Posts Tagged ‘John Cooper Clarke’

Blackpaint 481- Posy and John, Flowers and Bees, Michelangelo and the Easter Bunny

February 7, 2015

Posy Simmonds

Just picked up her “Literary Life” in Quinto Bookshop, Charing Cross Road, for a fiver – best investment I’ve made for some time.  For me, she is far and away Britain’s best cartoonist and she writes a mean story too; her envious, embittered authors, lusting after the waitresses at the book launches….

posy simmonds

I think her cartoons stand comparison with John Cooper Clarke’s poetry, although admittedly, they  chronicle different social milieus…

Angela Flowers Gallery, Old Street – Seven from the Seventies

A rather sparse exhibition of huge abstract paintings – one from each artist, with smaller works upstairs – that eschew expressionism and mostly follow an ordered, geometric (but highly colourful) aesthetic.  The painters are Colin Cina, Bernard Cohen, Noel Forster, Richard Smith, Derek Hirst, Michael Kidner and Jack Smith.  Few paintings, but some are great; they stay in the mind.

colin cina

Colin Cina 

The Beekeeper, Angelopoulos

The great Marcello Mastroianni as an elderly beekeeper who goes on a road trip with his bees (in crates in the back of a white van), leaving his wife and newly-married daughter.  Improbably, he gets picked up by a young woman hitch hiker, a free spirit, who travels with him and sponges off him, while picking up young men for sex when she fancies it, once bringing one back to the room she and MM are sharing (they’re not sleeping together yet – when they finally do, the relationship founders).  In the end, he gets stung to death by his bees on a lonely hillside in the end.  Even in an unlikely story like this, Marcello manages to shine – and his co-star, Nadia Mourouzi, certainly has the most staggeringly beautiful body I’ve seen recently.  Apart from yours of course, darling… and of course, I’m speaking as an artist…

mourouzi

 

The “Michelangelo” Bronzes

michelangelo bronzes

 

I saw the big Bronzes exhibition at the RA in 2012, and I have to say I don’t remember these statuettes at all.  If they’d been exhibited as Michelangelos, of course, it would be a different story; the name makes you look and remember.  Without the attribution, you edit them out unless they are really striking.  So, either they are not that striking, or my taste and judgement are crap.  Not that striking, then.

The arguments in favour seem pretty convincing – but what happened to that other putative Mick, “St. John the Baptist Bearing Witness”, proposed by Everett Fahy a couple of years ago (see Blackpaint 111 and 112)?  I dismissed the claim of course, on the basis of Blackpaint’s First Law relating to Michelangelo, which states “Michelangelo doesn’t do trees”; there are lots in the St.John.

easter bunny1

 

Blackpaint

Easter Bunny 

7.02.15 

 

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Blackpaint 478 – Just a Quick One

January 15, 2015

Slate Projects; Demimonde at 17 Thurloe Place, opposite V&A

Great exhibition in a derelict house (once Margot Fonteyn’s); the paintings and sculptures hang and lurk amongst bare plaster and boards, baths, sinks and toilets, rickety staircases and holes in the walls.  There are abominable snowmen, lifesize figures in some lead- like material with heads encased in Monopoly boards and more conventional painting, examples below.  I like the big ones by James Collins and the slightly Chantal Joffe-ish one below (didn’t get the artist’s name).  It’s only on until the 18th January and it’s free, so must be seen.  The venue is unheated, so gloves and woolly hat required.

james collins

James Collins

slate unknown

 

Demimonde, ??? is this your picture??? 

Adventures of the Black Square, Whitechapel Gallery

I was lucky enough to get a ticket to the private view for this survey of geometric abstraction 1915 – present and so was able to see the works in the context of their natural Fellini-esque audience.  Several retro figures who looked to have arrived from the set of la Dolce Vita, with accents to boot.  Favourites as follows:

Clay Ketter

The wall cracks are photographic, not actual.  Like the last standing wall of a demolished house, with the “ghosts ” of rooms, doors, joists left sketched on it.

Sophie Tauber-Arp

Love that blue – it’s a tapestry, by the way.

tauber arp

Ivan Kliun

Associate of Malevich, obviously.

Jenny Holzer

A touch of Oiticica (who is also here).

holzer

Liu Wei

Like a gigantic barcode, in red and turquoise.

Loads of delicious stuff, and assistants patrolling about wearing giant circular and triangular mirrors.  Famous names: Oroszco, Palermo, Alys, el Lissitsky,  Trockel, Pape, Clark, Moholy -Nagy, Malevich (of course) and plenty of others.  Now, what is needed is a parallel exhibition of expressionist abstraction.

The Poetry of John Cooper Clarke – Ten Years in an Open Necked Shirt

It’s up there with Ginsburg, Auden and Plath.  Although Cooper Clarke lacks the unique perspective on nature of  Ted Hughes or the erudition (and casual anti-semitism) of Eliot, he has his own kingdom of the urban back-street:

The fucking pies are fucking old

the fucking chips are fucking cold

the fucking beer is fucking flat

the fucking flats have fucking rats

the fucking clocks are fucking wrong

the fucking days are fucking long

it fucking  gets you fucking down

evidently chicken town

With beautiful illustrations by Steve Maguire, Vintage pbk, £7.99.

Three liquitex on card life drawings to finish:

 

watercolour6

watercolour11

watercolour10

Blackpaint

15.01.15

 

Blackpaint 412 – Talent and Taste and the Darkling Plain

September 19, 2013

Jonathan Yeo at the National Portrait Gallery

Saw the Culture Show programme on Yeo last night and was suitably impressed by his technical skill.  a whole bunch of political, arty and acting celebs, instantly recognisable, in a surface spectrum from creamy smooth (Sienna Miller) to Freudian fractured – assemblies of small, variegated  planes (George W Bush).

yeo1

yeo2

Only when reading Yeo’s Wikipedia entry, did I discover that the Bush “variegated planes” are actually images from porn magazines, a technique that Yeo has used several times.

I think I would say the same thing about Yeo as I said about Augustus John last blog; loads of talent, dubious taste.  By that, I don’t mean the use of porn images, or painting the pregnant Sienna Miller naked; more that they seem to flatter the subjects and include little tricks and flourishes – see the Nicole Kidman above.  Apart from Bush, maybe, I can’t imagine any of his subjects being dismayed or upset at the way they have been portrayed.  Have to go and see for myself now, at the NPG.

Paul Feiler

He died this summer, when I was abroad. so I missed the obits.  The last, I think, of the 50s and 60s St. Ives generation. I considered him for a while to be the greatest living British abstract painter.  Then I “discovered” Albert Irvin – and there’s Gillian Ayres of course – but he’s still up there, I think, in terms of “the greatest” – but no longer living…

feiler

Paul Feiler

John Bellany

Another painter recently dead is Bellany.  As utterly unlike Feiler as you could imagine, his odd figures in awkward poses remind me, a little, sometimes, of Paula Rego – and RB Kitaj in his cartoon style, Unlike Rego, he often used harsh, garish colours.

Bellany1

bellany 2

Well, not sure about Kitaj…  Apparently, his (Bellany’s) paintings got brighter and more optimistic in tone after his liver transplant.

Old Masters, Thomas Bernhard

I recently made a facetious remark about this great book, comparing the protracted rant that it mostly is, to John Cooper Clarke’s “Evidently Chickentown” – and concluding that Clarke’s poem(?) is the greater work.  About 60% of the way through, however, certain changes begin to occur in the Bernhard book and it takes on greater depths.

Consider the following, on the uses of art after bereavement: “None of those books or writings which I had collected in the course of my life …were ultimately any use, I had been left alone by my wife and all these books and writings were ridiculous.  We think we can cling to Shakespeare or to Kant, but that is a fallacy, Shakespeare and Kant and all the rest…..let us down at the very moment when we would so badly need them, Reger said…. everything which those so-called great and important figures have thought and moreover written leaves us cold…”  So, art is no help or cure for pain – echoes of “Dover Beach” and “The Green Linnet”.

We are soon back to ranting. however; and I am gratified to find that Reger, the protagonist, believes that every great work of art is mortally flawed (see Blackpaint 387, the theory of validating crapness) and that many artists, notably El Greco, can’t do hands.  According to Reger, “El Greco’s hands all look like dirty wet face flannels”…

??????????

Tenby, Wall to Fort

Blackpaint

19.09.13

Blackpaint 408 – Bilbao; Picasso’s Leeks, Urs Fischer’s Tongue

August 22, 2013

 Guggenheim Bilbao

If you’re in northern Spain, brave the giant Scalextrix set around Bilbao and visit Gehry’s Guggenheim.  Even if the exhibitions are bad – not often – the building is always worth another visit.

At the moment, there is an exhibition about France in WW2.  It’s a little contrived, cobbled together, and actually runs from 1938 (surrealists, Spanish war aftermath) to 1947.  It includes pictures and cartoons by several artists (Charlotte Saloman, Felix Nussbaum) who died in Auschwitz and other camps; art done in hiding or on the run; art done in exile;  “official” art, i.e. acceptable to Vichy and/or the Germans (including Dufy with a giant blue panorama, like a Festival of Britain poster, and a Villon, rather like a Colquhoun/MacBryde figure); there is even a Picasso room, with some great studio photos by Brassai and one terrific painting in watery blue, “Studio with skull and Leeks”.

picasso skull and leeks

Most of the art, as always in wartime, was realist, symbolist or tragic/heroic – crucifixions, barbed wire, agonised, objectified suffering, calls to arms, etc.  Cartoons and collages  along Grosz and Heartfield lines from Joseph Steib; for some reason, a stupendous nude in the bath from Bonnard that I last saw a couple of years ago in the Pompidou, surely – that one with the walls that look like Klimt.

bonnard bath

Also a couple of beautiful, colourful abstracts from Sophie Tauber-Arp, “Etudes from the Earthy Food” (?)

After the obscenity of war, a floor of plain obscenity.  Three or four large Paul McCarthys, “The Spinning Dwarf”; black cartoon charcoal or paint mouse, claggy smears and sprays of paint here and there, pages of porno mags torn out and stuck on upside-down.  I suffered a rather painful neck spasm as a result.

Urs Fischer’s Tongue, poking through a ragged hole in the wall – not her real tongue, that is, but a synthetic one that emerges suddenly when you approach the hole – it darts through and licks at you.

Two R Crumb strips in his – er, uncompromising style, Boswell’s Diary and Making Love to a Strong Girl – no racial stereotypes this time, but plenty to offend those who wish to be offended.

R Crumb strong girl

Finally, there is Riotous Baroque, which I’ll do next week.

Thomas Bernhard, Old Masters

Reading this protracted, repetitive rant against artists, philosophers, musicians with an Austrian connection – I think it’s supposed to be ironic – I was suddenly reminded of John Cooper Clarke’s “Evidently Chickentown”, although the latter is a far superior piece of art, I think.  Watching the hour long programme celebrating his poetry, I was bowled over by “Beasley Street” – bits of it were  almost like those Auden poems that copy the form of nursery rhymes.

Top of the Lake

Great TV serial. marred by two factors; Holly Hunter’s laughable and highly irritating guru “GJ” (or maybe GeeJay) and the cop out regarding the relationship of Robin and Jonno – are they really brother and sister? No – Jonno’s mother had an affair as well.  That’s all right then.  All the white men, apart from Jonno, were violent and potential rapists, all the women deeply damaged by men.

??????????

Blackpaint

22.08.13