Posts Tagged ‘JD Fergusson’

Blackpaint 539 – the Firm of Repin, Serov, Vrubel, Astrup, and Vinyl

April 2, 2016

Russia and the Arts: the age of Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky ( National Portrait Gallery)

Lovely show.  I’ve started with Repin, who is the most famous, but I think Serov and Vrubel run him pretty close.

russia turgenev

Repin, Turgenev – great hands, aren’t they?

 

russia repin stasov

Repin, Stasov – surely Michael Gambon in a Russian shirt..

russia countess.

Repin, Baroness Hildebrandt – love the red star hat; probably not a revolutionary though…

Serov, Madame Ermolova – Really impressive full-length painting of this theatrical woman in a jet-black dress; I thought Singer Sargent at first, but now I think maybe more like Toulouse-Lautrec in execution.  However, can’t find a picture, so you will have to go see.

Russia Vrubel

Vrubel, Mamontov – Jonathan Jones reckons it’s sort of pre-Cubist, the angles and especially the shirtfront.  I think it looks like a Sickert, or maybe even Ruskin Spear.

 

Russia Morozov

Serov again, Morozov – reminds me of a Scottish Colourist, Fergusson or Cadell, with those flowers behind.

Nightcrawler (2013), Dan Gilroy

Gyllenhaal’s eyes must surely have been “enhanced”; They looked too big to be real to me.  He reminded me of a meerkat.  Obvious comparisons: Jim Carrey in “Cable Guy” and maybe Robin Williams in “One Hour Photo”.  I’d be interested to know just how far they were pushing it; are there really TV stations in LA that would show footage of murder victims in a private house, filmed before the arrival of the police (even with faces and wounds pixillated)?

Vinyl

I liked the comment about Elvis, singing Polk Salad Annie in Vegas: “He’s singing about lettuce…”.  It’s way by far the best thing on TV at the moment.  The man who played Elvis in the white- suited Vegas era was brilliant.

Art of Scandinavia, BBC4

What happened to the 20th century?  The Denmark episode dealt with LEGO and furniture and the Danes’ supposed love for cosy miniaturism in architecture – no mention of Asger Jorn, Per Kirkeby, CoBrA…

Swedish episode was better;  Zorn, Gan(?) – but then, more furniture and design, model housing for 30’s factory workers…  The only 21st century art mentioned was the graffiti artist who covers everything in black swirls.  More painting in future, please (and sculpture, I suppose).

Nikolai Astrup (Dulwich Picture Gallery

Norwegian painter, died 1928.

astrup woodcut

My first impression on entering the gallery was green – and brown and blue, but mostly green.  The canvases are nearly all landscapes, or lakescapes, with trees and they are  crowded.  There are blossoms that recall Hockney’s “maggot” hawthorns from his huge show a few years ago; there is a breast-shaped dark mountain that pops up in several pictures.  Where there are people, they are mostly women or girls in long peasant dresses that remind me of Munch’s figures.  In the last room, the green is relieved a little by yellow, in a series of pictures depicting enormous bonfires in the dusk.  His brushwork is somewhat rough and blurry – one of the most effective pictures was of Monet-like blurred trees in twilight with a couple of lanterns glowing in the background.

He also did woodcuts, which show a distinct Japanese influence (and a much lighter green), like the one above.

 

St. Anthony 1

St. Anthony and his Pig

Blackpaint

02.04.16

 

 

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Blackpaint 464 – Ponds and White Beards, Ennui, Clowns and World War I

October 10, 2014

Turner Prize

I’ve only really seen the first two candidates, James Richards and Tris Vonna – Marshall, properly; need to go back for Ciara Phillips and Duncan Campbell.  However, I was surprised that Laura Cummings panned the first two in the Observer on Sunday – I thought they were both great.  Both were video- based.

First, James Richards.  He has a series of developing images – insects on and just below the surface of a pond, a budgerigar, heavily censored “explicit” photographs by Man Ray and Mapplethorpe from Japanese library books.  The latter are censored by scribbles from a white pencil so that in one, a man on top of another appears to have an untidy white beard hanging down over the belly of the man beneath, as he stoops towards it ( no prizes).  All these various images are accompanied by a variety of soundtracks that have nothing to do with the images, so its about the subversion of understanding by incongruity.  It took me about half a minute, for example, to make sense of the budgie, even though it was quite clear.  The pond images are stunning and I found the censorship scratches aesthetically pleasing too – bit like white paint swatches on a Rauschenberg.

Tris Vonna-Marshall kicks off with a panning landscape shot of the Essex marshes apparently; curlews on the soundtrack, a fat brown chain in a sump, the links looking just like bulbous, slimy sausage, washed green, drained red buildings, a Turner/Britten feel to it – Cummings describes it as “rigidly indifferent….. could have been filmed by a robot”.  He then changes to black and white interiors and a bunch of disparate objects like boxes, photos and accompanies it with a frantic, stream -of -consciousness soundtrack in which he seems to be presenting a sort of bi-polar, wired inventory of things and actions, as if trying desperately to fix them in his mind.  Sounds terrible; I liked it.  His next video, with a soundtrack in which he is pursuing several rather obscure anecdotes with family members, contains a series of images which reminded me of Prunella Clough; for example,  a grass -covered manhole cover, slightly opened.  Don’t know what it all means; liked it all the same.

A common factor shared by Richards and Vonna-Marshall is Germany; Richards is based in Berlin, Vonna-Marshall has German parentage.  Phillips and Campbell in next blog.

Hopper and Sickert

There was a programme on Edward Hopper on Sky Arts during which I was struck by the similarity of two of his themes with those of Walter Sickert; alienation between partners and theatres.  Below are two examples: the styles are very different, of course, but the themes are the same.

 

hopper - couple

Edward Hopper – Room in New York

 

 

sickert ennui

Walter Sickert – Ennui

 

hopper clowns

Edward Hopper – Two Comedians 

 

sickert brighton pierrots

Walter Sickert – Brighton Pierrots

I’ve no idea if Hopper knew Sickert’s work , or vice versa; the only artist that Robert Hughes mentions in his essay on Hopper is de Chirico; Hughes detects an echo of him in Hopper’s scenarios.  I thought maybe a touch of Diebenkorn in his bathing- suited women…

Imperial War Museum

Now re-opened, the exhibits much thinned down and put into context with AV presentations.  All is explained; great bottlenecks of greyhairs and tourists reading and watching, like those punters with walkie talkies who stand in front of paintings for ten minutes, until the WT tells them to move on – and kids (at whom all this is presumably aimed) charging about, looking at not much.  I prefer to read about it at home and look at objects (trench clubs, McCudden’s smashed windscreen) with little labels in the museum.  Only managed WWI this time.

A new (or newly exhibited) painting below, by the Scottish Colourist Fergusson;

fergusson -dockyard portsmouth

JD Fergusson – Portsmouth Harbour

 

kennington - the Kensingtons at

Eric Kennington – The Kensingtons at Laventie

This was on display prior to the closure of the museum, and is still on show. Although Kennington did it from life apparently, I was struck by the Renaissance “feel” of it.  the soldiers look like figures at the base of the Cross, maybe – or a Della Francesca (none of them are connecting with each other, all in their private worlds).

All the President’s Men

Best film I saw last week (Clooney’s “The Descendants” a disappointment); there were some brilliant aerial shots of cars entering and leaving car parks (no, really) – all those different styles and colours!  Very tense, Hoffman, Redford and Robards all brilliant.  it was just a pity that it all got telescoped at the end, with the arrests and prosecutions and impeachment and resignation of Nixon just listed.  Still, it would have been about five hours long…

 

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Scraping the Surface 1 and 2

Blackpaint

10.10.14 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 452 – Folk Art, Song and Flowers of the Field

June 26, 2014

British Folk Art, at Tate Britain  

Now I have my membership card, I’m trying to make it pay for itself in a few weeks – so, back to Folk Art and Kenneth Clark again.  I didn’t mention Walter Greaves, the painter who Whistler discovered and apparently turned into a version of himself (see the result on display).  Before the Whistlerisation, Greaves had painted a picture of Hammersmith Bridge, with every precarious foot-or bum-hold occupied by a foot (or bum), watching the passage of the Boat Race crews on the river below.  Could it really be accurate?

Hammersmith Bridge on Boat-race Day c.1862 by Walter Greaves 1846-1930

 

Then, there is a dark brownish landscape with distorted trees and maybe horses, that’s just like some of the Ben Nicholsons at Dulwich, that I covered a blog or two ago.  There’s a field full of angry bulls in another picture and immense pigs in yet another.  I see my memory played me tricks when I described a couple of other things: the man taking a crap behind the tree is being stalked by men with muskets, not a pack of dogs as I said – and the elegant figurehead is wearing a brown, not blue hat.

Other new stuff at Tate B

Not new of course, but newly out of storage – or new to me, anyway:

Two great, sombre Bombergs – “Bomb Store” I believe.  Reminded me of Rouault.

There’s a whole room of Alan Davie, who died a few weeks ago.  Best pictures are “Fish God” (see previous blog, “Shark Penis of the Fish God”) and “Sacrifice”, a rough, dirty tangle on a great blue ground.

alan davie

That “Fauvist” portrait of a woman is by Fergusson, one of the Scottish Colourists – get the little book of SC postcards.

fergusson

There’s a beautiful bowl somewhere, by William Nicholson, Ben’s father.

And there’s that brilliantly coloured abstract in the same room as the Basil Beattie, which looks really crude close up – but absolutely beautiful from across the room.  Can’t remember the name – sounds North African to me – so can’t find a photo, but you will know what I mean when you see it.

Nineteen Eighty -Four

I’ve just got to the bit where Winston reads Goldstein’s book.  In it, Goldstein relates how the permanent state of war existing between Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia has had the effect of stabilising their economies by burning off surplus capital that would otherwise lead to crises of overproduction.  this seems just a whisker away from the “permanent arms economy” described – not sure if its his original idea – by Michael Kidron, in his old Pelican(?) paperback, “Western Capitalism Since the War”.  He’s writing about the Cold War and the constant renewal of military hardware, but still, pretty close.  Years since I read the Kidron and I’ve lost my copy, so maybe he mentions Orwell.

Flowers of the Field (to 13th July)

A  play by Kevin Mandry at the White Bear pub theatre in Kennington; it fits nicely with the British Folk Art exhibition, where the DVD, made by the British film Institute, entitled “Here’s a Health to the Barley Mow” is on sale.  The play, set in 1916,  concerns the efforts of a war-damaged British officer to collect folk songs in rural Sussex; he inadvertently walks into a drama to do with the ownership of a farm and the efforts of a young girl to avoid  forced marriage to a rapacious landowner.  The difficulties faced by the officer in getting the locals to come up with the real goods, as opposed to hymns, old music hall songs and ballads, make for some very funny scenes and echo real problems faced by the early collectors, like Cecil Sharp and Percy Grainger.

The second half is darker, concerned as it is with the question of the farm and the marriage.  The song which the officer eventually succeeds in recording, is a southern version of “I Once Loved a Lass”.  This is a Scottish variation, recorded among others by Sandy Denny.  Words different, but similar; tune pretty much the same in both versions.

I saw my love to the church go,

With brides and brides’ maidens, she made a fine show,

And I followed on with a heart full of woe,

For she’s gone to be wed to another.

As for the DVD, the High Spens Sword Dance group and the Britannia Coconut Dancers (not blacked up here) have to be seen.

Il Bidone

Fellini’s great film about con men in 50’s Italy, starring the monumental Broderick Crawford (he looked almost the same throughout his career, give or take a few white hairs).  Apparently Fellini used him for his presence – he didn’t act much, just did himself, according to the commentary.  I think he was effective across a fair range though – menace, dignity, vulnerability, pathos, cynicism – and he could really wear a big, shapeless suit.  The music, inevitably by Nino Rota, is very reminiscent of “Blackadder”.

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Lizard Reunion

Blackpaint

26.06.14