Posts Tagged ‘Keith Arnatt’

Blackpaint 586 – Voodoo and Venus in Barcelona and Bloomsbury

February 13, 2017

MACBA, Barcelona

Museum of Contemporary Art.  Fabulous white Bauhaus-y building, reminiscent of  Helsinki, besieged by surly, hooded skateboarders.  First, “Hard Gelatin” (1977 – 82); politics, pretty much Anarchist/punk/porn/activist, two fingers stuff; some comic called “Buttafera” was the focus of much.  Porn drawings and posters featuring sucking, dismemberment; old photos of protests, “happenings”; video of transvestite Spanish Donna, roaring songs in alternate deep voice and falsetto…

macba-porn-2

 

macba-porn-3

Wow – radical.

 

 

jordi-benito

Next, science/tech “experiments:  above is Jordi Benito, “Hands transforming ice into water by body heat”; like a hand dance, strangely beautiful (he wrote pretentiously).  Also Beuys – like pieces, producing spunky white froth under a glass dome – and a giant wooden barrel rocket ship by Mireilles.

fina-miralles

Rather like Keith Arnatt, I think.  There’s another series of her gradually disappearing into a hole in the ground; even more like Arnatt.

Plenty of other stuff, but the real hit for me was Antoni Miralda, or Miralda Madeinusa, as he styles himself.  His first installation (below) is in a disused chapel next to the museum and is called “Santa Comida” (Holy Food) – series of shrines round the inside of chapel, Yoruba deities, transformed in the Americas to Santoria or Voodoo.  Ogun was the main deity.  Offerings of food – sardines, cod, herrings for the fish god, bay leaves, bananas, canned goods for the earth god; loads of little figurines – one was Oliver Hardy – mostly South American by appearances.

This is all from Miralda’s personal archive; but he is also a forerunner of Jeremy Deller, in that he gets lots of people to take part in, or mount exhibitions, parades, events and then makes videos of it all, and related artworks.  This one dates from 1984-89.

 

miralda-1

Holy Food

In the MACBA building, several more Miralda installations and commemorations:  in “Wheat and Steak” (1981), in Kansas City, he got people to parade with floats and placards of steaks and a three -tier “Tri-Uni-Corn” (below), which was the main float.

 

miralda-3-cow

In “Breadline” (1977), there are videos of the Rangerettes of Kilgore College. Texas, going through their training routines; a long line of dyed bread slices, green, red, yellow, orange (below); “Texas TV Dinner”, a series of disgusting, video images of fast food, franks etc., appearing on screens set in a counter next to groups of condiments.  Also, videos of dyed macaroni “landscapes”…

 

miralda-4-bread

Hail Caesar (Coen Bros, 2016);  Trumbo (Jay Roach, 2015)

Both of these films set in the McCarthy era in Hollywood. the Coen Bros one, features George Clooney in his manic comic mode, as a star kidnapped by a group of Communist screen writers, and is a skit, complete with a Russian submarine and a cowboy hero who I guess is based on Audie Murphy.  A brilliant dance scene, sailors in a bar, worthy of Follow the Fleet, or more closely, On the Town.

Trumbo is a conventional biopic, featuring Bryan Cranston as the left-wing screenwriter who did time for refusing to cooperate with HUAC et al and had to use a front man to submit his scripts, including Roman Holiday.  Heroes: Kirk Douglas, Otto Preminger, both of whom hired Trumbo and credited him; villains: John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, but above all, Hedda Hopper, played here by Helen Mirren.  Good, but weak; Edward G Robinson, who initially stood out against the witch hunt but buckled to pressure in the end and named names.

Sussex Modernism at 2 Temple Place

Stunning wood -pannelled house, built by David Waldorf Astor, watched over by a gaitered officer (of the Temple? Church?), thronged with grey and white heads on Saturday we visited, as might be expected.

A bizarre Venus and Adonis by Duncan Grant (below); just look at that twist and the positioning of the head!  Also by Grant, a beautiful still life with wine bottle and flower.

Venus and Adonis c.1919 Duncan Grant 1885-1978 Purchased 1972 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T01514

A life size Christ from the wall of Berwick Church, based, I think, on David Garnett (quite wrong about this – it was either Edward le Bas or poss. Leonard Woolf).  A most impressive table model of the De la Warr Pavilion in Bexhill and the David Jones (below) done at Capel-y-Finn, I believe.  Several Vanessa Bells, but nothing remarkable; Gaudier-Brzeska, Wadsworth and other surrealists and of course, several Eric Gill pieces to raise the aesthetic, if not necessarily the moral tone.

 

Jones, David; The Garden Enclosed; Tate; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/the-garden-enclosed-199551

Next blog, Picasso in Barsa, Soutine, Swinton and Fiennes in Italy.

time-and-place-no-7

Time and Place no.7

Blackpaint

13/2/17

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 543 – The oranges are not the only fruit…

April 30, 2016

Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art at the National Gallery

Gauguin still life

Gauguin, Still Life with a Delacroix

I have to say that I thought the Delacroixs (is that the proper plural?) were awful, on the whole.  They were melodramatic, exotic in a bad way and somehow dowdy; the brushwork looked dry and the colours lurid.  Then I looked at the work online and it was brilliant – luscious brushwork, fervid energy, piercing colour.  Just shows how photography has a glamorising effect on paintings, something I’ve noted before.

Then again, it could be I’ve been corrupted by all those repros you used to get in furniture shops in the 50s and 60s; Arab boys, Spanish flamenco dancers, harbour scenes – Delacroix is just too exotic for me.

The stunning Gauguin still life above is, for my money, the best thing on show, but there are great paintings by Degas, Redon, Moreau (not so great), Cezanne, two more Gauguins (one brilliant, the other terrible) and some awful Renoirs – but I have a blind spot about the latter, can’t stand his work.

Better show a Delacroix, after all, it’s his show, so:

delacroix algerian women

Algerian Women in their Apartments

See, it looks great as a photo.

Making your Ears Tingle

I’m reading Kings II in the King James Bible at the moment and here are three quotations that made me sit up:

Hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you? (2 Kings 18, 27)

Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle. (2 Kings 21, 12)

…and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down. (2 Kings 22, 13).

Pithy, eh?

The Hollow Crown – Richard II

hollow crown

Ben Whishaw perfectly cast, in my view; not an easy play to make work with all that rhyming verse – brilliant poetry, but it can sound quaint as dialogue, which it never does in this version.

The director does three art things in the murder scene at the end:

He has Richard, naked except for a loincloth, clamber to his feet, first sticking his rear high in the air in a direct echo of the Bacon/Muybridge boy;

Richard is slaughtered by crossbow arrows – up to now, he’s been Christ, now he’s St. Sebastian;

His body is dragged in a coffin before the usurper, Henry IV.  The corpse is twisted in the manner of those curving Christs on the crucifix by Cimabue et al.

 

Conceptual Art in Britain 1964 – 1979 (Tate Britain)

keith arnatt

I was determined to go round this without spending hours reading.  Consequently, I was round it in about fifteen minutes; there’s not much to look at apart from words.

A pyramid of oranges by Roeloff Louw from which you are supposed to help yourself (I presume they replace them);

oranges

A photo sequence of Keith Arnatt eating his own words (above);

A photo sequence of KA gradually disappearing into a hole in the ground;

Bruce McLean (in a photo sequence), performing contortions in spaces between plinths;

Michael Craig – Martin‘s glass of water/oak tree;

A long rolled-up fabric “machine” in the colours of the stars and stripes by John Latham – didn’t find out what it did;

A heap of builder’s sand by Barry Flanagan;

Some vitrines with magazines in them, some about the Singing Sculpture by Gilbert and George, in which they painted themselves gold – very influential maybe, given the resemblance to the living sculptures outside the National Gallery.

The rest was writing, including much work by Art & Language – strong on the latter, not much of the former.  Some quite turgid Marxism on one wall – turned out to be Trotsky.  I don’t scorn conceptual work, I should say; I just don’t see it as useful for me to speculate on the concepts which may or may not be involved; probably get them wrong, anyway.

Two of mine, to finish:

St.George

St.George Death Stroke (WIP from last blog)

And my attempt at a still life, in homage to Gauguin:

still life

Still Life with Pomegranate 

Blackpaint 

30.04.16

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 260

March 14, 2011

Mark Wallinger

Video installation  in the Tate Britain.  It’s been there for some time, but I took  the time to sit and watch it on Sunday.  It’s a film of people, mostly business types, coming through the exit gates at an airport, in slow motion, to some beautiful early church music.  The music and slow motion turn the whole thing into a ballet and endow every movement and facial expression with significance; raised eyebrows, for instance, to convey nonchalance, perhaps; a quick check of the mobile, a squaring of the shoulders..  At one point, a young man, student maybe, enters from the right with a cup of coffee, cutting into the path of a woman who has just come through the gate.  A collision seems inevitable, but no – they pass by as if the other did not exist.  In the final seconds of the loop, a young woman runs into the picture and towards the camera, again, close to an emerging passenger – and again, it’s as if they are unaware of the other’s presence.  The sort of exhibit that makes you want to go back to see if you missed anything.

Keith Arnatt

His “Artist as a Shadow of his Former Self” is worth a look (in the same room); just a photo of his truncated shadow on a brick wall, but with the title, and the wall, of course,  it felt related somehow to Banksy’s stuff, only years earlier.

Barry Flanagan

A whole room of lovely small drawings, actually prints, I think, of simple line drawings with a couple of portraits that reminded me of early Hockney.

Turner

Looking at the “Sea Monsters” in the flesh, so to speak, I noticed yet another imponderable – on the immediate left of the “face” (or the left hand fish, as I am coming to think of it) there is a thing like a head with a cap on top and blunt face with no nose.  Another sea monster??

Michelangelo

Vincent thought Michelangelo did legs too long – but that it didn’t matter; there was truth in the distortion.  He doesn’t say which piece or pieces he is referring to, unfortunately.  I have to say that I haven’t noticed any particular leg distortion, but I do have a problem with the breasts on “Dawn”, part of the Lorenzo de’  Medici tomb.  As Alan Bennett made one of his History Boys say, she has a man’s torso with a woman’s breasts stuck on – or words to that effect.  Or, maybe he was referring to the female figure on the Giuliano de’ Medici tomb, where the breasts are even more “stuck on”.

Michelangelo’s drawings of the Tasks of Hercules in the Royal Library at Windsor show poor Hercules getting a really painful looking chomp on the backside from one of the heads of the Lernean Hydra.  He wrestles with other heads and necks in the classic Laocoon pose.

Bela Tarr

The Wallinger shows how the right music and slow motion can make the ordinary fascinating and full of moment; Tarr’s film, “The Man from London” (see Blackpaint 256 ) uses the music in this way throughout throughout – instead of slow motion, however, he uses stillness and a development from dark to lit, blurred to clear.  In one sequence, a character is walking along a harbour wall and the camera, travelling with him, swings in such a way that he appears to be making no progress against the background at all – indeed, it looks as if he is walking forwards but moving backwards.  Highly unsettling.

Blackpaint

14.03.11

Blackpaint 245

January 23, 2011

Royal Academy, Modern British Sculpture

First room, anteroom really, Lutyens Cenotaph and photographs of Epstein’s figures from the British Medical Association, naked, genitaled figures holding babies and items of medical significance.

First room: sculptures of the – when? 30s to 50s? in polished woods and marbles, echoing the ancient artefacts from Egypt, Assyria, Mexico that inspired or informed them.  Skeaping, Gordine, Moore of course, Hepworth – an extraordinary phallic torso – Eric Kennington, an Indian style relief entitled “Earth Child”; which surprises when you go behind it to see it is cupped by a giant hand, Eric Gill – another relief of a nude girl with strong echoes (for me) of the Shobdon Tympanum – and Underwood, an “Embryo” and a “Nucleus”.  Laura Cumming in Observer says they suffer in comparison with the “old originals” – and she’s right, for the most part; the exceptions being the Moores and the Hepworths.

Next room, Epstein’s massively thighed and buttocked – well, massive all round really – carved albaster figure of Adam.  Giant penis flattened against thigh as if in a wind tunnel, or glued above the copious scrotal sac.  The penis looks as if it ‘s attached to a plate below Adam’s stomach.  The other exhibit in this room is a small, knotted, phallic snake in Aztec/Mayan style, by Henry Moore.

Next door is a bronze Adam by Charles Wheeler, standing alert, with conventional musculature and tiny genitalia, which won’t do, so close to the Epstein gargantua.  Nearby is Philip King’s “Genghis Khan”, a black cape with bats’ wings and an enthroned Victoria from 1892, by Alfred Gilbert.  It looks like one of those Indian figures encrusted with decorative flourishes.  There’s a gold crown and crusts of gilded decoration all over the throne.

When I was at school, I remember posters showing Peoples of the World, wearing national dress and doing national things; Eskimos fishing through holes in ice, Kenyan women with long necks stretched by brass rings, Swiss in leather shorts, blowing Alpine horns, Canadian lumberjacks, Texan cowboys… Everyone else had a culture, but we English were normal, lived in redbrick terraced houses, didn’t dress up; the others were exotic.  This statue of Victoria looked as strange to me as, for example, the saints’ effigies that are brought out from Spanish churches on saints’ days.

Victor Pasmore and Richard Hamilton next; a walk-through assemblage of hanging, coloured plexiglass (?) rectangular panels, making corridors and rooms by slicing the air into shapes.  Caro’s “Early One Morning”, the long, red metal structure like a plough with end plates attached; also cuts the air, but into different shapes.

Next room, Carl Andre’s 60 bricks, Richard Long’s “Chalk Line”, Keith Arnatt’s photos of “Self Burial” – going, going….  Tony Cragg’s “Stack” like a 10 or 12 decker wooden sandwich, stuffed with breeze blocks, blankets, rags, a red plastic bucket like a pickle.  Boyle Family (Irish folk singers?) *Olaf Street Project”, photo of a bit of road, tilted vertical, littered with rocks and a milk bottle.

Sarah Lucas, “Portable Smoking Area”,  chair with a large box on tripod tilted over it to be lowered over smoker’s head; Damien Hirst’s “Let’s Eat Outdoors”, a table set with plates of food and wine, white plastic chairs – and a thick carpet of juicy dead flies over all.  Fly executor over table, but we didn’t see any fatalities in the two or three minutes we watched.  A faint, urine-y, formaldehyde smell near glass – presumably flies rotting.

John Latham; his burnt books, smeared in blue paint and stuffed in a giant white, bursting eyeball.  Also three books set as if driven into a large, thick fragment of broken glass, hung on a frame.  On closer inspection, the books were a Qu’ran, a Torah, I think,and a Christian Bible.  Can’t imagine him getting away with that today, which is interesting.

In the last room, a boxed exhibit by Stuart Brisley, called “Null Comma Null”; in a container -like box, rendered virtually impossible to see by a blinding spotlight.  Catalogue says “It deliberately hides its contents, thereby creating an air of mystery..” ; certainly creates strong irritation.

So, some great exhibits (Epstein, Moore, Hepworth, Gill, Cragg, Hirst, Latham, Arnatt) but as Cumming says, no obvious logic in who was included and who left out.  A sample of British Modern Sculpture, not a survey.

Blackpaint

23.01.11