Posts Tagged ‘Gursky’

Blackpaint 347 – Bowling, Nicholson, Chelsea and Quinn

June 21, 2012

Tate Britain

Some “new” stuff, worth a look:

Howard Hodgkin, deep resonant green and white, more clear-cut than his usual brushwork.

Catherine Yass video, replacing the Wallinger’s airport hall; this one, of a tightrope walker, startng the transit between two tower blocks in Glasgow, the Red Road site, I think.  He gets about halfway, and then retreats backwards, the winds being too strong.  Sweating palms and clenched sphincter job, for me anyway.  Not sure what the Yass output was; most of it was taken from tightrope walker’s helmet camera.  Wallinger’s was in slo-mo, with added music – don’t think there was music for this one and normal speed…

As part of the Patrick Keiller exhibit, that striking Gursky photograph of the winding black and white roadways, entitled “Bahrain” (very similar to Burtynsky‘s work at the Photographer’s Gallery, technically anyway).

Karla Black, a whole room’s worth of exhibit, huge,long, loose, crumply roll of – wallpaper? with flattened “plates” of pastel powder, each of different colour, poured and compacted along its length.

Next door, fleshy, beige-grey, snail-like coils on individual stands, by Sarah Lucas; a huge, emerald green Tillmans photograph, with the black inky threads trailing and swirling like hair under water; and a couple of Calum Innes works, one blue and yellow game of two halves, the other, black or dark, with Clyfford Still-like “tears” running down.

Elsewhere, a lovely geometric abstract with a rough, yellow/green surface by Winifred Nicholson, called “moonlight and Lamplight” from 1937.

The most striking thing for me there at the moment is the roomful of Frank Bowling’s poured acrylic paintings; blistering, bright colours, reminiscent of John Hoyland (indeed, several of Bowling’s paintings on net are very like Hoyland’s – or vice versa).

Chelsea Degree Show

Opposite the Tate, some seriously good work on show, and the catalogue only £2; there is a white room complex on the ground floor that is particularly good; square arches giving a series of partial views through.  Two big paintings in Popart style, one yellow with bathing suits hanging on a line, the other sort of lilac or mulberry pinky, motif like a frame, I think.  In next space, through an arch, patches of fabric stuck onto canvases in such a way that they overlap the walls.  Through another arch, a sort of campsite scenario set up, with a little camp stove with an orange paper(?) flame twisting and “burning”.  Individually, not so impressive maybe, but seen as a collective piece spreading over the several white spaces, very pleasing.

Also, a number of wall plaques, I suppose you could call them, composed of slatches of pigment of Bram Bogart thickness, with fragments of paper, card or fabric “splatted” onto them, as if stamped into the vivid and various paints with a rubber sole. 

La Strada

Watched this again, and found  Giuletta Masina’s Chaplinesque mugging very irritating.  The relentless comic pathos, determined brutishness of Anthony Quinn and the circus background disguise the harsh essentials of the story – sister dead, sold to a thug for 10.000 lire, beaten, raped (?), humiliated, the murder of the acrobat – it’s not a comedy.  Anthony Quinn is the anti- George Clooney.. or Cary Grant, to get the era right.  Interesting to see the influence of the film; that religious procession was in the Godfather II, surely, and maybe Le Quattro Volte.

Blackpaint

21.06.12

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Blackpaint 183

August 27, 2010

Wolfgang Tillmans at the Serpentine

This artist seems to perplex some critics with his breadth of activity.  He seems to cover a lot of different techniques and subjects in his photographic work, to the extent that critics have wondered just what he considers to be art (see Laura Cumming, 27th June, in the Guardian): “Tillmans had no style but every style, no particular subject but everything around him”.  To be fair, Cumming is describing her reaction to him at the time of his Turner Prize award in 2000; now, her conclusion is that his art is about the processes and techniques  of photography.  If I have not misunderstood, that makes this show something like a glorified showreel.

To some degree, I think that’s right, but there are some striking images and several artists, painters and photographers, come to mind.

There are several huge photographs with a pink-cream base, which look like pinpricks of blood-red ink beginning to dissolve in liquid.  They could easily be Twomblys.  There is one even more massive, with indigo “ink”, in swirls that resemble comb strokes.  There are assemblages of glossy sheets, each in a different, bright colour, some folded and re-straightened – little Kleins?

Then, there are fuzzy black and white photos of a man working on  scaffolding; looks like photo-journalism, something out of Exposed at the Tate Modern, as if from a sequence.  Something is going to happen in the next frame.

 A couple of works have the scraped pattern appearance of Richters and  there is an enormous, glamorous portrait of female heptathletes at a  meet that immediately recalls Renike Dijkstra. 

The most memorable image is an unpretentious small photograph of a swimmer digging a splinter from his foot.  It’s a great shape – there’s something about the extended neck of the swimmer and his hunched figure and bent leg that recall a Figure at the base of a Crucifixion – the bleached colour photo of another swimmer apparently balancing on his right arm – or is he executing some sort of dive? – is marginally  less interesting.

There’s much more of note; flowers, parchment, electrical bits and pieces,  a cow tormented by flies, gardens, rockeries, drunks and scrapyards.  There is a desk display of magazine newspaper items relating to religious persecution of gays and women, genital mutilation and hangings in Iran. 

There is an aerial view of a huge industrial(?) complex or transport centre that I first took for a close up of a silicon chip.  On closer inspection, groups of tiny container lorries could be made out on roads and long ingots turned out to be sheds or hangars.  Big, square, empty areas give the impression of  flooded fields.  The inevitable comparison is with Gursky.

Very varied, then; painterly “art” photography, reportage, politics, portraits, huge, small, nature, industry….  No wonder he irritates critics – hard to get a “take” on, like, say, Gerhard Richter.

The Road to Mandalay

Blackpaint

27.08.10

Blackpaint 31

January 6, 2010

Conceptual Art

I think my problem with this sort of art is an unwillingness to engage with ideas that are not immediately apparent in the work.  If I have to read a plaque on the wall in a gallery in order to understand what the artist is saying, then the chances are quite high that I won’t bother.  I may still like the art; I may get a lot from it; but it probably won’t be what the artist intended.

I’m not sure whether this is legitimate or just crass.  Visual art surely should engage you visually; maybe its impact can be deepened by accompanying text – but if you end up writing great chunks of explanation (or having them written for you by critics), then it seems to me that you probably ought to make your message clearer visually.

That said, I’ve just trolled through the whole of “100 Contemporary Artists” (Taschen), both volumes, and the earlier “Art Now”, same publisher, and I haven’t found a single artist whose work doesn’t engage me visually to some degree, without reading the (mercifully brief)higher art bollocks written about each of them.  Some are more arresting than others, of course – and I prefer the painters, as I suppose I would.

Probably it’s because the conceptual artists are in a book rather than a gallery and you can return to that again and again.  as you flick through to your favourites, the others become more familiar and you start seeing things you missed at first.

More favourites: Tom Friedman – especially the “Green Demon”, Elmgreen and Dragset – the Prada shop in the middle of nowhere; Gursky, Albert Oehlen and Luc Tuymans.  and Pipilotti Rist – lovely videos and even better name.  But the images that stop me as I flick through are by Cecily Brown, Marlene Dumas, Tuymans and Oehlen.  Buy the book or look them up on the net – I’m worried about copyright if I attach images to this, other than my own.

Actually, there are two instances where I’m glad I read the text.  The first is Matthew Barney, who made the “Cremaster” series of films; there is a startling still of a red haired young man with pig’s (?) ears flopping down on each side of his head – reminds me somehow of a scene from “The Shining”.  The text reads, “The title of the series is derived from the cremaster muscle in the male genitals from which the testicles are suspended, and which is retracted in a reflex movement produced by cold or fear inside the body.”

The second relates to the work of Nobuyoshi Araki, who obsessively photographed his dying wife up to the point of death and beyond.  The text reads, “The photographs which have become emblematic of Araki’s work, however, are his portraits of young women – prostitutes and schoolgirls – either dressed or naked, hanging from the ceiling or thrown to the ground, their hands tied together, their legs apart, or even engaged in the sexual act.”  I’d like to know what Susan Sontag would have to say about him – this surely qualifies him as a “transgressor” ( Meaningless coincidence – Sontag was also photographed after death, I think, by Annie Leibovitz, wasn’t it?

Listening to Cyril Davies, “Chicago Calling”

“Well, Chicago calling, hear me call your name,

Yeah Chicago calling, come back home again,

I’m goin’ back to Chicago, Chicago callin’ me,

Yeah Chicago calling, Lord that’s where I long to be”

Blackpaint

06.01.10