Posts Tagged ‘Hilton’

Blackpaint 527 – Amy, Indian Fabric and Turner’s Dad

January 10, 2016

Paintings, not Artists

Since I started this blog five years or so ago, I’ve been writing about painters I like.   I’ve just had a startlingly obvious revelation, which is that all serious painters are capable of, and do produce beautiful paintings.  If you work at it, you’re going to produce something worth looking at, eventually – even if most of your other stuff is rubbish.   I go round art fairs, for example the London Art Fair coming up soon, and see something I like; if it’s by Roger Hilton or Gillian Ayres or someone of that stature, I remember it and maybe write about it.  If it’s by some unknown, I tend to think, well, maybe it’s not THAT good, or it’s derivative.  This goes double for abstract painters; I’m one myself and we make images (maybe an image of a plain white or black expanse) but often we don’t know if we’ve got a picture a just a load of blobs and lines or splotches.

So from now on, I’m going for paintings I think are striking, rather than just works from the canon.  And to start with – here’s a de Kooning.

interchange

Interchange

 

The Fabric of India, Victoria and Albert

Great exhibition this – if you’re into fabrics.  I’m afraid it’s like football with me; I recognise the quality but find my attention straying.  Plenty of history here, mostly from the Raj period, I think, no doubt detailing how the British all but destroyed the cotton industry in the sub continent by enforcing free trade for British exports whilst forcing out Indian imports with tariff barriers.

Anyway, most memorable piece for me was the votive flag, which looks African rather than Indian to me.  The “human” figures remind me of the demons in the Chaldon church mural – or even aboriginal rock drawings from Australia and Africa.  Can’t find a photo online, though, so you’ll need to go and see it.  While there, go and see –

Richard Learoyd, Dark Mirror,  V. and A.

learoyd

Beautiful, big photographs, made in a “camera obscura” room; not all ethereal young women – a dead hanging hare and a decapitated horse’s head in there too.  Reminds me a bit of Gerhard Richter, in Betty mode.

 

John Berger on Turner

Berger says two interesting things about Turner.  First, that his dad was a barber – and the suds and steam and general soapiness of the old barbershop influences the painter in some way.

Secondly, he says that Turner is all about violence.  Storms, avalanches, slaves being thrown overboard to the sharks, sea monsters, Houses of Parliament blazing; I suppose he’s got a point.

turner2

 

Then again, there’s Norham Castle at Sunrise…

turner1

Amy (2015) Asif Karpadia (dir)

I missed the whole meteoric career of Amy Winehouse, or at least, the music.  I blamed her for all that creaky, croaky, broken style of women’s singing that lots of young singers adopt these days; the sort where they move their hands up and down to different levels that go with the vocal stages they are croaking up or down to.  Then, I saw her doing “Love is a Losing Game” with just a guitar accompaniment at the Mercury awards in 2007, I think.  She was staggeringly good, which is a ridiculous understatement; and what a beautiful song.

great leap forward

Great Leap Forward,

Blackpaint,

10.01.16

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Blackpaint 449 – Glassy Seas at the National, Harbours and Wrecks at St.Ives

June 6, 2014

National Gallery – the Basement

There’s a “new” room downstairs in the NG, open to the public on Wednesdays and Sundays; not new at all, of course, but newly opened up.  You go through to room 15 where the Turners and Claudes are, and downstairs from there.

It’s like the “B” List; everywhere you look, you see something that looks like a copy of a famous painting elsewhere (sometimes upstairs).  My guess is that they are not copies – they’re not THAT similar – but maybe done from some sort of template that was going the rounds.

There’s so much down there that it will take a couple of blogs at least – but here are some highlights:

The Workshop of the Master of the Female Half – Lengths; St. John on Patmos.  Lovely little painting, I thought with shades of Giorgione.

master-female-half-lengths-saint-john-patmos-NG717-fm

A big, cartoon-y Signorelli, The Circumcision.  Who is the evil -looking character in the headcloth?  Dodgy eyes, if ever I saw them.  Unfortunately, can’t find a good repro on line, so you will have to visit to see what I mean.

Zanobi Strozzi’s Annunciation.  Like Lippi maybe, but with an astonishing  Expressionist floor.

strozzi-annunciation-NG1406-fm

Fra Angelico, St. Romulus – another vivid little beauty.

Then, there are the lookalikes:

Mano d’Oggiono, Virgin and Child – that fat baby leaning forwards, arms outstretched, reminded me of the Christ in the Virgin of the Rocks, the one with the unhealthy looking baby making the blessing gesture.

Gio. di Nicola, an Anthony Abbot, just like the frowning Masaccio? one upstairs.

A St Catharine with a face just like Leonardo’s St. Anne.

Venusti, a “follower of Michelangelo”; a small Holy Family with a dark green background that reminded me of that fabulous Raphael with John the Baptist and a pope…

Then, there is Clays, a Dutch painter who does glassy green, calm seas, in the way you look to Cuyp for cows.

clays-ships-lying-dordrecht-NG815-fm

Loads more; its a great visit.

Tate St.Ives -Modern Art and St.Ives, International Exchanges 1915 – 1965

First, there are a lot of “old friends” here, if you go to the London Tates much:

Franz Kline’s Meryon, the giant black bridgehead;

Gorky’s Waterfall;

Helion’s colourful little abstract;

Winifred Nicholson’s “yellow patch” abstract from Tate B;

Lanyon’s Thermal and Wreck;

Hockney’s Third Love Painting;

The big, blue Clyfford Still – you know the one;

The Rothko, that yellow-green “window” one;

Ben Nicholson, Gabo, Moholy- Nagy, Van Doesberg, Margaret Mellis, all have geometrical pieces; and there’s an El Lissitsky, which is interesting,  in that it is the only painting or construction of this lot that contains an illusory (desk-shaped) 3D image.  Some of the others have depth, but it is created by layering.

lissitsky

Here are a few of the other treasures on view – again, I’ll need another blog to do justice to the exhibition;

de Kooning, Zot – a mini “Excavation”.

DeKooning, Zot, 1949,339

Alan Davie, Bird Singing; little, dirty – fantastic.

(c) Alan Davie; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Roger Hilton, Grey day by the Sea.  So simple…couldn’t find a good one online.

William Scott, Harbour.

william scott st ives

Serge Poliakoff, Abstract Composition; Blue, brown, red, yellow.

poliakoff

 

And of course the Lanyon paintings…

Wreck 1963 by Peter Lanyon 1918-1964

Wreck, Peter Lanyon

Anyway, more on St.Ives and NG next blog.

Nineteen Eighty-Four

Struck again by Orwell’s concept of Doublethink, the ability to believe two absolutely contradictory things simultaneously – it seems to me that this is extremely common, perhaps even universal.  I know that I’m capable of it, and even comfortable with it.  Good example in the paper today, Richard Dawkins talking about people who dismiss the idea of Father Christmas as nonsense, but profess a belief in a supernatural god figure…

 

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 Cornish Cave Paintings, Blackpaint

6th June 2014

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 287

July 22, 2011

Lucian Freud

What a staggering photograph by David Dawson in today’s Guardian, of Freud working, stripped to the waist, in 2005;  his torso looks to me exactly like one of his own (Freud’s) paintings.  By contrast, another crass assertion by Adrian Searle that, next to Freud, Hockney and Howard Hodgkin are “artistic pygmies”; fair enough to think that, but not without argument.  Searle merely asserts that Freud’s art “has authority” (presumably Hockney and Hodgkin lack that quality) and follows it up with anecdotes about his assertive (boorish, aggressive?) behaviour.  He once painted himself with a black eye after getting into a punch up with a taxi driver.

For my money, his best pictures were the portrait of a young Francis Bacon, the picture of Harry Diamond standing next to the aspidistra and the portrait, elongated and looking down, of Frank Auerbach.  Also, that great, porridge-y, self portrait, naked apart from the boots.

I’d have hoped for some comparison with Auerbach, too; seems logical as they are both painters of flesh and Grand Old Men.

St.Ives

The BBC4 film Art in Cornwall, fronted by James Fox, got another airing last night; it was 90 minutes long and good on Wallis, Nicolson, Hepworth, Wood, Gabo, Lanyon and Heron.  Not enough on Frost, nothing on Hilton, Blow, Mackenzie, Wynter…  Surely, it should have been two 90 minute programmes to get it all in.  Still, better than nothing…

Lanyon

The film was pretty good on Peter Lanyon, and sent me straight back to my books to look at him again.  The sweep and energy in the paintings, surf exploding, sunlight blinding, flight lines, roughness, scoring of rocks, concealed figures (Lost Mine and Porthleven), those fantastic murals at Liverpool and Birmingham universities…  Why isn’t he rated as highly as Freud and Bacon?  Too abstract for the figuratives, and too landscape-y for the abstractionists, I suppose.

Tarkovsky and Tarr

Both of these directors clearly have a thing about rain –  I’m watching Tarkovsky’s “Nostalgia” at the moment, and great, soaking deluges are pouring down, often shot through with dazzling light that separates out the individual falling drops.  Derelict brick and cement buildings are a favourite, with great holes in the roof that admit torrents.  Often, as with Tarr, dogs are wandering about, usually German Shepherds in Tarkovsky’s case.  The difference between the two is one of mood; Tarr’s deluges pour down on glum village streets or mud roads and shabby blocks of flats; Tarkovsky’s downpours in Nostalgia, Stalker and Mirror tend to be more – well, nostalgic in mood.

 

 

B

Blackpaint

22/07/11

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 198

September 24, 2010

Giotto

I’m looking at the Anne Mueller von der Haegen book on G. in the “Masters of Italian Art” series – those reds and blues are just beautiful.  The blue has a touch of green showing through and the reds are actually more dark orange, shading down to raw sienna almost.  The Last Judgement fresco in the Cappella degli Scrovegni in Padua strikes me as the best today – tomorrow it’ll be a different one.  On the right,  a fat blue devil stuffs the damned into his mouth as they cascade down to him as if washed there by rivers of blood and fire.  Here and there, men and women dangle naked from gallows in various recesses of hell, two upside-down and facing each other, as if having a conversation.  Another is horizontal on a turning spit.

Opposite, beneath an assembly of saints and martyrs, little, squat, bewildered people are rising naked from the ground or their tombs, as if from trunks.  they turn reverently, arms raised in supplication.

way up, on either side of the window, armoured angels clutch the edges of a red scroll, very much like giant sticks of rock.  Staggering, beautiful, weird; I will certainly be returning to these pictures again and again.

Chaldon

By way of contrast, I visited the church at Chaldon (1086), near Coulsdon in Surrey, to see that mural again (see Blackpaint 44).  Dark red/purple background, white figures that I suppose may once have been painted, and those strange, huge, big -eyed, three – toed demons that Eric Von Daniken would certainly have selected for his “Was God a Spaceman?” books, back in the 70’s, 80’s or whenever it was.

Tate Britain rehangs

That fantastic St. Ives room at the above – with the red and black Hilton, the black and white sand Blow, the Lanyons – green and blue water pulsing through them – the black Scott and the penis salt pots, the exploding black octopus Alan Davies, the lime green yellow Heron with the ingots showing through – all great, but they’ve been there over a year (except for the Bryan Wynter that was changed so that “Riverbed” could go to St.Ives). 

Why don’t they change a couple of the paintings every 2 or 3 weeks?  They must have several by each artist, maybe dozens.  Surely it can’t be too much work to change a few paintings regularly – where do they keep them; down below in the cellar?  Come on, more paintings by the same people, give the collections a proper workout and let the people see them.  Same goes for Tate Modern, and for all I know, for National Gallery too.  If there are problems with this, I would love to hear them.

Well done by the way; great paintings, free of charge – but let’s see more!

Basquiat (see Blackpaint 46 and 70)

I think Robert Hughes really screwed up badly by misjudging this artist as a lightweight, who only made it because he was black and in the right place, etc.  Lovely sense of colour and design, great drama, the words, the structures and textures; they are colour bombs, remind me of Miro Spain posters and Appel, a bit.  Not as “good” (rich, complex, sustaining) as either, but way up there nevertheless.

Hereward again – Blackpaint

24.09.10

Blackpaint 30

January 5, 2010

Exhibitions

Tomorrow, I have to take down an exhibition of my stuff in a London gastropub.  Sold one;  hardly a world – class result.  Got another one starting next week, and some stuff still up in another pub, so all is not lost, but a depressing start to the year.  I could do with some art journalist dropping in for lunch and being bowled over and tearing back through the snow to the office – or the computer, if they’ve been forced to go freelance – and writing a glowing review, recommending everyone to rush down and see (and buy) the amazing stuff…  Sorry, fantasy organ now back under control.

I had a good run – for me – in the few weeks before Christmas, sold three or four, but I’m back to normal situation now, with exactly the same amount in the bank as always at this time of the month; about 200 quid less than I need to see me through until my next payday arrives.  I’ll need about 50 quid’s worth of canvases before then.

HOWEVER – I’m still 100% happier than I was in my “proper” job, so that’s enough moaning.  I find it gives me a lift to look at some of the paintings (let alone installations) that pop up in art books and galleries; who would have thought that someone would have the foresight to make, and others to like, some of the stuff that is produced?  I don’t mean that in a sneering way – I mean art that is a challenge, is ugly or crude or shocking or feeble or trite or apparently lacking in traditional skill – that’s the art that may open eyes or minds and lead to something new and good.  But obviously, people tend to work in the style before last – isn’t that what they say about armies, they prepare to fight the last war, not the next one – and the audiences too.  It’s a sort of assurance of quality for something to look a bit like a Bacon, or a Hilton, or a Peter Doig; you can buy it knowing that a number of people who know, have already spent big money on similar (but of course, astronomically better) works.

So that’s what I’m doing – rehashing ideas and techniques and textures worked out in the 50s and 60s, and producing far inferior stuff that sometimes vaguely reminds people of my heroes in St.Ives and USA.  I don’t do it consciously, however; I don’t copy and it’s only when I’m writing this that it’s obvious to me.

For the record, some of the contemporary artists I really like are;

Cecily Brown, Matthew Barney, Rineke Dijkstra,  Andre Butzer….. more tomorrow.

listening to, “Elgin Movements”, by Blue Smitty (words borrowed from Robert Johnson);

“She got elgin movements from her hips down to her toes,

Break in on a dollar anywhere she goes.”

Blackpaint

05.01.10