Posts Tagged ‘Lawren Harris’

Blackpaint 562 – O’Keefe, Caine, Keitel and Maradona

July 14, 2016

Georgia O’Keefe, Tate Modern

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Autumn Tree – the Maple

I’ve been to the O’Keefe exhibition and wasn’t keen, on the whole.  I think the trouble is with two things: firstly, the surfaces of her paintings – they’re too flat and dry, no texture.  They would do equally well as prints, it seems to me (I remember, we felt the same about Hopper).  Surface like Lempicka, even.  That’s a matter of taste, I suppose, and so is the other problem, which is really the subject matter.

As with “American Sublime” a few years back and a Samuel Palmer in the watercolour exhibition, I think some things aren’t meant to be painted.  Glorious sunsets, weird desert effects, they’re great in nature but mostly horrible on canvas.  Like those garish postcards that olden days people used to send home from Thailand or wherever they’d been on holiday, they don’t convey the real thing.  An exception is –

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The Mountain, New Mexico

Same thing goes for antelope skulls – the real things are fantastic objects in themselves; why turn them into detailed, accurate drawings (except to provide an accurate scientific record)?  Same thing should go for the flowers, but for some reason, I like those.

Anyway, I got “echoes” of a whole range of artists going round, some of them surprising:

Richard Hamilton – there were a couple of sheets of parchment-like paper, reminiscent of Hamilton’s early drawings of car fronts and fridges.

Luc Tuymans – grey/white sheets, tied or folded in the middle.

Marc/Macke – Lake George, Coat and Red (below)

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Black Mesa Landscape (below) reminded me of Lawren Harris, who paints mountains like distant white blancmanges.

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Generally,  I thought of Nolan’s and other Australian’s  renditions of landscape, Ayer’s Rock/Uluru for example.

Again generally, I got Mexican muralists for some reason.  The picture I liked best was Winter Road (below) – hardly typical.

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Youth, Sorrentino (2015) DVD

What is Sorrentino doing?  He seems to be imitating the style of Terence Malick in the Tree of Life – but not doing it very well.  The only memorable image is that of the enormously-bellied hotel guest on the tennis court, propelling the ball into the air time and again with a sort of nimble, fat athleticism.  He’s supposed to be Maradona, apparently.

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Fellini said that he’d chosen Donald Sutherland to play Casanova because the actor was wooden – Sorrentino perhaps chose Michael Caine for the same reason.  Caine never seems to be acting in anything I’ve seen him in; he just says his lines, with an occasional slight gesture towards emotion – anger, or grief, say – as an indication of what his character might be feeling.  He’s Michael Caine; why bother?  He does look a lot like Sorrentino regular Tony Servillo in this, though.  Harvey Keitel’s exit is hilarious.  The music – Simple Songs, was it? – is terrible.

It got excellent reviews and won some prizes; must take another look to see what I missed.

So, nothing good this week (including the “change” of government).  Stood all weekend in a Brixton street art fair with a bunch of my paintings and didn’t sell a single one.  Then I turned out this pinkish affair, which I include only to have something new in the blog.

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Work (not) in progress,

Blackpaint

14.7.16

 

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Blackpaint 480 – Phallic Forests, Greek Mist and the old East End

January 29, 2015

Emily Carr, Dulwich Picture Gallery

Canadian North-West painter, died in 1945, did forests, abandoned Canadian tribal villages, totem poles, sea canoes…  She had several different styles – two  of these paintings could be Duncan Grant, a few others are close to Fauves, there’s a room of swirly treescapes that could be anthroposophical (except the colours were different), a few more that used the Van Gogh short line marks… Many of the paintings are oil on paper, which is not the best medium; they look somewhat brown and dowdy.  Canvases are better.  Oddly, she had connections with Mark Tobey, who I had always thought was a sort of abstract expressionist – his paintings are often in books on AbExes, anyway.  Turns out he was a “spiritual” painter (Baha’i faith) so they’re not really abex at all – more like visions of heaven or wherever.  The other painter mentioned in the exhibition blurb in connection with her  is the execrable Lawren Harris, member of the Seven, and painter of the white blancmange mountains (see previous Blackpaint).

Tree trunks and totem poles – bit phallic, really.  I could see her in therapy with Rebecca Front on “Psychobitches” (Sky Arts)…

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London Countryway

For the last five years, a couple of friends and I have been walking in the countryside around Orpington in Kent (we only have one map) and following the various “Green” urban footpaths around London.  Judging by the following, Jonathan Meades had already done all our routes.  I came across this in his essay “Hamas and Kibbutz” – it’s pretty close to poetry:

…roads to nowhere whose gravel aggregate is that of ad hoc Second World War fighter runways, decrepit Victorian oriental pumping stations, rats, asbestos sheets piled up in what for obvious reasons  cannot be called pyres, supermarket trolleys in toxic canals, rotting foxes, used condoms,  pitta bread with green mould, ancient chevaux de frise, newish chevaux de frise, polythene bags caught on branches and billowing like windsocks, greasy carpet tiles, countless gauges of wire – sturdy strands it takes industrial kit to cut through, wire gates in metal frames, rolls of barbed wire like magnified hair curlers in an old time northern sitcom, chicken wire, rusting grids of reinforcing wire – flaking private/keep out signs that have been ignored since the day they were erected, goose grass, artificial hillocks of smelt, collapsing Nissen huts, huts full stop, shacks built out of doors and car panels, skeins of torn tights in milky puddles, metal stakes with pointed tops, burnt-out cars, burnt-out houses,  abandoned cars, abandoned chemical drums, abandoned cooking oil drums, abandoned washing machine drums, squashed feathers, tidal mud, an embanked former railway line, fences made of horizontal planks, fences made of vertical planks, a shoe, vestigial lanes lined with May bushes, a hawser, soggy burlap sacks, ground elder, a wheelless buggy, perished underlay, buddleia,  a pavement blocked by a container, cracked plastic pipes, a ceramic rheostat, a car battery warehouse constellated with CCTV cameras, a couple of scraggy horses on a patch of mud, the Germolene – pink premises of a salmon smoker, sluice gates, swarf Alps, a crumpled Portakabin, a concrete block the size of a van, bricked-up windows,  travellers’ caravans and washing lines, a ravine filled with worn car tyres, jackdaws, herons, jays, a petrol pump pitted and crisp as an overcooked biscuit, traffic cones, oxygen cylinders, a bridge made of railway sleepers across duckweed, an oasis of scrupulously tended allotments. (2008)

From “Museum Without Walls”, Jonathan Meades, Unbound pbk, £12.99

Voyage to Cythera, Theo Angelopoulos (1984)

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Stern, tall, uncompromising old rebel, dancing in the mist at the top of a mountain, back home in Greece after 30 years’ exile in the Soviet Union.  Later, towed out by the police, alone on a floating platform, in sheeting rain, to international waters.  Finally, joined by his wife, having cut the rope, drifting off together into the mist.  Fantastic – and timely, with the Greek elections.  Go Tsipras! Re-negotiate those terms….  You have time, as there are another four Angelopoulos DVDs in my Xmas box set….

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Nigel Henderson at Tate Britain

Free exhibition in the room to right at top of coloured stairs; it’s about the work of Paolozzi, the Smithsons, Henderson and two other photographers whose names escape me.  There’s a continually changing  triptych of slides projected on the wall,showing the very square Paolozzi – looks like a wrestler – seated amongst collections of Modernist art – think I saw an Adrian Heath – with Henderson’s fabulous photos of the old East End popping up right and left.  Old shops, markets, bombed-out waste land, coronation celebrations, cranes, under floor central heating… I’ll stop now, before this becomes another Meades – style list.

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Water Engine 2 

 Blackpaint

29.01.15

 

 

Blackpaint 308

November 27, 2011

Dulwich Art Gallery – Painting Canada

Thomas Thomson et al – Thomson is by far the best of the Group of Seven exhibited here.  There are strong similarities to Hodler; pinks, gold, ochre. deep reds and orange of the woods against the clean, cold, blue washed skies.  There’s a Japanese feel about some.  A number of Thomson’s unobtrusive, small paintings, too small to really appreciate until I saw a beautiful one reproduced in the Observer last Sunday.

Thomson’s body was found in a lake, having fallen from his canoe – or maybe he was murdered and dumped?  A surmise chucked in by the organisers to spice it up a bit, I suppose.

As well as the lovely but not over-remarkable paintings of Thomson and his mates, there are those of Lawren Harris.  Unbelievably awful blancmanges of icy mountain peaks against folds of undifferentiated ice and snow.  These are so bad they have to be seen to be believed.

After Harris, a quick sprint round the usual treasures of Dulwich; the Gainsborough portraits, the Rubens sketches and a Canaletto of the Bucentaur by St,  Mark’s Square – Beautiful, but the paint is so thick.

Whitechapel Gallery – William Sasnal

Great free exhibition, several roomfuls; Richter comes first to mind, the photo paintings, blurred faces, the layered single colour plaques – oatmeal, grey.  Luc Tuymans, too, I think, in the drawing style.  Cartoon-ish, graphic outlines, the drained colours (greys, blacks, browns, greens).  Free use of trickle-down in the strong, straight, black lines of the big paintings of mountain, lake and buildings.  Several paintings which are abstractions of death photos by a Mexican photographer whose name escapes me;   an incinerated corpse, burnt by electrocution, a hanging man on a tree – although I could not make it out from the abstracted picture – it looks like a branching, undersea invertebrate or maybe a necklace arranged in a stiff pattern of beads.

Other pictures that I recall – Japanese girls, kneeling worshippers with distorted, blurred faces, a group of mountain hikers, portrait of Roy Orbison, a vanishing picture of Saturn,  a huge (three panel) pig farm with an Auschwitz feel to it, a re-rendering of that Seurat boy on the river bank, blanked -out portraits, a sinister, derelict ski jump… why sinister?  It’s the style.  The cartoonish draughtsmanship, the drained colours, the blurred faces, the oily black line, they all contribute to that quite common vibe of something nasty behind the mundane and commonplace.  Quotations from Sasnal on the wall information indicate that he takes himself and his art very seriously, so don’t expect any jokes.

Whitechapel – ROYGBIV 

Also free, another tranche of Government paintings, this time based on colour, hence the title “Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain”, a mnemonic for the colours of the rainbow.  A beautifully produced, free booklet to go with it, with every painting in the exhibition in miniature.  The standouts are:

Graham Sutherland’s” la Puce”, an etching and aquatint of  a flea in bed;

Callum Innes,” Exposed painting, Cadmium Red Deep”, red, cream and darker cream rectangles with a red bleed;

Robert Buhler’s “Twilight, Venice (II)”, a glowing dome in a violet evening light, reminiscent of the Melville bell tower in the last Whitechapel exhibition of Government paintings.

It’s only on until December 4th.

Bela Tarr

Watched a filmed interview with Tarr, in which he was asked why he overwhelmingly used “ugly” people in his films; shrugged, and replied “It’s my nation”.

A couple more life drawings and one proper abstract one, to finish:

Marco Polo

Blackpaint (Chris Lessware)

27/11/11