Posts Tagged ‘David Park’

Blackpaint 525 – Tight Rope, Frenzy and Sex in Gothenberg

December 20, 2015

Tight Rope, White Cube Gallery, Bermondsey Street

This is a great exhibition; it has to do with artists who walk the line between figurative and abstract, I think (I haven’t read the book that goes with it yet – £20.00) – whatever, it has some lovely pictures from the likes of Guston, Bacon, Freud, Baselitz, Matisse, Duchamp et al.   It has one of the worst Picassos I’ve ever seen ( horrible, evil yellow with scrawls) and a terrific Tracey Emin figure on white over two or three panels.  My favourites below, starting with the great Bay Area painter David Park:

david park

Untitled (Portrait of Tom Jefferson), 1957

 

plessen

Magnus Plessen, Untitled, 2015

Plessen seems to have used tape which he has pulled off to get the straight lines.

 

armitage

Michael Armitage, Conservationists, 2015

 

Here’s the Emin –

tracey

Tracey Emin, I think of you all the time

 

– and here’s the Picasso –

picasso mustache

Picasso, Man with a Mustache, 1970

Despite the Picasso, there are loads of excellent pictures here.  Even the ones I didn’t like – Dana Schulz’ retina-burners, for example – made me want to go home and paint immediately; those chunky but slippery brush sweeps, I imagine.

Also on show there are Gilbert and George’s “Fuck You” posters (that’s probably not their proper title, but gives an idea of the content).  Should detain you for a minute or so, long enough to read them all.

 

John Berger on Rembrandt and Goya

I’m reading Berger’s “Portraits – John Berger on Artists” and I find him insufferably precious at times – “It is remarkable how, for those who suffer a desire for art, so much does begin and end in it” (the National Gallery).  He also tends to make confident assertions about doubtful things.  There are examples throughout, but here’s one: “Goya lived and observed through something near enough to total war to know that night is security and that it is the dawn that one fears”; is that really right?  It fits his argument..

However, his comments on Rembrandt’s late self-portraits are interesting; he suggests that R. painted himself from memory, rather than using mirrors – thus avoiding the theatricality that Berger says always creeps in when artists do mirror SPs.  Have a look at the Courbet SP “The Desperate Man” to see what he means.

courbet

OK, it’s an extreme example.  Berger also suggests that Goya painted “the Naked Maja” from imagination – he simply did the clothed Maja without the clothes.  In evidence, he offers the breasts; falling unnaturally to the sides as they had done when she was dressed.  That’s what Berger says, anyway.

Frenzy

Hitchcock’s murder film on TV the other night; the cast was staggering, straight off the Shakespearian stage of the 70s – Jon Finch, Anna Massey, Billie Whitelaw, Clive Swift, Barry Foster et al.  The lewd conversation between barristers and the pub landlady about rape comes as quite a shock to contemporary ears and there is a very nasty rape sequence later.  Great bit in the back of the potato lorry, however.

Star Wars – film critics

They’ve all abandoned their critical faculties; not worth listening to (as I write, Mark Kermode is on TV, shouting and waving his arms about).

Casanova

Fellini, Donald Sutherland in the title role, having sex with a mechanical life-sized doll in Gothenburg, a debauched Dudley Sutton playing a harmonium halfway up a wall…  Now, that’s what I call a film.

 

dirty protest2

I’ve finally finished a picture – here it is; it’s called

Dirty Protest

Blackpaint

19.12.15

Blackpaint 487 – Diebens and Rubenkorn at the RA and Willem and Frank too

March 23, 2015

Richard Diebenkorn at the RA

Died and gone to heaven – well, very impressed anyway.  I think he’s my number 4, after Joan Mitchell, de Kooning and Peter Lanyon.  Some say he’s too easy; nice landscape-y images, pleasing, limpid palette… it’s a matter of taste, of course, but I went round and round, marvelling at one picture after another, and I’ll be going again, for sure.  Anyway, these are my highlights:

diebenkorn berkeley 57

Berkeley#57 

The busiest canvas, I think; can’t stop turning to look at it wherever you are in the gallery.  It all works better than in the photo above – colours are much richer.

 

diebenkorn seated woman

 

Seated Woman (on board) 

There’s something delectable about his drawings and paintings of women – they are sometimes rough, pentimenti showing, with a sort of intentional “clumsiness” as Jane Livingstone suggests in her book.  he likes striped tops and skirts (and no clothes at all, too).

diebenkorn day at the race

 

A Day at the Race 

The split screen effect; you can see it too, in “Interior View of Buildings”, in which the strip of buildings itself acts as a sort of divider.  It’s the Urbana series in which he uses this effect, I believe.  Like window frames sometimes.

The Cigar Box Tops

Tiny, perfect versions of the huge ones.

Still lifes

I love the knife in a glass – that putty colour.  And the Ashtray and Doors; looks to me like he’s painted over an old canvas, or board – the striations.

The figures

I’ve talked about the women – drinking coffee, reading the newspaper – there are a few men around, including one little one (picture, that is) that looks like Picasso – him, not one of his paintings.  They remind me a lot of David Park, a Bay Area painter.

diebenkorn ocean park 79

 

Ocean Park #79 

The best, I think, of the Ocean Park series – like your in an ornate, slightly shabby indoor swimming pool, with the light pouring through a huge skylight.  Takes me back to Deep End again (the Skolimowski film with Jane Asher that I’ve been watching in 30 minute chunks, because the script and acting are so clunky).

If I could, I would put in every picture in this exhibition.

Rubens and his Legacy (RA)

This got a blistering review in the Guardian from Jonathan Jones. I think; not enough big paintings, he said; too many sketches, too much padding, loads of pictures by artists who aren’t Rubens, and in which the “legacy” is spurious.  There’s a lot in what he says, but it’s still a great exhibition, in the sense of containing loads of pictures that are fantastic to look at.

 

rubens lion hunt

 Tiger, Lion and Leopard Hunt

This is the poster boy of the exhibition and deservedly so – just look at it; it’s all happening, just as it would have happened in real life!  One bloke is forcing open a lion’s jaws with his hands, while a tiger’s getting stuck into green man’s shoulder; and the other tiger has cubs in her mouth…  Enough sarcasm, it’s a staggering composition and swirl of colours.  I saw it at the top of the escalator at Tooting Bec tube station (poster, not the original) when I didn’t have my glasses on, and it looks fantastic as an abstract.

There are several other lion hunts by other greats, notably Rembrandt and a great lion hunt sketch by Rubens himself – they couldn’t have known those lion hunt reliefs from Nineveh, was it, or Nimrud…

Other Rubens highlights are:

rubens charles 1 with guard

 

James I uniting England and Scotland 

This sketch, from Birmingham Art Gallery, I’ve included because of the guard’s incredibly muscular left leg, not really well reproduced here, but massively impressive in the flesh, so to speak… reminds me of the left leg of the grey horse in the previous picture.  I like the angle of view in these ceiling sketches.

The Abdication of Persephone

Luminous little painting, fabulous but couldn’t find a repro…

Among the other painters represented, it’s worth mentioning the Kokoschka cartoon, in which Queen Victoria sits astride a shark, feeding it seamen (I quote the caption on the wall).  Presumably its based on a Rubens painting.  There’s a great Bocklin, “Battle on the Bridge”, shades of those Degas boys riding bareback in that famous picture.  Also works by Picasso, Reynolds, Lawrence, Cezanne, Delacroix, Gericault – and in a related exhibition curated by Jenny Savile, three de Koonings, including a juicy one from 1977, in which the paint swipes are so thick that the paint has stretched and puckered into tiny holes as it dried.  There’s also one of those red/orange/pink panel size women from 1971, and a collage from earlier.  AND two colourful Auerbach portraits, brilliant obviously, and a fabulous Bacon nude, George Dyer, by the look of it.  Savile herself has a big monochrome painting,  a bit like a Kiefer, and Cicely Brown has a DK – ish picture that’s not up to her best.  I’d pay to go and see this sub-exhibition alone.

The Fall of the Obese

There is a whole room full of Falls and in Rubens’ case, the sinners going to damnation all seem to be overweight.  But then of course, so do most humans in Rubens’ works, particularly the women; I mention the wife of Captain Pugwash again, in this connection…

Anyway, too much to say for one blog, so continued next week, along with all three new exhibitions at Tate Britain.

These are the counter rhythms2

These are the Counter Rhythms (WIP)

Blackpaint

22.03.15

 

 

Blackpaint 432 – The Scots, the Rollers and the Beast with Two Backs

January 30, 2014

The Scottish Colourists 

I got a cheap little book of postcards from Tate Britain of the paintings of the above – great, I think.  Cadell has three styles at least; cartoon, a sort of lush Singer Sargent/William Nicholson blend and a simplified representation of colour and shape that looks almost like Pop Art.

cadell1

Cadell, Blue Fan

Peploe is more like Cezanne, with a heavy black outline:

peploe1

I love them.  Why should the Scots have such good painters?  The earlier Glasgow Boys, Arthur Melville and his mates, were fantastic too (see earlier Blackpaints).

Guildhall

A few great paintings in this free collection in the City, near St.Pauls.  Two beautiful drawings of bishops’ heads by William Dring – couldn’t find them online – and several portraits of women in red flowery dresses by Matthew Smith; the best is a small three quarters portrait, tucked away round a corner.  And one big painting of the river and St. Pauls by John Virtue, black and imposing, that reminded me a bit of Opdahl at Kings Place.

john virtue

It’s much bigger than this.

Bay Area Painters

The figurative paintings of this school are very impressive, particularly those of Nathan Oliveira, Joan Brown and of course, David Park.  The furious row between them and the abstract painters seems very odd in retrospect; it’s not as if they are radical realists.

nathan oliveira

 

Nathan Oliveira

The Bay Area painters, of course, were commemorated in the 70s by the Scottish band the Bay City Rollers, who were great fans of the San Francisco artists.   I have nicked Hassel Smith’s great “shithouse wall” remark as the title for my paintings on Twitter; better alternate them with Smith’s.

Inside Llewyn Davis

The new Coen Brothers’ film about a loser singer on the nascent US singer/songwriter scene in 1961.  Black and white, looks great, Oscar Isaac the lead has a great deadpan stare; he’s also a very pleasing singer and guitarist.  For some reason, it’s attracting a lot of criticism for not being political enough; Dave Van Ronk, the artist who provided a sort of starting place for the character, was a socialist like many of the other singers on the circuit.  I think the film is OK as it stands; maybe now someone will make a movie about Pete Seeger.  I suspect it would be too worthy for me.

John Goodman’s character seemed superfluous to me; it did allow Davis to come out with that line about the walking stick, though.

Almayer’s Folly

I have finally finished this, Conrad’s first novel, and I realise why it took me four weeks to get through “Heart of Darkness” (great and important and thin book though it is).  He can’t write “the canoe came to a bend in the river” without describing the river, the sky, the banks, the jungle and the action of the canoe.  Three or four pages, maybe.  It’s great literary, descriptive writing but too much of it.

The Seven Samurai

One of those long, long films that you (or rather I) have to watch whenever it’s on TV.  Just a few seconds of Mifune’s antics and I’m hooked.  But then there is that samurai, the small, skinny one who stands stock still with his sword pointing forward until the enemy charges at him screaming; then, a very slight movement….

 

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Beast with Two Backs

Blackpaint

30.01.14

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.

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Atlantic Bar

Blackpaint

23.01.14

Blackpaint 395 – The Tate Rehang, Richter and Frisco

May 23, 2013

Tate Britain Chronological Rehang

Finally, the TB is fully open again, and the rehang is impressive – though, if like me, you have too much time on your hands, you might well have seen most of it, gallery by gallery, as each room was re-opened.  Nevertheless, there are some paintings I haven’t seen before or recently, and some revelations:

There is a Gainsborough family group, done in 1850, that is NOTHING like those feathery, impressionistic portraits he’s famous for; much more like a Hogarth, say.

Joseph Wright of Derby,” The Smithy” – looks so much like a tableau at Tussauds, or in a museum; must be the “lighting” within the picture.

Reynolds – this sounds pathetic, but there’s a standing portrait of a lawyer – check out the hands, he can really do good hands.

The Etty nude – 18th century, but it looks really modern; perhaps the shading, somehow.

Arthur Melville, the Venetian tower watercolour – that incredible, vivid twilight blue sky.

Bit of a jump now to the 1960s and beyond (reflecting my interests, maybe):

Peter Lanyon, a beautiful big painting called “Thermal”, thick loops of white on blue and grey.

Next to it, a set of Kitaj grotesque faces called “the Erasmus Variations”, for some reason.

The huge Frank Bowling figurative painting “Mirror”, in colours reminiscent of Kitaj and maybe Hockney.

The Fiona Rae, with its squiggles and squirts of toothpaste, like an early Craig Kaufman.

Finally, the Tony Cragg “Stack”, like a pile of wood palettes – but actually there are no palettes at all!  It includes breeze-blocks, boards, rolls of material, and a couple of red plastic buckets, like the Turner spots of red.  An eight (?) – decker sandwich.

The rehang was reviewed by Laura Cumming in last Sunday’s Observer; she found it to be badly organised in some respects, some pieces obscuring the view of others; her review ignores the overall look of the rooms, though – if you stand in the archway, looking back at the corner with the Bowling and the Rae, with the Caro red metal sculpture to the right, the room just looks brilliant.

Stanley Spencer

Repeat of James Fox’s BBC4 prog on early C20th British painters; bloody awful portentous tone to all his comments but despite the overstatement, worth watching for the paintings.  The numerous crosses in Spencer’s mural in the Sandon Memorial chapel looked like 3D over Fox’s shoulder.

spencer crosses

 

Dekalog, Kieslowsky

Seen only the first of these Ten Commandments so far; an atheist lecturer is punished by a god which communicates through his (the lecturer’s, not the god’s) computer.  Queasy about the story, but great camerawork; I love the great monolith of the block of flats, standing in for god or maybe the tablet of stone…  Who is the young man in the astrakhan hood who sits by the fire on the river bank?  Ghost of the boy, sort of, maybe?

Heimat

Missed this when it was on channel 4 20 years go, and catching up now on DVD.  Those landscapes. when it changes to colour – they look just like Gerhard Richters.  Thought the same thing when I saw the film of the tornado which hit Moore – sure that will be a great comfort to the poor inhabitants.

Bay Area School at Thomas Williams, Old Bond Street

Interesting little exhibition on post – WW2 painters in San Francisco.  There are a couple of abstracts by John Grillo and a larger one by Ernest Briggs – like most abstracts, they look better when you stand well back.  The Briggs is one of those melters – the paint looks as if it’s slipping and sliding, touch of de Kooning and Joan Mitchell, maybe.  there’s a great little pink based abstract by Diebenkorn. and several so-so portraits by him; you wouldn’t know they were Diebs – but there’s a “Folding chair” that couldn’t be by anyone else.

My favourite picture is a half portrait by David Park (?) in thick black and white strokes, with a small touch of Auerbach about it.

 

 

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Red Line

Blackpaint

23.05.13