Posts Tagged ‘John golding’

Blackpaint 514 – Hoyland’s Cakes, The Serpent’s Egg, Auerbach’s Mustard

October 12, 2015

John Hoyland at Newport Street Gallery

hoyland1

These huge, voluptuous colour field pictures, around 40 of them, are on display at Damien Hirst’s new gallery near Vauxhall.  It’s enormous; white walls of course, lovely staircases, a line of big toilets with heavy doors as if he’s expecting coachloads of pensioners.  The paintings are from Hirst’s own collection and it’s great to see them here for free.

Acrylics for the most part – there are two oils, I think.  Several maroons with orange, leaf green (ugh!), turquoise, grey-blue, reds and greys, arranged in blocks or columns; a few with scraped edges and splatters, “smoking” tops (the result of trickle- downs and reversal of the canvas).  The central section upstairs I think of as the cake room; pinks, beiges and whites, like huge cake slices smashed and splattered against the canvas.  In the last room, deep, singing blues, reds and oranges, scraped to reveal gold, like clouds of fire; colours arranged in blocks and diagonals.

For an alternative view, try Jonathan Jones online – “Why is Damien Hirst opening his new gallery with this second-rate artist?”  He makes the laughable claim that Hoyland is trying to do Rothko, or Pollock, or Barnet Newman.  Actually, the painters who came to my mind were Hans Hoffman and John Golding (a bit).  Hoyland, says Jones,  is simply “messing about with paint”.

hoyland2

The Serpent’s Egg, Bergman (1977)

Falls into that genre of films like “Cabaret” and Visconti’s “The Damned”, in which the story is set in Weimar Germany, in this case, Berlin – sleazy drinking clubs, cabarets and brothels (often combined), cross- dressing, prostitution, obscene night club turns, dwarves, smeared, garish lipstick, lost innocence, sudden shocking violence, crazed Nazi bands, wet cobblestones, sense of doom…  Bergman’s film is set earlier than the others- 1923 I think, the time of hyper-inflation- but the similarities are apparent.  It becomes suddenly Kafka-esque towards the denouement; David Carradine is chased around a mysterious underground laboratory-labyrinth and confronts a mad scientist, more Nazi than Hitler himself (who is a minor demagogue at this time, about to launch his Munich Putsch).

Unlike any other Bergman film I’ve seen; sort of a low budget feel, strangely, since it was made in Hollywood, and the sound on the DVD is terrible.  I ended up watching it with subtitles for the hard of hearing, which improved it no end.

That Obscure Object of Desire, Bunuel (1977)

The story of this great Bunuel is well-known; Fernando Rey’s pursuit of the young Spanish flamenco dancer to Seville and eventually to Paris, her continual promising and then avoiding/refusing  sex with him (in one sequence arriving naked in his bedroom – apart from an impregnable, tightly-laced corset); the gifts of money he constantly makes to her and her complicit mother, culminating in his buying her a house.  After another provocation, he attacks her; she grins up at him through her bleeding lips and says, “Now I know you really love me!”  Dodgy sexual politics, to be sure.  I had forgotten the little “surreal” bits in the film – the mousetrap that goes off during one of Rey’s intense scenes with Conchita; the sack that he lugs around inexplicably in several scenes.

Conchita, the girl, is famously played by two completely different actresses –  the elegant, glacial Carole Bouquet and the effervescent Angela Molina.  This caused me great consternation when I first saw the film.  I rationalised it along these rather obvious lines: they represent the two halves of Conchita’s character; cold and hot.  That didn’t work though.  So, they represent the two ways she responds to Rey.  But that didn’t work either, for the same reason (they both encourage and reject him, rather than “taking turns”).

Wikipedia says that Bunuel got the idea to use different women in response to difficulties he was having on set with another actress,  Maria Schneider apparently, and that it had no deeper significance than that he thought it was an amusing idea and would” work well”.

I love that phrase; I’ve heard it so many times from different artists and said it often myself, in response to those who ask “What does that represent?” or “Why did you do that there?” – the answer is invariably mundane or unhelpful; it “looked good”, or “I thought it was black and when I put it on the canvas,  it turned out to be prussian blue”.  As often, a Jonathan Jones piece is instructive; reviewing the new Auerbach at Tate Britain, Jones recycles the old “colourless 50s” cliche: “Back in the 1950s, he (Auerbach) saw very little colour in the world.  Frankenstein faces loom like monsters in his early paintings.   Gradually came the colours: blood red, mustard yellow, and eventually orange, purple, blue, the lot – a rainbow slowly spreading…”.  Auerbach himself, speaking on his son’s film about him, explains that the new colours were the result of his progressively having more money to spend on paint.

Jones’ review is otherwise not bad, apart from his habitual thumping overstatement and childish posturing – “My generation owes Auerbach an apology..”…

serpents egg of obscure desire

The Serpent’s Egg of Obscure Desire

Blackpaint

12.10.15

 

 

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Blackpaint 505 – Francis, Rembr’ndt and the Chimp’nzees

August 2, 2015

Bacon and the Masters, Norwich (UEA)

Afraid this exhibition is now finished – I got to see it in its last week – so its a bit redundant now to review it.  However, I’m rather redundant myself, so here’s a few words.  First, I have to take issue with Jonathan Jones’ assessment in the Guardian; he thought the “Masters” (Matisse, Rembrandt, Velasquez, Van Gogh, Bernini et al), whose works Bacon used as  templates or providers of inspiration, actually made Bacon’s efforts look rather “silly”. His previous admiration for the British painter evaporated in the presence of the Masters.

There is no doubt that the Rembrandts are striking and the terracotta Bernini torsos staggeringly powerful, even though small; my feeling is, however, that Bacon’s work stands up well and does justice to those whose works he used – or rather, the photographs of them, since he famously avoided seeing the originals.

Take the paintings below, for instance; the powerful, sinister “Figures in a Landscape” (1956):

bacon figures in a landscape

 

or the portrait (1957) of Peter Lacey, Bacon’s sadistic “true love”, who did the painter quite serious injury in lovemaking (I don’t know if Bacon returned the compliment – I suspect not); I think the portrait suggests one of the Furies about to descend…

bacon lacey

or this great sketch or half-started work on linen from 1981, one of the three large sketches that begin the exhibition:

bacon three figures 1981

 

Here’s one of the Berninis for comparison:

bernini

The only Bacon that I felt was not up to par was a sketch of the Screaming Pope.  it suggested a Steve Bell to me…

Look closely at any Bacon and you will see how thinly and carefully he paints, with a stroke that is often very dry.  The portraits are painstaking and the famous distortion does not obscure the likeness in most cases; it’s dissection and reassembly, not butchery, not by a long way.

Afterwards, using one of the luxurious WCs in the Sainsbury building, I saw myself in the mirror which takes up the whole rear wall. Slightly crouched, toilet paper in hand, trousers around lower legs, furtive expression… a rather typical Bacon scenario, to match those in the gallery…

Watching an Arena DVD on Bacon, I was struck again by his odd pronunciation of Rembrandt – it was “Rembr’ndt”.  A while later he did it again with “chimp’nzee”.  I thought it was unique – then I watched a DVD on Auerbach and he said “Rembr’ndt” too.

John Golding, UEA

golding2

Up the stairs from the Bacon exhibition was this large show of paintings from Golding, a major British abstract artist, somewhat akin to Hoyland, I think, as a sort of counterweight to the great figurative master on the ground floor.  Here are three works, all large, from different periods.  This show may still be on – worth a trip to Norwich, if it is.

 

golding3

 

golding6

The Double Life of Veronique, Kieslowski

This film was on TV last week.  I can’t make my mind up about Kieslowski’s work – sometimes, as here, it strikes me as sentimental and soft focus, a little bit “Truly, Madly, Deeply”; she falls in love with a handsome puppeteer, for god’s sake.  Then again, he did “A Short Film about Killing”, with the long murder and the hanging scene….

Two old pictures that I have overpainted somewhat, to finish:

jungle

The Road to Mandalay

 

10th May 1941

 

10th May 1941

Blackpaint,

2.08.15

Blackpaint 436 – Hockney, Orwell, Beatings and Orgasms

February 28, 2014

Hockney Prints at Dulwich Picture Gallery

This is a great exhibition; loads of prints extending through several rooms.  I liked the earliest stuff from the 60s the best – “The Rake’s Progress” series on his first time in America.  In these, he’s doing those cartoon figures, reminiscent of people like Barry Fantoni; he likes fire, which pops up in several etchings, a chair burning, for instance; in fact, the red of the fire the only colour in these, apart from blue on the US flag in one, I think.

Next, he does a series based on Cavafy poems, in which the figures are no longer “cartoons” but beautifully spare, single line renditions of (usually)naked young men.  I guess from the perfection of outline, he must have selected the etching line from a number of pentimenti in a drawing, like the one of Celia Birtwell below.

Plenty more; flowers, portraits, swimming pools…  The one immediately below with the columns, trees, garden, and distorted perspective is from the latter part of the exhibition.  The colours are recognisable from his big show at the RA a couple of years ago.

Hockney Dulwich 1

hockney dulwich 2

Newsnight – the Harriet Harman interview

An innovation on Newsnight after Laura Kuenssberg pursued Harman with the Daily Mail agenda, trying to force her to apologise for being an officer of the NCCL at a time when the Paedophile Information Exchange was an affiliate to the organisation.  After the interview was shown, Jeremy Paxman, full of his usual self-regard, and Kuenssberg, still fizzing with righteous indignation, discussed Harman’s performance like sports pundits, so that the viewers didn’t have to make up their minds unaided.  I wonder if this will be a regular event whenever the press demands apologies from Labour grandees for misdeeds 30 years before.

The Hunters, Angelopoulos

A group of hunters in the snow (Brueghel again) come across the body of a revolutionary fighter from the Greek Civil War.  It’s the 60s – the war ended in 1949, but the body’s wounds are fresh.  The hunters and their companions all have guilty pasts which are revealed, as the police examine them, the body on a table in the room…  All the usual Angelopoulos magic, the mountains, the music,  the operatic scenes – but additionally, in this film, a fully-dressed actress acts a drawn-out orgasm on a ballroom floor before a large audience, who applaud politely after the climax.  Shades of Bunuel.  Later, a portly hunter, dressed in a satin Father Christmas outfit, dances rather formally with his bobble hat – shades of Bela Tarr.

Orwell  – Such, Such Were the Joys and 1984

In the Guardian last week, Sam Leith wrote about the famous Orwell essay, describing it as “a load of bollocks”.  In the essay, Orwell recalls his time at St. Cyprian’s, a prep school near Eastbourne in the years before World War One.  It includes a description of Orwell’s (or Blair’s) beatings for wetting the bed, the second of which was carried out with a riding crop which broke, as a result of the headmaster’s exertions.  There are many other examples of abuse and privation, and Leith quotes another critic, who says the essay is drenched with self-pity.

This is odd, since Orwell expressly states that he didn’t feel especially picked out for mistreatment and in fact, regarded his beatings and the rest as his own fault; as a child, he had accepted the guilt which “Sambo” and “Flip”, the headmaster and his wife, allotted to him: “Now look what you’ve done!”, as Sambo yells at him when the riding crop breaks.  One of the themes of the essay is how the pupils accept the system and internalise it.  Not surprising then that his letters home contain no hint of discontent, or that his contemporaries (Leith cites Jacintha Buddicom) say he seemed happy enough.

Anyway, Bernard Crick dealt at length with all this in his 1981 biography of Orwell – he’s not mentioned by Leith.  One thing that is interesting; Leith rejects the Anthony West theory that “1984” was Orwell’s prep school miseries writ large- he does suggest, much more plausibly, that his political analysis worked back on “Such, Such..”.  Crick thinks that Orwell exaggerated and shaped his “memories” for literary, maybe political, purposes;  to state baldly that Orwell’s reminiscences are “a load of bollocks” is surely going a bit strong, though.

The Drawing Room, Abstract Drawings

Tucked away in an old industrial building in Bermondsey, there are some startling names on show here; Jackson Pollock, Eva Hesse, Anish Kapoor, Tomma Abts, Alison Wilding, Sol LeWitt, Serra…  They are mostly small, geometrical, several on graph paper.  The Pollock is funny, because it is “fenced off” by a single wire barrier to emphasise status, presumably.  It’s not a great Pollock…  The best works are those by Hesse, John Golding, and Garth Evans (see below); like Oiticica, but not as wobbly.

garth evans

Come and see (maybe buy) my paintings at Sprout Gallery, Moyser Road, Tooting, London SW16 between  4th and 15th March – open every day, including Sunday, 11.00am – 5.00pm.

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Work in Prog

Blackpaint

28.02.14

Blackpaint 430 – Abstraction at the Fair; Murder in the Mountains

January 18, 2014

London Art Fair

Some stunning paintings at the above – well worth a visit.  Three fantastic Lanyons to start with. all from the early 60s:

art fair lanyon 1

art fair lanyon 2

art fair lanyon 3

This one is “Pony” – didn’t get the other names.

The fair’s on for a while, so I’ll just put in a couple more of my favourites, these ones by the Scots painter Philip Reeves:

art fair philip reeves 1

art fair philip reeves 2

Rather like John Golding, I thought – until I saw the large number of Goldings at the fair, none of which were like the Reeves, or indeed, the Golding that was shown at the Tate in the 80th birthday slot a while ago, and that I featured in an earlier blog.

The fair has, as usual, loads of great Alan Davies, Keith Vaughans, blinding prints by Bert Irvin and Anthony Frost and a big Kazua Shiraga; heavy, dense -coloured ropes and splodges of deep paint, no doubt hurled in handfuls at the canvas and swept through with a broom.  You might not like it but it’s definitely there.  More pictures (Peter Kinley, Bruce McLean, William Gear) next blog.

Ornulf Opdahl

I think it’s spelt right – Norwegian painter of large, dark sea and mountain-scapes, with cracks and shafts of light penetrating the murk, back at Kings Place; they are really impressive when seen in the round on vast white walls.  He must get through gallons of Prussian Blue.

opdahl

 

The Reconstruction, Angelopoulos

His first film, 1970, set in a bleak mountain village, all stone houses and stone wall  mazes – reminded me of Aran Isles – rain, mud, snow, crisp black and white; the murder of a husband, returning from work in Germany, by his wife and her brutal lover.  They turn on each other – who was the instigator, who the follower? Wild Greek songs, villagers bent with labour, narrative in series of flashbacks – first in a box set.

Heaven’s Gate – Director’s Cut

Complete contrast, the Cimino film a series of big set pieces, beginning with a spectacular waltz scene and riotous college graduation ceremony and shifting to a murderous war on immigrants waged by hired guns in Wyoming.  Kristofferson, Bridges, Hurt, Walken, Huppert… wage bill must have been huge.  The “operatic” style I associate more with the Angelopoulos of “Weeping Meadows” period.  Maybe a touch of “1900” in there, too.

Mrs.Dalloway

The experimental stuff I’ve been discussing seemed to dwindle away in the latter stages of the book, as Woolf focuses on the decline and suicide of Septimus, the ramblings of Peter Walsh and the bringing together of these strands at Clarissa’s party.  I found Walsh’s habit of opening and closing the blade of his pocket knife rather disconcerting.  It has, perhaps, a different resonance for those of us who watch Silent Witness, The Fall et al.  I’m going to the lighthouse next.

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Laurels

Blackpaint

18.01.14

Blackpaint 385 – Light and Resurrection

March 14, 2013

More from Tate Collection at yourpaintings

Another selection of recommendations from pages 11 – 20 of the above:

Arthur Boyd, Bride Drinking From a Creek (1960).  Looks surreal, the bride in her wedding dress kneeling at the creek. a crow in a thorny thicket  to her right – ominous? – but I’ve got an idea it might be something he really had seen.

Gillian Ayres, Break Off (1961).  Another Ayres, but I love this one – reminds me of breakfast, slice of toast… see below.

gillian ayres break off

Alan Green, Check (1973).  New to me – love it.  See below.

alan green

 

Finally, John Golding, CV (1973) – see below.  Looks simple, but there’s a lot going on round the edges of the yellow bit.

John Golding; (c) John Golding; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

 

Light Show at the Hayward

Light sculptures as the name suggests; some of it just novelty, clever but no real impact.  There are, however, four or five pieces that I found striking or beautiful.  The first is Dan Flavin’s   piece from 1966 -8, Untitled (to the innovator of Wheeling Peachblow).  It’s a rectangle of neon tubing forming a “painting ” of light on the wall – very familiar, but it has grown on me over the years.  

Carlos Cruz-Diez, who was born in 1923 – for some reason, I find it surprising that old artists make these sculptures. spaces, whatever – and who over the years from 1965 has created a number of “Chromosaturations”.  They are suites of empty rooms, each infused with a different, intense colour. icy blue, red, green, yellow; in the connecting zones the colours blend.  If you look at small reflecting cubes suspended from the ceiling, the light appears to change hue – it’s your eyes adjusting.

Perhaps the most spectacular exhibit is Olafur Eliasson’s “Model for a Timeless Garden” 2011.  A pitch-black room, and a line of water features, boiling up like miniature aereated fountains in different shapes, caught in a strobe light.  There is an arcing jet of water, the droplets of which appear like suspended diamonds in the strobe.  It strikes me that one advantage these artists have is that your attention can’t wander; while you’re in that room, there is the “sculpture”, the light, and no escape.

Also worth noting are the James Turrell from 1974, Wedgework V, like a huge Albers made of light – and Bill Culbert’s Bulb Box Reflection II (1975); it took me two or three minutes to realise that the bulb in the mirror was lit up and the one it was apparently reflecting, was not.  How does he do that?

Interesting that, apart from the Eliason, these are all old pieces – it’s a historical exhibition.  Nothing new about light sculpture.

Schoenberg’ s 2nd Chamber Symphony and Elgar

Listening to the Schoenberg the other day, I noticed a repeated phrase that I thought was from an Elgar piece.  I googled “Schoenberg and Elgar” and was gratified to find a Guardian article by Tom Service in 2010; in it, Service pointed out that the opening few bars of the Nimrod Variations appears in some fragmentary Schoenberg transcriptions, almost note for note.

The phrase I think I have identified is from Elgar’s Falstaff.  It appears repeatedly, but the Schoenberg piece imbues it with a feeling of unease which is absent from the Elgar.  I don’t know enough about music to describe how he does this.  It’s a beautiful piece, not much like the twelve tone experimentation he is known for.

Ordet

This astounding film from Carl Dreher, made in Denmark in the 50s, was on TV the other day.  I recorded it and watched it from a sense of duty at first – black and white, harsh dunes landscape, devoutly believing Danish farmers, an obsessive who thinks he is Christ come again, driven mad by studying the works of Soren Kierkegaard(!).  I laughed at the absurdity at first and then found I was gripped by the story – would the daughter-in-law die after the stillbirth… yes.  Would the obsessive try to resurrect her?…yes.  Would he manage it?   not going to tell you.

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Blackpaint

14.03.13

Blackpaint 126

May 3, 2010

Moore and Ofili revisits

Second visits are often disappointing, and I wasn’t as impressed this time by the big elm “recliners”:  however, I had a good look round Moore’s archetypal recliner (the one the cartoonists always parody) and noticed the way the hole disappears when you look at it from behind and above and the shoulders become even more massive; also, the way the light falls on the planes, emphasising the perfection of the sculpting. 

The little so-called sketches like jewels, worked over carefully in pen, pencil, crayon, pastel etc., and the pen sketch with the blots which are themselves attractive – something similar on TV last night, that thing about Warhol by Sooke; Warhol used a technique of pressing paper against the wet ink line of a drawing to get a broken, blotty line.

There was a funny little mother and child at the start in which the baby was huge, the size of a small adult (and mother’s face seemed to reflect this).  Reminded me of some of those 12th century madonna and child icons in the National Gallery etc, in which the Christ is a full-grown man on mother’s knee.

Although it might be true, as Laura Cumming asserted (see Blackpaint 80), that Moore’s subject matter is rather limited (Mothers with child, recliners, masks, helmets, stringed sculptures, the “atomic” maquette, the warrior, the miner drawings, the shelter drawings..), the varieties of material and style are wide.  African Wonderwood?  and how did he get that gleaming smooth finish on concrete?

As for Ofili, I liked it as I did first time around.  No new insights, other than the humour and the really strong sense of unity of the whole set of work – must be the colours, because he’s stopped using the elephant dung.  One thing – that exchange between Ofili and Jonathan Jones about the function of the hanging man (see Blackpaint 54, 55); the painting’s called “Iscariot Blues”, something I overlooked last time.  Best paintings still the art nouveauish “Raising of Lazarus” and the cocktail girl next to it.

Fundamental Painting

A Tate room devoted to stern, dark, minimalist work from the 60’s;  Alan Charlton (born 1948), four huge paintings in shades of charcoal grey.  The first has a long slot cut in it, the second four square holes in the corners, the third is cut into 20 equally sized “sleepers” and the last, a square, framed with a 2″ interval.  Other artists; Edwina Leapman (one all blue, one all red, slight gradations of pigmentation); Bob Laws (huge plain canvas with a black frame painted in 2″ from edge;  Alan Green, Peter Joseph (dark blocks of black, green, blue).  What’s it about?  Asking questions like “What is a painting?”

John Golding 

Born 1929, a canvas called “CV 1973”.  Two unequal rectangles, one egg yolk yellow, the other dark flesh pink.  A white frame of plain canvas all round with swipes of paint here and there – vaguely reminiscent of a landscape Clyfford Still.  My partner tells me the salient point is that the pink is layered, built up in a Rothko-type way.  Two other Goldings, one blue one green, quite different.  The blue one, “Toledo Blue”, lines across a sort of misty surface, vaguely like a Futurist painting, Boccione maybe, not much close up, but great through archways from a couple of rooms away.

I Mailed it in the Air, by Blackpaint

Listening to Gus Cannon’s Jug Stompers;

“I wrote a letter, I mailed it in the, I mailed it in the – air indeed, lord,

I wrote a letter, I mailed it in the air,

So you know by that I have a friend somewhere”.

Blackpaint 03.05.10