with no concealment at all.

There is a Fiona Rae, £28.00 I believe, in which her palette appears to have become much brighter, rather like Ofili.

Finally, a Hans Hoffman with a whole lot of rather unpleasant green pictures, from around 1960 – it just shows that even a painter of his brilliance can turn out some dull stuff. 

Painting

I’ve started to mix a bit of white spirit in with the oil now and then, so that I can get areas of relatively uniform staining onto the canvas; now, not everything has to be slabbed on in thick oil slicks and then dragged into smooth, shiny tiles of paint, usually with white glimmering through in patches – still like that effect, though now there is some textural contrast.  I realise that all this is elementary, but it’s still new to me.

And so, it begins..

David Mitchell, as Cyrano de Bergerac, said this to camera in a Mitchell and Webb sketch the other week and it popped up last night in “The Year of Living Dangerously”; is this its original source?

 

Spider’s song by Blackpaint

Listening to “North to Alaska”, Dwight Yoakam out of Johnnie Horton;

“Where the river is winding, big nuggets they’re finding,

North! To Alaska,

We’re going north, the rush is on!”

Blackpaint 113

April 18, 2010

Ten women artists who should have a cheap Taschen or Tate book written about them

With loads of their paintings in, of course.  Google each of them for an afternoon’s inspiring viewing.

  • Gillian Ayres
  • Grace Hartigan
  • Prunella Clough
  • Wilhelmina Barns-Graham
  • Sandra Blow
  • Helen Frankenthaler
  • Roni Horn
  • Cecily Brown
  • Margaret Mellis
  • Joan Mitchell

This list is based purely on personal choice and prejudice, of course, and has no pretensions to objectivity.  

Wallander 

The Swedish version of course – Branagh’s angst is far too near the surface.  Very bad slip last night, when Kurt made a joke about blow jobs with women present (albeit police officers).  This isn’t what we expect from a kindly, suppressed, approaching retirement police officer in a liberated country like Sweden.  Contrary to what my partner says, these are real people who live in the real town of Ystad and frequently have to send to Malmo – or Malmer, as it is apparently pronounced- for reinforcements.

Painting

I’ve just looked round the room at my latest paintings and realised that they are all the same – in some cases, turning them from lanscape to portrait or vice versa makes them just about identical to another.  So, here is the last in my current “style”; I am going to ring some radical changes in the days to come.

Listening to 1952 Vincent Black Lightning by Richard Thompson.

“I see angels and Ariels in leather and chrome,

Swinging down from heaven to carry me home.”

And he gave her one last kiss and died,

And he gave her his Vincent to ride.

Blackpaint

Sunday 18.04.10