Posts Tagged ‘Howard Hodgkin’

Blackpaint 634 – Review of the Year; a Jaundiced and Unbalanced Appreciation…

January 2, 2019

Exhibitions of the Year

Great shows this year:  All Too Human (Tate Britain), with that Bacon landscape and Freud’s portrait of Frank Auerbach; Charles 1 (RA) with the giant Mantegnas and Van Dyck silks and satins; Aftermath (Tate Britain), with the airborne Kathe Kollwitz, Grosz, Beckmann, Kirchner, Dix and some British artists too; and, obviously, the Bellini-Mantegna show at the National Gallery.  And, obviously, the Picasso 1932 (Tate Modern).

Of the big ones, I enjoyed Bellini/Mantegna the most, as well as Oceania at the RA, but since this is totally my blog and I don’t have to bother with paying due respect, my favourite shows were as follows:

Roy Oxlade at Alison Jaques

Amy Sillman, Camden Arts Centre

Ed Kienholz at Blain Southern

Howard Hodgkin at Gagosian

Joe Bradley, also Gagosian

Disappointment of the Year

Ribera at Dulwich Picture Gallery- fantastic;  but just not enough HUGE flayings (I think they’re at the Prado).

 

Photography

Alex Prager and Tish Murtha at Photographers Gallery – totally different, but both fascinating.

 

Films

Cold War (Pawlikowsky) – hands -down winner on a number of fronts, including music, cinematography, acting and just seriousness really.  I thought the ending was unnecessarily final…

Roma (Cuaron) – Christmas Eve film at Carlton Soho; Black and white, set in Mexico in 1970 ish, examines the relationship between a young Indian maid/nanny and her middle-class, European descended employers.  Shares all the attributes of “Cold War” except the music and has some real “wake-up” set pieces: street riots, a murder in a department store, a nail-biting childbirth sequence in a chaotic hospital, a near drowning – but none of this is melodramatic. in the sense that it somehow emerges from and sinks back into the main narrative, if that makes sense.  The martial arts and the airplane are good too.

TV

Trust

Great on every level; Donald Sutherland, Luca Marinelli, Hilary Swank – the whole cast brilliant.  Superlative.

Snowfall

Gets better all the time – except now, the great Mexican boxer is dead and his lover bereft…

The Sinner

One or two unbelievable moments (I use “unbelievable” in terms of the series’ own logic, not real reality); “They” would never have allowed Bill Pullman’s detective to take a convicted murderer on an outing alone.  Very tense and steamy, notwithstanding.

John Minton – Mark Gatiss’ absorbing documentary on the illustrator/painter.

Sad deaths this year – well, these are the ones I’m sad about

Tony Joe White – grinning rocker from the swamps

Dudley Sutton – best known as Tinker in Lovejoy, but he’ll always be the baby-faced killer in “The Boys” to me.

Some of my pictures to end with, as always:

Ochre Back

The Southern Ocean

Blackpaint

2/1/19

Happy New Year (if it is your new year)

 

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Blackpaint 624 – Hodgkin, Prager, Murtha and Kubrick

July 23, 2018

Howard Hodgkin at Gagosian – until 28th July only, so go now.

These are Hodgkin’s last paintings; as can be seen, there are few surprises for those familiar with his work, but absolutely no evidence of decline as far as I can see,  The colours, textures and impact are as strong as ever.  They are all oil on wood.

Bombay Afternoon, 2016

 

Love Song, 2015

Floating dots…

 

Darkness at noon, 2015-2016

I wonder if the title is anything to do with the Koestler classic.

 

I love the floating quality of many (push-pull colours) and the tracts of bare wood, and of course the way the brushstrokes wander over the frames (where there are frames).

Aftermath, Steppenwolf

Mentioned Hesse’s Steppenwolf in last but one blog;  I forgot to say that the jazz dance scenes inevitably conjure Otto Dix’s Metropolis and one or two paintings at Tate Britain’s current “Aftermath” exhibition – notably, one by William Roberts, called “The Jazz Club”, I think.

Dr Strangelove, dir. Stanley Kubrick (1964) – Chill’s last flight

Chill Wills atop his nuclear bomb

This pretty much tore up anything in the way of current “satire” on show on British TV last week and jumped up and down on it.  Sellers is unapproachable in his three roles as Strangelove, the US President and Mandrake, as is Sterling Hayden, as is George C Scott – but I found myself willing Chill on to his target, as “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” played insistently in a minor key on the soundtrack.

 

Alex Prager,  and Tish Murtha at the Photographers Gallery

Prager’s large photographs are like stills from films, which is exactly what many (all?) of them are; the placid, plastic features of the girl below like something from a Hitchcock film (there is a still of a pigeon attack on another woman); struggling survivors of some sea disaster, floating in vivid green water, a helicopter’s eye view; a woman hanging in mid air from the bonnet of car.

The other type of Prager photo is the crowd scene, like the beach below.  Lots of hired actors, each performing some mundane but strangely complete task (they look posed, as they are).  In each picture (according to the notes on the PG walls) a woman seems to be anxious and apart – not sure which woman in the photo below.  Then, I went into the curtained film room and saw that many of the photos were stills.

 

Tish Murtha’s, by contrast, are all monochrome and are photos of children and teenagers amusing themselves in the cobbled streets of Elswick, Newcastle in the 70s.  Roughly dressed, jumping on to mattresses from derelict buildings, pushing younger siblings in old prams, playing street games – bulletins from a disappeared world before computer games and mobile phones.

She moved to London, and there are Soho photos of strip clubs, punters and performers, cross dressing acts; also powerful, but without the fascination of the Elswick pictures.  At times, there is a chiming with the Prager stuff – who is the rather smartly dressed teenage girl with the glamorous shoes; what is she doing?

An Elswick picture – something rather Last Supper about this image.

 

National Gallery – the early galleries

Fabulous diptych – adult Christ in Mary’s arms and green Man of Sorrows on the right.

Never seen this one before – because it’s not finished it looks modern.  Could be from Lord Leighton or a Preraph, maybe.

 

Suez Canal Zone

Blackpaint

23/718

Blackpaint 357 – Art Film Sex for the Older Fan; Perfect Illusions

September 7, 2012

As promised, my top five – or maybe six or seven – films with sex scenes, since last weeks had none and I don’t want my public to think I live a sheltered life…

Last Tango in Paris (Bertolucci) – Francis Bacon paintings in the credits, jazz saxophone, and a fabulous shot across/along that bridge; also the first meeting in the empty flat when Marlon takes Maria’s hat out of her hand…

The Night Porter (Taviani) – they are holed up together, hiding out; Charlotte takes Dirk in hand…

Belle de Jour (Bunuel) – there’s hardly any actual sex in it; maybe just the presence of Catherine Deneuve is sufficient.  Best scenes are her dreams of the carriage ride and the coffin going up and down as she lies in it, puzzled at what he’s doing underneath…

Diary of a Shinjuku Thief  (Oshima) – Saw this forty – odd years ago, so don’t remember much except that it made me rather unsettled;

Ai No Corrida – (Oshima) –  Ouch!!  Similar – actually, worse – moment in Antichrist;

Emmanuelle – the boxing match and after; strongly realist storyline – a beautiful young French woman gives herself to an old, authoritarian, aristocratic roue to learn about sexual fulfilment; her husband seems quite OK with this.  Happens all the time in Thailand.  Directed by the appropriately named Just Jaeckin

The Sheltering Sky – fun with the sheikh in the desert; Debra Winger is shut up in a wicker hut for visitations by her Arab master.  Another Bertolucci film. 

Greatest disappointment – Caligula.  Why did director (Tinto Brass) use such tiny prostheses in the fellatio scenes?

Next blog: best use of music in film.

Tate Britain

A roomful of Howard Hodgkin, maybe six or seven paintings, from various points in his career, all oil on wood.  I like “Clean Sheets” best; a small landscape panel of rough wood, dark brown centre with a bright acidy green “window frame” painted in free sweeps around it.  Inside, another swatch of green – a sheet, maybe- and a red/pink tongue of fire licking at the left- hand corner.

“Porlock”, from this year, is on smoothed wood, with swatches of purple, I think, “stacked” in the centre – border is unpainted.  There are lines of interruption in the swatches; maybe that explains the title.

“Come into the garden Maud” ; swirling masses of green and red blotches, like Impressionist shapes – a Seurat extract magnified a few thousand times.

Anna Barribal

She has a pencil drawing of a brick wall, thickly painted (wall, not drawing) and with natural flaws, bobbles, holes in paint layer, light reflected off it – and it is absolutely a perfect illusion of wallness.  I had to lean against the real wall and look from the side to see the flaws disappear, before I was convinced it was a drawing.  Opposite, there is a large roll of paper, covered completely with ink, sagging against the wall – it’s by the same artist.  I half expected the roll to disappear when I looked at it from the side, as if it were a hologram.

In the same room there are perfect drawn copies of tiny snapshots, a perfect drawn representation of an aerial view of Dresden from the internet, and several perfect drawn representations of – drawings, with folds and wrinkles in paper; these last by David Musgrave.

The skills and resources of patience required for the production of these works are unimaginable to me and they are completely successful in representing the reality of one form in another – perfect illusions, from the front anyway.  There’s a humour there too, when the objects are mundane (brick wall) – I’m reminded of Fischli and Weiss.  Is there more than that?  Not sure.

Leghorn

Blackpaint

7.09.12

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

Blackpaint 249

February 6, 2011

Don’t Look Now

Another example of the Odessa Steps Scream in slow motion, after Bacon, of course, but preceding Eraserhead (see Blackpaint 219); Donald Sutherland, lifting his drowned daughter’s body from the river.

Roeg is great with glass and liquid too – the embryo-shaped bloodstain spreading around the photographic slide, the glasses and water or white wine, splashing and crashing onto the tiles when Julie Christie collapses…

Actually, while typing this, another example of the Odessa Scream occurs to me – the animal roar of the “possessed” on detecting a “normal” person in the 1978 “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” – that was Donald Sutherland too.

Two abstract painters this Saturday –

Varda Caivano; Voice at Victoria Miro

Nine quite small pictures, the biggest 36* 44″ approx., all oil on canvas, one each with charcoal, pastel and ink markings.  Totally abstract, very thin paint, small areas of bare canvas here and there, for instance along upper margin; trickle downs, scrapes, busy, crowded surfaces.  Sombre colours, mostly; one a glowing red/orange, one an acidy green, two black, grey-blue, cloudy switches and swags (these two the best).  They are all called – “Untitled”.  Strangely, a couple reminded me of that Kokoschka of the woman and the swan, was it?  Alma Mahler, anyway.  It was the swirly, grey-blue surface.  And one, definitely, of Per Kirkeby (the acid green one).  In fact, I would have guessed she was Scandinavian, not Argentinian thereby proving myself foolish in expecting artists to meet some spurious national stereotype .

Victoria Morton at Sadie Coles

Some of Morton’s pictures much bigger, 98*66 in approx.  the big paintings, for example “Figurene” and “Soft Eater, Hard Eater” a tangle of bright colours and pulsating, yellow-white blobs, with a suggestion of cityscape at night about them.  One, “Wah Wah” I think, much darker, almost like one of Ofili’s recent paintings; dry, matt, thin finish.  Reminders then, of Ofili and Doig in the technique and even Hodgkin (the spots and the bright orange frame on one of the smaller ones).

Various other assemblages:  two low, hinged, painted wooden panels like a screen for dwarfs; a smeary, sketchy watercolour on paper entitled “Children” ; a couple of lovely oil sketches in a far-too-big frame; “Ballet Costume”, a black stand with a crown of painted tissue ribbons billowing from the top.

In the Guardian review of this show, “SS” writes of Morgan’s work being “Lush with thick, expressive swabs and light dashes of brightly hued pigment…”; Well, I got the “light dashes” and the “swarming, pointillist dots” s/he writes of elsewhere – but I must have a very different idea of “thick, expressive swabs”.

The notes accompanying Morton’s show are impenetrable.  The notes on Caivano are merely pretentious and very hard work.  Enough moaning, though; two excellent free exhibitions of  abstract painters, to be snapped up by those who love these things.

Listening to “Midnight Shift”, by Buddy Holly-

“Well, if you see old Annie, better give her a lift;

Annie’s been workin’ on the midnight shift.”

Sorry, old image – run out of paint.

Blackpaint

06.02.11