Posts Tagged ‘Dexter Dalwood’

Blackpaint 500 – Sinful Sculptor, False Memories, Orgreave and the Flood

June 21, 2015

How to be Bohemian with Victoria Coren Mitchell, BBC4

After my partner’s RA picture got a split second exposure on TV last week, it was my turn; a glimpse of my grizzled head, appearing like a growth on another artist’s shoulder for a whole second, left of screen.  BUT – later in the programme, my hands drawing in close-up for about five whole seconds.  Fortunately, they didn’t show the drawing.

As to the programme’s content, Eric Gill was the most interesting topic; as well as being a stunning artist and craftsman, he had sexual intercourse with two daughters, his sisters – and his dog.  He recorded, or alluded to, all these exploits in his diaries.  The obvious question is: does the awareness of this depravity undermine the art?  VCM said it did for her – but she may have been playing angel’s advocate.  Fiona MacCarthy said, what about Wagner?  Well known anti-semitic views – do you listen to the music or turn it off?  VCM went for the latter.

No-one mentioned timing in this;  Gill’s criminal habits weren’t known when he was alive and producing fantastic work, such as Prospero and Ariel; his biographer, MacCarthy, revealed them in 1989, a previous biographer having omitted any reference.

Gill1

 

Prospero and Ariel, Eric Gill

 

False Memory Syndrome

Last week, I walked half the Ridgeway long-distance path, from Avebury in Wiltshire to Goring on Thames in Berkshire – around 40 miles.  I first did it 30 or so years ago, with a tent, and camped beside the path – this time, we got B and B.

I had vivid “memories” of being under the stars next to the path, by my tent, opposite the 3000 year old White Horse at Uffington, fully visible across the way on the flank of the down.  When we arrived at the horse this time, I was astonished to find that you can’t see it from the path – you have to go a hundred yards or so, maybe more, across a stretch of lush grass and psychedelic buttercups.  Then, you are just above the head and can see just a few dazzling white lines in the downside (it was made by being dug out and filled with chalk).  You can’t see it properly from below either – apparently, the only good view is from a car on the B4507. And yet, I could have sworn that I’d looked at it by starlight all those years ago.

uffington

Uffington White Horse

So what’s the significance of all this?  Last week, I wrote about a “circular” joke in the Polish film, “The Saragossa Manuscript”, in which someone inexplicably falls from height into a laundry basket, an incident which is explained later in the film.  But I was only halfway through the DVD – it’s 180 mins long.  It transpires there are no laundry baskets; the circular joke involves a voice, supposedly from Purgatory and a fall into a barrel.  It’s far too complex to explain in detail.  And yet, I could have sworn…  Maybe the laundry basket thing is some corruption of the Merry Wives of Windsor, where Falstaff hides in the dirty laundry and gets chucked into the ditch (reference to same in “Breaking Bad” – I think – can’t be sure of anything any more).

Fighting History at Tate Britain

A review, or random selection of “history” works old and new. panned as “moronic” and overly left-wing by Jonathan Jones in the Guardian.  I suppose the inclusion of memorabilia and filmed reminiscence of Jeremy Deller’s Battle of Orgreave reconstruction is a bit lefty – here are some of the other works:

  • “The Battle of Hastings” by Allen Jones – nice painting, Pop Art style, impenetrable.

The Battle of Hastings 1961-2 Allen Jones born 1937 Presented by E.J. Power through the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1980 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T03090

  • “A Visit to Aesculapius” by Poynter – group of beautiful women, no pubic hair, was “the chief centre of attention” at the RA in 1880.

A Visit to Aesculapius 1880 Sir Edward Poynter 1836-1919 Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1880 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N01586

  • A Flood by Dexter Dalwood, containing a quotation from a nearby (awful) Turner Flood, a Guston head, a Lichtenstein wave and a pile of swiss rolls.
  • Another Flood, by Danby; I like the terrified lion, clinging to the tree.
  • A huge King Lear, Fuseli eyes and a fleshy dead Cordelia, by James Barry.
  • The battle at Jersey, by Copley, the one with the dead officer and the black servant firing at the French; there are some Rubens/Pugwash women fleeing on the right.
  • Zoffany’s “Death of Captain Cook” – a very brown painting, compared with his famous one of the Indian Governor and the Cockfight.  Jones likes this one because the feather headdresses have been accurately rendered.

Go and see it; it’s not that bad and the Deller stuff won’t turn you left-wing if you’re not that way already.

A life drawing and a work in ?Progress? to finish with:

amanda face down2

Amanda on her Front

geometry4

Work in Progress

Blackpaint

21.06.15

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Blackpaint 295

September 19, 2011

Degas

Laura Cumming, reviewing the new show at the RA, says that Degas is more Michelangelo than Leonardo – what does she mean by this?  Maybe that Leo was more concerned with physical accuracy, the exact position and function of muscles, bones and flesh than Michelangelo; M was more ready to distort, exaggerate, generalise, to enhance the presentation of physical effort, posture. dramatic action… that seems fair enough comment.  She says that Degas seems to somehow project himself (spiritually, mentally) into the bodies of his ballet girls, to partake in their physical being in some way; that seems to me to be fanciful.  Surely it’s what anyone drawing a figure does, sort of, isn’t it?

Edward Lucie – Smith

I’m getting a lot out of his “Art Movements since 1945” (see previous blogs); he makes the connection between Kurt Schwitters and his Merzbauten and people like George Segal and Ed Kienholz, who produced environmental artworks in the 50s and 60s – that is, works that you walk through and round.  I’d thought of him as someone who produced beautiful little collages of wood, cloth etc.

Jasper Johns

Looking at those works of his from the 60s in which he “quotes” from art history – notably the Isenheim Altarpiece (Grunewald) in “Perilous Night”, but also Leonardo, Picasso and others.  These are quotes however, rather than the “re-imaginings” of earlier works by Picasso himself (Manet, Delacroix, Velasquez) or Auerbach (Rembrandt et al).  I suppose the most recent of this school would be Dexter Dalwood – he quotes like Johns, rather than doing his own versions.

As for Johns, the works which are my favourites are the big canvases with attachments like brooms, and collaged bits, those bolts of colour, red, yellow, orange, often on a blue background; the grey curtains of thinned paint soaking down into the fabric (see  “According to What” 1964), the stencilled lettering….

Bruegel

In “The Fight Between Carnival and Lent”, according to the Taschen book by the Hagens, the fat Lord of Carnival astride the barrel represents Protestantism, while Catholicism is personified by the lean, haggard, hungry figure with a beehive on his head (no explanation of the beehive offered!).  This is a novel presentation; Prots – or rather, the Puritan variety – are more usually lean, stern killjoys, the Catholics happy to feast and keep Christmas.  I suppose this is an English, or more precisely, Shakespeareian representation.

Willem de Kooning

I’ve never seen a contrast more clear and tragic than that between his paintings of 1983 onwards, as Alzheimer’s or whatever variant it was, took hold, and those from before.  The later ones are cleanly painted snakey loops of pastel colour on empty canvas, tangled but spaced out, textureless.  Go back to 66/67, say, “Two Figures in a Landscape” or “The Visit” – splotches, streaks, swathes, bleeds and trickles, pink, green, yellow, white, blue-black, scratched, scored and worked like Appel but much more subtle somehow; rich, swarming texture… fantastic.

Larry Rivers

I love the loose way he paints figures and faces – reminds me of Jim Dine or even more, Kitaj’ s figure drawings.  See “Parts of the Body; French Anatomy Lesson”.

Far From the Madding Crowd

Reading this, it strikes me that the old film was perfectly cast.  I can’t imagine any actors better than Stamp, Christie, Bates and Peter Finch in their respective roles as Troy, Bathsheba, Gabriel and Farmer Boldwood.  And of course, Dave Swarbrick as the fiddler at the post-harvest piss up…

Blackpaint

19/09/11

Blackpaint 209

October 19, 2010

Lucian Freud

I saw that Jerry Hall has sold some of her pictures for £ (or maybe $) 2.3 million and when I saw one, a portrait of her naked on a bed, I assumed it was hers, in the sense that she’d painted it.  It looked like a poor attempt at a Lucian Freud; fuzzy pink flesh, lop-sided approximation of a face…

Of course, it was a Lucian Freud, hers in the sense that she owned it.  Very bad painting, judging by the newspaper photograph, almost unbelievable from one of the most brilliant “realist” painters of human flesh alive; maybe when you’re rich and famous, you feel you have to paint pictures of your celebrity mates, even if they don’t inspire you.  Shame when you think of Harry Diamond, Francis Bacon, the suited Irish blokes, Lee Bowery and all the other fantastic pictures he’s done.  Still, any painter can have an off day – I expect I will, eventually.

Three new Tate Books

1.  Eva Hesse

Some great paintings, up to 1960; mostly “spectres” and some masks.  Great, greys, greeny yellow ochre backgrounds, long-necked, sketchy ghosts in a greasy, slippery style.  Grey horror masks, antecedents of Marlene Dumas.  What an artist she was – of course, I love these works better than her minimalist stuff, though that’s usually good too.

2.  Hannah Wilke

Beautiful (as was Hesse), she disfigured herself in photos with stick-on boils, did videos in which she danced in a cowboy outfit and stripped – saw that in the Paris Feminist exhibition at the Pompidou  and generally did stuff relating to exploitation of female beauty.  Later, she got cancer and documented the physical results of the disease and treatment, such as hair loss, “unflinchingly” is the cliche, I suppose.  Was she the first to do that?  Anyway, the book is hard to look at but worth it.

3.  Jenny Saville

Freud-ish portraits of both sexes and various ages, using livid, lurid colours often suggesting smeared blood and/or decay and profusely fleshy models.  The extreme close-ups of her brushwork are very beautiful abstract pictures in themselves.

Turner Prize contenders

I saw four out of the five.  Dexter Dalwood has six large paintings; “Lennie” (of Mice and Men), “Greenham”, “Melville”, “White Flag”, “Burroughs in Tangier” and (famously) “Death of Doctor Kelly”.  They follow his formula of room/location of famous person/event, with the principle absent, although I couldn’t work out what or where “White Flag” was; the rest are self-explanatory.  There were “cameos” of other artists in the following; Terry Frost discs in “Greenham”, Braque (I think) in “Melville’s room”, Twombly lines in “Borroughs” – as well as a red line and some blue scribble at the top, which looked a bit Lanyon to me – and Jasper Johns of course in “White Flag”.

Angela de la Cruz had several leatherette and fabric things, like collapsed canvases on easels, or tents maybe.  Also, a broken chair on a stool and a filing cabinet welded to some other piece of junk.  they were a bit like soft Rauschenberg “Gluts”.

Susan Phillipz was a disembodied voice, singing “Lowlands Away”, originally installed under a Scottish bridge.  Anne Briggs’ version far superior – or Sandy Denny’s or Martin Carthy’s.

The Otolith group had a battery of a dozen or so TV’s showing different episodes of a subtitled arts series, coupled with a fim by Satyajit Ray called “the Alien”.

Missed the last contender, also TV stuff, due to lack of time.  I don’t like looking at TVs in art galleries usually, anyway.

I think Dalwood should win, although his stuff is not brilliant; at least it’s substantial.

Raphael V. Michelangelo

I was surprised to hear Matthew Collings put it like this on TV the other day, and declare Raphael the “winner”.  Will pursue this in future blogs.  I have to say that Raphael made a lovely job of M’s knobbly right knee in “The School of Athens”, however.

Towton by Blackpaint

19.10.10

Blackpaint 207

October 15, 2010

Dexter Dalwood

I’ve been looking at the new book of Dalwood’s work.  A wizard wheeze, doing crime scenes and major events as empty rooms or places.  It ticks the social comment box – if you call a painting “Yalta” or “Birth of the UN” or “Sunny von Bulow”, it doesn’t matter what you put in it, critics will see some social or political relevance there; I don’t think there usually is any.  The Turner Prize entry, “Dr. Kelly”, for example – a tree on a hilltop, against an intense night-time blue, big silver moon – it says loneliness, maybe despair, to me; but it doesn’t constitute a critique.  Maybe having a picture named after a scandalous tragedy involving the Iraq war in the Turner Prize exhibition will be enough to gain Dalwood a lead; who knows?  

It doesn’t have to be, of course, as long as the picture is good and interesting; I’m just suggesting it helps, by giving the work another (spurious) dimension.  Good luck to him – an idea that can run, and already has for some years.

Dalwood’s paintings contain little cameos of other painters’ work;  De Kooning, for example, in the UN picture; Bacon on the wall in “Klaus von Bulow”; and Sunny as Millais’ Ophelia in “Sunny von Bulow”. 

Michelangelo’s “Last Judgement”

For some reason, I’d thought that M. painted this straight after finishing the ceiling in 1512; I suppose I just thought you would – “ceiling done, now for the walls” sort of thing.  but  no – he did a lot of other stuff and came back in 1536, 24 years later when he was 60 years old, to do the huge fresco for a different Pope, Paul III.  It took him until 1541.

Later, following the Council of Trent, some of his figures had breech cloths painted in to cover their genitals – but the concealments look  pretty random to me.  Why cover some members and leave others on display?  I can understand why they would want Jesus under wraps (but his winding sheet seems to curl round fairly naturally, so presume that was M.’s own work) -but there seems to me no reason behind the other choices.  Can anyone help?

Ai Weiwei

Sad news that the seeds are now out of bounds; now that I think of it, there was a thin mist of dust hanging above the “beach” when I was there.  Health and (choke) safety gone (cough) mad, if you ask me (wheeze and collapse).

CoBrA

There urgently needs to be a documentary made about the above group and their associates; Jorn, Appel, Pederson, Constant etc.  I can’t remember ever seeing anything about them on television or film.  Same goes for Per Kirkeby, who after all, is still alive.  Tons of art on British telly at the moment, but its mostly crap, or about huge names (Picasso, Matisse, Warhol); we know all that.

Corryvreckan by Blackpaint

15.10.10