Posts Tagged ‘Louise Bourgeois’

Blackpaint 559 – Yellow, Pink and Tweedy Things

June 20, 2016

I’m not sure if this is a finished painting or not, or if it’s the right way round.  One thing I am sure of is that it lacks good taste, so that’s a point in its favour.  Like several other paintings I’ve done, it looks a bit like someone running away to the left, trying to escape, perhaps, from the threatening mass of yellow coming in from the right.

yellow one 2

The Yellow Thing

Blackpaint, 20.06.16

 

Mary Heilmann at Whitechapel Gallery

Great free exhibition, some examples below.  One criticism:  too many dots.  They remind me of Smarties and give the whole show a sort of nursery overtone (enhanced by the fluorescent little pieces of furniture).  I know this is not a valid point, but more of an unreconstructed male prejudice, but there we are.

mary heilmann1

This spidery motif is repeated effectively in several other works, as are the spots and stripes.

 

mary heilmann2

Reminds me of that great Vanessa Bell abstract (below), done with less muted colours – and less texture, but texture is something that Heilmann does do elsewhere, swirling her brush where you might expect matt finish.  That pink square in that position must be a reference, surely.

bell abstract

Vanessa Bell

 

mary heilmann3

Still my favourite Heilmann painting; I like the thin, trickle- down effect in that beautiful blue-green.  Terrific exhibition, if you can handle the dots.

New Tate Modern gallery – the Switch House

switch house

The cladding, spaced – out beige bricks (they seem to be supported by rubber washers), looks like tweed.  A vaguely Aztec tweed tower with a pleat up the side.  Inside, blond wood floors and stairs, Fred and Ginger spirals, the “Maria and Peter Kellner Bridge”.  Dizzy, full window views here and there.

Most of the memorable art seemed to be by women; I think they are operating a 50-50 policy now, I guess that’s only in the new bit.  These are the works I remember:

  • Roni Horn’s big glass pink cube.
  • Rebecca Horn’s roomful of surreal costumery, inspired surely by Ernst (feathers) and maypoles (head extension).
  • Lygia Clark’s huge grey metal – well, air conditioning unit, it looks like, lying in the middle of the gallery, as if brought from the Ali Baba kebab restaurant in Bloomsbury (NB – I THINK it’s Clark’s; the labelling generally is infuriatingly difficult to match to the pieces).
  • A roomful of Louise Bourgeois pieces, very similar to those currently on show in the Guggenheim, Bilbao – see last blog – and containing several of the very few paintings of any description in the new bit; Mark Bradford’s big, dark, abstract cityscape-ish picture is the only other thing on a wall, as I recall.

 

roni horn

Roni Horn’s pink cube

  • Ana Lupas, Romanian artist, farmers’ wheat structures, contained in “tins”.
  • Down at the bottom in the tanks, when we went, there was a musician playing a sort of hurdy-gurdy, amplified electronically; it made a clicking drone which seemed to loosen your fillings.

 

Lygia Clark at Alison Jacques Gallery, W1

An exhibition of Clark’s work from the fifties.  She was Brazilian, died in 1988 and made a whole lot of intricate little hinged metal pieces, one of which is in the new Tate Mod gallery – maybe two, if she did the “AC unit”, described above.  But that is neither hinged, nor little…  There is a MOMA catalogue of Clark’s work in the gallery and when you see a whole lot of these contrivances together, they take on the feel of executive desk toys.  I liked the pieces below, however, especially the miniature room – seen a lot of these lately, in the Bilbao Bourgeois show for example.

lygia clark1

 

lygia clark2

lygia clark3

Gomorrah, Sky Atlantic

It’s Series 2, episode 12 or 13 already, but I’ve only just discovered it.  The gangster taste, the violence, the haircuts, the huge, dilapidated, concrete spaceship flats -fantastic, but above all, the language.  Neapolitan dialect, sounds like Portuguese to me, nothing like Italian, and the theme – “Nuje Vulimme ‘Na Speranza” by Nto’ and Lucariello.

gomorrah-tile-a1b8f830

 

yellow one 1

Maybe it’s better this way round?

Blackpaint

20.06.16

 

Blackpaint 558 – Bourgeois at Bilbao, Warhol, de Kooning and Twombly too

June 13, 2016

The Black is Back (from my hols in Euroland)

Sorry to the thousands of you who asked desperately what happened to last week’s posting – I can’t yet manage to post properly from a Kindle.

Below, my winning entry for the Putney Art School Life Drawing prize, 2016; certificate and £25 voucher, since you ask.  Soon (19th June) to be on show in Putney Exchange exhibition, opposite Waitrose, if you’re in the area…

crabman

The two pictures below are my failed entries for this year’s Royal Academy Summer Exhibition; they will also be on show at the “Salon Des Refuses”, SPACE, 129-131 Mare Street Hackney E8 3RH 23rd – 26th June; come along and buy them and possibly even meet the artist.

 

dirty protest2

Dirty Protest, Blackpaint

 

heaven only knows 2

Heaven Only Knows, Blackpaint

 

Louise Bourgeois at the Guggenheim, Bilbao

Back to real art now – as always in summer, I braved the nightmare drive along the Scalextrics road “system” round Bilbao, with teeth clenched and Johnny Winter loud on the CD player, in order to visit my favourite art museum.  There were about four large rooms devoted to LB’s sculptures, paintings and assemblages, including the following:

 

Bourgeois 1

  • Caged, bandaged, bundle hanger (above); maybe influence on Sarah Lucas?
  • Caged spiral staircase with hanging balls (below); reminded me of a Paul Nash painting.

 

bourgeois 2

  • Lots of miniature stairways, chairs, little doors in little walls…
  • Lots of transmogrifications, human heads becoming or emerging from things (one very Dali-esque hanging head)…
  • Lots of full-size rooms – confessionals, cells, bedrooms – made out of old, scarred doors, varnished partitions, old window frames, cracked glass.
  • Surrealist paintings, reminiscent of Picabia and oddly, David Shrigley (that cartoon style);
  • Her late paintings, anatomical, guts and plumbing on show, a little Dumas maybe, with Emin-like captions or statements: “I know where I’m going”, etc.
  • And of course, spiders and biomorphic genitalia things…

Impressive to see the range of her influence, but not surprising.

Masterpieces Room

Big works by Klein, Rauschenberg, Styll, Rothko, Motherwell – and my two favourites below:

 

nine-discourses-on-commodus-1963

Nine Discourses on Commodus, Cy Twombly

Love those blood and brain- like splatters…

 

villa borghese

Villa Borghese, by Willem de Kooning

Love those muddy brush sweeps.

Shadows, Andy Warhol

A roomful (see below) of 102 screenprints by the master of repetition; as far as I could make out, only three variations were NOT repeated; those in ochre, grey and yellow.

 

warhol shadows

School of Paris, 1900 – 1945

Three things worth highlighting here:

  • A Picasso ball or concert, shades of Munch, or Toulouse Lautrec, or in our time, Michael Andrews – pale women, ball gowns, slashes of lipstick, a silver carafe, conventional perspective… done in 1900.

Pablo Picasso

  • A huge, particoloured, reclining nude by Frantisek Kupka; not that great maybe, but striking and new to me.

kupka

  • A lovely Matisse portrait on a greyish green background of a woman in a ruffled blouse.
  • A sculpted head by Duchamp-Villon, Marcel’s brother, that was reminiscent of Bacon’s portraits, especially that one of Isobel Rawsthorne, with the curving slash down the face.

Otherwise, Delaunay Eiffel Towers, Chagall floaters and fliers, grey Braques, Legers, Gris..; the usual, fabulous stuff.

The Disappearance, BBC4

poisson

Binge-watched four episodes of this the night I got back, until 3.00am; it’s very like the first “Killing”; the focus on the parents, the inevitably flawed father, the mother who goes all emotionally frozen in grief and seeks release in an extra-marital sexual encounter – but gets too drunk to go through with it; the focused, introverted detective Molina (a man in this one) who has a difficult daughter… and so on.

The ridiculous coincidence in this one is that it is the detective’s daughter, out of the whole population of Lyon, who discovers the body of the girl her father is searching for.

Next blog; Mary Heilmann at the Whitechapel.

Blackpaint

June 13th 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 290

August 26, 2011

More from the Guggenheim Bilbao

Kenneth Noland – “April Time”; a huge yellow ochre colour field with pastel green, orange and toothpaste borders.  Also “Time Shift”; equally huge blue and green chevron on white field.

Frank Stella – Orange and pink, airbrushed ? half wheels, in fluorescent paint, cut to shape.  Check out Stella in the 60s in the DVD Painters on Painting – he’s like a young Woody Allen, with a strong sense of grievance.

Morris Louis – “Saraband”; acrylic resin on canvas.  Stripes of dulled colour, oranges,  crimson, greens,  dulled by layering over darker pigment.

Helen Frankenthaler -” Canal”; poured acrylic on unbleached canvas, blue/orange, staining to blue  , then to grey.

I think I’m right in saying that there are only three women painters amongst the abstractionists on show: Frankenthaler, da Silva and Elaine de Kooning (a lovely painting like a sheaf of highly coloured leaves).  There are more female sculptors and conceptualists, however, in the sections entitled (for some non-luminous reason) “The Luminous Interval”:

Kiki Smith –   a group of body sculptures; body with scarf “entrails” dangling; pile of heads, legs, arms linked by a chain; severed, bloody forearms, palms up, on a cushion “bed”; a leaden man bent double as if touching toes, a great scab of slag enclosing his backside; tiny black bacon rasher-like things, on tiny tables; a man-thing crouching half way up a wall with a long strip of black shit emerging from the anus – title: “Shitbody”.  So, some fairly physical items there.

Annette Messager – An enormous exhibit of dolls, gloves, stockings and a multitude of other fabric-based bits and pieces, hanging from red threads to make a sort of tree thing.

Louise Bourgeois – hands and forearms entwined on a stone block, in a cage, surrounded by large circular mirrors.

Mona Hatoum – room-sized, open “crate” made of shelving, containing light bulbs going on and off.

Rachel Whiteread – Flat-bottomed, amber coloured wax bath mould; white bookshelves with whited-out books and white boxes on platforms.

Marina Abramovic – her strangely sexy – maybe it’s just me – video of her scrubbing the skeleton (sounds like an Australian metaphor), previously described at the Whitechapel Gallery.

Wanguchi Muti – Darkened room with a wall of fox(?) pelts at one end, scores of upside-down wine bottles dripping onto a long table.  Strong smell of stale wine.

Common elements – use of whole rooms, body parts, hanging things, bodily functions, cages. 

Last word on Gug next blog.

Alexander Nevsky

You can see that Olivier saw Eisenstein’s film before making Henry V; there’s the baggage train, the shower of arrows, the charge (across ice instead of green fields), even the single combat between Alexander (Henry) and the Grandmaster of the Teutonic Knights (Constable of France).  Branagh’s 1991 remake of Henry V owes more to Welles’  “Chimes at Midnight” than Olivier’s Henry – especially the mud and blood and  slow motion in the battle scenes, as well as Robbie Coltrane’s brief turn as Falstaff.  One place where Olivier’s version still stands way above Branagh’s is the speech before the battle; Olivier didn’t see fit to ruin it by having “stirring” music swelling behind Shakespeare’s words. 

Conversations with Fellini, edited by Costanzo Costantini (Harvest,1995)

A fascinating book, in the sense that the questions are shaped to appear tricky, demanding, sometimes aggressive – but which Fellini fields with self-deprecation, humour and beautifully turned metaphors.  The book is fraudulent, therefore, but the fraud is clearly  part of the Fellini package, so it rings true to the man.  Mastroianni was clearly born to play Fellini’s alter ego.

Blackpaint

25/08/11

Blackpaint 15

December 15, 2009

Why Paint?

So the big question.  The first painters, on cave walls, were supposed to have been engaged in some sort of attempt to gain a magical advantage over the animals which they hunted for food.  Or, perhaps they were done by a caste of artist/priests, as part of religous, or magical ceremonies.  Either way, they would have been part of a process of gaining some sort of control, or influence over, their environment.

For centuries, a major purpose of art was to relate or reinforce the narratives of the great religions, with the exception of Islam, where the prohibition on images of the prophet precluded this and stimulated abstract art.

Later, painting and sculpture served to provide a record of important individuals and families rich enough to pay for them.

Later still (but overlapping, of course) landscapes, still lifes, historical scenes, interiors, all evolved to supply a developing market for art, while helping to shape and extend it at the same time.

Marxists say that, like all forms of culture, it helps to reinforce the power of the status quo – or rarely, fleetingly, can help the forces that seek to overthrow it. 

Now of course, one reason for painting or sculpture or any form of artistic production is the fact that it is an established thing.  Like sex or cooking, people have been doing it one way or another since the beginning of society, so to use pigment or line to establish patterns and make a picture does not seem an odd thing to do.

 The sort of thing you hear artists and critics saying is art tells you things about the world you live in, or makes you see the world in a new way- or art is about emotion, it expresses what the artist feels.  I saw Louise Bourgeois on TV last night saying just that – art for her is never just about the materials, it is about emotion.  I suppose these are two poles of perception; one addresses the external world, the other expresses the internal.  But then there is a third position; those artists for whom it is exactly about the materials; what you can do with them, what their properties are, how far you can push them…

I don’t know, but I imagine most artists do all three to some degree.  Anyway, I paint with no preconceived philosophy, it’s a physical process that gives me pleasure and pain (in the form of irritation and disgust when it’s not going right), and the process is something that keeps me sane and gives me a reason for living, over and above the duties which I have.  It’s nothing to do with money – selling pictures is all about knowing that people are prepared to part with cash to put my stuff on the wall.

I was trained years ago at university (history, not art) to be dissatisfied with a theory that wasn’t properly unified – that is to say, it explained things one way for one epoch and another way for another.  So, if I paint because I need to, to express something or maybe just to do it, that should be true for the cave painters as well, and all the ones who have painted since.

Anyway, must stop now – to do some painting.

Listening to Mingus again today – Video of Stockholm concert with Dolphy, 1964.  Mellow, fantastic – my, my they cry (great line, Donovan, but Mingus was rarely mellow).

Blackpaint, drunk, 14.12.09