Posts Tagged ‘Houellebecq’

Blackpaint 663 – Bookcases, Talc and other Hazards

February 8, 2020

Tate Modern Free Galleries

I took a trip round the galleries of Tate Modern last week to see what new works were on display, or what old ones had been moved to a new place – here are a few examples of both:

Modigliani, his lover Jeanne Hebuterne

Not really any problem of identification here – but great painting, I’m sure you will agree.

 

Mary Martin – bit of a contrast to the Modigliani; but I love the colour and a handy little shelf for toothpaste or razor if you chose to hang it in the bathroom….

 

William Gear

Hope I’ve got this up the right way – I think I have.  I like the jaggedness of the images; looks like a tangle of tumbling bodies; fall of angels maybe?  I didn’t get the title…

 

Karel Appel

This is an old one in a new place – it used to be in the old Surrealism room. for some reason.  The colours don’t seem to me to be typical Appel; more like his old CoBrA colleague Constant (one of whose works is next to this one).

 

Jackson Pollock

I remember seeing this in the Pollock exhibition at Tate Liverpool a few years ago; it’s quite late Pollock, I think, with representation creeping back.  I probably said then that I can see a chameleon hiding, not very well, in the trees…

Helen Frankenthaler

There is a Frankenthaler room at the moment, six or seven pictures; a couple of examples below, the first one with her characteristic staining process, the second much later, from the 80s, I believe.

 

 

Dora Maar

This is a huge exhibition, surprising number of rooms unfolding before you with Maar’s many and varied works, organised into subject sections: street photography from London, Paris and Barcelona; Surrealism; World War 2; Picasso’s influence (some of P’s paintings, notably the weeping woman’s head) as well as a few of Maar’s own paintings; some abstract photos; camera-less photos – and so on.

To be candid, it does appear that everything she ever produced has been excavated from the studio, museums, collections and the garden shed, framed tastefully and displayed here.  And, to be fair, a lot of this is brilliant – for example, the pictures below and the street stuff.  In fact, it’s a little strange to be complaining about there being too much in an exhibition; you don’t have to look at all of it (but of course you do, if you’re a completist like me – can’t break away until you’ve walked past them all and then gone back through to the way in).

 

Another one of my fantastic female backs – see also Ginger Rogers in Swing Time, Kitaj’s Marynka Smoking.

 

..and another great back – although the star head sort of distracts the eye.  My carping shouldn’t put the prospective visitor off; it’s well worth one visit, or two, if you’ve got Tate membership and don’t have to shell out every time.

 

The cover of my Penguin Modern Classics copy of Forster’s novel.  The painting is Interior, by Edward Le Bas, and it’s in the collection of Tate Britain.   Looks a bit Scottish Colourist to me…

As for the book, I found it irritatingly flowery, with little facetious homilies to the reader (reminded me of George Eliot in that respect, especially Silas Marner); and there’s that odd thing that Forster shares with Virginia Woolf, of killing off characters suddenly and rather perfunctorily.  I’d remembered that Bast died when a bookcase fell on him – but not that it was precipitated by Charles Wilcox’s sword attack.   I should have written “spoiler alert”, of course, but I wanted to avoid cliche.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

It’s good to have Larry David, Houellebecq’s American soul brother, back.  Pity that the sonorous Funkhouser (Bob Einstein)  has passed on.  A public safety function in the first episode too, warning of the dangers of talcum powder.

Blackpaint pictures to finish:

Adrian with big legs

Imogen with long leg

Blackpaint

8.02.20

 

 

Blackpaint 656 – Whitechapel, Venice and Houellebecq

October 23, 2019

Anna Maria Maiolino, Making Love Revolutionary, at Whitechapel Gallery until 12th January 2020

This exhibition contains many wonderful things, as does the current Venice Biennale; what readers may have realised over the years is that I’m not good at, or interested in, discovering or even having a stab at the meaning of a work of art.  It’s enough if the work pleases or interests me in itself, without explanations in reams of artspeak in catalogues or on a gallery wall.  Looking back, it seems I don’t do much more than put forward some possible similarities to other artists or works – and some of those links are pretty spurious.

And today’s blog is no different – so here are some examples of Maiolino’s work, with not much in the way of comment:

Clay, I believe , on a table.  The legs are not part of the artwork – although they improve the photo.

 

Her drawings on paper are very fine, clean and clear.

 

 

Magnets and iron filings come to mind (mine, anyway).  And black holes…

 

The spaceman has fish on a plate – and is that an otter… or beaver?

 

Several of Maiolino’s works are of this sort; paper or stiff card, cut and contained within a box-like frame, tight as a drum and sharply geometric.  Some have cords or rather threads attached in various ways.

 

Glistening piles – maybe a single joined-up tube of vari-coloured…matter, again on a table top, making a nice contrasting “book end” to the first illustration.  Anish Kapoor had several exhibits similar to this at Guggenheim Bilbao some nine years ago.  A liberating piece of work.

 

 

Venice Biennale: “May You Live in Interesting Times”

As with the last Biennale, diversity, migration, refugees are major concerns in the selection – although you wouldn’t know it from looking at many of the artworks.  The handbook is an essential guide to what somebody thinks the pieces represent, but you won’t be able to divine from it what the works actually consist of.  More of this, with examples, next blog.  Here are some of the individual contributions:

 

Tavares Strachan

This US artist is concerned with the African American contribution to the space programme; this piece is about a black astronaut who was killed in an accident, whilst training others.

 

Gabriel Rico

Coke (Pepsi?) bottle, carrot et al with light tubes.  Early Martial Raysse?

 

Yin Xiuzhen, “Trojan”

The giant figure is slumped forwards in the seat; coverings made from stretched shirts, jackets etc.

 

Martine Gutierrez

She does giant photos of herself in provocative positions with male mannequins.  Here she is, gazing – longingly? fearfully? – up from the pool at the suited and booted figure… a Houellebecq scenario, possibly (see below).

 

Cameron Jamie

These heads on sticks are inspired by the Austrian (?) Krampus legends.

 

Alexandra Bircken

Black vinyl “skins” hanging from the rafters – an obvious “Strange Fruit” reference…

 

Andra Ursuta

These “ice” sculptures are actually made from treated wax – very effective.

 

Danh Vo

Paint slapped and smeared and left to run down polished metal mirror – love this.

 

Zhanna Kadyrova

This is just a corner of a whole vegetable and meat market made from a variety of materials, from cardboard to cement.  Reminded me of Fischli and Weiss, who used to do these sort of realist assemblages made out of polystyrene mostly…

 

 

 

Michel Houellebecq, Serotonin

Just finished Houellebecq’s latest and I’m still struggling to understand why the Marxist intellectuals who make up my book group like him so much.  He’s arguably pretty, well VERY right wing (it’s not all irony, is it?), hates feminism, has absolutely nothing good to say about socialism, hates the EU, writes enthusiastically about the international sex industry, etc. etc.   He IS French however, so I suppose he appeals to the automatic anti-British leanings of many leftie intellectuals, as identified by Orwell years ago.  In Serotonin, he comes quite close to some romantic, even lyrical passages – so he offsets these with a sequence in which a German paedophile molests a young girl, apparently with her consent and for money.  That should be shocking enough, he maybe thinks, to prevent his becoming a National Treasure in France…  I wouldn’t bank on it; maybe he already is.

Two of my pictures to finish, as usual:

 

Soho Newsagent’s Window 1963 (1 and 2)

Blackpaint

October 2019

 

 

Blackpaint 570 – AbExes at the RA and the Thin Man in the City

September 30, 2016

Abstract Expressionism at the RA

Fantastic, of course; the best show in London since the RA’s Diebenkorn, which was not that long ago (OK, Auerbach at Tate Britain was also great, but I think the Diebenkorn had the edge, with the three distinct styles/periods/modes, whatever you wish to call them).  Back to AbExes – I went on Saturday when it opened; queued for only 10 minutes and for once, it wasn’t throgged with immovable punters, walkie-talkies clapped to their ears, so you could see some of the paintings.. and sculptures, mustn’t forget David Smith and a few Barnett Newmans.

I’ll be going again and again, for sure, so this is nowhere near exhaustive:

  • The Guston and Mitchell paintings made Frankenthaler’s “Europa” look rather dowdy, on the far right of the wall.

guston-prague

Guston, Prague

  • The stunning Mitchell “Salut Tom”; four huge panels of white, blue and yellow, Monet of course and a little bit Cy Twombly, those panels of the seasons that were in the Tate Modern a while back.

salut-tom

  • When you look through the archway at the two small pink, green and yellow de Koonings, they look like Toulouse Lautrecs.
  • The Clyfford Stills, most of them, are great on their own but as Laura Cummings says in the Observer, putting them all in one room next to each other, they tend to drain the others’ glory.

still

 

  • This is NOT the case with the de Koonings, however, before which you can only – well, I can only stand in awe.  Sorry, hyperbole creeping in – I could do lots of things, ONE of them being to stand in awe.  A couple of fantastic Women, “Whose name was writ on water”, “Villa Borghese” with its green sweeps, the yellow and grey one with its yellow sweeps, that juicy red one, the collage with the tin tacks…  He’s the guv’nor, no question.

dk-water

de Kooning  – Whose name Was Writ on Water

  • Pollock’s not bad either.  I’m quite familiar with Pollock’s work, so the one enjoyed most was the 1943 “Mural” with the repeated green figures.

pollock-mural

Pollock, Mural

  • Can’t get on with Barnett Newman, sorry to say; I don’t like that liverish red/brown he uses, or the orange zips.
  • Rothko – an unusual, scrapy, scrappy blue and yellow panel on paper.
  • Lovely, punchy B&W Klines and an unusual wobbly one.

kline

Franz Kline – Zinc Door

  • Ad Reinhardt, pursuing his obsessions to their black ends – one of his, with spidery lines and figures, just like a Constant.
  • Guston’s paint, especially on the cartoon one (yes I know, but they DO look like cartoons) is greasy, dobby and looks moist.
  • And then there’s Jack Tworkov, with the diagonal slashes of colour.

Enough for now.  I’ve been reading “Anti-Matter” by Ben Jeffries, an extended essay about Houellebecq and “Depressive Realism” in which there is a discussion of Faking It – the idea that all works of art are “fake”, even when they are avowedly realist.  I think that’s right in a sense, and particularly right for the AbExes; once you are putting paint on a support, brushing, dripping, blading, flicking, you are faking it, unless it’s a real action picture and even then, you choose the paint, so there is a gap.  Rothko is not in some transcendant state when he paints, at least not most of the time; he’s thinking how to portray his feelings/revelations – the ones he’s already had, that is.  He’s faking it.

Doesn’t matter – they’re fantastic anyway, faking it or not.

Metropolis, dir. Fritz Lang (1927) 

metropolis

I’ve been watching the print found in Buenos Aires, and shown on BBC, in 30 minute chunks – I have a short attention span.  Once you get past the hero’s make-up, curly hair and jodphurs, it’s full of influence: so far, I’ve got montage scenes recalling Grosz; Rotwang the inventor’s false hand in leather glove (Dr.Strangelove);  Frankenstein, of course; the downtrodden, Zombie-like workers have offspring in the Wizard of Oz, Popeye cartoons and  – zombie films; all films with an underground or hi-tec citadel – Indiana Jones, James Bond films, Wallis and Gromit..  No doubt, there will be many more.  And it has another memorable villain to add to the gallery: Fritz Rasp as the “Thin Man”.

rasp

Fritz Rasp – watch the film, you’ll laugh – but he’ll come to you in your dreams….

islares-2

Islares under Cloud

Blackpaint

30.09.16