Posts Tagged ‘Fiona Rae’

Blackpaint 396 – Mummy Goes to the Tate

May 30, 2013

Tate Rehang

A couple of dozy errors last week – obviously getting old.  first, Gainsborough.  I said there was a picture by G that looked just like a Hogarth, and nothing like the feathery, impressionistic portraits that characterise Gainsborough.  But of course, G did “Mr and Mrs Andrews”, which is similar in style to the family group in the Tate, and which I’d forgotten about.  So, Gainsborough changed his style between 1750 and 1780; not very earth-shattering.

And Fiona Rae – I wrongly located her next to Frank Bowling and opposite the Anthony Caro red metal sculpture.  She’s actually in a different room, opposite Peter Doig. It’s Peter Blake’s portrait of David Hockney with coloured balloons that is near the Bowling.  So what? you ask – well, the room with the Caro, Bowling and Blake is by far the most attractive room in the whole Gallery when viewed as a whole from the archway at the end; and I said as much last week.

Rose Wylie

There is a whole room full of Wylie’s huge, rough, cartoon-y paintings, reminiscent (a bit) of Guston and cartoonist Barry Fantoni; they look like they are done on board or cardboard by a punky youngster – Wylie is 77 years old, a trained artist and ex-lecturer.  I like them, especially her Nazi generals (see below), a painting inspired by the Tarantino film “Inglorious Basterds”.

wylie

Why are they there, though?  There seems no obvious reason why her pictures should get a room in the Tate rather than any other artist – apart from the fact that, being huge, they look good.  Maybe the answer lies in Germaine Greer’s support.  In 2010, she wrote a big puff for Wylie in the Guardian, pointing out that she had deferred her painting until her children were raised, Greer had bought a couple of her pictures and that there were others available.

Greer began her article by saying that in Wylie’s house, there were two working artists.  She then wrote exclusively about Wylie, not naming Roy Oxlade, Wylie’s husband.  Why say there were two artists, then write about only one?  Pathetic.

Mummy

At Tate Britain, with my 90 year old mother-in-law, ex- 1st violinist with Amsterdam Philharmonic and Liverpool Philharmonic, bit deaf but as sharp as a razor – addressed by the attendant as “Mummy”… “Shall I get Mummy a wheelchair?”  Thank goodness she didn’t hear him.  I suppose he was being kind, but still…

James Salter

Reading three Salters at once; “Light Years” and “Burning the Days” I’ve read before.  I’m interested to find that the new book, “All That Is”,  is actually an easier read than the first two, despite the fact that Salter is now 87 years old; maybe he’s more interested in getting the story told now, than in coming up with surprising and original metaphors.  All three are beautifully written, though.  I read a short story by him in the Saturday Telegraph Review – about a long affair and its end.  Only two pages long. but halfway through, Salter states that the woman let her lover whip her once.  Why?  Seems odd just to bung a whipping in gratuitously….  Maybe it went on more in Salter’s younger days….

Dan In Real Life

This Steve Carell/ Juliette Binoche vehicle on TV the other night; one of those US films, usually set in New England (this one’s Rhode Island), where there’s a huge. talented, odd, kind, musical/theatrical/literary family, all living with their precocious kids in a huge, rambling, ramshackle mansion, bitter-sweet, working out issues, playing games, being lovingly eccentric.. I hate them with a burning hatred and blame John Irving of “Garp”, if he founded the genre, as I think he did.  Mind you, sounds a bit like Dickens, when you think about it.

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Headlong

Blackpaint

30.05.13

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Blackpaint 390 – Blind Gary, Sybil and The Magic Board-Rubber

April 18, 2013

Dobell’s at the Chelsea Space

Little gallery in the Chelsea Art School complex opposite Tate Britain.  Photos from the 40s, up to when Dobell’s moved to Tower Street.  I knew it best from then on, when Les Fancourt used to sell me Texas 50s blues on Krazy Kat pretty much every week, but some familiar faces in the photos, notably Jimmy Asman and Maureen from Asman’s in New Row (sadly, also gone).  Asman sold me my first jazz record, by Billy Banks’ Rhythmmakers in 1932; “the Hottest Jazz Ever Recorded”, the sleeve announces.

The original record racks are in the exhibition, and the Phil Seaman, Billy Butterfield and Dill Jones sleeves – I’m sure they were all in the rack the last time I looked in the shop!  Also those great bags with the record spines; I wish I’d kept some.  The famous shop was at 77 Charing Cross Road, hence 77 Records – see the Blind Gary Davis LP cover below (although I think my copy came from Dave Carey’s Swing Shop in Streatham – sadly, also long gone).

gary davis

Also in the photos, Ray Smith of Ray’s Jazz, which survives in Foyle’s of course, but without Ray or  Bob Glass, who knew everything about jazz and blues, most things about all other kinds of music – and everything, really.

Chelsea Interim MA Show

Worth a look;  there is –

A cardboard ocean liner crashing from heaven into a table (or maybe a chair);

Bright, fragmentary Japanese – style abstracts, stuck like jigsaw pieces to the wall;

Video of a woman bound like a mummy in coloured wool strands, which plays in colour on the floor and in B&W on an old TV on a stand;

Video of PP Arnold in B&W, playing on another TV (I liked this basically because I identified PP Arnold – “First Cut is the Deepest”, before Rod – without seeing the label);

A room full of detritus – Pyms bottles, rubbish, fractured polystyrene, dubious smears and puddles – with a curtain screen at one end, from which hip-hop music emerging.

Sir William Nicholson

Got a catalogue called “Making Waves” in Campbell’s by the Tate Mod for a quid; it had two fantastic compositions by the above, one of which, Portrait of Sybil Hart-Davis, is below.

william nicholson 3

It’s great, isn’t it?  And this one too –

william nicholson 2

I love the composition, the colours, the space in the Hart-Davis one…

Tate Britain

They’ve rearranged the pictures in some of the 20th century rooms and put some new stuff up;

There’s a sort of landscape room (although it’s got that huge Lytton Strachey portrait by Lamb and some other pics that are not really landscape) – I liked the three fibreglass moulds of earth and rock by Mark Boyle, the Tacita Dean lighthouse film, the Wilson Steer girl from behind, and the Spencer Gore.

There’s a huge Hoyland canvas in a dark pink on grey, just big expanses of colour with grey stripe and a sort of inset panel of paint; the colours throb.

Tony Cragg’s “Stack” – like a pile of palettes (although it’s not), with all sorts of matter wedged in – another jigsaw.

A nervy, colourful AbEx job from Fiona Rae, lots of jaggedness on white canvas.

My favourite Gillian Ayres breakfast – although her title is “Breakout”, I think.

Loads more – next time.

In The House

Director Francois Ozon, with Kristin Scott Thomas, Fabrice Luchini and Ernst Umhauer.  A lonely schoolboy insinuates himself into the home of a schoolmate as an unofficial maths tutor, but really to write about the family and maybe seduce the mother.  He writes up his visits and shows them to his literature teacher, who is himself seduced and starts to encourage and aid in the project.  Very funny, but quite slight – unlikely to stay with you long.

Two observations:

  •  It’s another example of that “turning the tables” thing that French directors seem to love – the boy’s obsession captures the teacher, and later transfers to KST, the teacher’s wife (there was another example on TV this week, a film from 2003 starring Daniel Auteuil, called Apres Vous).
  • The prose style of the boy’s regular reports on the family reminded me strongly of Camus’ Outsider.  Must re-read it.

The Magic Board rubber

In Arne Dahl’s The Blinded Man, episode one.  I thought I was seeing things, until Chris Grice mentioned it to me.  It rubs out – then it restores.

Man Hands

Also indebted to Chris for pointing out the Seinfeld episode in connection with last week’s discussion of the Holbein portrait.

094

 

Blackpaint

18.04.13

Blackpaint 325 – Fabric Penis Stalactites

February 16, 2012

Yayoi Kusama

This artist now in her 80s, has an exhibition at the Tate Modern at the moment and I went, expecting not very much.  From what I had heard, she was a performance artist from the 60s who now lived voluntarily in a mental institution in Japan, and tended to cover everything in sight with coloured spots, from tiny to huge.  True, but much more, it turned out. 

First, there is are some surrealist drawing/paintings, resembling vaguely threatening dragons or snakes, and then some quite beautiful small drawings/collages/paintings in vibrant colours; moons, bacteria, some that reminded me of Hartung, dots, lines, fish (deep-sea phosphorescent)… terrific.

Then, the “Infinity Net” paintings, huge, white, covered with little bobbles of paint, with maze-like patterns just visible.  There are nine or ten of these, and I must admit they don’t look that great in the exhibition book – better on the wall. 

Then, you come to the bit where she covers a variety of things – a rowing boat, sofa, armchair, ladder, cabinet, women’s shoes – with sewn and stuffed little bags in the shape of penises.  An old-fashioned kettle hangs from one.  By way of variety, flowers and macaroni are used to cover shirts and coats and there is an attractive “Bronze Coat”, covered with sewn bags like horse dung.  The echoes of Oppenheim’s fur cup and the jacket covered with glasses (Duchamp?) are obvious.  I thought the penises looked like some mineral growth of little stalagtites – very pleasing.

Then. you come to the dark room, covered with little reflecting coloured discs that show up in one of those fluorescent lights –  and then to the reflecting mirror room, in which hundreds (?) of little coloured lights succeed each other in casting reflections into the surrounding mirrors and shallow pools of water, creating ever-receding pinpints of light.   Careful here – one chap stepped unwittingly into the water.  In the photos, this room resembles a Peter Doig painting somehow; but not in the “flesh”.

There’s much more, but it should be seen, not described.  I have to say, I didn’t see anything here that indicated she was more mentally ill than any other artist – obsessive, maybe, but most artists are, really.  After all, doing art is essentially playing.  Academies have been set up, rules laid down, techniques set in granite,  critics like Robert Hughes intone solemnly on the practices of Auerbach, say, working every day, 10 hours a day, covering everything in charcoal dust, taking 2 years on every portrait – it has to be done properly.  Then, along comes someone who breaks all the rules, sticks up two fingers to tradition, and becomes a huge success.  I love it – long live Damien and Tracy, and Julian Schnabel, who Hughes doesn’t seem to like much.  Play away, make (more) shedloads of money.

Albert Irvin

I’ve just discovered Tate Shots on YouTube, which are short films on artists, talking about their work, and watched the one on Albert.  The paintings (which I hated at first) are now so beautiful that, if I weren’t a working-class boy from South London, would make me weep with ecstasy.  No, not really – but they are good, especially that one with the great, diagonal sweeps of purple with little splats of blue.  Nice bloke, too.  Fiona Rae’s film is good as well – she has a little gizmo for squeezing all the paint out of a tube; must get one.

Flodden, Albert Irvin

Fellini

I’ve just bought the DVD of “the Ship Sailed On”, by the above, but haven’t yet seen it; I am intrigued by the book I have on Fellini, in which he avoids answering the question “What is the significance of the rhinoceros?”  Needless to say, … well it’s needless to say, so I won’t say it.

Can’t decide which way up this should go, so here’s both until I make my mind up.

OR…

Blackpaint

16.02.12

Blackpaint 196

September 21, 2010

Pushed fortime today, but I’ve been in the Tate Modern again, to see the “Chromatic Constructs” or whatever they are called.  Thought it was new, but realised when I got there it was Mary Martin etc., seen it before.  So.. to visit Jorn, Pollock and friends again.

Judit Riegl

“Guano”.  Canvas placed on floor underneath other paintings in progress – creating ripples on surface, which she painted over to create a slate-like consistency.  looks like a lithograph.  Took her 7 years.

Jorn

Looks dirty and dull close up, but clean and vivid from across room, cf. Appel at St.Ives and so many others.

Pollock

Jazz dance?  Seemed dead and trite, like 50’s wallpaper.  I think it’s those dodgy, Disney style black dancers, disguised as loops along the canvas.

Kline

Always powerful.  I don’t what he called it or said what it was, or was not – it’s always a bridge to me, black iron over misty white marshes.

Joan Mitchell 

The one on show in the Tate is quite an early one, relatively restrained, but its beautifully constructed and complex, even if her fantastic colour sense is reined in.

Viera de Silva

Not a good one; too tame and tricksy, not enough wild surface.

Some new books – new to me, anyway.  A beautiful Cecily Brown, weighing in at £40.00; full of de Kooning -like colours and brushwork, barely concealing obscene goings -on – and many with no concealment at all.

There is a Fiona Rae, £28.00 I believe, in which her palette appears to have become much brighter, rather like Ofili.

Finally, a Hans Hoffman with a whole lot of rather unpleasant green pictures, from around 1960 – it just shows that even a painter of his brilliance can turn out some dull stuff. 

Painting

I’ve started to mix a bit of white spirit in with the oil now and then, so that I can get areas of relatively uniform staining onto the canvas; now, not everything has to be slabbed on in thick oil slicks and then dragged into smooth, shiny tiles of paint, usually with white glimmering through in patches – still like that effect, though now there is some textural contrast.  I realise that all this is elementary, but it’s still new to me.

And so, it begins..

David Mitchell, as Cyrano de Bergerac, said this to camera in a Mitchell and Webb sketch the other week and it popped up last night in “The Year of Living Dangerously”; is this its original source?

 

Spider’s song by Blackpaint

Listening to “North to Alaska”, Dwight Yoakam out of Johnnie Horton;

“Where the river is winding, big nuggets they’re finding,

North! To Alaska,

We’re going north, the rush is on!”

Blackpaint 189

September 8, 2010

Michelangelo

Vasari points out that the figure of Jonah on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is actually leaning backwards, against the direction of the vault on which it is painted, giving the trompe l’oeil effect by means of foreshortening.  Amazing, when you consider the difficulty of painting quickly, onto wet plaster, big drop below from the rickety scaffolding, looking upwards, one hand stretched and working above his head, paint dripping back into his face and eyes.  This is how he sketched himself at work, not lying on his back as in the film.  How could he have done it, without checking it from a distance to make sure the proportions were right?  (imagine, do a leg, down the ladders to check, shit, too short – up again to change it quick before it dries – shit, too late). 

Presumably, he’d sketched it out on paper or linen (?) and pricked it, held against the curve of the vault – couldn’t have done it without pre-prepared sketches, surely.

The St.Ives Artists by Michael Bird, Lund Humphries 2008

Didn’t credit this great book properly the other day, when I repeated the Terry Frost pissing story (Barbara Hepworth rang a little bell when she wanted her labourers to make themselves scarce).  It’s full of other stories about this remarkable wild bunch – Lanyon punching other artists out, trying – allegedly –  to run down Sven Berlin in his car – but is also great on the movement, if it could be so called, in general and its links to the US Ab Exes and European Abstractionists and Tachistes.  My advice is to buy it immediately.  No, I am not Michael Bird, nor do I know him.

Fiona Rae and Ernst Wilhelm Nay 

Latest in “slightly like” series: actually, think I’ve compared FR to someone else before – anyway, check out her “Untitled (yellow with circles I)”; very like many Nays, in her use of sweeps and circles.  Hers look like 45 rpm singles, his are usually painted discs.  Superficial, and hardly worth a mention – but take a look at both on Google, if only to see how wrong I am; that will be worth it.

Black Prints by Blackpaint

Listening to The Welfare Line, by the Highwaymen;

“So pass around the bottle, boys, let’s talk about old times,

Night’s closing in, it’s cold as sin,

Here on the welfare line”.

Blackpaint 117

April 22, 2010

Albert Oehlen and Fiona Rae

I’m going to start a new occasional series (that is, I’ll do one now and another when I remember – maybe never), in which I link two artists and then decide that, whereas I thought they were similar, they’re really nothing like each other.  It  requires you the reader to Google them on Images and reach your own decision.

Albert Oehlen is German, born in 1954, and he does large canvases, layering in a range of techniques, sometimes using airbrush, for instance, then doing a layer of thrown-on paint, then brushwork, and so on.  The style, I suppose, strongly resembles Abstract Expressionism, which is why I am drawn to him – but he also includes figurative elements in his work.  Sometimes, bits of  it reminds me of early 60s Pop Art. 

The Saatchi Gallery website (www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk) contains the following memorable (and baffling) quote:  “Albert Oehlen’s paintings are neither beautiful nor seductive.  Their self-consciously brutal surfaces seem to be corrupted from within, a perversion of the paintings they might have been.”

This makes them sound like Bacon or Dumas (not a bad thing, of course); “brutal”,” corrupted”,” a perversion”…  To my eyes, they are both beautiful and seductive.

Ochre Eater, by Blackpaint

Fiona Rae is younger, British born 1963 in Hong Kong, and was a YBA.  Her Wikipedia entry identifies her work as abstract expressionist or similar; her canvases are large, colourful, employing, like Oehlen, a range of techniques.  Yes, I think they are alike – Rae’s motifs appear more flowery and/or organic perhaps, colours maybe more vibrant..?  Not sure, have a look – it will be well worth it.

 

Ochre Eater 2, by Blackpaint

Blackpaint

22.04.10