Posts Tagged ‘Joan Miro’

Blackpaint 264

March 31, 2011

Marlene Dumas

I’ve been looking at her Phaidon book again, and most of the images – no, ALL of the images – are “ugly”.  That is to say, they are distorted, bloated, explicit, mostly grey or brown, like decaying flesh.  There are ugly babies, naked figures lined up as if for inspection in a concentration camp or  a brothel, women offering their bodies in pornographic poses (but so crudely painted that they are not titillating –  in a conventional way); actual paintings of dead women’s faces…  I used to think the baby with the red hands (Painter) was the most disturbing – now I think it’s those “school photographs”, especially The Turkish Schoolgirls (1987).  Look at the front three from the far right!  They will haunt your dreams, like something from The Orphanage.

So why do I like her work?  Well, it’s strong, dramatic, caustic, driving.  If it was music,  it would be Piece of my Heart by Janis Joplin, or maybe Gimme Shelter; if it was food, it would be lime chilli pickle; if it was a film, it would be Salo.. This could go on and on (if it was an insurance company..), so I’ll stop with the pretentiousness now – I hope you get the point.

It occurs to me that there has to be something to offset the harshness and horror; that something is, of course, the technical skill in the images; the use of colour, the draftsmanship, the artful clumsiness and crudeness in just the right places to just the right degree.

The Killing

I’m counting Morten as 50% right; OK, he wasn’t the murderer, but he was the political manipulator.

Magritte

Went to the drawings and prints at British Museum yet again and this time, read the blurb on the Magritte drawing.  It referred to Herbert Read’s comments that Mag looked for affinities between unlikely things – the example here is leaves and bricks.  The drawing is of a tree in which the foliage is shaped like a single leaf; poplar. I would say.  Only, instead of individual leaves, it is composed of bricks, as in a brick wall.  OK, leaves soft, pliable, rustling; bricks hard, unyielding, silent.  However – leaves combine together to make a greater unity, bricks combine together.. etc.

Too cerebral and systematic for me – I like my surrealists wild, untidy, loose ends, what’s that in the corner, what’s that supposed to be… so it is, how disgusting – the feeling that it might really have been dragged up from their subconscious minds, even if they’re faking it – as perhaps Dali might have done once or twice.  Maybe Magritte’s subconscious mind worked that way – after all, he was famously neat, fussy, and tidy, even when painting.  But then, so was Miro.

Looking again at the Kitaj life drawings, they contain distortions; that inward curve of the lower back is surely exaggerated and the lower leg also curves too much.  The genitalia are far too small, of course.  These distortions, however, are of the order of Michelangelo distortions, as the drawings are in the same class as M’s, in my view.

Far From the Madding Crowd

First time I’ve seen this utterly beautiful film; I loved the circus scene, the songs, the characters, the story.  Two whole seconds of “David Swarbrick” on view, playing fiddle in the barn.  Julie Christie singing “Bushes and Briers” – the stunning original, not the nearly-as-beautiful Thompson/Denny song.  Was that really her singing? and Terence Stamp, doing the Jolly Tinker?  If so. they made a good job of it – as did the tinker in the song.

Blackpaint

31/03/11

Blackpaint 222

November 22, 2010

Miro at the Tate Modern

From reviews, Miro’s show at the Tate Modern, like Picasso at Liverpool recently, seems to be an attempt to portray Miro as a political artist.  This claim largely rests (it appears) on the poster he did for the Republican cause (see Blackpaint 26, Jan 2010) and on a surreal painting  “Still Life with Old Shoe”, in which he shows an enormous fork, about to plunge down into an apple – apparently a subliminal reference to the impending outbreak of the Spanish civil war, according to curator Matthew Gale.  Gale says this shows he is not just about “whimsy”.  He also made a work which was a response to the execution by garotte of an anarchist activist, Puig Antich – in 1974.  I remember that horrible event – the victim is strapped to a board and a metal noose tightened around his neck until the spinal cord is severed – you didn’t have to be an activist to be horrified – everybody was.

Any Miro exhibition is good news, but why bother to transform someone plainly more interested in the politics of the psyche – in his art, anyway – into a political painter?  Miro doesn’t need the justification.

The Last Supper

I’ve checked on Google, and although most Last Suppers take the da Vinci form ( table lengthwise across picture, Christ central, disciples seated behind table in a line) there are a number of exceptions.  Tintoretto’s table slants from lower left to upper right and includes a number of servants in the lower right area, Palma de Vecchio, Dieric Bouts and Simon Vouet all show disciples round the table.  In Bouts’ stunning, serene picture, Christ sits at the top of the table.  This arrangement is used in Russian icons, one of which, from 1497, shows a round table.

I was rather surprised to come across a version by Andy Warhol, based on the da Vinci.

Caspar David Friedrich

I’ve been told I’m too kind to painters and should be more critical, so I’ve cast round to find one I really don’t like, and I’ve come up with the above.  After all, he’s dead and I’m hiding behind anonymity, so I can say what I like.  I saw Andrew Graham – Dixon’s item on Friedrich on the Culture Show last week, which was clearly an advert for AGD’s forthcoming series on German art and it confirmed my aversion.  Country crucifixes in the snow,  misty mountains, purple –  orange – green skies, thrown – away crutches, heroic/romantic figures staring out over mist-filled chasms or oceans, deserted, ruined monasteries, graveyards….

Well, there are two I like; the wreckage on the ice floe, forced up into the Tatlin tower shape and the little man on the beach with the great, threatening wall of fog or cloud rolling towards him.  It makes me think of John Carpenter’s “The Fog” – are there undead pirates concealed in it?

Leonardo

I like the way he illustrated the predicted effects of his war chariot, in the drawing of it with the blades on the wheel hubs; he has drawn dismembered bodies scattered around.  Well, yes, I suppose it would have that effect, wouldn’t it?

Quiz

Who painted himself as “a Tyro”?

Blackpaint

22.09.10