Posts Tagged ‘Fischli and Weiss’

Blackpaint 255

February 27, 2011

British Art Show 7 (cont.)

Christian Marclay – Clever, funny exhibit; film clips featuring clocks, watches, people saying what the time is – corresponding to real time. Just ponder for a moment the amount of research required to assemble 24 hours worth of such footage.  I wondered if he maybe used stock footage of clocks to cut away to, but if so, it’s done seamlessly. I recognised two films in the 10 minutes we watched – “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and “3 Days of the Condor”.  Sometimes the segues were amusing – if that was not accidental, then it’s one more thing that he must have edited for and therefore an even more staggering achievement.

To what purpose, though?  It put me in mind of that Fischli and Weiss exhibit at the Tate Modern – in the basement now, no doubt – where all the bits and pieces were artificial, sculpted out of polyurethane or something to look absolutely real – when you could have got the real things and assembled them with no effort at all.  The point is the huge pointlessness; vast effort to raise a small smile.  Quite profound really; read Ecclesiastes.

Sohei Nishino has made a panorama of London by taking 10,000 photographs, selecting 4,000 and cutting and pasting them together, thereby getting a crude, reconstructed version.  Sort of the opposite to F and W; making something new and imperfect to contrast with the usual panorama.  Can’t help feeling that the expenditure of effort puts this somehow in the Marclay – F and W field,though.

George Shaw – Huge versions of his sinister and depressing (I use the words admiringly) Humbrol shedscapes.  One, a bulldozed tract of pulverised dirt pent up by metal caging, another of a dark, deserted recreation ground; you get that sinking stomach feeling looking at them.

Wolfgang Tillmans – Another beautiful, huge, inkjet picture, the spidery threads of pigment opening like some sea anemone; unfortunately, it’s emerald green.  Can’t stand the colour.  Also, glazed cabinets displaying magazine pages, articles, cheesy adverts,  plastic surgery, facial mutilation, material on sexism… Bit like clearing up Bacon’s studio floor and bunging the stuff in glass cases.

Cullinan Richards – Occupying the stairwell, newspapers with tarry black slash markings,  picture in rough white of a horse and rider at full vertical gallop up the central shaft; I loved this, first I thought a little like Baselitz, but this morning, found another rough white horse, tilted at an odd angle – this one in the Per Kirkeby catalogue.

Milena Dragicevic – Distorted and surrealised (I know it isn’t a proper word, but it should be) women’s faces, one for example with huge, red, letter box lips.  Echoes of Marlene Dumas.

Sarah Lucas – Hans Bellmer-ish sculptures made from stockings or tights stuffed like sausages, looped and knotted in swollen, intestinal bundles; organised in rather obscene ballet on top of pedestals.  Clever and striking but unlikeable, as if that matters.

Alasdair Gray – the Lanark author; clean, meticulous, pastel coloured drawings of family, domestic life…

Vaida Caivano – Four abstract oils, small, dun colours, thin and threadbare, drily painted.  Not as rich as the ones in the Victoria Miro Gallery, unfortunately.  Unusually for this exhibition, they were all “Untitled”.

Apart from the Marclay, we didn’t watch any of the video installations – the heavy black curtaining was mildly disgusting, as was the chemical smell in the theatres.

Few more exhibits tomorrow, plus a review of Bela Tarr’s “Man from London” – Bela Tarr, Tarkovsky’s less compromising brother director…

Exterminating Angel

Sorry – old picture; camera batteries exhausted.  New one tomorrow.



Blackpaint 39

January 14, 2010


Finally got round to hanging our paintings today, half a dozen each, one pub wall each; mine are all orange-y, my partner’s are all turquoise and mauve.  Mine were all part of a series – you never know, someone might feel they ought to buy them all for the sake of completeness.  then again, it might put possible buyers off buying any of them.  I find one always indulges in these fantasies about buyers when paintings first go up; after that, the days pass quietly…

Fischli and Weiss again

Still thinking about the Tate Modern exhibit by these two;  it strikes me that it is difficult to explain the point of it.  There is a sort of tableau of a workspace, in which every mundane article has been perfectly reproduced with great skill and unusual patience – and it’s done so well that you have to be told that it’s all artificial.  So – the gallery visitor raises a smile, wonders at the ingenuity on display and appreciates the humour.  Is that it?  All of it?

The answer will be that it raises questions.  That’s how most explanations of conceptual art begin; “it raises questions about (a,b.c)” …  I’m not being sarcastic here, I think it’s good to raise questions in art, better than answering them, really.  F &W raise questions about the application of artistic skills, or craft.  Does the high level of skill and painstaking work involved in reproducing this stuff raise the finished article above the level of the mundane?  if not, then art is not necessarily about skill, patience, hard work and perfection.  Again, I’m aware that these points will have been made many times and much better elsewhere – but I’m still working through them.


Giles Brandreth was on TV last night, mentioning the theory that Turner (and Monet, apparently) suffered from cataracts and this may go some way towards explaining the particular artistic vision he showed in his later paintings.  Interesting, this line of thinking – did Picasso or de Kooning have some visual peculiarity that led them..  I’m being facetious, of course – but now I think I remember reading in Michael Peppiat’s book on Bacon that Giacometti once told him (Bacon) that people really did look “like that” to him!  We’ve got a Van Gogh repro in the toilet, and the tree trunks in it remind me of how trees looked to me the last time I took LSD (many years ago), except that they weren’t pulsing.  Maybe Van Gogh… no, it wasn’t around then – but maybe absinthe?  

Listening to Bluebird Blues, John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson.

“Now Bluebird, Bluebird, please take this letter down south for me

Now you can tell my babe that I’m up in St.Louis,

Oh, but I’m just as blue as I can be.”



Blackpaint 38

January 13, 2010

Acrylic Stink (cont.)

Yes, the closest I can get to a description is metal and blood; a really penetrating stink that gets in the back of your throat.  Or maybe an old fashioned cap pistol, after you’ve fired off a whole roll of caps – remember them, thin turquoise paper with little black pods of gunpowder trapped in them; anyway, like that, with maybe an undertone of sour milk.  But then, this evening I fried chicken livers and they smelled like it too.

My latest effort, which I thought I’d transformed from a mimsy pastel to a wild, black and blood- coloured expressionist maelstrom,  failed to impress my partner, who said it was like curtains from the 50’s – then explained that that was good; so I’ve done another one on same lines.  I’ve got to say that they look more like the pictures on the covers of ’60s US science fiction paperbacks than curtains, to me anyway.  Down the bottom; judge for yourselves.

Harold Rosenberg

According to my Art Theory for Beginners, Rosenberg, who invented the term “action  painting”, said he “saw the canvases (of the AbExs) as arenas that embodied a passionate and engaged struggle by the artist’s individual psyche with their material”.  Yes, me too; certainly is a struggle.

Fischli and Weiss

I was thinking about that thing of figurative artists being less “authentic” than abstract artists, because their work (the figuratives,  that is) is doomed always to be a copy or reproduction of nature (see  Blackpaint 36).  The above pair came to mind; they have an exhibit in the Tate Modern which looks like a carpenter’s or decorator’s set-up in a corner.  There is a trestle, buckets, tools, drink can, various bottles, fag packet I think, etc., etc.  The point is that all this stuff is made out of polystyrene and the like, and is all false – although virtually perfect in every detail.  So, they’ve reproduced all this exactly, taking infinite pains, when it would have been simple just to collect the real stuff together.  

This reminded me of several things; first, des Esseintes in Huysman’s A Rebours, who likes to buy real flowers that look artificial.  Then, a story by Borges about a cartographer who is obsessed with making a perfect map and ends up working on a map that reproduces exactly the terrain – not to scale, but exactly.   And that led me to Blackadder, when B shows the general a table model of the ground captured in the last attack – again, not to scale but exactly.

When I looked for the title of the Borges story, I couldn’t find it in any of my Borges collections, which I suppose is a bit Borgesian in itself.  Now I’m thinking it might have been by Kafka.  If anyone knows, please tell me.

Listening to TBone Walker again; “The Hustle is on”.

“Times is hard baby, the hustle is really on, (*2)

Prices are high darlin’ and all the good jobs are gone.”