Posts Tagged ‘Gabriel Orozco’

Blackpaint 592 – Acid Colours, Alabaster and Lost Cities

March 28, 2017

Maria Lassnig – A Painting Survey, 1950-2007 (Hauser & Wirth, Savile Row W1, until 29th April)

Austrian painter (1919-2014), worked in Vienna.  Gallery blurb says she was influenced by Kokoschka’s colours and Schiele’s figuration; I think I can see an affinity with Dumas and Chantal Joffe, but I guess any influence would have come from Lassnig to them, because of the dates.

The figures below are her least extreme, perhaps; her bodies are usually squat and sawn-off, the faces porcine with upturned snouts.  Her colours are rather like those livid ones that are left over from a box of paints when you have used up all the good ones – lemon yellows, yellowy greens, sickly oranges, radioactive mauves.


I like the delicacy of the hands and breasts of the left hand seated figure; not so taken with the one on the right.


Like the shoulder and the green hair.


Great abstract – don’t know why.


That mauve is deadly; kills human cells by radiation.


Looks like a rabbit hurtling full-tilt towards viewer – but it’s not; male and female figures, apparently.


Lewitt, Orozco, Richter, Spalletti. Toroni (Marian Goodman Gallery, Lower John St. W1, until 8th April)

The title of this exhibition is: “The supreme rifts….a measured propinquity” – whatever that means.

There are two Richters: one of those thin multi-coloured, computer -made stripe ones, that make your eyes ache – and a frame carrying several large, hanging, glass plates.

The Spalletti I liked were these alabaster slabs on a plinth (below) – they look good enough to eat, as if made of coconut or a translucent white cheese.



There is a room of Lewitt walls upstairs (see below); there is a dappled effect in the paint, or rather inks, which could have been sprayed on, but I guess were done by someone with a roller.


Sol Lewitt


The Lost City of Z (Dir. James Gray, 2017)

A staggeringly old-fashioned account of Percy Fawcett’s obsessive, repeated expeditions into Bolivian rain forest in search of a pre-Christian civilisation, ending of course, in his (and his son’s) disappearance.  Stilted, cliched script, Charlie Hunnam’s dodgy accent (Bring back Kenneth Branagh – bit old now, I know) and some feminist politics from Sienna Miller who wants to go with him, but has to stay home while he carries on up the jungle, having to put up with brief visits between expeditions (each visit resulting in a pregnancy).

The WW1 Somme battle scene is the worst bit; two fires on the muddy horizon are clearly from gas jets; as they go over the top, the men level their rifles and fire at the enemy as if in a western.  The Webley revolvers sound authentic though.

In the scene near the end, where Fawcett and his son are beset by angry aboriginals, I was reminded of that old film of Richard Attenborough in New Guinea, where the locals swarm down to surround him.  Happily for Attenborough, they turned out to be welcoming.

Eagle Annual stuff, about 1955 – lots of ecological message though, and some stunning scenery, but give me Aguirre, Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo and Embrace of the Serpent.










Blackpaint 247

January 30, 2011

Gabriel Orozco at the Tate Modern

One of the main exhibits at this show is a stone(? actually plasticene, the booklet says) ball that Orozco rolled around Monterrey, and then New York – an act reminiscent of Francis Alys and his melting block of ice (Blackpaint 180).  Different point, of course; ball was to pick up impressions, not to disappear in a demonstration/celebration of futility.  Close though, trundling objects round the streets.  The connection goes further;  Mexico City is where Alys lived.  Who had the idea first, I wonder.

The booklet that goes with the exhibition, like the Alys, is great; pretty much everything listed with a brief explanation.  The trouble is, you end up having everything explained to you and you don’t think about what you see.  Martin Creed is right – you should go round, look at it all without reading anything (unless there are words on the art itself) and then, maybe, read the booklet and the wall plaques and labels.  Then again, see the stuff above about the plasticene ball; wouldn’t have known that, without the booklet. 

So, what’s in the exhibition?

Some lovely small oil works on paper – blotty, a bit Nogueira, bit Tillmans..

The squashed-in Citroen (actually middle chopped out and resealed).

Four bikes, screwed together in improbable ways to make a sculpture.

Lots of – too many – photos of two yellow motor bikes, like little friends, parked in different locations.

Inner tubes inflated to huge balls.

A whole room of shredded tyre fragments, laid out, alligned on the floor.  Kieferish.

“Lintels” – shreds like flags, strung on wires across the room, assembled from the fluff collected in industrial cleaning machines.  When this, according to the booklet, was first exhibited in NY in November 2001, “the ash-coloured lint took on a poignant significance”.  I thought of Beuys – a bit.

A billiard table with no pockets, and a red ball suspended and swinging in an arc across.  Children were playing , trying to get the red ball as it swung.

“Samurai tree” paintings, on wooden blocks; highly coloured spheres and half spheres, connected like some table construction game.

The chequered skull, of course.

Ripples in lines of print on long, Chinese scrolls that turn out to be tiny numbers assembled from phone books.  A huge amount of fiddly work – symptomatic, really.

I felt that, with some exceptions, the show consisted of knick-knacks; contrivances to make you smile wryly, or exclaim gently, like something in Covent Garden on a Sunday afternoon.  The skull is beautiful – skulls are – and so is the way the chessboard pattern is stretched in the eye sockets, for instance, like netting – but none of it really says much to me, unlike the Francis Alys.  I would compare it to Anish Kapoor’s show at the Guggenheim – high quality fun objects, to make you smile, but not laugh or frown.  I couldn’t see a dark side to it at all (the September 11th suggestion in the booklet didn’t persuade me).   

all that said, the small oils were beautiful and there were two intriguing photographs; “Plastic Bag with Water”, I think, Prunella Clough – type image, and “Simon’s Island” – I can’t make out if it is an egg in close-up or someone’s – presumably Simon’s – globular belly, rising from the bath water.

Varda Caivano

Argentinian abstract painter, looks more my sort of thing; at the Victoria Miro Gallery to 12th March.



Blackpaint 246

January 27, 2011

Gabriel Orozco and Damien Hirst

Orozco exhibiting at the Tate Modern, reviewed in the Guardian the other day, by Adrian Searle.  Referring to Orozco’s skull, drawn all over with a chessboard pattern, Searle says: “It is a thousand times better than that glittery, diamond-crusted skull of Damien Hirst’s.”

He doesn’t say why, though.  Maybe he thinks there is something repugnant about the conspicuous money (waste) involved, the spurious “value” of the Hirst piece – that’s one of the points that Hirst’s skull makes, surely.  The art market has to do with vulgarity, conspicuous consumption, bad bad taste and sensation.  Also, it reminds you that you can’t take it with you, however much you’ve got – and you’ve got to go.  True, these are well-worn observations and he’s made £50 million – or was it $? – by re-stating them; but he can’t take it with him and he’s got to go…

I suppose his exhibit in Modern British Sculptors (Blackpaint 245) says more or less the same thing; lovely juicy steaks, nice bottle of wine, summer al fresco dining, all rotting away with a smelly, disgusting carpet of dead flies;  says it better, probably.

What about the Orozco?  Searle says it is to do with “mapping the cranium, like a mind meeting its container”; that sounds plausible to me and it certainly looks great and is apparently beautifully executed.  Perhaps that’s enough – it’s enough for me, anyway.  Others  may feel the need to “read” the work…


Reading the teacher’s notes to the Royal Academy exhibition, I was intrigued to find that Epstein began his massively proportioned “Adam” by sculpting the genitalia.  So, you visit his studio  a few days or maybe a week in, and he says, “I haven’t done much so far, just this – what do you think?”


A  simple, obvious thing, again from the notes, was that with Caro’s sculpture, the plinth was abandoned and it became normal for sculptures to rest on the floor – when not hanging or occupying a vitrine, of course…

Charles Sargeant Jagger

How closely his reliefs for the war memorials resemble the Assyrian sieges and lion hunts; not only because they are also reliefs, but in the angularity, the musculature, the sharpness of the relief.

Carl Andre

Final point from notes on Andre’s famous bricks, or “Equivalent VIII”, to give proper name.  The notes quote the Daily Mirror’s headline from 1976, commenting on the Tate purchase of the bricks in 1972: “What a Load of Rubbish!” and later: “the gallery didn’t even get  the original pile of bricks.”  So it would have been OK if they’d got the originals, then…


I don’t know why, but I haven’t paid enough attention to this painter before -many of  his later pictures  are just staggering and I have a feeling that he should be the most important and  influential English painter ever; I’m not sure why he’s not.  Maybe he was too far ahead of his time to influence others and they just turned away  from him and carried on doing the more acceptable stuff.  “The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, October 16th 1834” (the one in Cleveland, Ohio); doesn’t need a title, looks just as good on  its side, judging by the Phaidon book.  Or the Petworth interiors; look like Roman murals at Pompeii.  Or “The Ship on Fire” watercolour – level of abstraction comparable to Melville’s “Moulin Rouge” (see Blackpaint 139 and 146).  

These paintings are still too much for some people (Blackpaint 195). 

Listening to Blind Lemon Jefferson, Matchbox Blues:

“Now when the sun goes down, she crochets all the time;

Sun  goes down, crochets all the time;

Babe, if you don’t quit crocheting,

You gonna lose your mind.”