Posts Tagged ‘Eduardo Paolozzi’

Blackpaint 582 – Muddy Clothes, Bloody Sex, Endless Poetry

January 14, 2017

Tate Britain – Paolozzi

Early films by Paolozzi showing; influence of Picabia, Ernst, Metropolis immediately evident – as is Paolozzi’s apparent influence on Monty Python.  An intriguing soundtrack by the serialist composer Elisabeth Lutyens – must find out more about her.

paolozzi

Design Museum

It’s now in the former Commonwealth Institute building, up at Holland Park (High Street Kensington tube).  There’s a permanent exhibition (free) and two for which you have to pay – a Design Prize exhibition and one called, for reasons which I didn’t ascertain, “Love and Fear”.

Prize competition – jewellery from air pollution, Scandi I think; Nunhead London, a Green building community centre, opposite and responding to (architecturally) a pub; bike helmet lights… and a lot of other stuff.

“Love and Fear” – Gers (traditional Mongolian dwellings, I’d thought were called  yurts) made out of thick carpet-like material; apparently the Mongolians, because of their nomadic history and life style have little sense of community.  Chinese dresses and cloaks, mud-coloured, presented on a bed of…mud; a whale/dolphin saver project; an inquisitive electronic crane thing that inspects you with it’s robot eye but soon loses interest.

Permanent exhibition – no chronology in display, irritating for some of us who are used to absorbing things in date order – or indeed, any order – display wall (below) reminded me of the Millenium Dome exhibition in which random objects were spattered randomly over a similar wall.  Mops, skateboard (I think), Tube symbol, bicycle…

design-1

 

design-2

The old Bush TV – yes, we had one – and the white 60s one (Courreges, the Avengers maybe), Sony Walkman, etc.

(Below) Cardigan made from human hair, part of a school project.  All clothes on display looked to be made from old oven gloves, teflon or metal; dark, harsh, Japanese-y in style, gender-less..

design-3

There was a hospital-like smell in the building; an amalgam of disinfectant, medicine and cooking; the signage was bad – had to ask the way to the toilets, and as often, difficult to find the captions to some exhibits.  In the bookshop area, interesting books were displayed high and out of reach.  Piled on the lower shelves beneath, but still sealed in plastic, so unbrowseable.  All attendants wore immaculate black aprons for some reason.  Why are design museums always so badly designed?

The building, on the other hand, is great; huge, ship-like curved ceilings, built around 68, I think, by Pawson.

Endless Poetry (Jodorowsky, 2016, ICA)

It starts where “Dance of Reality” finishes; same actors, plus Jod’s older son.  Mother still singing her lines, Father still a screwed-up bully (kicking his “thieving” customers repeatedly as they lie cowering on the floor); still the masks, cardboard trains and store fronts, dwarves, skeleton suits, red devils.   Plenty to shock the shockable; hanging suicide, rampant penises, graphic sex with a menstruating woman (who has dwarfism) – but all somehow OK because of the relentless – well, optimism.  Jod’s younger self actually says “Life is beautiful!” at one point – so laugh and smile through the pain, bereavement, torture, disappointment; there’s nothing else you can do.  So what, if it all burns down, you can’t take it with you…  It’s Fellini, of course, but rather explicit; the message, that is.

I think I can take maybe one more episode of this, without it becoming slightly winsome.

Jodorowsky’s Magic Real-ish autobiography (sort of),  “Where the Bird Sings Best”, is out in Restless Books; the similarity to Maya Angelou suggested by the title is misleading.

Maggi Hambling, Touch (British Museum print room)

I wasn’t keen on Hambling’s drawings before – I thought they made her subjects look thorny and scabby.  There are two superb life sketches in this show, however, and three small figure studies on a matt black background that are just as good.  See also her portrait of the dying Cedric Morris.  John Berger and Stephen Fry are instantly recognisable from across the room.

From Clouet to Courbet (also BM print room)

Clouet like Holbein, but without that spark of life that makes Holbein unique.  Two lovely Ingres,  a great Gericault, and these two:

biard

Attributed to Biard.  Touch of Spike Milligan out of Kirk Douglas?

 

toulouse-lautrec

Lautrec, of course.

 

little-sea-jetty

Little Sea Quay

 

little-ice-fall

Little Ice Fall

Blackpaint

14.1.16

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Blackpaint 489 – Slagging Tate Britain, Rain in Hong Kong and Rioters on the Roof

April 4, 2015

Penelope Curtis Leaves Tate Britain

I’ve been rather taken aback at the vehemence with which the Guardian critics, Jones or Searle or both, have attacked the regime of this person at TB; you would think the place was devoid of visitors, who have taken their business elsewhere, alienated by a succession of misconceived, dull or just plain bad exhibitions.  In fact, it’s always busy, thronged with school parties, parents with buggies and kids called Oliver and Rosie, and old gits in jeans with white hair and day bags (like me). Like most visitors, no doubt, I’d never heard of Penelope Curtis – I love Tate Britain, however, and much prefer the light, white galleries to the stuffiness of the Royal Academy and the gloom of the V&A.  I sort of resent the slagging off that the critics feel entitled to dish out; I hope no-one takes any notice of it.

Recent good or great things at Tate Britain – Deller’s Folk Art; the Turner exhibition; the Paolozzi and Henderson stuff; the fabulous Auerbachs of the Freud bequest; the Phyllida Barlow thing in the main hall; the Frank Bowling pictures; the life drawings in the Archive Room; the permanent collection, of course.  I think the Sculpture Victorious exhibition is interesting and funny, although not necessarily stuffed with great art.  I suppose a punter is satisfied if there’s something good to look at – s/he is not always worried if the focus isn’t sharp enough, or it’s got too much or too little stuff in it, etc., etc….

auerbach

 

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Salt and Silver, Tate Britain

Early photos, on now.  In the architectural ones and some of the landscapes, a little figure present, presumably for scale or maybe it wasn’t a proper picture without a human presence.  By 1860s, that seemed to have changed.  I was surprised to see an Indian rowing team, apparently about to plunge  their oars simultaneously into the water; I thought you needed a long exposure.  Then it was pointed out to me that the surface of the water was unbroken – they must have been frozen in the pose.  Some treasures here – but rather a lot of buildings and ruins…

salt and silver

 

Nick Waplington and Alexander McQueen,  Working Process, Tate Britain

Third TB exhibition; the fashions are extreme and interesting – some of the dresses recall Dubuffet – but for me, the real interest lies in Waplington’s huge, sharply focused rubbish photographs (i.e. photos of rubbish).  From the distance of the next room, they look to me just like de Koonings;  go and see.

I’m in the Mood for Love, Wong Kar -wai

The real interest of this hypnotic film is threefold:  first, the seemingly endless series of high necked dresses Maggie Cheung wears – I think she only wears one twice; second, the torrential rain storms that beat down on the dark alleys; third, and most important, the haunting theme tune.

in the mood for love

Strangeways: Britain’s Toughest Prison Riot (BBC2)

There was some fascinating film here of the rioting prisoners on the smashed up roof, wearing balaclavas, captured prison officers’ caps and various pieces of fancy dress, dancing to a loudspeaker and waving wooden clubs at the helicopter buzzing them: the footage reminded me of film of the miners’ strike (no, I’m not equating the miners with the prisoners, neither with regard to the cause or the behaviour – just the carnival atmosphere and the defiance).  There were chilling accounts from one of the prisoners of assaults and near-murders of sex offenders, who were dragged from their cells and injuries inflicted on guards with scaffold poles and slates hurled from the roof.

It was instructive to hear from the reforming governor of the prison, Brendan O’Friel, who seemed an enlightened soul (he introduced women prison officers to the Strangeways, stopped the officers wearing racist golliwog badges and actually spoke to the prisoners informally on occasion).  He recognised the acute problem of overcrowding in the prison; yet when the riot broke out and the occupation of the prison by the rioters became prolonged – I think it lasted 25 days – he seemed to lose his liberal attitude; he described it as “pure evil”.  This sounds a bit extreme to me, in the era of Islamic State and al-Shabaab and Boko Haram…

John Renbourn

Hero 60s guitarist, up there with Davy and Bert and Roy Harper.  I have a tape somewhere of him backing Doris Henderson on TV, doing “the Leaves that are Green”  – trouble is, I haven’t got a tape recorder any more.  RIP.

Albert Irvin

One of the greatest, and an untimely death – he was only in his early 90s.

irvin empress

One of mine, to finish:

burnt norton

Burnt Norton

Blackpaint

4.04.15

Blackpaint 480 – Phallic Forests, Greek Mist and the old East End

January 29, 2015

Emily Carr, Dulwich Picture Gallery

Canadian North-West painter, died in 1945, did forests, abandoned Canadian tribal villages, totem poles, sea canoes…  She had several different styles – two  of these paintings could be Duncan Grant, a few others are close to Fauves, there’s a room of swirly treescapes that could be anthroposophical (except the colours were different), a few more that used the Van Gogh short line marks… Many of the paintings are oil on paper, which is not the best medium; they look somewhat brown and dowdy.  Canvases are better.  Oddly, she had connections with Mark Tobey, who I had always thought was a sort of abstract expressionist – his paintings are often in books on AbExes, anyway.  Turns out he was a “spiritual” painter (Baha’i faith) so they’re not really abex at all – more like visions of heaven or wherever.  The other painter mentioned in the exhibition blurb in connection with her  is the execrable Lawren Harris, member of the Seven, and painter of the white blancmange mountains (see previous Blackpaint).

Tree trunks and totem poles – bit phallic, really.  I could see her in therapy with Rebecca Front on “Psychobitches” (Sky Arts)…

emily carr1 emily carr2

 

London Countryway

For the last five years, a couple of friends and I have been walking in the countryside around Orpington in Kent (we only have one map) and following the various “Green” urban footpaths around London.  Judging by the following, Jonathan Meades had already done all our routes.  I came across this in his essay “Hamas and Kibbutz” – it’s pretty close to poetry:

…roads to nowhere whose gravel aggregate is that of ad hoc Second World War fighter runways, decrepit Victorian oriental pumping stations, rats, asbestos sheets piled up in what for obvious reasons  cannot be called pyres, supermarket trolleys in toxic canals, rotting foxes, used condoms,  pitta bread with green mould, ancient chevaux de frise, newish chevaux de frise, polythene bags caught on branches and billowing like windsocks, greasy carpet tiles, countless gauges of wire – sturdy strands it takes industrial kit to cut through, wire gates in metal frames, rolls of barbed wire like magnified hair curlers in an old time northern sitcom, chicken wire, rusting grids of reinforcing wire – flaking private/keep out signs that have been ignored since the day they were erected, goose grass, artificial hillocks of smelt, collapsing Nissen huts, huts full stop, shacks built out of doors and car panels, skeins of torn tights in milky puddles, metal stakes with pointed tops, burnt-out cars, burnt-out houses,  abandoned cars, abandoned chemical drums, abandoned cooking oil drums, abandoned washing machine drums, squashed feathers, tidal mud, an embanked former railway line, fences made of horizontal planks, fences made of vertical planks, a shoe, vestigial lanes lined with May bushes, a hawser, soggy burlap sacks, ground elder, a wheelless buggy, perished underlay, buddleia,  a pavement blocked by a container, cracked plastic pipes, a ceramic rheostat, a car battery warehouse constellated with CCTV cameras, a couple of scraggy horses on a patch of mud, the Germolene – pink premises of a salmon smoker, sluice gates, swarf Alps, a crumpled Portakabin, a concrete block the size of a van, bricked-up windows,  travellers’ caravans and washing lines, a ravine filled with worn car tyres, jackdaws, herons, jays, a petrol pump pitted and crisp as an overcooked biscuit, traffic cones, oxygen cylinders, a bridge made of railway sleepers across duckweed, an oasis of scrupulously tended allotments. (2008)

From “Museum Without Walls”, Jonathan Meades, Unbound pbk, £12.99

Voyage to Cythera, Theo Angelopoulos (1984)

cythera1

Stern, tall, uncompromising old rebel, dancing in the mist at the top of a mountain, back home in Greece after 30 years’ exile in the Soviet Union.  Later, towed out by the police, alone on a floating platform, in sheeting rain, to international waters.  Finally, joined by his wife, having cut the rope, drifting off together into the mist.  Fantastic – and timely, with the Greek elections.  Go Tsipras! Re-negotiate those terms….  You have time, as there are another four Angelopoulos DVDs in my Xmas box set….

cythera2

Nigel Henderson at Tate Britain

Free exhibition in the room to right at top of coloured stairs; it’s about the work of Paolozzi, the Smithsons, Henderson and two other photographers whose names escape me.  There’s a continually changing  triptych of slides projected on the wall,showing the very square Paolozzi – looks like a wrestler – seated amongst collections of Modernist art – think I saw an Adrian Heath – with Henderson’s fabulous photos of the old East End popping up right and left.  Old shops, markets, bombed-out waste land, coronation celebrations, cranes, under floor central heating… I’ll stop now, before this becomes another Meades – style list.

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water engine 2a

Water Engine 2 

 Blackpaint

29.01.15