Posts Tagged ‘Chelsea Degree Show’

Blackpaint 348 – Hopping Through the Market and Swinging in the Trees

June 28, 2012

Chelsea Degree Show

The “plaques” of paint I enthused about in the last blog were made by Clare Travers.

Other Chelsea works I liked:

Jonathan Slaughter – droopy, wilting, tubular sculpture, called, I believe, “Pay for the Printer”, a title borrowed from a Philip K Dick story.  In this tale, human societies have become dependent on friendly aliens known as “printers”, who can reproduce goods and chattels that are described to them; then they get ill and start dying and their powers wane; the replications become ever poorer and fall to pieces or melt back into shapeless matter – time for humanity to shape up and get the tools out again. 

Minji Kim – fragile sculptures of joined rectangles and cubes, formed from thin sticks glued to each other (they don’t appear to interlink like Escher, but are rather glued together), hanging horizontally in front of a dark background.

Anne – Marie Kennedy – paintings of dark grey blocks, cut and slightly shifted by thick slices of white.  Painterly roughness, of course; I have to have some texture.

Don Gumbrell – big, cartoonish paintings with a slight George Condo feel; modern German Expressionist colours.  Like the colour and surface, not so much the image.

Tess Faria – videos, which I normally pass by en route to paintings; she’s plastering a whitewashed wall with black mud; she’s sitting in a big white box in the road; and in the last one, she’s hopping on one leg through a market (could be Deptford?)  – hopping and shopping, in fact.  One or two passers-by look back briefly.  Don’t know why, it sounds trivial and old hat, but it made me watch until she’d finished plastering the wall in one video and hopped out of the market in another, and cheered me up.

Anon – In the same room as Tess, a number of items of furniture, TV, wardrobe etc, beautifully made from chipboard.  Videos, too, but I liked the furniture.  Forgot the name and the work wasn’t in the catalogue.

Selma Dahhouki – more video; she’s swinging on a rope on a tree in the woods, she’s attempting unsuccessfully to slide up another tree trunk, she’s diving into the green waters of a river or lake.  And yes, she’s naked, as you would be, doing these “back to nature” type activities.  Fortunately, the task I have set myself is merely to describe, not to interpret – so I can enjoy the simple pleasures of just looking at art.

Also liked Joanna Stamford’s battered, torn, bronze arm bracelets and lumpy plaster chairs; Tommy Ramsay’s oils of brick walls and columns on grey/brown backgrounds; and Susan Collyer’s Richter-ish blur pictures – particularly the grey “plate” with the orange squares (since I’m looking at this in the catalogue, can’t make out whether it’s a painting or photograph).

Generally, lots more painting in Chelsea show now, mostly retro like my own stuff.  Lot of interesting abstract stuff on walls of TV programme sets too – Mad Men of course, but also Neighbours – don’t watch it myself, mind you – but so I’m told.  And even some advert, there’s a couple of good abstracts, not in some Bauhaus kitchen with beautiful people either.  Can’t remember the product, though.

David Bomberg  

The Sarah Rose collection of Bomberg and the Borough painters is open now at South Bank Uni in Borough High Street; fabulous, interesting painter, famously “uncompromising” (difficult personality).  I’m off there at earliest opportunity – see collection online at



Blackpaint 347 – Bowling, Nicholson, Chelsea and Quinn

June 21, 2012

Tate Britain

Some “new” stuff, worth a look:

Howard Hodgkin, deep resonant green and white, more clear-cut than his usual brushwork.

Catherine Yass video, replacing the Wallinger’s airport hall; this one, of a tightrope walker, startng the transit between two tower blocks in Glasgow, the Red Road site, I think.  He gets about halfway, and then retreats backwards, the winds being too strong.  Sweating palms and clenched sphincter job, for me anyway.  Not sure what the Yass output was; most of it was taken from tightrope walker’s helmet camera.  Wallinger’s was in slo-mo, with added music – don’t think there was music for this one and normal speed…

As part of the Patrick Keiller exhibit, that striking Gursky photograph of the winding black and white roadways, entitled “Bahrain” (very similar to Burtynsky‘s work at the Photographer’s Gallery, technically anyway).

Karla Black, a whole room’s worth of exhibit, huge,long, loose, crumply roll of – wallpaper? with flattened “plates” of pastel powder, each of different colour, poured and compacted along its length.

Next door, fleshy, beige-grey, snail-like coils on individual stands, by Sarah Lucas; a huge, emerald green Tillmans photograph, with the black inky threads trailing and swirling like hair under water; and a couple of Calum Innes works, one blue and yellow game of two halves, the other, black or dark, with Clyfford Still-like “tears” running down.

Elsewhere, a lovely geometric abstract with a rough, yellow/green surface by Winifred Nicholson, called “moonlight and Lamplight” from 1937.

The most striking thing for me there at the moment is the roomful of Frank Bowling’s poured acrylic paintings; blistering, bright colours, reminiscent of John Hoyland (indeed, several of Bowling’s paintings on net are very like Hoyland’s – or vice versa).

Chelsea Degree Show

Opposite the Tate, some seriously good work on show, and the catalogue only £2; there is a white room complex on the ground floor that is particularly good; square arches giving a series of partial views through.  Two big paintings in Popart style, one yellow with bathing suits hanging on a line, the other sort of lilac or mulberry pinky, motif like a frame, I think.  In next space, through an arch, patches of fabric stuck onto canvases in such a way that they overlap the walls.  Through another arch, a sort of campsite scenario set up, with a little camp stove with an orange paper(?) flame twisting and “burning”.  Individually, not so impressive maybe, but seen as a collective piece spreading over the several white spaces, very pleasing.

Also, a number of wall plaques, I suppose you could call them, composed of slatches of pigment of Bram Bogart thickness, with fragments of paper, card or fabric “splatted” onto them, as if stamped into the vivid and various paints with a rubber sole. 

La Strada

Watched this again, and found  Giuletta Masina’s Chaplinesque mugging very irritating.  The relentless comic pathos, determined brutishness of Anthony Quinn and the circus background disguise the harsh essentials of the story – sister dead, sold to a thug for 10.000 lire, beaten, raped (?), humiliated, the murder of the acrobat – it’s not a comedy.  Anthony Quinn is the anti- George Clooney.. or Cary Grant, to get the era right.  Interesting to see the influence of the film; that religious procession was in the Godfather II, surely, and maybe Le Quattro Volte.



Blackpaint 159

June 24, 2010

Chelsea Degree Show (cont.)

A couple of items I missed yesterday that have floated back into my mind – again, all from memory, so apologies for any errors:

  • A whole wall filled with samples of knitting work, showing variations in style of ..well, knitting stitches (is that right term?)
  • A number of line drawings based, I think, on “The Joy of Sex”, that instruction book from the 70’s by Alex Comfort.  They were executed on paintings and photographs of paintings.
  • Curved blocks of wood, highly coloured – bright blue, I think – shaped like big cheese wheels and fitted around steps.

Depicting the Dead

Following on from Sally Mann’s photographs of corpses, more on the depiction of death, occasioned by the BP Portrait Prize being awarded to Daphne Todd for Last Portrait of Mother.  Todd’s mother is lying dead, aged 100, mouth gaping, against a big, lush, white bolster pillow and sheets.

I think it must have been done at home, since it’s executed in a Spencer/Freud style, which would have taken some time.  I can’ t imagine a hospital suspending the routines for a painting to be done – maybe a hospice?  Maybe she did it from sketches and memory or photos, or perhaps it was done at the deathbed; if so, how long did it take?

A couple of other things occurred to me; I wondered how the judges felt.  How do you compare someone who has entered a picture of their dead mother with someone who has entered their postman?  On pure merit, I suppose; it looks (in the Guardian photograph) to be a very good picture.

I also wondered whether it’s easier to paint the face of a corpse than that of a living person, in the sense that the emotions have gone; there’s no sparkle in the eye, as it were.

Finally, there is the fact that paint tends to “glamorise” ; paint, oil paint in particular, has sensuous qualities that are pleasing in themselves and can’t help but add that attractiveness to the least glamorous material.

Damien Hirst

The other death picture I saw this week was at Tate Britain; that photograph of a young Damien crouching and mugging next to the bloated features of a decapitated man’s face (presumably taken in a mortuary somewhere).

I used to find this picture ugly, callous and grotesque; I still do, but I think maybe Hirst is justified.  He is showing a fitting mindset for an artist – unsentimental, irreverent, objective.  you can’t avoid thinking, “Grin on, mate, that’ll be you some day with your head in a basket and some prat making fun of you”.  It won’t be, probably, as Hirst is rich enough to avoid dissection – but all the same,   “As you are now, so once were we”, as Christy says.

So it’s still disgusting, but it is art.



Blackpaint 158

June 23, 2010

Chelsea Degree Show

Wandered into this after the Tate Britain today and was immediately lost; on every door was a sign, “Show continues” or “No Show”.  In some cases, arrows on “show continues” posters pointed both ways.  Nightmare for those with no sense of direction, or with a compulsion to see everything – if you have both at once…

Anyway, to be expected, there was a lot of packing cases and/or cardboard boxes and TVs on floors, playing continuously.  In two rooms, there were guitars and amps – in one of these, sounds were emerging.  Other things I remember were:

  • Bowls of red/orange stuff with cloth/paper hanging in them, colour seeping up.
  • A door with the warning “contains nudity”, behind which a video played of a girl in bed, speaking to camera.  The nudity did not arrive soon enough to cause me offence and the soundtrack was not clear enough.
  • A film about a reservoir in Teesdale, I think, playing in an empty lecture theatre.
  • Paintings on metallic, glabrous surfaces, rust/blood red, grey, brown, resembling splattered targets.  I liked these, being old-fashioned.
  • Up a narrow iron spiral staircase to a sort of turret room, which was just about completely lined with postcards of this artist’s previous work, it appeared.  Some interesting, splattery, smeary pics, a spoof on the Tracey Emin tent – just TOO MUCH STUFF to take in.
  • Some professionally executed cartoons, the message(s) of which were obscure – possibly anti-meat eating?  There was one differentiating carnivore humans from  fruitarian hominids.
  • Small, vividly coloured wall plaque thingies, made from wood, maybe, or papier mache and stuck together.  These had been bought by  the University for its permanent collection.
  • Rabbit skins in a small perspex cube, stitched together to make a sort of composite rabbit.
  • A number of meticulously made surrealist objects; a walking stick in a violin case, a bent fork in a Meerschaum pipe case, a hairpin in a presentation box – lots of bent things.
  • A number of brown cardboard boxes stuck together into a construction, interspersed with speakers – nothing coming out while I was there.  A couple of nice paintings, one of flamingoes, the other containing a central white mass, like an iceberg.
  • A room in which there was a wall painting of a natty looking young man in a sort of aristocratic raincoat.  The raincoat hung in the room.  A host of cockroaches was painted on the floor and walls, approaching a pair of monkeys eating a man’s brain with spoons and  a child, also with brain exposed.
  • A wispy, violet line drawing on a partition – looked like a smoky flower.
  • TV screens buried in a white partition wall, so that each one only partly exposed; domestic scenes playing out, washing, breakfast etc.
  • A dark room (maybe I should have put lights on – I thought the darkness was part of the work), with a white silk wedding (?) dress hanging on one wall and a spray of flowers in a box frame on the other wall.
  • A room with messages scrawled in chalk, some obscured, on the floor and on blackboards (Ah, that takes me back!) around the room, propped against the walls.
  • Several large, dark paintings of beings with flayed, muscular torsos and faces – browns, dark reds, blacks.
  • Three paintings of a TV test card, that one with the little girl playing noughts and crosses, each  painting slightly smaller than the previous one.
  • Large 3D images of the inside of a flat, doors and windows.  3D glasses provided.
  • Doors and shuttered windows – one my friend identified as a padded cell door (he didn’t tell me how he knew what it was).

That is what I remember seeing, with no prompting from artist’s cards; I purposely wanted to record what I remember.  I enjoyed the show a great deal and will be visiting again.  If you recognise your work from these descriptions, please comment.

I found it interesting (and a bit worrying) that there was nothing resembling the sort of abstraction I do.  I feel like a skiffle fan might have felt at a jazz fusion evening  in the 70’s.

Martin Rowson

The interview with him – it was Laurie Taylor doing it – was on again and I watched the whole thing this time, instead of switching off after the Blair’s tongue bit (see Blackpaint 153).  He was saying in the second half that  sometimes  he felt “he offended all the people, all the time”.  It occurred to me what a fantastic epitaph that would  be, when the time came – many years in the future, of course.

Straight Life by Blackpaint