Posts Tagged ‘Kline’

Blackpaint 653 – Belem and Burns, Lisbon and Vietnam

September 15, 2019

Centro Cultural de Belem, Portugal

Just back from Lisbon, with a plethora of images from several of the brilliant art museums in and around the city.  I’m impatient to get some of these out so there will be an absolute minimum of my usual perceptive and trenchant comment – sorry.  This museum in Belem has a collection that is so extensive that it matches the Thyssen – Bornemisza collection in Madrid.  So here goes:

Alan Davie

Belem is particularly good on British pop art, as can be seen…

 

Pauline Boty

Obvious similarities to the famous Peter Blake self portrait with badges.  Martin Gayford compares the Blake picture, interestingly, to Watteau’s “Pierrot”, in Modernists and Mavericks.

 

Alan Jones

 

Larry Rivers

Why isn’t there a Taschen or some other book on Rivers?  I love his stuff.

 

Ed Kienholz

 

 

Martial Raysse

Not well enough known in UK; ideas man, like say Richard Hamilton.

 

William Scott

Strangely Klimt-like, superficially

Willem de Kooning

Not a great one, but any DK worth a photo, I think.

 

Karel Appel

Out of order really; Kline should go follow DK – but who cares?  There was a nice Asger Jorn to go with Appel but it was too dark…

 

Franz Kline

No comment necessary – so, no comment.

 

George Vantongerloo

Deserves inclusion for the name, even if the work were no good – which it is (good, I mean).

 

Max Ernst

Again, out of place here,  but definitely the best of the extensive surrealist section.

 

James Rosenquist

 

Andy Warhol

 

Derek Boshier

Some more from Belem and from the Gulbenkian and other collections in Lisbon next blog.

The Vietnam War, Ken Burns 

I’ve been watching the repeats of this great series – finished here a week or so ago – by turns horrifying, desperately sad and infuriating (My Lai and Tet, survivors and families on all sides and the deception practised by the succession of US presidents involved).  I thought Burns did a staggering job of even-handed analysis – there are those, however, who regard even this as something of a whitewash, of the US role that is.  They would refer to “Kill Anything that Moves” by Nick Turse, a book that examines several other incidents that resemble My Lai, the body count obsession, Rolling Thunder and other special ops that, Turse contends, make atrocities appear to be routine in the US war effort in Vietnam.  Then, of course, there is Michael Herr’s classic, “Dispatches”- not an analysis but a memoir, and one which sits more squarely with the Burns view.

Computer is acting up so I am bailing out now with my latest work in prog (or lack of prog).  Tons more from Lisbon to come soon, along with Ayres, Hoyland and Blake (William, not Peter) at Tate Britain.

Unfinished, Blackpaint 15/9/19

 

 

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Blackpaint 645 – Bellany and Davie; Skates, Bats, Donkeys and Diamonds

May 22, 2019

John Bellany and Alan Davie,  “Cradle of Magic”, Newport Street Gallery until 2nd June

A special, supplementary blog about one show, because it’s soon to close.  This brilliant free exhibition, all works owned by Damien Hirst, has been on since February, but somehow I’ve managed to miss it up to now – and there’s only ten or so days left; so if you possibly can, you need to get to Vauxhall Gardens and see this.

Both Scotsmen, Bellany died in 2013, Davie in 2014 at 94.  Bellany was figurative, Davie abstract – yet their paintings somehow go together, bounce off each other.  Maybe it’s colour, maybe brushwork (sometimes);  don’t know.  I’ve mixed them up, as they are mixed in the gallery, although not in the same order.

Bellany’s paintings, which are enigmatic, I think it’s fair to say, bring to my mind a range of painters; Ensor, perhaps, is foremost.  Skulls, masks, hanged men, groups of solemn, dark-clad men staring out at the viewer, the disconsolate skate/ray fish in the picture below; a general sort of cartoonish quality.  Both Ensor and Bellany lived in coastal towns; Ensor in Ostend, Bellany in the fishing village of Port Seton, near Edinburgh. Others: Max Beckmann, Soutine (another skate man), Arthur Boyd (his “Scapegoat” has the donkey – AND a skate fish, in the Australian desert) and Kitaj somehow, in the drawing and breadth of subject matter.

 

Bellany – Title? Date?

The skate king on his throne.  What are they, birds or bats?  Beckmann here, I think, and in Rose of Sharon below.

 

Davie – Bath Darling, 1956

Davie was a jazz musician and a pilot as well as a painter – a youtube fragment on him (Allan Paints a Picture) shows him at the piano – I think it’s “Getting Sentimental Over You” but the chords are rather free – reciting poetry at the same time, and reminding me a bit of Ron Geesin.  Unlike Geesin, he looks pretty tough as a young man, muscular and long-bearded.  He was feted in the states by the likes of Pollock, Kline and the other AbExes, and the painting below clearly shows the influence of Pollock and maybe de Kooning.  He combined the freedom of gesture (the black sweeps in the picture below, the drips and spatters above) with rich colour and a repertoire of recurring symbols (wheels, snakes, diamonds, images taken from rock pictures by indigenous people in St. Lucia, where he lived for 10 years).

Davie – Red Parrot Jay, 1960

 

Bellany – Eyemouth 1985

The look of love or hunger from the giant seagull?

 

Bellany – Rose of Sharon, 1973

The skate again.  A hint of Mexican influence here?

 

Davie – Romance for Moon and Stars, 1964

 

Davie – Trio for Bones, 1960

 

Davie – A Diamond Romance, 1964

In all three of these Davie pictures, there is the combination of rich colour, symbol and gesture – the rough and smooth elements that sometimes suggest Bacon’s work, without the figures of course, but a potent combination.  In more recent paintings (not represented here) the symbols remain but the rough gesturalism has gone – and the paintings are poorer for it, in my view.

 

Bellany – The Journey, 1989

Very reminiscent of the Boyd painting I mentioned earlier; also a touch of Kitaj in the execution.

A rather solemn portrait from (but not of) me to finish:

Man of Sorrows

Blackpaint

22.05.19

 

 

Blackpaint 572 – Kentridge and Kafka, Kooning and Kline

October 17, 2016

William Kentridge, the Whitechapel Gallery

Four or was it five, distinct rooms, each with films showing, one at least with other things to look at:

  • Wooden machine, like a loom maybe, or to me, reminiscent of the execution machine in Kafka’s “In the Penal Colony” – the one on which the prisoner lies on his back and needles write the nature of his crime on his body, deeper and deeper until he is pierced through.  B&W films showing dancer in whirling white robes, doing a sort of dervish dance.
  • Flickbooks – great flick portraits of Kentridge pacing, stroking his chin, looking thoughtfully down at the floor, on book pages, I think.

kentridge-1

  • DaDa film – colour film starting with sliding panels rather like Schwitters collages – a bit – then actors in costume, one in those boxy cardboard assemblages that Oscar Schlemmer made for Bauhaus productions.  Can’t remember what they are doing – something DaDa probably.
  • A surround room of moving images, more WK selfies, moving ink sketches of repeated images, a coffeepot, a typewriter…

kentridge-2

Sounds underwhelming, I know, but definitely worth seeing, if only for the flickbooks.

 

Abstract Expressionism at the RA (again)

Straight to the de Koonings, which are really stupendous, and went all over the red 1955 “Composition” with my eye, bit by bit, instead of just standing in front and absorbing the whole thing in one go, as I usually do; I love the dirty bits, the chunky, scabby black and white squirls, the jagged patch of turquoise – just fantastic.  The catalogue, though generally good, gives you no real idea of the clarity and impact.

dk-at-ra

“Whose Name was Writ on Water” again – the spatters indicating how DK turned the canvas during painting.  The dullness of the dirty crimson against the washed-out blue – I used to think it was “Ok, but..” – not now, it’s great.

The red one next to “Water” – the paint screams at you,  At the top it looks to be still wet; in fact, there is a big chunk of what looks like wet marmalade, right up the top.

Mitchell’s “Salut Tom” – the brushwork on it is great, an indescribable quality to it – of course, or there would be no point in painting it…

There are two lovely Gorkys, the grey-green and white ones, painted in the same year – it looks as if they were done with the same paint.  Similarly with two of the smaller Pollocks, painted in 1945.

I was a little less impressed with Pollock’s “Mural” this time – the colours under the green were crude, fairground colours; not sure if this is a good or bad thing.  For contrast, look at Mitchell; the colours are cold, pure, clear, deep.

Clyfford Still – several of the paintings have a Barnett-like line down them.

Klines – swimming pool ladders, bridges, scaffolding, in stark, rough black and white – one swirling black foggy one, different to the others, rather like a Lanyon in black.

kline-at-ra

Arabian Nights, Pasolini, 1974

paso1

The last of P’s trilogy of films based on ancient tales (Canterbury Tales and the Decameron are the other two); as with the others, it has a patchy, disjointed feel here and there, awkward segues, loads of explicit, .but very static sex by today’s standards – then, you realise how memorable the combination of music and scenarios is and how Pasolini’s images stay with you.  In this one there is a surprise live dismemberment.

Brexit

In these tempestuous and exciting times, two contrasting songs to suit the more radical of the pro- and anti- factions; they are:

“Hawkwood’s Army” by Fairport Convention

“Peppers and Tomatoes” by Ralph McTell

cobalt-window-2

Cobalt Window

Blackpaint

17.10.16

Blackpaint 234

December 24, 2010

British Museum Prints and Drawings (cont.)

Baselitz – Seated person in looping and criss-crossing black ink – but upside-down, as usual.

Hans Hoffman – A surprise for me to see this most painterly of painters in a drawing exhibition.  More looping and straight black strokes, a little like Bram Van der Velde, on red and … white, I think.  From the other end of the room, looked like an abstract Rouault, if such things there are.

Anastasi – New one on me; “Subway Drawings”, because done on the subway – with his eyes closed.  Little clouds of fine black lines on either end of a thicker black bar, like a barbell with fuzzy knapweed instead of weights.  I don’t know what the idea was (maybe just to see what came out).

Jay Defeo – Wrote about her one or two blogs back; a friend of the 1st generation “Beats”.  This a technically superb rendering of the top of a camera tripod (a little like Richard Hamilton in 60s).  Apparently, she did this stuff to relax between her proper abstracts.

Franz Kline – Instantly recognisable thick black calligraphy, like a letter K on its side.  Called “Untitled”, of course.

Seliger – Forgot first name.  Looping marks like etching (maybe it was) or staining in grey.  Like a cross between Jaap Wagemaker andLucebert.

Franz Ackermann – Modern white apartments, stadium, seashore, brightly coloured and as if through a fish-eye lens.

George Grosz – Street scenes of Weimar Berlin with usual caricatures – none the worse for that.

Dubuffet – “Landscape in Yellow” – usual scraped and scored surface, about as much like a landscape as a rhinoceros – which brings me to…

Durer – The famous rhino, etching and original drawing, in the permanent display bit.  As everyone knows, he’d never seen one and was going on a written description of the one delivered to Brussels(?) Zoo during his time.  If it’s true that he’d never seen one, it’s a pretty miraculous likeness, allowing for a few bizarrities (I know, but it should be a word).

Mehretu – One of those precise, exploding lines abstracts that look like computer graphics (probably are).

Merry Christmas to Christian readers – probably aren’t any left, by now.

Blackpaint

24.12.10

Blackpaint 62

February 8, 2010

Little shop near the Tate Modern

Don’t know what it’s called – its opposite that huge brown, metallic thing that looks like the spaceship in “Alien”.  they sell old catalogues from Christies etc. for £1 and £2 and I got some beautiful repros dead cheap in this way.  Amongst them were pictures of the following works, which you should Google and wonder at:

Karel Appel, Les Enfants 1951; Euan Uglow, Jane, Clapham Common 1951; Peter Kinley, Studio Interior No 115 1959, Sandra Blow, Composition 1958 (oil, sand and grit on board!), Peter Lanyon, Gusting 1961 and Fly Away 1961; Asger Jorn, Lac dans la petite foret and Black Lac Blues (no dates given).  There is also a Franz Kline in black, red and a sharp emerald green, entitled – Untitled.

This last illustrates the annoying thing about artists who call things “Untitled” or “Composition II, no.143”.  It may preserve their integrity, avoiding, as it does, the implication that a painting must look like something or have reference to some place or particular time – but its really hard to differentiate them, if you’ve done 200 “Untitled”s.

Anyway, I hope there are images on the net, or you’ll just have to enjoy the evocative names.

Painting

Having real trouble with latest figurative stuff – trying to combine “fractured surface” experiments with figures.  It’s funny, I thought it would be easy to “combine” abstract and figurative (a contradiction, of course, but what the hell), but its not.  “One or the other; you can’t have both”, they seem to be saying to me.  Better have another whiskey and see what they say then.

Listening to “I’ll be seeing you” by Frank Sinatra and the Tommy Dorsey orchestra, Sept. 1942

“I’ll be seeing you, in all the old familiar places…”

Blackpaint

08.02.10

Blackpaint 42

January 18, 2010

Royal Academy Exhibition

I thought I’d have a crack at this, this year, never having tried before.  I didn’t realise they had themes – this years is as follows:

” Raw”

Selectors “wish  to ‘cut to the chase’ and take a look behind the exterior of the pristine; to address the properties of the materials and the working finger prints left in pursuit of curiosity. Raw can be stark, natural, unrefined, honest, bleak, tender and new.”  They want ” candour beyond disguise”.

Well, I should have no problem with “stark, natural, unrefined” and “bleak” – “tender and new” might be a bit of a stretch though – and as for honest… 

It got me thinking about which artists’ work might fit these descriptors.  I would have said Franz Kline; his stuff is certainly stark, and some might say bleak – but then it turns out to have been highly considered and prepared, so you couldn’t call it unrefined.  Other “gestural” painters – Wols, Mitchell, Pollock – sometimes have the appearance, at first sight, of rawness or spontaneous improvisation; but a few minutes consideration are enough to reveal the care, planning, and controlled delicacy of most of their work. 

The painters I would choose are Karel Appel, Dubuffet and (some, but by no means all) Asger Jorn.  Some of Dubuffet’s stuff appears quite literally scraped raw – for instance, the one in Tate Modern where you pick out the figures – and that goes also for the two Jorns, “Proud Timid One” with its scraped surface, and the other one with the little globular people looking out at you.  Virtually all of Appel’s fabulous paintings are great swirls of thickly applied, fresh, blinding colour.  Giacometti drawings are another example, I suppose, in the sense that they are worked and reworked and built up, and of course, Auerbach.

There is a problem here of course, in the sense that these artists produce “raw” work in appearance – the “fingerprints” are left in, the properties of the materials are exploited – but you couldn’t really call their work raw in any other sense.  Auerbach’s, famously,  is very “cooked”, gone over and over again, erased and redone umpteen times.  Again, we see that an “unrefined” appearance is often very deceptive – and these terms that seem so straightforward at first, are quite problematic.

Listening to Frank Sinatra with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, doing “Begin the Beguine”;

“So don’t let them begin the Beguine, don’t let them play;

Let the spark that was once a fire remain an ember…”

Hard, raw swing with brash, blaring brass and a hard -edged, yearning, perfect vocal.

Blackpaint

18.o1.10