Posts Tagged ‘George Baselitz’

Blackpaint 545 – Cheese graters, Fingernails and Tulips

May 14, 2016

Mona Hatoum, “Over my Dead Body” at Tate Modern

Annoyingly, the labels on the wall by each installation tell you not only the title, year made and materials used but also what Hatoum is “saying” in the piece – I’d avoid reading them.  Having said that, I can’t really do anything but list some of the works.  But I can’t resist mentioning the odd perceived similarity to other artists here and there…

  • A black cube made of iron filings, clinging to each other in rope-like coils – I thought of the Kaaba.  My favourite piece;
  • Paper “drawings” with hair, fingernails and other personal bits attached (all those feminist artists who put things in cabinets);
  • Maps, lots of them, in neon, globes or graven into dozens of blocks of soap (Boetti);
  • A cabinet of glass hand grenades and lots of toy soldiers;
  • Batteries of wire rabbit hutches (but no rabbits);
  • Five-tier sets of metal bunks (Beuys);
  • A room with a table and chair, the back of which protrudes through the table top; on the wall, a small cage containing a ball of black hair, a dormitory bed and a musty smell (Magritte);

 

mona hatoum

  • Giant cheese-grater furniture (above);
  • A roomful of domestic torture instruments, egg whisks for example, all wired up with lights and buzzers;
  • A round pit filled with fine sand, combed into ridges and smoothed out incessantly (Kapoor);
  • Wire barbs on metal rods suspended from the ceiling;
  • Hair sculpture and a fence of plaited hair;
  • A film projected on the floor of an internal medical probe- heart, throat, gut maybe.

Baselitz at White Cube, Bermondsey

A huge, white galleryful of Baselitz’ upside-down figures, men and women, singly and in couples, white on black and blue backgrounds, or suffused with a rose wash.  Backgrounds spattery and ringed (cups or paint tins?) and blotched as if by an old pen nib – remember those?  By way of contrast, a number of male figures, heads cropped, NOT upside-down but on their sides, as if whizzing round the walls of the gallery in pursuit of each other, garlanded by chains of white drips round the feet and elsewhere.  For some reason, I was reminded of that light bulb figure dancing to the harmonica at the start of the Old Grey Whistle Test.  The figures, although rough and raggedly drawn, are strangely appealing; my partner especially liked the feet.

Also a couple of rooms containing ink and wash poster-sized pictures of… naked, upside-down men and women, rather similar to the large paintings.  No-one could accuse Baselitz of failing to explore the theme thoroughly.

 

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Eurovision Song Contest

Graham Norton’s coverage relentlessly positive tonight – all songs “catchy” or “lovely” or “really sincere”; only the very mildest, harmless irony here and there.  Rise up, Wogan.  I think someone has had a word with Graham on behalf of the government.

Ran, Kurosawa (1985)

Ran

Breathtaking spectacle, unrelenting bloody slaughter in battle, murder, suicide – completely devoid of emotional engagement, except in regard to the androgynous Clown, who I quite liked.  Oddly, “Ran” popped up in a Luisa Berlin story I read the morning after I watched the film on TV; a character recounted the plot to her sister.  Berlin’s short story collection “A Manual for Cleaning Women” is a brilliant book; she’s been compared to Raymond Carver, I think reasonably.

 

 

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Still Life with Tulips – work in progress; spot the Baselitz influence.

Blackpaint

14.05.16

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Blackpaint 516 – Deaf in Venice; Biennale I

October 28, 2015

The Biennale

The 56th Venice Biennale finishes on 22nd November, so readers have plenty of time to drop everything and go.  If that is not convenient, you can view my highlights here over the next three days.  I’m just back from Venice, deafened by the constant click/buzz of photos being taken on phones, tablets and even the odd camera.  At the Biennale venues, saw many tourists just snapping everything, without looking at the pieces; all nationalities guilty, but some more guilty than others.  Two particular examples of photomania stand out:

  • a woman who sat in front of a 3D movie made by a Russian film collective and apparently attempted to photograph every frame (if films still have frames – they probably don’t).  She must have taken more than fifty pictures;
  •  in a square by the Accademia bridge, saw a circle of maybe 30 tourists round one of those central wells with the iron covers, all snapping away furiously; when they moved back, I saw the attraction – a ginger cat had been sitting there.

There are a lot of beautiful paintings in the Accademia,  Giorgione’s mysterious “Tempesta” for example, but the various Giovanni Bellini Virgins with child are the highlight for me.  He clearly used the same young girl as a model in several of the pictures and her slightly pudgy but somehow beautiful face is  obviously that of a real person, rather than some stylised ideal.  The kid’s not bad either, by the standards of the day, and that green panel in the background turned up in several virgins by different painters.  More Bellinis to come.

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Giovanni Bellini

Arsenale

There are three venues for the Biennale; the Arsenale, the Giardini where most national pavilions are situated –  and various individual and national displays scattered around the city.  I’ll do the three best from the Arsenale today, the Pavilions tomorrow and the scattered venues on Friday.

 

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Kay Hassan

South African artist; they are collaged faces, built up into thick, placard-like posters – or poster-like placards.  He calls them “Everyday People”.

 

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Helen Marten

UK artist.  I don’t know how to begin to describe her constructions; they are made up, as you can see, of a multitude of..things and bits of things and are sometimes presented against a painted board background – or in at least one case, through a painted board background.

 

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Gedi Sibony

American artist.  His work is done on sheets of metal from cut-up trailers.  Logos or advertising material (these examples are drink cans) are then roughly painted over, in white, black, yellow paint.  Sounds like a crap idea but I think they look great.

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Gedi Sibony

I’ve left out a whole load of great stuff – George Baselitz has some huge hanging figures (upside down, of course) that are sharper somehow than his previous work, as if done in inks.

 

polruan

Polruan

Blackpaint   28.10.15

Tomorrow, I’ll do the Giardini with the Pavilions.

If you do go to Venice, eat at the Rosso Pomodoro (Red Tomato).  Nice and informal, no pressure to have the expensive dishes, like elsewhere.  Have the spaghetti and prawns, chittara I think it’s called.  Fantastic.