Posts Tagged ‘Ed Burtynsky’

Blackpaint 346 – The Glamour of Desolation

June 14, 2012

Burtynsky again

Second visit and I realise that these fabulous photographs actually glamorise the processes of oil extraction, refinement and waste disposal – not sure if that was the artist’s intention.  The scenes of environmental dereliction, in the Azerbaijan oilfields and especially Chittagong, look great.  If I were in Bangladesh as a tourist, I’d want to go to Chittagong, see the hulks on the beaches with golden light pouring over and round them, and take pictures.  From across the room, the photographs reminded me of those classy riverscape paintings used to illustrate Penguin Classic editions of Dickens – “Our Mutual Friend”, maybe.

If they had been in black and white, they would have looked like Baltermans Soviet war shots; Stalingrad or Kursk…

And, inevitably, the salt flats shot recalls Brueghel…

Tree of Life (Malick)

Another second visit, and the Tarkovsky overtones immediately flooding in, especially “Mirror”; but a couple of Ray Bradbury moments I missed the first time, too – the clown who drops into the water tank (surely that’s Gacy’s clownface?) and the tall man in the wooden tunnel/corridor…  Probably me reading stuff in, rather than Malick.

A series of images at the end to play with; beach and sandbar, desert rocks, doorway in desert and water, that rock fissure from below again, the floating mask – and who are the two girls with the mother when she gives her son to god/eternity/universe…?

British Museum – The Horse

The Stubbs paintings; sometimes, there’s something strange or not right with his riders and horses, isn’t there?  The horses seem to me to be elongated somehow, can’t quite put my finger on it…  It must be a way of seeing, since he did all those anatomical drawings of horses (a copy of the book is in the exhibition).

Van Dyck

There is the most beautiful drawing of a horse in black chalk with white highlights on blue paper; the wall note says it’s probably a sketch for an equestrian portrait like the one of Charles I in the National Gallery – the one in which the horse’s neck is too long and/or the head too small.

Picasso, the Vollard Collection (print room of British Museum)

Seen these etchings already in Santiago de Compostella (see Blackpaint 288).  The beautiful curving line, freedom of depiction, the way he mixes spare line with dense forests of cross-hatching.  That head-knob nose, copied from – forgotten, somewhere Middle East or Med.,  that makes an appearance for several prints and then disappears.  Mostly elderly artist with nude model and statue; a series of Minotaurs, drinking at orgies, or creeping into young girls’ bedrooms – there are usually naked girls, vulnerably loitering or asleep, in the vicinity.  There is a series of five or six “rapes”, with great flurries of limbs and torsos, but difficult to make out.  Finally, there are several blind Minotaurs, being led here or there in a stiff-legged, Egyptian profile walk.  Some Rembrandt and Goya etchings are mixed in, where Picasso had borrowed a theme, or the subject matter/technique is similar.

Blackpaint

14th June 2012

Blackpaint 344 – Last Tango from Bela

May 31, 2012

Bela Tarr

I read in the Guardian that he is retiring to teach at a film school.  Terrible news – no more rain, mud, pigs and palinka, displaced peasants… 

Fred and Ginger

I’ve been watching the old Astaire Rodgers films again – Top Hat, Swing Time, Follow the Fleet – and ending up with a stupid smile at every breathtaking dance number; I find this is perfect to alternate with Tarr films, on the old 30 mins of Astaire-Rodgers, followed by 30 mins of Satantango or Damnation principle – they complement each other perfectly (as of course do Fred and Ginger).

Ed Burtynsky at the Photographers Gallery

The exhibition is titled “Oil”.  Huge, Gursky-ish photographs; spaghetti junctions, vast Volkswagen lots, thousands of Harley bikes at Sturgis, N.Dakota (where there’s a bikers’ convention): nodding donkeys flung higgledy-piggledy across the landscape in Baku, Azerbaijan; same hardware but neatly set out in California and Canada.  Shipbreaking in Chittagong – monolithic, black “walls” of iron, dwarfed workers posing; a Philadelphia truck-stop complex, Exxon and Big Mac signs; a beautiful, painterly interior of a refinery, shining, chromed pipes; oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  In one of these photos, tiny ships spraying foam (?), the surface of the sea just like coal, as if looking at a glistening, wrinkled, solid coal wall in a mine.

Art and the State

One thing that can be said for Damien Hirst is that (so far as I know) he has not participated in any of the Olympic or Jubilee nonsense currently engulfing the UK.  Could be wrong about this – please comment if I am.  Anyway, the sight of a collection of artists, actors and various other performers, in their posh clothes, at a reception for the Queen at the Royal Academy was bizarre and faintly nauseating.  They looked, for the most part, deeply embarrassed – some, notably David Hockney, pulling faces that made them look demented.  Maureen Lipman, interviewed by Will Gompertz, acquitted herself well; she said she had no idea why they were all there and then qualified this by opining that it was all about money and networking.  Gompertz and the odious George Alagiah “back in the studio”  (Morrissey is right about him “acting out” the news) feigned amusement – the interview disappeared and a more conventional few sentences from Charlotte Rampling substituted on later airings of the story.  Well done, Maureen; disappointing, Charlotte. 

Jonathan Jones on Hirst

Something I left out when discussing Jones’ excoriating review of Hirst last week, was his side-swipe at “whimsical abstraction”.  I assume that this is the process of producing abstract work without a coherent ideological frame of reference.  If so, my improvised paintings clearly fit the bill, so I must thank Jones for supplying me with a convenient label.  Latest whimsical abstraction below.

Blackpaint

31/05/12