Posts Tagged ‘Exhibition’

Blackpaint 446 – Poured Paint, Pigs, Saddam and Crocodiles

May 16, 2014

Helen Frankenthaler and Turner at Margate

A fantastic exhibition at Margate, unfortunately just finished.  I thought the comparisons between the two artists were totally fortuitous, but this didn’t matter at all, given the quality of work on show.  The Turners were all well known, I think; my favourites as always were the  watercolour sketches – and of the paintings, “Evening Star” and “Calais Sands at Low Water; Poissards Collecting Bait”.

The Frankenthalers were a revelation; the earlier ones from the 50s and 60s were oils, the later acrylics.  there was a wonderful film playing of her producing a painting by pouring thinned paint on a canvas on the floor and pushing the puddles around with sponges and mops.  A few below:

frank lorelei

Lorelei

frank 2 cromagnon

Hotel Cro-Magnon 

frank 1

 For E.M. (Eduard Manet)

Frank mountains-and-sea-1962

Mountains and Sea

This last one wasn’t in the exhibition; I include it because it was her famous “breakthrough” picture, painted (or poured and painted) in 1952.  In the literature, there is, as with several other abstract expressionists, a degree of dispute over representation and abstraction.  No problem here, though; it’s clearly a green rhino with blue feet and a body made of flowers, charging towards the sea.

Orwell – Animal Farm

Must be the sixth or seventh time I’ve read this, but I found I had tears in my eyes after the first of the massacres, when the dogs that Napoleon has been rearing in secret rip the throats out of the pigs who have been “assisting Snowball”, in his sabotage activities.  Robert Colls, in his “George Orwell:  English Rebel”, describes how Orwell was criticised for implying there was something inherently bad about the pigs (the Communist Party) in the book; there is no “mechanism” to explain why they behave as they do.  In reality, the revolutionaries in Russia came from a long tradition of clandestine, disciplined activity against the Tsars, involving terror and counter-terror, assassination, ruthless self-sacrifice and a readiness to use violence to further their ends.  This must surely go some way towards explaining the way events developed under Lenin and Stalin; you can’t blame Orwell for leaving this out – the book’s an allegory, not a history.

It brought back to me that appalling film of Saddam Hussein addressing a meeting of his Ba’athist party, while secret police tapped a succession of unfortunate members of the audience on the shoulder and led them out of the meeting to be shot.

As Orwell’s allegory stands, of course,  it seems that the pigs, under Napoleon, take over leadership and exploit the other animals because they are the most intelligent and organised and this leads to corruption – eventually, they are indistinguishable from the humans.  It’s unlikely that Orwell would have thought this an adequate explanation – to that extent, the criticisms are justified, to my mind.  Still one of the greatest works of the 20th century, though.

Autumn of the Patriarch, Marquez 

The author’s recent death sent me back to this book to finish it, after 20+years; should be easy, since it’s full of colourful sex and violence, skinning alive, feeding to crocodiles, assassinations and terrible revenges – but it’s hard going, there being no paragraphs and only one full stop every 5 – 10 pages.  I thought Krasnahorkai was tough going.  Makes Conrad seem like Stephen King…

Exhibition (again)

Re-visited Joanna Hogg’s new film at the ICA (see previous) and some new thoughts; the “trouble”, whatever it is, depression maybe, is his, not hers.  I’d forgotten the scenes in which she is obviously afraid for him when he’s locked in the toilet or bathroom and when she is so afraid that something has happened to him in the street that she runs out of the house in her underwear, barefoot.  The artspeak is good –  “Yeah, she’s totally into what I do…” – and the excruciating little exchanges on the intercom – “Do you still love me?”  “I’m cold”  “Do you want me to turn the heating up?” (pause) “Wouldn’t mind…”

I mentioned the “crazing” on the window pane in some of the shots – this was actually the reflection of thick, small shrubbery on the glass.

I’m really struggling with my latest canvas, which is a raucous blast of blood red, black and grey at the moment, so an old one to be going on with…

001

Blackpaint

16.05.14

Blackpaint 445 – Ashmolean again, and Joanna Hogg’s Exhibition

May 8, 2014

Ashmolean Permanent Collection

As promised, a selection from the above:

di lorenzo

di Lorenzo – “St Nicholas of Bari banishing a storm”

Check out the mermaid in that pea green sea – and the C shaped boat.

uccello ashmolean

Ucello – “The Hunt in the Forest”

Cartoon – like, reds on dark green; flying hounds – like a Russian folk tale illustration.

michelangelo ashmolean

Michelangelo (possibly) – “Holy Family with John the Baptist”

The bloke on the left looks like an M, but not sure about the others…

master of bielefeld altar

Master of the Bielefeld Altar – “Christ Before Pilate”

Strange, Bosch-like figures…

daisy linda ward

Daisy Linda Ward – “Still Life with Matchbox” (or similar title)

This beautiful little assemblage on a pristine tablecloth is the exception in a roomful of full-blown blooms, fruit and lobsters, overwhelmingly Dutch, on black “varnished” backgrounds.  They like beer in steins, crabs and lobsters, flies and crickets and butterflies, lemons with peel hanging in ribbons, shrimps, areas of rot on fruit..  there’s that bundle of asparagus, by Coote, that was on the TV prog on still lifes…

rembrandt ashmolean

 Rembrandt, of course – portrait of Catrina Hoogsaet

Nearly missed this one; it’s huge, but behind the stairs as you come into the room.  Also, a fantastic Manet, a woman in white on a balcony, I think she’s Berthe Morisot.  It looks unfinished and all the better for it, in a way.

martineau ashmolean

Martineau – “A Poor Actress’s Christmas Dinner”

She’s staring across the bedclothes at a Christmas pud.  Lovely drawing, in that highlighted, half-completed style.

inchbold

Inchbold – “Study in March”

A piercing, cold, blue sky; an almost photo -realist, Victorian painting.  Reminds me of Glasgow Boys.

sickert ashmolean

Walter Sickert – “Gaiete Montparnasse”

A theatre balcony from below right; unusual angle – maybe Degas or Toulouse Lautrec might have done similar? Some other great Sickerts; a rough-ish “Ennui” and “Pierrots”, both second versions of the ones at the Tate Britain, and a “Self-Portrait with Bust of Tom Sayers”, another good painting.

Also a balustrade by Singer Sargent, a cockatoo by William Nicholson, Samuel Palmer meadows, Boudin beaches and great Dutch interiors with pipes and armour.  There’s loads more, so go and see it.

Exhibition, Joanna Hogg (ICA)

hogg exhibition

As I said in last blog, this film is claustrophobic compared to “Unrelated” and “Archipelago”;  it’s just the two characters, artists, in their Bauhaus-y, but rather tacky and ramshackle private house, “somewhere near South Ken”, I read – somewhere.  The sliding doors rumble, the lift is rackety, the boiler needs attention; they work in different sections of the house and communicate on intercom.  Outside, emergency sirens wail, people shout and argue, cars with thumping sound systems roar past, female Eastern European voices issue instructions repeatedly and stridently into mobile phones…

I mentioned the several instances of female masturbation, undertaken (or attempted) lying back on a stool, then in bed, using sheer materials, oil massaged into breasts, high heels worn in bed – sometimes I was unclear at first whether Viv Albertine’s characters WAS masturbating – maybe she was practising a piece of conceptual art… she binds herself with tape for some pieces.

There are great shots of the spiral staircase (reminded me of those Soviet buildings photographed by Richard Pare – see previous Blackpaint) and the interior and balconies of the building, especially reflection shots, through and on top of the venetian blinds, “crazing” on glass – colours are a sort of dark but garish, livid German 80’s Expressionist, Kippenburger, say.

The film has been compared to Haneke’s “Hidden”, but it has no narrative thrust like Haneke’s; there is a suggestion that Something Bad has happened; Gillick occasionally appears to have depressive fits or fugues; once, I thought Albertine was agorophobic, then realised she’d been out several times… maybe she’d been raped?  But no, too crass, too “narrative”.  At some point, she ditches the jeans, starts wearing shiny dresses, suddenly looking “sexy”; this, on reflection, coincides with the successful completion of the sale of the house and the resumption of sex with Gillick – previously, she’d declined to participate actively.

Anyway, I’m seeing it again tomorrow, so may have more to say then.

Escape From Alcatraz

Made in 1979, Clint Eastwood as Frank Morris; I saw it when it came out, forgot how brilliant it was, discovered it again in TV last week; not a single wasted second.  I hope the real Morris, and the Anglin brothers, made it; Morris would be 89 now – hope he’s alive and happy somewhere.

 

 

 

 

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Plesiosaur

Blackpaint

9.05.14 

Blackpaint 417 – Size Matters; Big it Up

October 18, 2013

Paul Klee at Tate Britain 

Some of these are quite nice.  Not a ringing endorsement, I know, but my genuine reaction.  Klee is a techniques man ; his “oil transfer” drawings are an example – the method produces a yellow-brown, stained background on which the spidery lines of the drawing appear to be roughly scorched in.  Then, there are the dots; tiny, variegated blobs of colour that produce a tapestry or carpet effect – which is tasteful and nice.  There are the dark tiles of midnight blue and grey and black with a disc of bright yellow and a patch of orange; “Full moon and fire”, or some such title – no prize for spotting the moon…

klee1

There are a lot of fish, tastefully drawn and coloured; little imp figures that recall – or maybe prefigure – Victor Brauner and other surrealists; many of the pieces remind one of rock and cave drawings, thick black lines done with a scorched stick, maybe.  Hot air baloon heads, spider web drawings…, there’s a touch of those early Mondrians, with the interlocking lines before he moved on to squares.  And maybe a bit of Asger Jorn, without the texture…

klee2

What I really missed, however, was some size.  They are all small; after five or so rooms, you want to see something by some drunken American abstract expressionist who has crashed his car into the Tate front door, strode in trailing fag smoke and whisky fumes, and started to hurl paint over a five metre square canvas, stretched on the floor (canvas, not drunken ab-ex).

When you look at the catalogue, however, the pictures look beautiful – glowing and luminous.  That’s the way to see them, in a book.

Unrelated

Joanna Hogg’s 2007 film, I think it’s the first of a trilogy, with “Archipelago” and her latest film “Exhibition”, with Liam Gillick, Viv Albertine and Tom Hiddleston.  In “Unrelated”,   Kathryn Worth plays Anna, a middle -aged  woman on a Tuscan holiday with her best friend’s family, including Tom Hiddleston as the eldest son.  She tries to keep up with the “youngs”, swimming naked, smoking dope, fancying Hiddleston, and ultimately being politely rebuffed by him when she makes the offer.  Anna is taking time out from her partner but staying in touch with him by means of anguished mobile phone conversations at the top of hills – shades of Kiarostami’s “The Wind will Carry Us”.  Again, the acting is totally believable: Hiddleston and Worth are fantastic and excruciating.

The cinematographer is Owen Curtis, but the look is the same as “Archipelago”;  those doorway shots, light limning figures in bedsheets in dark rooms, Tuscan landscapes instead of the Scilly Isles, but that same Old Master quality of light on the skin in the close-ups.  The director of photography for “Archipelago” is Ed Rutherford, so I guess it must be Hogg herself who sets the look of the films.  Just great; can’t wait to see the latest film.

Jacob’s Room

I’m now on the third novel in Virginia Woolf’s collected works (NOT illustrated by R Crumb, more’s the pity), after “The Voyage Out” and “Night and Day” – for the first time, I realise how she could possibly be compared to James Joyce, in terms of narrative experimentation.  the first two were conventional; in “Jacob’s Room”, you have to wait for the next page to find out where you are (or more accurately, where Jacob is) and what’s going on.  Incredibly annoying, but I’m still reading.. no doubt, I’ll end up thinking she’s a genius.  Could be worse, could be Jane Austen.

Phil Chevron

Died recently – wrote “Thousands Are Sailing”, the Pogues classic, which if you never did anything else of note…..

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Meeting at Roissy

Blackpaint

18.10.13