Posts Tagged ‘Guggenheim Bilbao’

Blackpaint 601 – Monkey, Mask, Milk, Water and Blood

July 19, 2017

Sorry about the break in transmission; I have been on my hols, including Guggenheim Bilbao as per usual.

Bilbao Guggenheim, Pierre Huyghe

Untitled (Human Mask)

Video art.  Film of the little girl above, living in isolation in a decaying house, dead moths stuck to the window panes, cockroaches exploring the floors – but hang on, she’s got furry arms and legs, long feet and claws.  It’s not a girl, but a monkey or lemur in a mask and a dress – although I find it’s almost impossible to think of it as anything but a little girl, the actions and bearing and responses being so apparently human.

It’s apparent that “she” is in the Far East, from the labels on the food tins and packets in the kitchen; outside, there is an indistinct female voice from a muffled loudspeaker – the word “nuclear” is just audible, and gives the game away.  When the camera ventures outside, we see that it’s an abandoned modern town, maybe Fukushima after the earthquake (and tsunami and nuclear disaster).

The caption on the wall mentioned the tradition of the mask in Noh plays, implying that Huyghe was referring to that, but the layers of meaning are no doubt multiple and I do not venture there, for fear of pretention creeping in.

Bilbao Guggenheim, Bill Viola

No such problems with Bill Viola (a whole floor at Gugg., for a retrospective); he deals with the big stuff, birth, death, resurrection, communication.  He likes slow motion, women and girls in long dresses, falling liquids, close-ups of newborn babies, hosts of silent people threading slowly between the trees of silent woods….

Inverted Birth

At first, it looked like Bruce Willis in some diehard sequence; first water, then milk (or blood, or mud – can’t remember the order) pouring down on him, then reversing and pouring up…

 

The Greeting

Women communicating deeply, touching, smiling – as women do…

 

Three Women

Women and girl; long dresses, water showering down.

OK, I must confess to being faintly irritated by the portentous atmosphere and especially by the film about ageing and death – “Looking for Immortality”, I think it’s called, , where the naked old man and the naked old woman intertwine and explore their limbs and lines with pencil torches – bit too close to home.

Tommy, dir. Ken Russell (1975)

Never seen this before, despite being an ardent Russell fan as readers will know.  I was surprised at how coherent the story was (not credible, but coherent; I had a vague impression that Pete Townsend had written a bunch of great songs and sort of strung a flimsy story around them, but no.  Highlights for me are Oliver Reed at his sweatiest and sleaziest as the Ted stepfather and of course, Keith Moon as Uncle Ernie (suggesting, faintly, Alfred E Neumann in the old “Mad” magazine).  And Ann-Margret in the bath of baked beans.

There’s a scene where Tommy is undergoing “treatment” involving his eyeballs being fixed open, while he is restrained in a chair – straight out of Clockwork Orange.

Portraits and Life Drawings

Haven’t done much abstract painting the last few weeks, so three lifeys to end with;

Monica

 

Susie on the bench

 

Long Lie

Blackpaint

19/07/17

 

 

 

Advertisements

Blackpaint 558 – Bourgeois at Bilbao, Warhol, de Kooning and Twombly too

June 13, 2016

The Black is Back (from my hols in Euroland)

Sorry to the thousands of you who asked desperately what happened to last week’s posting – I can’t yet manage to post properly from a Kindle.

Below, my winning entry for the Putney Art School Life Drawing prize, 2016; certificate and £25 voucher, since you ask.  Soon (19th June) to be on show in Putney Exchange exhibition, opposite Waitrose, if you’re in the area…

crabman

The two pictures below are my failed entries for this year’s Royal Academy Summer Exhibition; they will also be on show at the “Salon Des Refuses”, SPACE, 129-131 Mare Street Hackney E8 3RH 23rd – 26th June; come along and buy them and possibly even meet the artist.

 

dirty protest2

Dirty Protest, Blackpaint

 

heaven only knows 2

Heaven Only Knows, Blackpaint

 

Louise Bourgeois at the Guggenheim, Bilbao

Back to real art now – as always in summer, I braved the nightmare drive along the Scalextrics road “system” round Bilbao, with teeth clenched and Johnny Winter loud on the CD player, in order to visit my favourite art museum.  There were about four large rooms devoted to LB’s sculptures, paintings and assemblages, including the following:

 

Bourgeois 1

  • Caged, bandaged, bundle hanger (above); maybe influence on Sarah Lucas?
  • Caged spiral staircase with hanging balls (below); reminded me of a Paul Nash painting.

 

bourgeois 2

  • Lots of miniature stairways, chairs, little doors in little walls…
  • Lots of transmogrifications, human heads becoming or emerging from things (one very Dali-esque hanging head)…
  • Lots of full-size rooms – confessionals, cells, bedrooms – made out of old, scarred doors, varnished partitions, old window frames, cracked glass.
  • Surrealist paintings, reminiscent of Picabia and oddly, David Shrigley (that cartoon style);
  • Her late paintings, anatomical, guts and plumbing on show, a little Dumas maybe, with Emin-like captions or statements: “I know where I’m going”, etc.
  • And of course, spiders and biomorphic genitalia things…

Impressive to see the range of her influence, but not surprising.

Masterpieces Room

Big works by Klein, Rauschenberg, Styll, Rothko, Motherwell – and my two favourites below:

 

nine-discourses-on-commodus-1963

Nine Discourses on Commodus, Cy Twombly

Love those blood and brain- like splatters…

 

villa borghese

Villa Borghese, by Willem de Kooning

Love those muddy brush sweeps.

Shadows, Andy Warhol

A roomful (see below) of 102 screenprints by the master of repetition; as far as I could make out, only three variations were NOT repeated; those in ochre, grey and yellow.

 

warhol shadows

School of Paris, 1900 – 1945

Three things worth highlighting here:

  • A Picasso ball or concert, shades of Munch, or Toulouse Lautrec, or in our time, Michael Andrews – pale women, ball gowns, slashes of lipstick, a silver carafe, conventional perspective… done in 1900.

Pablo Picasso

  • A huge, particoloured, reclining nude by Frantisek Kupka; not that great maybe, but striking and new to me.

kupka

  • A lovely Matisse portrait on a greyish green background of a woman in a ruffled blouse.
  • A sculpted head by Duchamp-Villon, Marcel’s brother, that was reminiscent of Bacon’s portraits, especially that one of Isobel Rawsthorne, with the curving slash down the face.

Otherwise, Delaunay Eiffel Towers, Chagall floaters and fliers, grey Braques, Legers, Gris..; the usual, fabulous stuff.

The Disappearance, BBC4

poisson

Binge-watched four episodes of this the night I got back, until 3.00am; it’s very like the first “Killing”; the focus on the parents, the inevitably flawed father, the mother who goes all emotionally frozen in grief and seeks release in an extra-marital sexual encounter – but gets too drunk to go through with it; the focused, introverted detective Molina (a man in this one) who has a difficult daughter… and so on.

The ridiculous coincidence in this one is that it is the detective’s daughter, out of the whole population of Lyon, who discovers the body of the girl her father is searching for.

Next blog; Mary Heilmann at the Whitechapel.

Blackpaint

June 13th 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 458 – Braque, Yoko and Johnny at Bilbao

August 15, 2014

Braque at the Guggenheim, Bilbao

First, a full-size ballet stage set; very rough-cut “curtains and crooked arches, roughly-painted houses, windows of a “working class section” of an Italian town – I didn’t record the name of the ballet. Quite strong resemblance to a de Chirico.

Next, his Fauvist pictures.  One or two look like the Soutine paintings at the Ashmolean exhibition, but without the Expressionist writhing intensity.

Early Cubist stuff – guitars, mandolins, Sacre-Coueur, a port scene – very familiar and formulaic, they appear to my jaded eyes; the usual greys and browns.  Then, the ones that Patrick Heron “borrowed”, only done about thirty years earlier – white outlines round black lines, black, brown, blue, green, yellow, flowers, jugs, interiors.

One beautiful, dark salmon-based one with sand mixed into the paint, looking great from a distance.  Ditto the pink tablecloth one.

braque red tablecloth

I wasn’t keen on the silhouettes of women at card tables, against large lemon-green patches.

Several of the paintings are on black, brown or maybe navy blue backgrounds; the best is the Packing Case.

braque the packing case

Then, there is the Billiard Table, with mysterious white lines binding it, or in which it appears suspended.

braque billiard table

There is a tiny “Basket of Fruit” that looks just like a Winifred Nicholson.  Lots of masks and fishes (black, red, spotted), newsprint, Picasso -like skulls and women – one, greeny yellow with a huge single breast rising from her stomach.

There are some statuesque, brawny women, reminiscent of those Matisse reliefs, with stylised brown breasts and a repeated stomach design like an X ray of the kidneys.

The final room has a series of tiny landscapes, several of which had a touch of Van Gogh – stormy skies, “V” shaped birds.  They (the paintings) are narrow and stretched, as if through the viewing slot of a bird hide.  Interesting that de Stael apparently loved these; I can only think it was the stripe layers that resemble his own late sea and harbour scapes (see last blog).  The last painting is very like Van Gogh’s crows over the cornfield, but with a big, black plough lying detached and still in the foreground.  Suddenly reminded me of the Lanyon sketches on paper, displayed at Gimpel Fils recently and reviewed elsewhere in this blog.

A brilliant show; I’m looking forward to trying painting on dark backgrounds.

Yoko Ono at Bilbao

Most of the stuff on show here is the same or similar to the Serpentine Gallery show reviewed a while back in this blog – the stepladder and magnifying glass, photos of the clothes cutting happenings around the world, a series of bottles of water, each labelled with a famous person’s name; a couple of condoms, half filled with water (I presume) and suspended; a joky room with a huge magnet attached to one wall, pulling kitchen furniture and implements off kilter; a load of furniture sawn in half.

yoko furniture

 

There is, however, a wall of meticulous ink drawings, done with thousands of dots, of intricate abstract geometric shapes, showing real skill.  That was a surprise to me (not the skill, but the anomaly of the drawings amongst the conceptual stuff).

yoko drawing

De Stael

At the Le Havre exhibition (see last blog) I got a DVD about the painter which is in French.  I can just about understand most of it, but was intrigued that they kept returning to the same picture, the giant one reproduced below.  It turns out it was the one he was working on when he killed himself.

de stael the grand concert

 

A Separation 

Riveting Iranian film, directed by Ashgar Farhadi in 2011; I’m still halfway through, but  it concerns the trials of a man and his daughter trying to get help to look after his father, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, and the crises that arise from this in their lives and that of the pregnant woman they hire.  Not a happy film, but compelling, I suppose, is the word I’d go for.

Johnny Winter

Saddened to read of the death of this blues colossus the other week; the only way to negotiate the Scalextrix – style motorways before Bilbao is to put on Winter’s “Scorching Blues” and join in the mayhem to the appropriate sounds.

“…So much shit in Texas,

Bound to step in some”

(Dallas)

Next blog: Pompidou Centre and Martial Reysse.

175

Blackpaint

15.08.14

 

Blackpaint 408 – Bilbao; Picasso’s Leeks, Urs Fischer’s Tongue

August 22, 2013

 Guggenheim Bilbao

If you’re in northern Spain, brave the giant Scalextrix set around Bilbao and visit Gehry’s Guggenheim.  Even if the exhibitions are bad – not often – the building is always worth another visit.

At the moment, there is an exhibition about France in WW2.  It’s a little contrived, cobbled together, and actually runs from 1938 (surrealists, Spanish war aftermath) to 1947.  It includes pictures and cartoons by several artists (Charlotte Saloman, Felix Nussbaum) who died in Auschwitz and other camps; art done in hiding or on the run; art done in exile;  “official” art, i.e. acceptable to Vichy and/or the Germans (including Dufy with a giant blue panorama, like a Festival of Britain poster, and a Villon, rather like a Colquhoun/MacBryde figure); there is even a Picasso room, with some great studio photos by Brassai and one terrific painting in watery blue, “Studio with skull and Leeks”.

picasso skull and leeks

Most of the art, as always in wartime, was realist, symbolist or tragic/heroic – crucifixions, barbed wire, agonised, objectified suffering, calls to arms, etc.  Cartoons and collages  along Grosz and Heartfield lines from Joseph Steib; for some reason, a stupendous nude in the bath from Bonnard that I last saw a couple of years ago in the Pompidou, surely – that one with the walls that look like Klimt.

bonnard bath

Also a couple of beautiful, colourful abstracts from Sophie Tauber-Arp, “Etudes from the Earthy Food” (?)

After the obscenity of war, a floor of plain obscenity.  Three or four large Paul McCarthys, “The Spinning Dwarf”; black cartoon charcoal or paint mouse, claggy smears and sprays of paint here and there, pages of porno mags torn out and stuck on upside-down.  I suffered a rather painful neck spasm as a result.

Urs Fischer’s Tongue, poking through a ragged hole in the wall – not her real tongue, that is, but a synthetic one that emerges suddenly when you approach the hole – it darts through and licks at you.

Two R Crumb strips in his – er, uncompromising style, Boswell’s Diary and Making Love to a Strong Girl – no racial stereotypes this time, but plenty to offend those who wish to be offended.

R Crumb strong girl

Finally, there is Riotous Baroque, which I’ll do next week.

Thomas Bernhard, Old Masters

Reading this protracted, repetitive rant against artists, philosophers, musicians with an Austrian connection – I think it’s supposed to be ironic – I was suddenly reminded of John Cooper Clarke’s “Evidently Chickentown”, although the latter is a far superior piece of art, I think.  Watching the hour long programme celebrating his poetry, I was bowled over by “Beasley Street” – bits of it were  almost like those Auden poems that copy the form of nursery rhymes.

Top of the Lake

Great TV serial. marred by two factors; Holly Hunter’s laughable and highly irritating guru “GJ” (or maybe GeeJay) and the cop out regarding the relationship of Robin and Jonno – are they really brother and sister? No – Jonno’s mother had an affair as well.  That’s all right then.  All the white men, apart from Jonno, were violent and potential rapists, all the women deeply damaged by men.

??????????

Blackpaint

22.08.13

Blackpaint 173

August 12, 2010

Guggenheim Bilbao (cont.)

Anish Kapoor

This is the exhibition that was on at the Royal Academy earlier this year.  Luckily, I missed it then; in the past, I’ve arrived at the Gug to find the main show is one I saw in London a few months earlier (for example Juan Munoz, a year or two ago).

In the first room, moulded piles/shapes of red and yellow pigments, like novelty blancmanges; a spiky one, one like a cartoon hero cape with an invisible Manga figure inside.  Must be sprayed with some sort of fixative.

Room Two has, set in the walls, giant pads like Ipod earphones, deep blue and concave.

In Room Three, mounds, columns, stacks, piles of cement turds, worms, sausages, mince, snake-like plaits; one like little figures boiling over in a sort of Apocalypse, vaguely like something done by the Chapman brothers.

Room Four: Huge distorting mirrors in various shapes, previously sited on the Sussex Downs.  Here, they were rather disappointing, in that you had to stand very close to them to see your distorted image, which tended to dismemberment, rather than the comic distortion of a fairground show.  Again, novelty.

Room Five: a whole room, empty, with one wall containing a recess painted yellow, giving a trompe-l’oeil effect of a mesh over a huge loudspeaker.

The next room contained the first of the red wax items, an enormous mechanical scraper rather like a stylus arm on an old record player, creating a flat, red wax disc by revolving and carving very s-l-o-w-l-y, like the Millennium Eye.  A rampart of red wax built up around the edge.

Finally, the famous gun.  Aimed at a high, white wall, firing red wax in cylindrical drums, presumably by compressed air.  Wall already covered with dried blood-red splotches, resembling magnified Twombly marks.  Gun is fired every 20 mins or so by a tall, overalled, po-faced operative, who loads the piece in a series of separate actions (fetching the drum from the stack, inserting wax plug in breech, winding barrel up, etc.), as if following orders inaudible to the rest of us.  There is then a wait of a few minutes for what? the compression to build, or the tension?  I suspect the latter.  Suddenly, as if on a signal, he fires, the wax splats against the wall, chunks drop or slide down.  Applause from the audience, which is ignored by the gunman, who marches off.  It’s a circus act – novelty and scale again, two main ingredients of Kapoor’s art.

I needed to find the toilets straight after, and I attribute this at least partly to Kapoor’s work – the cement turds, the big wax splotches, the build- up of compression and tension, cathartic release…  There were photographs, models and drawings of  other Kapoor  projects, not all realised, and more turd shapes, this time in chrome, were in evidence in these.   The most intriguing of these projects, I think called “Dante”, was a design for a sort of double belled trumpet-shaped tunnel, to have been excavated in the Downs, the bells forming entry and exit.

I realise now that the “train” was missing (in London, this passed through the gallery regularly, shaving the red wax blocks between which it passed); maybe the “record player” substituted for it.  All in all, I see Kapoor as a sort of assembler and ringmaster of novelties, a circus of giant amusements.  I think the stagey aspects of the whole  affair subvert the deeper significances some commentators seek to read into, for instance, the blood-red wax.

Another old one…

Red Desert by Blackpaint

12.08.10

Blackpaint 172

August 11, 2010

Blackpaint is back

Dozens of readers have contacted me in a state of confusion and  panic about my absence, but I am happy to say  I’m back, with much to report.  “Dozens” may be a small exaggeration…

Guggenheim, Bilbao 

Did the usual walk through the Serra iron alleyways, said hello to the Dine giant red wooden Venuses, the Koon flower dog and the Bougeois spider.

Abstract Expressionists

A delightful surprise, this – a room with three Motherwells, a huge Rothko, a Clyfford Still and  a de Kooning. 

Motherwell

 “Venetian Red Studio”, a red rectangle with a black outlined square in top right corner (we’re talking big here; 6 ft by 10, maybe); “Iberia”, one of a sreies, all black with a white square “torn” out of corner, like a Still; and “The Voyage; Ten Years after” – tripartite landscape canvas, ochre, white and black sections with big blue and black splatters and a big, spreading brown stain, like gravy.  I thought it was a Helen Frankenthaler at first, because of the staining.  Doesn’t sound too good, does it, but actually looks  great.  No, really.

Rothko

“Untitled”, of  course.  Vast, maybe 14ft by 10, in four segments from bottom, like wide stripes; red, yellow, yellow-green, lime-ish green, reminded me strongly of the Miles Davis “Sketches of  Spain” cover (although I think that had a little black Quixote and Panza silhouette).  Opposite the entry arch, a breathtaker.

Clyfford Still

Much smaller, maybe 4 by 2ft, a plain canvas with lots of brown foliage-like markings and a thin red strip or “zip” down or up the length of canvas – according to Still, it was up,apparently very  important.

de Kooning

“Villa Borghese”, portrait, say 6 ft  by 5, pink, green, blue, yellow and green/yellow smear/splurges.. smurges?  Vigorous strokes, almost swipes, up, across, and in triangular shape.  You can see its a picture of  a big house and garden – if you need to.

Rousseau

Douanier, that is.  An exhibition of his stuff upstairs.  Apparently influential on Cubists, particularly Picasso, his “painted collage” style – background painted first, then foregrounding in stages, giving a stuck-on effect to foremost images, which is very striking.  Some “jungle” pictures (famously based on in the local zoological gardens) and some decidedly dodgy portraits.

Two pictures stood out for me – “Les Artilleurs”, obviously from a photograph; 14 soldiers, white trousers, blue tunics, big artillery piece.  The other, surreal clowns in a wooded landscape, very high moon, huge twilight sky, and a VERY low ground – reminded me of that Kobke painting in National Gallery earlier in year, the one done from the roof of the castle, way down the canvas with vast sky.  Only in terms of the perspective, however;  you couldn’t really call Kobke’s stuff surreal – it’s so normal, yet empty (but then, Delvaux, de Chirico…).

Did Picasso really revere him?  there’s something in Penguin Book of Art Writing on a party at R’s, which I think implies they made fun of him – I’ll  re-read it for tomorrow.  I was thinking maybe Rousseau was a sort of Ornette Coleman- type figure, sort of derided at first, too advanced in his approach to be appreciated by anyone but a handful.  I’ll come back to that too.

No new paintings yet, so an old one will have to do..

St. John on Patmos