Posts Tagged ‘Keith Vaughan’

Blackpaint 607 – Dream Homebase, Queer Tate

October 2, 2017

Jasper Johns, RA

Unsurprisingly, the best art show in town (apart from the magical Holbeins at the NPG).  It doesn’t quite have the impact and variety of the recent Rauschenberg at TM, but maybe it suffers a bit by coming after.  I’ll be going again, probably several times, so below are just a few of the delights on display. They are mostly of one type, the splashy, multi coloured early ones.  In addition, there are (of course) the flags and targets; the metal beer cans, torches, paintbrushes, spectacles; the combinations (broom, severed, spotted arm, piece of wire); the several-panelled pieces combining paint and silkscreen, again, like Rauschenberg.  Anyway, I shall return…

 

 

Painting with Two Balls, 1960

 

No (I think); note the wire structure attached, hard to see in this photo, reminiscent of Rauschenberg.

 

Rachel Whiteread, Tate Britain

This is like a visit in a dream to Homebase; or no, more a building supplies warehouse, Jewsons maybe?  Doors and windows and little model houses made of mauve, orange or green resins; fireplaces and bathtubs and mattresses made of moulded concrete or plaster or plastics; a little group of moulded hot water bottles in pastel-shaded plaster; great piles of shuttering, is it? in white concrete; also in white concrete, a central block of upside-down stairs.  There is a block of resin in the exact shade of those cider ice lollies you used to get, that lost their colour as you sucked on them and some intriguing dark grey moulded (actually, pretty much everything is moulded) plaques made from papier-machee, “spattered” with primary colour.  A selection of her rather delicate drawings and plans down at the far end of the warehouse.

 

Queer Tate Britain

The Queer Art exhibition is still on at TB; I notice that there are now a series of toilet options, a development perhaps related to the show .  The old male and female (though indicated by picture, I think, rather than the somewhat brutal categorising terms I have used) and two “Non-gendered” options.  These last also have pictures of wheelchairs, so it may be that they have always been there and I never noticed them; I am sure the non-gender descriptions are new, though.

Also, there is a sketchbook on sale, entitled “Erotic Fantasies” or some such, by the great Keith Vaughan.  These are not stylised, Tom of Finland-type cartoons, but naturalistic depictions of  various sex acts between males.  I would say “realistic”, but the equipment on display in the drawings is rather small…  Good to see that TB isn’t afraid to sell gay porn; maybe they think the quality of the drawings is justification (maybe it is).

Victoria and Albert Museum Theatre Room

This is a brilliant, quiet bit of the museum, top of the stairs and through the darkened jewellery room; videos, miniature stage sets, posters, costumes – Fred Astaire must have been really short, judging by the tails he wore in “Shall We Dance?” – puppets, memorabilia.  Some images below, including my favourite poster for “Bartholomew Fair” and the poster that provided title and characters for “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite”, from the Sergeant Pepper album.

 

 

While there, see the fantastic tapestries next door, and the Turner and Constable oil sketches in another adjacent room – much better than many of their more elaborate “worked-up” paintings in ornate gold-leaf frames.

 

Constable

 

Sluice Biennial

This art fair is taking place at various venues (a container block tower, underneath arches) around Hackney Central.  It ends tomorrow.  I was struck by those paintings which were representational in some way – they looked to be strongly influenced by one or more of the following: George Condo, Luc Tuymans and William Sasnal.  Maybe a little bit of Ryan Mosley too.  This seems to be a common matrix of influences these days; at the Saatchi Gallery, for example.

Two new ones of mine, to finish with:

Bridge

Blackpaint

Green Split

Blackpaint

02/10/17

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blackpaint 595 – It’s British – but is it all Queer?

April 24, 2017

Queer British Art 1861 – 1967

There is a fair bit of great painting in this show, some of it problematic in terms of its queerness.  When you see a Tom of Finland show, like that at the ICA a while back, or Mapplethorpe photos, as in Helsinki, there are no doubts – it’s full- on queerness.  Here, it’s not so clear.  The Hockney “Physique” picture apart, none of the paintings below are queer in the sense of openly celebrating queerness.  Hardly surprising, given the discriminatory laws in force in Britain between those dates – however, what makes the Singer Sargent portrait of Vernon Lee “queer art”?  Or the Laura Knight self-portrait, of her painting a female nude?  Or William Strang’s picture of the woman in the red hat?  The answers, presumably, are that Sargent and Vernon Lee were both queer, as was Vita Sackville-West (the sitter for the Strang portrait) and Knight’s self-portrait was a conscious protest against the art school ban on women artists painting nude women models.

Anyway, the riches on offer include:

  • Three beautiful Keith Vaughans in his characteristic blue, cream and brown hues, all figure studies I think, including the one below.  Best in show (Crufts again);
  • The Laura Knight self-portrait I mentioned;
  • A couple of terrific Patrick Proctors, quite like Hockney – but different;
  • Ethel Sands – shades of Harold Gilman, Sickert and Vuillard, I thought;
  • A Lord Leighton classical theme that looks like a Bright Young Things fancy dress ball;  fine-boned, handsome youths with lower lips seemingly a-tremble;
  • Duncan Grant swimmers and divers.
  • There are Cecil Beaton and Angus McBean photographs and posters for cross-dressing music hall acts Vesta Tilley et al.

 

Henry Scott Tuke

 

Vernon Lee (author of “The Virgin of the Seven Daggers”) by Singer Sargent

 

Hockney, of course

 

Keith Vaughan

In addition, there are some interesting oddities, such as Oscar Wilde’s cell door from Reading Gaol and Noel Coward’s dressing gown.  Go and see it; interesting history – not all the art is great, because the queerness is maybe more important here than the quality – but enough is great to make a visit worthwhile.  Still not totally comfortable with the idea of using “queer” out loud, though…

Cataracticus

Blackpaint

 

Still on for another week and several paintings still unsold!

Blackpaint

24/04/17

Blackpaint 530 – The Angels, the Superhighway and the Deer Hunter

January 31, 2016

London Art Fair, the Angel Islington

Finished last week, I’m afraid;  a great little “exhibition-within-the-exhibition” from the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings; my favourite was the “Winter Landscape” by Barns-Graham – tiny but good.

barns-graham

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham

Other highlights below:

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Dorothy Mead 

A Bomberg disciple – but these are every bit as good as DB, in my view.

 

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Keith Vaughan

Very unusual Vaughan – touch of Bacon in the middle, possibly?

 

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Alan Davie

There were dozens of Davies (and Roger Hiltons and quite a few Hitchens); high quality ratio though, with his trademark symbols, lovely blues and yellows and rough surfaces.

Electronic Superhighway, Whitechapel Gallery

Private view of this on Thursday night; the usual roar and surge of the crowd to get to the free drinks before 7.00pm, after which time you have to pay.

The term was coined by Nam June Paik, whose exhibit was one of those – maybe the first one of those –  batteries of TVs, each showing a recurring series of visually explosive images too fast for you to grasp more than one at a time, with an accompaniment of cacophonous sound.  The theme of the exhibition is the effect of computers and the internet on art.  The theme was more evident in some pieces than others…

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Deathoknocko, Albert Oehlen

Combination of computerised inkjet and hand painting.

sedgley

Peter Sedgley

Light projection from 1970.

 

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Celia Hempton

These are screen-size paintings of images from the internet – some – ahem! – rather controversial, perhaps…

 

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Vera Molnar

Several printout works from 60s and 70s.

Rabelais and Joyce

As I get further into “Gargantua and Pantagruel”, the more I am struck by the similarities to “Finnegans Wake”.  The long list of books in the library of St. Victor with their ridiculous titles is only one small step back from Joyce, as are the encounters with the Limousin who speaks gibberish and Panurge,  who talks sense – but in a variety of languages, including Hebrew and Basque(!) that his interlocutors can’t understand.

I got quite excited about this “discovery”, wondering if there was a thesis knocking about on the subject in some European or US university – then I read the excellent translator’s introduction by JM Cohen.  There it all was, similarities of Rabelais and Joyce, written in 1954…..

However, I feel that there are sufficient grounds to advance another of my reincarnation propositions here (see previous Blackpaints, which prove that Shakespeare was the reincarnation of Michelangelo).  Both Rabelais (or Alcofribas Nasir, as he called himself – work it out) and Joyce did long lists; both spoke and used a variety of languages, some rather obscure, in their works; and both wrote passages – in Joyce’s case, hundreds of pages – of “nonsense”.  Case proven.

The Deer Hunter

I had one of those cinematic moments last night, when you’re in a noisy public place and suddenly everything goes sort of silent, or merges into an unspecific background drone and things go slow motion.  Could well be wrong, but I think it was “The Deer Hunter” – wedding scene maybe, Meryl Streep dancing and laughing – it’s a cliche, of course, probably used in loads of films by now.

Anyway, I was sitting in a packed and roaring Tooting pub, third pint of London Stout before me, celebrating my eldest son’s birthday and engagement.  I looked at the bar and there they were, the three brothers and their girlfriends, laughing and shouting to each other above the noise, eyes shining – and the Deer Hunter moment clocked in, inside my head, and lasted probably only a couple of seconds.  Then I was aware of it and it went.  First, I was happy and proud; then I had a moment of near dread; everything changes, it will never be like this again…

So those effects are cliches, melodramatic and worn out; but very effective, nonetheless.

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Exterminating Angel (work in prog)

Blackpaint

31/01/16

Blackpaint 483 – War in Spain, the Auctioneer and the Dancing Chicken

February 21, 2015

Pallant House Gallery, Chichester

This gallery must be visited as a matter of urgency because there’s such a lot of really good paintings in it.  Go on Tuesday, when it’s half price.  What’s it got?  Well…

  • Terry Frost “Lorca” prints – a roomful.
  • Several fantastic, quite late, Ivon Hitchens, less..well,  oblong than usual and highly colourful;

pallant ivon hitchens

  • A sort of St.Ives room, with Heron, John Wells, Barnes-Graham, a nice John Tunnard (actually, he was elsewhere) and a great Ben Nicholson (see below);

pallant ben nicholson

  • There’s also a Ben panto horse in brown fields and some nice Winifred portraits;
  • Bomberg, two Rondas I think, and a corner of his disciples, Dorothy Mead, Crenfield etc.;
  • Then there’s a bunch of self-portraits by various, the most striking of which were by William Gear, the lines of which resembled burnt briars or maybe barbed wire (fascinating to learn he was connected to CoBrA) and the one below by Peter Coker, with a black outline on a narrow canvas in a corner;

pallant peter coker

  • A room of Kitaj, of whom more later.
  • Then there is the main gallery, with some lovely big pictures – Michael Andrews dark coastal painting with figures; a Bacon, two figures who look to be wrestling..possibly..; a great Keith Vaughan; a Colin Self pop art group with one of those women with bright lipstick – bit like Pauline Boty, I thought – and a Peter Blake with an uncharacteristically(?) rough, blurry finish, very effective.  A couple of paintings of domestic scenes by Victor Willing, Paula Rego’s late husband, which have that distorted, slightly monstrous quality of her work.
  • Finally,  there’s Spain; a special exhibition relating to the British role in the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War.  Great photo of the poet John Cornford and of Felicia Browne, the first British volunteer killed in the war, with a couple of her sketches – and very good they are too.  Banners of the British Battalion – 15th, was it? – with the battle names on it: Brunete, the Gandesa, Belchite, Teruel, the Ebro; lump in the throat time.

felicia browne

Felicia Browne

Cornford

John Cornford and Ray Peters

Figures in a Landscape, Alexandropoulos

Two children, a girl of about twelve and her kid brother, run away from their Greek home to try to reach Germany, mostly by rail, sometimes by hitchhiking.  The Travelling Players show up on the way, having wandered in from another film.  There’s a scene in which they escape from a police station when it starts snowing – all the adults wander outside and freeze in a trance, looking up at the falling flakes.  So whimsical, you think – then the girl is raped in the back of a lorry by the driver, thankfully not on screen.  They press on and eventually arrive at the border; a shot sounds as they cross the river.  They run through the thick mist to embrace a tree on a hilltop – symbol of the father?  Are they dead?  End.

Stroszek, Werner Herzog

The great Bruno S. again (from Kaspar Hauser).  Three “vulnerable” Germans go to the USA to escape from their tormentors.  I think it’s a comedy, but there’s some sickening brutality towards Eva, the prostitute, in the early part of the film.  It must be seen, however, if only for the fastest auctioneer in the universe – he must be! – and for the dancing chicken and the fire truck rabbit.  Also a beautiful electric guitar instrumental version of “The Last Thing on my Mind”, which accompanies the driving scenes.  Don’t know who it is.

RB Kitaj

Got a cheapo catalogue of the above in the Pallant House, including two fantastic pictures; “The Rise of Fascism” and “the Architects” (see below).

(c) The estate of R. B. Kitaj; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

 

 Marlene Dumas

Visited this again and found that the red faced-woman wasn’t in it (see last blog) – I’d seen it somewhere else.  Just as good – no, better – on second visit; look out for the Japanese Boy, the full-length portrait of Helena and the head of the dead young man, killed in the Chechnyan incident – or was it the Moscow theatre siege?  Beautifully painted, anyway.

Sprout Gallery, Moyser Road, Tooting SW16

If you are in London next week, visit the Sprout Gallery  and avail yourself of the opportunity to buy my paintings, and those of my partner, 11.00am – 6,00pm, any day but Monday.  Not the one below, however; it’s still wet.

 

 

Blue Crouch

 

Blue Crouch

Blackpaint

22.02.15

Blackpaint 479 – Birdman, Auerbach and Cat Strangling

January 24, 2015

Birdman

I think this is the best American film I have seen for years. I was about to say because the others are all superhero crap – but then so is this, in a way;  not crap, but superhero.  Michael Keaton is an ageing ex-superhero, Birdman, who is directing and leading in a Broadway version of a Ray Carver story, “What we talk about when we talk about love”.  The preview stage has been reached and Keaton is struggling with self-doubt and contempt, an egomaniac co-star (Edward Norton, magnificent), a disaffected daughter recently in “rehab” (Emma Stone, also brilliant, below) …. and so on, can’t bother with all this exposition.

Anyway, the dialogue crackles, as does the jazz drum accompaniment, the story is absorbing and funny, sentimentality is kept in check (though not absent) and the acting is great, as are the long takes following the actors’ tracks backstage and out of the theatre in one memorable scene.

I can’t resist the urge to spot resemblances that has often (always?) been a feature of this blog;  I glimpsed Gene Hackman in Keaton, Helen Mirren in Naomi Watts, Matthew McConnaughey in Edward Norton, Richard Dreyfuss in Zach Galifianakis – and in the huge-eyed Emma Stone, Lucian Freud’s painting of Kitty Garman strangling the kitten, below.  Well, just the eyes really – and Kitty is just holding the kitty….

 

emma stone

Girl with a Kitten 1947 by Lucian Freud 1922-2011

 

London Art Fair, Islington Business Centre

Unfortunately, this is only on for another day, but I daresay that some of the paintings below will still be unsold, if you want to buy them (although the first four are not for sale, being part of the Chichester Pallant House Gallery’s exhibition-within-the exhibition, so to speak).

 

auerbach gerda boehm

 Frank Auerbach, Reclining Head of Gerda Boehm – the best painting in the building, a more intense blue than appears here

 

sickert jack ashore

 

Walter Sickert, Jack Ashore – you can see Jack in the background, but he’s not the main focus really – look at her left thigh; it’s made up entirely of loose dabs and strokes of white.  I’m not sure why this is good, but it is.

artfair lanyon

 Peter Lanyon – didn’t get the title;

 

artfair denny

 

Robyn Denny – again, no title, and I’m not sure that this is the right way up.  It’s great though, from when he was doing AbEx stuff before going geometric and minimal.

The following were from various galleries showing at the fair:

 

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 Keith Vaughan

 

 

artfair vaughan1

 Keith Vaughan again – Two Figures

artfair mellis

Margaret Mellis – love that red

 

artfair cadell

 

 

Cadell – Ben More and Mull

artfair fergusson

 

Fergusson – Still Life with Fruit – I love these Scottish Colourists; there’s also a Melville, the Glasgow Boy, in the same display.

artfair gear

 

William Gear – Two landscapes, 1947 and 1948 

artfair kinley

 

Peter Kinley, Figure on a Bed, 1975

…and, as usual, several great Roger Hiltons, Allan Daveys, Gaudier-Brjeska figure drawings, Prunella Clough, John Golding – great stuff.

Conflict Time Photography, Tate Modern

Revisited this (see previous blog) and found a couple of things I missed last time:

  • The collection of photos of Northern Ireland – irritatingly, these go up the wall too high to see them all properly (they are small), but there are some interesting ones low down – a couple of men or boys, tied up and covered with whitewash (?) wearing placards; one proclaims him to be a drug dealer to “underage children”).  Also, the huge photo of a riot which seems to involve throwing of milk cartons – what does the big red circle indicate?
  • The series of photographs of relics of Hiroshima.  The lunchbox of a schoolgirl, contents carbonised; no sign of the girl.  The uniform tunic, discovered in branches of a tree, of a schoolboy; no trace of boy.  Single lens of eyeglass of a housewife; piece of skull found some weeks later.
  • The odd, but fascinating jumble of photos and memorabilia contained in the little sub-exhibition of “the Archive of Modern Conflict”.

 

Still haven’t done any proper painting for a while, so some life drawings to fill the gap.

life drawing 1

life drawing 3

life drawing 4

life drawing 2

Life Drawings

Blackpaint

24.01.15 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 457 – de Stael at le Havre, Perfect Backs and Zola

August 7, 2014

Nicolas de Stael at le Havre – Lumieres du Nord, lumieres du Sud

I’m deeply indebted to Jon Hensher for commenting on 453 and letting me know about this stunning exhibition of de Stael’s late sea-and landscapes, mostly from 1951 – 55 (the year in which he killed himself by jumping from his studio window in Antibes).  Wikipedia gives his place of death as Paris – this must surely be an error, as he jumped from the 11th storey.  Why?  he was very successful and producing fantastic work.  Apparently, he suffered from recurring depression and had had an “unsatisfactory” meeting with an art critic.

Although the exhibition contains only one or two paintings that approach real abstraction, his work throughout is concerned with shape and colour rather than the accurate depiction of reality.  Sea and shoreline are represented by bands or stripes of colour, detail of ships or buildings by his familiar dabs or “tiles” of paint.  On the whole, the textures lack the thickness and crustiness of his earlier large abstracts, apart from one or two, such as “Landscape, Agrigente”,  which are scraped or scratched into (these are, to my eye, among the best).

What I hadn’t appreciated was his mastery of colour.  A few examples below:

de stael paysage sicily

Paysage, Sicile 1953

de Stael lemon

Landscape 1952

de Stael big red

Figures by the Sea (I think – my notes are very scrappy)

de stael bell

Calais – this is the exhibition poster; shades of Vanessa Bell’s “Studland Beach”?

I could rhapsodise about these pictures for some time, but that would be tedious, so I urge all my readers to drop everything, go to France and see for yourselves.  Incidentally, Wikipedia mentions the Bay Area painters as a point of comparison, in that NdS returned to figurative painting after abstraction; there is however a quotation from the artist on the wall of the museum, indicating that he himself made no distinction between abstraction and figuration.

Wim Oepts

Dutch painter, died 1988, who came to mind when I saw the more intense de Staels:

oepts

Also Anthony Frost, a bit – those ones he does with sacking.

Tate Britain Archive Room – “The Model and the Life Room”

This is easy to miss, as its down in the basement, at the bottom of the Fred and Ginger stairs.  it’s a collection of life drawings and sketches by the likes of Gaudier- Brzeska, Hilda Carline, Keith Vaughan, Augustus John, Michael Ayrton and Ithell Colquhoun.  There is a drawing by Alfred Stevens called “Seated Woman Gazing at Magog”, which is another in my Perfect Backs series:

alfred stevens

It goes with the likes of Kitaj’s smoking woman

kitaj

 

 

and the back of the real Ginger, dancing with Fred at the end of “Swing Time” (buy the DVD to see what I mean).

fred and ginger swing time

 

Here’s my own best effort, not in the same league, I know:

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Zola; Rougon – Macquart cycle

Started the 20 novel cycle on my Kindle, having downloaded the complete works for £1.99.  What it demonstrates to me is the importance of the translation.  I read “Germinal” and “The Debacle” (or The Downfall, as it is called in the Collected Works) in the 60s Penguin Classics versions; I remember a racy,modern,  brutal, colourful prose style.  The style here is archaic and sentimental – the word “damsel” cropped up early on, used by the narrator, not a character.  Not sure I’ll be able to last the whole twenty – easier than Proust, though, and more happens.

 Next blog: Braque and Yoko at Bilbao, Martial Raysse at the Pompidou.

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 Sonia “on the beach”

Or maybe she should be on her side?

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 Blackpaint

7.08.14

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 387 – The Theory of Validating Crapness

March 28, 2013

Jeremy Gardiner at Kings Place

This was one of those few exhibitions where you are actually excited to see the first few pictures from the floor below – or was it above?  I can never remember with Kings Place and its multi-levels – and you want to hurry to see the rest.  My first thought was how much they look like Schwitters collages from a bit of a distance; then I saw one, framed by the doorway to the large room, which had an obvious affinity to Peter Lanyon – swirls, greys, cold, clean blue – then, inside the room, four or five larger pictures that were stylised views over a bay and clearly recalled Ben Nicholson.

Many of the paintings are acrylic on birchwood, built up with plaques of jesmonite, giving a sort of rough marquetry effect.  They appear to be abstract at first, suggesting coastline, cloud, aerial landscape, rock; then you notice that they contain actual features of landscape, although not necessarily “correctly” placed – another resemblance to Lanyon, many of whose works are not really abstract at all.  The colours certainly resemble Lanyon, and John Tunnard as well.  The only reference which I didn’t get was to Diebenkorn – maybe in the aerial landscape thing, but not in appearance.

In addition to the paintings – one of which contains a moulding of an ammonite, maybe there are more – there are the monoprints.  These are mostly long, textured banners of heavy duty watercolour paper, printed with pictures of fossils, microscopic organisms, tracts of what look like contour lines of coast and hill… for some reason, they reminded me (incongruously) of prints by Sigmar Polke.

We stuck around for the tour and talk; Gardiner gave us a softly-spoken geology lesson and a” journey through geological time and space” from the Jurassic Coast of Devon to tin mines in Cornwall (the Levant Mine of Lanyon’s famous picture) and the coast of Brazil.  Proust got a mention; the white-haired audience of retired teachers nodded and smiled.  Then, we also retired, to egg, sausage and chips in the Turkish cafe up the road, in the company of mud-spattered building workers in high-vis jackets, from the huge site opposite.

Blackpaint’s Theory of Validating Crapness

Over the last three years of blogging, I have developed and promoted a number of original theories and observations:  they include “Michelangelo Didn’t do Trees”;  Blackpaint’s Theory of Spurious Plausibility; Shakespeare was Michelangelo Re-incarnated; and “The Taylor-Vincent Ad: Mistakes take on a Life of Their Own”.  Here is a new one, born when I rang my partner, urging her to look up Gardiner on Google and see the brilliant paintings.

She was less than overwhelmed – partly because I was so enthusiastic, but also because (she felt) they were too attractive, too formulaic, too saleable… briefly, not crap enough.  To be sure, Gardiner’s online images are disappointing, compared to the real thing; I still think he’s great; but the “not crap enough” idea inspired me to formulate the above.

The “Validating Crapness” is that element which prevents the picture being too perfect, too trite.  It may, for instance, be smudges, dribbles, finger marks, a scratch, an incongruous patch of colour (NOT the old Turner red spot, like the one on the picture in the doorway mentioned above); it may be a wobbly line, or anything that undermines perfection.  I realise this is very close to the old “beauty must have a flaw” thing- I’m going further.  My theory demands a real element of crap, a small pustule rather than a dimple.  In future blogs, I shall be identifying the VC in famous paintings, both modern works and Old Masters; watch this space.

Lightfields and The Sopranos

The first of these two programmes, a ghost story in which the action takes place at three different times in turns (1940s, 1975, present day) was on ITV1 and was a serial over five(?) weekly episodes; the acting was mostly good, the story was mildly absorbing – but then, as it finished, I realised I’d been watching children’s telly – anodyne, pretty, cliched, ridiculous.  Midwives, Downton, Selfridge, Mayday (apart from Leslie Manville, of course) – where’s all the offensive stuff gone from the mainstream channels?,

Then, the Sopranos, the one with Tony’s food poisoning, the talking fish, the fur coat and Big Pussy’s murder on the boat – funny, violent, sexy,  tragic, with an ironic distance maintained throughout – although that’s probably a contradiction.

Tate at Yourpaintings

Latest recommendations from above:

Ben Nicholson, “June 1937” (1937);

Keith Vaughan, “Leaping Figure” (1951);

Franz Kline, “Meryon”, (1960-61); my erstwhile favourite painting, I used to call it the Bridge;

franz kline

And Jankel Adler, “No Man’s Land”, 1943.

And here’s my one, called “Carbonara”.  Certainly one or two VC elements on show;

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Blackpaint

28.03.13

Blackpaint 374 – Review of the Year (Yawn)

December 31, 2012

The Blackpaint Annual Review 

Exhibitions – went to about 40; these are the most memorable:

Bronze at the Royal Academy

That statue of the dancer that languished on the seabed; Praxiteles?  Maybe…

Also, the Etruscan smiley god and de Kooning’s Clamdigger.

Migrations – Tate Britain

The fantastic Schwitters collage and Singer Sargent’s Ena and Betty.

Burtynsky at the Photographers’ Gallery

Shipbreaking at Chittagong and the ship apparently set in a sea of coal.

Kusama at Tate Modern

The boat covered in fabric penises and, of course, the darkened room with mirrors, reflecting pinpoints of coloured light, with shallow water around the walkways.  Everything was interesting.

London Art Fair at the Royal College of Art

The beautiful Keith Vaughans.

Albert Irvin at Gimpel Fils

Blinding colours, stars, flowerheads, flak streams – he really does yellow well, not an easy thing.

Films

Once upon a Time in Anatolia – that apple bouncing down the stream bed in the night.

The Master – Dodd mincing about singing “We’ll go no more a-roving” to a room full of fawning acolytes – and suddenly, they’re all naked – or was it just the women?

Anna Karenina – the horse race, exploding over and out of the stage set.  Many disagree, apparently, but I think Keira Knightley is a really good actress.  Lately, it seems to me that male critics feel they can praise only the following actresses: Imelda Staunton, Tilda Swinton and especially, Anna Chancellor.

DVDs and TV Films

Where to start?  Ken Russell, of course –Women in Love,  The Devils, The Music Lovers, Gothic.  The last three fantastically over the top; Oliver Read tearing himself from a crucifix to couple with a swooning Vanessa Redgrave; how beautiful Glenda Jackson was as Gudrun Brangwen.

Red Desert (Antonioni) – those colours in the industrial landscape.. Monica Vitti…

The Gospel According to St.Matthew (Pasolini) – I had it on at Easter; one after another, my atheist children came in, fell silent, watched it through to the end.

Tree of Life (Malick)  – America’s Tarkovsky.  Beautiful, and like Tarkovsky, utterly devoid of humour.  These chaps know they are important.

Melancholia (Von Trier) – The opening sequence, that white horse falling backwards, Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg both riveting.

The Leopard (Visconti) – Burt and Claudia in the ballroom scene, prefiguring “Russian Ark”.

Swingtime – Fred and Ginger awesome in “Pick Yourself Up”, beauty and perfection in “Never Gonna Dance”.

The King of Marvin Gardens – Bruce Dern and Jack Nicholson, both staggeringly good.

Books

The Grass Arena by John Healy.  Unique, I think; boxer, fighter, drinker, criminal, rough sleeper, chess master, yoga practitioner, writer…

Ulysses, James Joyce.  6th time I think.  Still the most important work of fiction in English written in the 20th century; difficult to see how any fiction could supplant it.  Also really filthy, sexy and funny.  How could he have written like that when he did?

The Road and Everything Flows by Vassily Grossman.  Sort of fiction, but Grossman often strays into journalism; not a problem as he has stupendous stories to tell, about the war, the purges, the gulag…

And here’s my best painting this year – Happy New Year, to those for whom it is New Year.

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Cap Frehel

Blackpaint

31.12.12

Blackpaint 360 – Faust, Laocoon and the Red Desert

September 27, 2012

De Kooning

I was surprised to read in the Retrospective that DK got into a fight with Clement Greenberg in 1961 (this was when DK’s drinking was “becoming a problem”; unfortunately, it doesn’t say who won, painter or critic).  Even more of a surprise was to read that the whole of Janis’ stable of Abstract Impressionists had left gallery when he showed an exhibition of “New Realists”; Dine, Warhol, Lichtenstein, etc.  Guston, Motherwell, Rothko and dK walked. Those were the days…

Sokurov

I’ve just bought his “Faust” on DVD.  It often goes into that washed-out colour that Sok. used in “Mother and Son” and also uses the elongation and tilting of figures that featured in that film.  The Margareta and Mephistopheles characters are both sinister and memorable – the Grand Guignol dissections are fun too.  I lent my video of the silent Faust – Murnau, was it? – to someone and never got it back, but I remember a scene in that where Faust swings his cloak and it shrouds the entire city – nothing in Sokurov’s to equal that but it’s still very good.

Keith Vaughan

At an art fair at the Royal College of Art in Kensington Gore last week, saw this artist’s “Laocoon Man”, which is the cover picture for the new catalogue of Vaughan’s paintings.  I loved it for the combination of that singing blue background and the rough, cream/grey chevrons within the central figure.  Very beautiful paintings.

I was interested to see that a great, dark Albert Irvin from 63 I think, nothing like the brightness of his later and current work, was going for £14,000 – compared to over £50,000 average for dead British painters of, I guess, similar or lesser fame.  Presumably, at this level, the massive price hike happens  once you are dead.  I wonder how soon after?

Another painter new to me was William Brooker.  A great still life on a beige tablecloth, the folds opening towards the viewer with trompe l’oeil effect.  The precision and lines much like Euan Uglow, though Brooker earlier, I think.

Rachel Whiteread

When writing about Saatchi recently, should have mentioned the chess sets in separate gallery upstairs.  Whiteread’s has 60’s period doll’s house furniture as pieces; lamps, cabinets, a radiogram, I think.  Carpet and lino squares form the chess board.  Sounds twee, but quite funny.  Also, Matthew Roney’s; a picnic laid out on a tablecloth, picnickers having fled something that came out of the woods.  Bits of food and mustard, ketchup for the pieces – four erect penises at each corner for the rooks (maybe salt and pepper pots it occurs to me) –  but definitely penis shaped.

Red Desert

Watched this visually staggering film on TV the other day (sorry about the “staggering”, but it really is).  Monica Vitti fretting and smouldering throughout and Richard Harris thoroughly wooden – “doltish”, as the Encyclopedia of Film describes him.  Ridiculous portentous dialogue, of the kind sent up by Woody Allen, but extraordinary shipyard and quayside scenes in saturated greens and reds; ships looming through fog, pylons, derelict, polluted countryside – fantastic.

Saw” Bronzes” at the Royal Academy last Sunday – next blog.  WordPress appears to be breaking down – can’t do tags or insert more pictures!  Hope it works next time.  If not, I’ll be closing down.

Cap Frehel

Blackpaint

27.09.12