Posts Tagged ‘Dijkstra’

Blackpaint 183

August 27, 2010

Wolfgang Tillmans at the Serpentine

This artist seems to perplex some critics with his breadth of activity.  He seems to cover a lot of different techniques and subjects in his photographic work, to the extent that critics have wondered just what he considers to be art (see Laura Cumming, 27th June, in the Guardian): “Tillmans had no style but every style, no particular subject but everything around him”.  To be fair, Cumming is describing her reaction to him at the time of his Turner Prize award in 2000; now, her conclusion is that his art is about the processes and techniques  of photography.  If I have not misunderstood, that makes this show something like a glorified showreel.

To some degree, I think that’s right, but there are some striking images and several artists, painters and photographers, come to mind.

There are several huge photographs with a pink-cream base, which look like pinpricks of blood-red ink beginning to dissolve in liquid.  They could easily be Twomblys.  There is one even more massive, with indigo “ink”, in swirls that resemble comb strokes.  There are assemblages of glossy sheets, each in a different, bright colour, some folded and re-straightened – little Kleins?

Then, there are fuzzy black and white photos of a man working on  scaffolding; looks like photo-journalism, something out of Exposed at the Tate Modern, as if from a sequence.  Something is going to happen in the next frame.

 A couple of works have the scraped pattern appearance of Richters and  there is an enormous, glamorous portrait of female heptathletes at a  meet that immediately recalls Renike Dijkstra. 

The most memorable image is an unpretentious small photograph of a swimmer digging a splinter from his foot.  It’s a great shape – there’s something about the extended neck of the swimmer and his hunched figure and bent leg that recall a Figure at the base of a Crucifixion – the bleached colour photo of another swimmer apparently balancing on his right arm – or is he executing some sort of dive? – is marginally  less interesting.

There’s much more of note; flowers, parchment, electrical bits and pieces,  a cow tormented by flies, gardens, rockeries, drunks and scrapyards.  There is a desk display of magazine newspaper items relating to religious persecution of gays and women, genital mutilation and hangings in Iran. 

There is an aerial view of a huge industrial(?) complex or transport centre that I first took for a close up of a silicon chip.  On closer inspection, groups of tiny container lorries could be made out on roads and long ingots turned out to be sheds or hangars.  Big, square, empty areas give the impression of  flooded fields.  The inevitable comparison is with Gursky.

Very varied, then; painterly “art” photography, reportage, politics, portraits, huge, small, nature, industry….  No wonder he irritates critics – hard to get a “take” on, like, say, Gerhard Richter.

The Road to Mandalay



Blackpaint 30

January 5, 2010


Tomorrow, I have to take down an exhibition of my stuff in a London gastropub.  Sold one;  hardly a world – class result.  Got another one starting next week, and some stuff still up in another pub, so all is not lost, but a depressing start to the year.  I could do with some art journalist dropping in for lunch and being bowled over and tearing back through the snow to the office – or the computer, if they’ve been forced to go freelance – and writing a glowing review, recommending everyone to rush down and see (and buy) the amazing stuff…  Sorry, fantasy organ now back under control.

I had a good run – for me – in the few weeks before Christmas, sold three or four, but I’m back to normal situation now, with exactly the same amount in the bank as always at this time of the month; about 200 quid less than I need to see me through until my next payday arrives.  I’ll need about 50 quid’s worth of canvases before then.

HOWEVER – I’m still 100% happier than I was in my “proper” job, so that’s enough moaning.  I find it gives me a lift to look at some of the paintings (let alone installations) that pop up in art books and galleries; who would have thought that someone would have the foresight to make, and others to like, some of the stuff that is produced?  I don’t mean that in a sneering way – I mean art that is a challenge, is ugly or crude or shocking or feeble or trite or apparently lacking in traditional skill – that’s the art that may open eyes or minds and lead to something new and good.  But obviously, people tend to work in the style before last – isn’t that what they say about armies, they prepare to fight the last war, not the next one – and the audiences too.  It’s a sort of assurance of quality for something to look a bit like a Bacon, or a Hilton, or a Peter Doig; you can buy it knowing that a number of people who know, have already spent big money on similar (but of course, astronomically better) works.

So that’s what I’m doing – rehashing ideas and techniques and textures worked out in the 50s and 60s, and producing far inferior stuff that sometimes vaguely reminds people of my heroes in St.Ives and USA.  I don’t do it consciously, however; I don’t copy and it’s only when I’m writing this that it’s obvious to me.

For the record, some of the contemporary artists I really like are;

Cecily Brown, Matthew Barney, Rineke Dijkstra,  Andre Butzer….. more tomorrow.

listening to, “Elgin Movements”, by Blue Smitty (words borrowed from Robert Johnson);

“She got elgin movements from her hips down to her toes,

Break in on a dollar anywhere she goes.”