Posts Tagged ‘Doig’

Blackpaint 637 – Bonnard, Nolan and Lift to the Scaffold

January 31, 2019

Bonnard, Tate Modern

I can’t really recommend this show too highly; I’ve been looking forward to it for weeks, been twice already and like everyone else, took photos of everything possible.  The colours are beautiful; mauves, blues, oranges, yellows (don’t know why I’m listing them, you can get a fair idea from my crappy, fuzzy snapshots below – all the good, clear ones were taken by my partner.

I was surprised at Adrian Searle’s negative review in the Guardian; despite giving a reasonably fair assessment of Bonnard’s achievement, he ended by saying he couldn’t get away from it fast enough.  No accounting for taste and Bonnard WAS a pretty dyed-in-the-wool bourgeois – he certainly looked it, anyway.  I suppose it’s all a bit old, white, privileged, domestic, smug, middle-class for Guardianista taste – but at least he’s Euro, not British.  Wonder what he thinks of Matisse?

One thing Adrian Searle is right about is Bonnard’s wobbly portrayals of people.  The faces are pretty rudimentary; Monchaty, his lover, for example, in the first real portrait in the exhibition.  One of the Marthes, emerging from the bath(s), actually looks like a sea lion to me.  Now and then, though, they are close to Degas.  While I am on about resemblances, here’s a few:  Peter Doig, Klimt, Degas, Vuillard, Goncharova, Van Gogh.  Didn’t bother with titles; too crowded to get them.

Something that the exhibition touched on was Renee Monchaty’s suicide, after Bonnard had decided to marry Marthe.  It didn’t say that Bonnard found her body in the bath.  This is of interest, given that Bonnard spent years after, painting Marthe in, and getting out of , the bath – you’d have thought he would avoid the setting.

 

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Very fuzzy – a bit Vienna Secessionist, I think, with that monumental prone nude on the wall.  Dodgy armpit..

 

 

Detail of a garden – Doig-y?

 

Unusual sharpness to door frame.

 

In one of the rooms, some frames have been removed – I think the result is a big improvement on those great wooden gilt jobs.

 

Very poor photo, great painting, VAST bath (in one picture, it looks to be floating about six feet off the ground.  I think some of the background is reminiscent of Klimt.

 

Love the various planes of colour in this and the woman just visible through the opening.

 

Bonnard’s windows and doors are often wobbly; when the scene is outside, it can look like a heat shimmer.

 

 

Very unusual scene for Bonnard; non-domestic setting, lots of people.  Placement and execution of distant figures rather like Lowry, the colours pastel-like.

 

This one says Van Gogh to me (or might, if it was a person, not a painting…)

 

I love the orange cow, or calf, on the left – that’s where I got Goncharova from.  The painting’s massive, by the way.

 

Lovely painting – no comment necessary.

 

Ditto.

Sidney Nolan, BBC4

Some stunners in this great programme last week – and also some not so stunning (to my eye, anyway).  I was surprised that some of his portraits, especially the early ones, reminded me a little of (early) Lucian Freud; some of the later ones, veiled and distorted, of Bacon.  Here and there, you could see vegetation and rock as Bacon would have rendered it – and also, maybe, Michael Andrews.  And an echo, sometimes, of John Bellany (maybe that should be the other way round, but anyway).

 

 

 

 

touch of Brett Whiteley here?

Lift to the Scaffold, dir Louis Malle (1958)

Doing what the French do best.

Otherwise known as Elevator to the Gallows, tense, clear, cold film noir with perfect Miles Davis music and beautiful Jeanne Moreau, haunting rainy Paris by night, searching for her lover (Maurice Ronet, above right) – who is stuck in the elevator, after killing her husband on the top floor.  Like a fool, he left the rope and grapple he used to scale a couple of floors to the victim’s office, dangling from the balcony and had to go back to get it….  A couple of juvenile delinquents, as they used to be called, nick his car and his gun and go on a spree, just to complicate matters further.

Here’s mine for this week:

Slouching to be Born

Next blog – Bill Viola and Michelangelo at the RA.

Blackpaint

30.01.19

 

 

 

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Blackpaint 493 – Whitechapel, Faust, Finnegan, Krapp

May 3, 2015

Christopher Williams at the Whitechapel Gallery

There are four striking photographs in this exhibition; two are reproduced below – the other two are a white cockerel in profile, and a close-up clutch of large red apples on the bough.  As can be seen, the colours are saturated and intense and the images have the glamour of advertisements.

There is more to it than this, of course; Williams is saying something about the process of photography – there are many other photos of cameras and photographic equipment – and probably much else.  I find from reading the critics Sean Hagan and Laura Cummings that one of the apples is dented (i.e. imperfect) and this is significant.  Similarly, the colour sample in the “turban” pic below does not contain yellow; also significant, perhaps.  I can’t be bothered to work out, or read about the significances, however.  I tend towards the philistine notion that the picture should really stand alone; don’t like reading reams of stuff on the wall or listening to a commentary on headphones.

christopher williams2

 

christopher williams1

There are also some photos of President Kennedy – these are apparently more significant because they were taken not long before his assassination.  In one, he is walking away from the camera into the distance…  I’m not sure about this  – a picture of a football pitch looks the same, whether or not we know there is a mass grave below it – the difference is in our mind.  If we know, we see it differently.

Lynette Yiadom- Boakye curates at Whitechapel

My favourite selection is the Gary Hume giant hand below.  There is also

  • Peter Doig – big orange and green painting
  • Warhol – Cow’s Head
  • Hockney – Sunflowers
  • film of an Estonian artist, dancing to Jimi Hendrix’ “Voodoo Child” at his father’s gravestone (artist’s father, not Hendrix’ father)

 

Gary-Hume

 

Faust, Murnau (1926 )

I got my VCR – that’s a video player – working again the other day and was able to watch my video of this great expressionist film for the first time in several years.  I sat and watched the whole thing through in one sitting, unusually for me (short attention span).  It’s main strength is the fantastic Emil Jannings as Mephistopheles (see below); but also there is the dark expressionist doorways and windows and the cityscape – Feininger, surely.

faust

Krapp’s Last Tape, Samuel Beckett

So then, I dug deeper into the video collection, blew the dust off, and found, after an old “Brookside” episode, this great treasure; Patrick Magee in “Krapp”.  Brilliant play, iconic actor, profoundly depressing content for anyone, like me, who is a compulsive diarist.  “Spool” is a great word, however, and bananas are a wonder food.  Magee sweats expressively – and impressively- throughout.

NPG x127343; Patrick Magee as Krapp in 'Krapp's Last Tape' by Ida Kar

Finnegans Wake

If, like me, you read a few pages of about ten or twelve different books a day – I’m retired, not rich – you find that, when you switch over, the last author’s style stays with you for a few moments and you sometimes get a sort of mental blending, or corruption even, of the latter text.  Perhaps not surprisingly, this effect is strongest with “Finnegan”; for several lines, your mind continues to expect Joyce’s dream language and you don’t immediately recognise plain English.  Most disconcerting.

 

phil3

 

Phil on Fire

Blackpaint

03.05.15

Blackpaint 418 – Whiteley, Schendel, Shining and Drowning

October 24, 2013

Brett Whiteley

I’d hardly heard of the above Australian artist until I saw “Art of Australia” this week.  What a brilliant painter he was  (died of an overdose in 1993); earlier stuff looked like Diebenkorn a bit – later, shades of Roger Hilton, Bacon and, I think, Scarfe and/or Steadman.  He mixed abstract, figurative, letters, techniques in a manner reminiscent of Albert Oelhen (but before Oelhen?).  Fantastic.

brett whiteley

Mark Bradford and Larry Bell at the White Cube Bermondsey

Bradford does huge canvases – I estimate the largest are 20ft * 18ft (dimensions not given and attendant didn’t know).  He plasters them with paper, paints it and then rips and shreds it down with a power sander.   The results resemble road systems and landscapes – one is like a coastline, another a tsunami investing a coastal city, another, Turner’s “storm at Harbour Mouth” (the sander swirls on black are like the rings on the cross section of a felled tree).  Some are bright – blue, pink, orange, white – reminding one of Peter Doig’s early paintings; others, dark and oppressive, like Anselm Kiefer’s work.

There are two beautiful Larry Bell pictures; they are like crumpled tinfoil and celluloid film, printed onto white canvas.  there are many more, but for my money, they are spoilt by being on black canvas and in black frames.

Blue Jasmine

Saw this Woody Allen film this week – it’s Streetcar, set in San Francisco rather than New Orleans.  Cate Blanchett does a great job of playing a neurotic, pampered, addicted, desperate woman, once rich, now broke, dumping herself on her despised working-class sister.  Script is great, but you never for a second forget you are watching acting; it’s naturalistic, rather than natural.  I can’t help comparing it to the fabulous Joanna Hogg films, Archipelago and Unrelated, that I’ve written about – in which, most of the time, no-one, pro or amateur, appears to be acting at all.

Reading Sebastian Faulks’ A Possible Life, which begins with a WW2 training exercise; officers lead their men mistakenly into flooded area and a soldier is drowned.  Strangely similar stories from two sources; Pete Seeger’s song “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” (I have it by Dick Gaughan on his “Sail On” album) and a Scott Fitzgerald story I read recently – can’t find it at the moment, he wrote so many stories.  The SF version is the earliest – I wonder if it’s the original.

The Shining

Watched it yet again the other night; like Goodfellas and Casino, you only have to see a few seconds and you are hooked – these films are Ancient Mariners.  I can’t understand why Stephen King hates the Kubrick film – it’s obviously a work of art, unlike most attempts at filming King books.  Kubrick changed it a bit – killed off the Scatman and left the Overlook standing, whereas King blew its boilers and burned it down.  I think Kubrick’s ending was better.  Pity about the Scatman, though.

Klee at Tate Modern

Went round this exhibition again, and, yes, I was rather snotty about it last time.  Room 13 is great, with the ones that are composed of dots and look like little tapestries – also the blue one, “path into the Blue” I think it’s called.  There’s also the miniature opera stage set that reminded me of Picasso’s “Night Fishing at Antibes” – but much smaller.

Mira Schendel

Great antidote to Klee – Brazilian minimalist, recalling Lygia Pape and Oiticica a little; wobbly square…  Triangles, bi-and trisected canvases; then, rough paint drawings and collages of bottles on bars, drips and splatters; some brilliant black ink on off-white paper, strong lines and jagged scribbles.  Then letters appearing and playing with typefaces; hanging tablets of rice paper; Eva Hesse-like tubes of gold-ochre, suspended from ceiling; silky, white nylon threads hanging in masses and curling up like hairs at the floor; a series of rough, eye-catching tablets on walls with bible quotations – she was a struggling Catholic, apparently.

schendel1

schendel2

Also visited “Art Under Attack” at Tate Britain; save that for next time.

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Work in Progress

Blackpaint

24.10.13

Blackpaint 177

August 19, 2010

Frederick Cayley Robinson

At the National Gallery.  He died in 1927.  The NG has a suite of paintings he did for a hospital which has been demolished and one in particular on show now.  It’s sort of a cross between Pre-Raphs and very high class children’s illustration, although he said he was influenced by Puvis de Chavannes.  The painting is a pastoral scene – a river winding through its plain in the centre of the picture, with a blinding column of sunlight striking down onto its surface.  Flock of woolly sheep in bottom left, Mabel Lucie Attwell-ish shepherd girls on right, under a couple of silver birch trees, I think, or maybe some sort of willow.

Beautifully painted, and when I looked closely at the sheep, saw a number of small, randomly distributed red dots, which disappeared when I stepped back.  Went in again, to make sure it wasn’t  my eyesight – no, there they were.  Is this some well-known technique of which I am ignorant?  The birch bark was fantastic too.  Interestingly – perhaps – there was a very  thin black outline round the figures, giving them the slightest Rousseau-type, “stuck on” effect. 

As well as this picture, there was a great self-portrait, signed in a cod-mediaeval way; I think he was going for Holbein (about two thirds there).

Fakes exhibition at the NG

Forgot the proper title – worth a visit anyway and it’s FREE (I suppose they can’t really charge you for looking at fakes…).

Not all, or even most, are fakes actually – there are some restorations, different versions by same artist, wrongful attributions  made in  good faith, reconstructions from original  materials – and some genuine  ones (Madonna of the Pinks, Uccello’s St.George and the Dragon) that were originally thought to be fakes.  There’s a lot of interesting stuff on materials, especially pigment – Prussian Blue, invented in early 18th century, seems to have been crucial several times.

There’s a “Madonna of the Iris”, purportedly Durer, actually by a bunch of different artists.  I have to say that, although the madonna is no great shakes, the red fabric of her gown is beautifully done in that International Gothic style.

By contrast, the “Poussin” picture, “The Plague at Ashdod”, was terrible – see the boy in the right hand corner!  It was traced too, I think the blurb said; the faker must have been tired by the time he got to that bit.

The Verrocchio with the two angels (right angel done by a pupil, they think) – his distinguishing features are the lips and eyelashes; always a little prominent (check out  Tobias and the Angel in the main gallery – the one with the little dog they think was done by Leonardo).

There are a couple of Botticellis, featuring his beautiful hippy women with their sleepy, serene eyes, but the star has to be that Uccello – I never thought it looked much upstairs, but down here in level -3, it glows.

Per Kirkeby

Got the book of the recent Tate exhibition reduced (£6.00) – I like the stuff better now.  Maybe there was just too much in the exhibition.  Anyway, as well as himself, he reminds me of a bunch of other painters, as I flick through: Rauschenberg, in the car ones with the dots; Peter Doig, in some of the landscape-y things; and Sigmar Polke with his cartoon figures on horseback.

Rubens

Back upstairs, I was rather disturbed to find the Rubens women, reminiscent as they sometimes are of the Captain  Pugwash cartoons, somewhat erotic.  I clearly need to take up some sort of hobby.

Blackpaint

19.08.10

Blackpaint 30

January 5, 2010

Exhibitions

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.”

Blackpaint

05.01.10