Posts Tagged ‘Eileen Agar’

Blackpaint 667 – From the Belly of the Beast

March 18, 2020

British Surrealism at Dulwich Picture Gallery until 17th May

Well, it was to be until 17th May; now, gallery is shut down for the duration of the crisis.  I was surprised by how good or interesting some of these paintings are; like many people, I loved surrealism in my teens and twenties, but sort of grew tired of it of it when I discovered colour, texture and form in paint.  I’m less interested in the stories paintings tell, than in paintings as sensual entities in themselves.  Here, there’s plenty to enjoy in the pictures before you even have to try to understand them.  So, below are some of the pictures that please me as arrangements of paint on canvas, not necessarily as surrealistic experiences:

La Cathedrale Engloutie, Ithell Colquhoun

Colquhoun is the most interesting painter here (apart from Bacon and Freud, who have one painting each in the exhibition).  Reminds me I need to make a dental appointment, if I make it through the pandemic…

 

The Oneiroscopist, Edith Rimmington

Yes, Rimmington does a good surreal bird.  Has it eaten the deep sea diver, or is the helmet its own?  If so, how does it get the helmet on over the beak?  Sorry, getting involved in the narrative…

 

Aftermath, Marion Adnams

I used to have a skull the same as this – fox, I think – that I found in an abandoned Scout hut in 1962 or 63 – no bow, though.  I see there’s barbed wire on the parapet, so I guess it may date from WW2 – the picture, not the skull.

 

Graham Sutherland

Slightly blurred photo, sorry; and that’s my reflection in the glass.  Is it really a surrealist painting or one of Sutherland’s stylised landscapes?  I love the colours.

 

The Old Maids, Leonora Carrington

Elongated women, small heads, crab-like chair, naughty monkey – classic Carrington.  I still mix her up with Dorothea Tanning (style, name, Max Ernst connection) and also with  Leonor Fini…

 

Nocturnal Drama (Fantasy), Merlyn Evans (detail)

Reflection in glass again, I’m afraid.  Such a good painting, though.

 

Guardian of Memories, Eileen Agar

You can get this one on a tea towel at DPG – when it re-opens of course.  Great sharp image and execution – Agar is the other champion here, bigger name than Colquhoun.

 

Francis Bacon

Bacon’s dogs remind me of Bonnard’s cows.  I think I read somewhere that the face of the tree thing is supposed to be Goebbels or Goering…

Some other great stuff, but it’s all on hold now.

 

Dulwich Picture Gallery Collection

Copy of work in Uffizi by Cristofano Allori

Surrealistic handbag?  Fabulous little painting. Judith with head of Holofernes, of course.

Willem de Kooning

Just to illustrate that pretentious nonsense I wrote at the beginning, about paintings that you like not for the “story” but for the paint itself, here are a few from the Master (the Mistress would be Joan Mitchell, naturally).

 

I hardly dare to include my own latest painting to follow this group, but it’s my blog, not de Kooning’s, so here it is, entitled “Lockdown” – not for the content, but for the times:

Lockdown

Blackpaint

17/3/20

 

 

Blackpaint 594 – Reaping the Rye in Notting Hill

April 17, 2017

Out of Blixen, Riotous Company, Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill Gate

Kathryn Hunter (below) in the play which consists of four Blixen/Dinesen stories, stitched together with a little biographical narrative from Hunter as Blixen.  In the photo below she is playing a 13 year old girl; elsewhere in the play, she imitates a fish – rather effectively, in both cases.  I remember seeing her as Richard III at the Globe some 15 years ago; she seems to have unlimited powers of transformation.

The staging is varied – few tricks missed,  Mia Theil Have, playing at various times a peregrine falcon, an exotic dancer and a (bogus) angel, loses no opportunity to climb up into the stage curtains and utilise them as ship’s rigging or heavenly wings; she is most striking, though, as a peasant woman reaping imaginary rye with an imaginary sickle, all around the auditorium – like an animated Russian propaganda poster.  There are also stilts, a mobile piano, some minimal audience involvement and earth, or possibly grain, falling onto the stage from the heights (to crunch underfoot, during Blixen’s piece).  It’s pretty much magic realism.  I see Blixen as a bit like Frida Kahlo – Kahlo shattered by her tram accident in youth, Blixen afflicted by syphilis inherited from her father, I believe.  She’s popular with feminists; Paul Tickell, the writer of this piece, says she draws “in particular on the feminism which began to emerge out of the 18th century Enlightenment”.  It’s on until 22nd April.

Selfie to Self-Expression,  Saatchi Gallery, Sloane Square

Well, is it art?  Some is, for sure.  Fantastic exhibition if you are a teacher in search of a good trip out for the kids (judging by the number of school groups there on the days I went).

There’s a room of illuminated photographic panels with famous self-portraits that could never be assembled if you wanted the originals:  three of the famous old age  Rembrandts, Courbet, Manet, Renoir, Cezanne, Basquiat, Warhol, Freud, Spencer, Van Gogh, and Velasquez’ Las Meninas.

Then, a room of proper selfies: Russian daredevils atop skyscrapers, a swimmer kissing sharks – and another with a great white approaching fast behind him, Brad and Jolie, Cumberbatch photobombing U2, and so on.

Novelty tech as below; a creepy room where you appear in surveillance mode; a selection of creative self-portraits entered for an exhibition, containing some brilliant work. Highly recommended – I’ve been twice.

 

Who can this miserable old git be, with the glamorous, smoky-eyed woman?

 

The same pair, I think…

 

Russian jail tattoos, part of selfie exhibition.

 

Get Out (dir, Jordan Peele, 2017)

Starring Daniel Kaluuya, great in “Black Mirror”,  a warning to black American men to beware of white girlfriends with liberal parents.  Whatever you do, don’t go to visit for the weekend…

It’s full of references to other films: I got “The Prophet” (the deer scene), “Night of the Living Dead” (Romero’s original B&W), “Les Yeux sans Visage” (the surgery scene), “Under the Skin” (the Sunken Place) – not to mention “Stepford Wives”, which all reviews – well, mention.

When I saw it, at the Brixton Ritzy, there were only two black people in the cinema; a woman and her daughter, I think, sitting in front of me.  They were talking intermittently,  in a sort of Gogglebox way:  “Oh he’s not going in there, is he?  Get out now, you fool!” – that sort of thing.  Suddenly, a young woman’s voice, slight accent, French maybe – “Ladies; please can you stop talking?  Thank you”, from across the aisle.  Meanwhile, on screen, the black hero struggled to save himself from the Obama-loving white liberals.  The ironies abound.

Keith Tyson, Turn Back Now, at Jerwood Gallery (Hastings)

Keith Tyson

Tyson’s pictures are displayed as above, in a sort of 19th century Royal Academy Exhibition way. wall to wall.  They are so varied as to defy description, except to say that many have whimsical, surreal or ironic commentary.  I liked some, for instance, the rather Festival of Britain ones in the picture above.

The permanent collection at the Jerwood, although small, contains some beautiful pieces, by Michael Ayrton, David Jones, John Wells, Barnes-Graham and others – especially Eileen Agar, who has a room to herself:

Eileen Agar – rather like Colquhoun and MacBryde, I thought

 

Agar again

 

Christopher Wood

Next week, Queer British Art at Tate Britain.  Readers in London during the next two weeks may like to visit our annual exhibition at Sprout Gallery (see below):

Western Approaches (WIP)

Blackpaint

17/04/17