Posts Tagged ‘Maggi Hambling’

Blackpaint 582 – Muddy Clothes, Bloody Sex, Endless Poetry

January 14, 2017

Tate Britain – Paolozzi

Early films by Paolozzi showing; influence of Picabia, Ernst, Metropolis immediately evident – as is Paolozzi’s apparent influence on Monty Python.  An intriguing soundtrack by the serialist composer Elisabeth Lutyens – must find out more about her.

paolozzi

Design Museum

It’s now in the former Commonwealth Institute building, up at Holland Park (High Street Kensington tube).  There’s a permanent exhibition (free) and two for which you have to pay – a Design Prize exhibition and one called, for reasons which I didn’t ascertain, “Love and Fear”.

Prize competition – jewellery from air pollution, Scandi I think; Nunhead London, a Green building community centre, opposite and responding to (architecturally) a pub; bike helmet lights… and a lot of other stuff.

“Love and Fear” – Gers (traditional Mongolian dwellings, I’d thought were called  yurts) made out of thick carpet-like material; apparently the Mongolians, because of their nomadic history and life style have little sense of community.  Chinese dresses and cloaks, mud-coloured, presented on a bed of…mud; a whale/dolphin saver project; an inquisitive electronic crane thing that inspects you with it’s robot eye but soon loses interest.

Permanent exhibition – no chronology in display, irritating for some of us who are used to absorbing things in date order – or indeed, any order – display wall (below) reminded me of the Millenium Dome exhibition in which random objects were spattered randomly over a similar wall.  Mops, skateboard (I think), Tube symbol, bicycle…

design-1

 

design-2

The old Bush TV – yes, we had one – and the white 60s one (Courreges, the Avengers maybe), Sony Walkman, etc.

(Below) Cardigan made from human hair, part of a school project.  All clothes on display looked to be made from old oven gloves, teflon or metal; dark, harsh, Japanese-y in style, gender-less..

design-3

There was a hospital-like smell in the building; an amalgam of disinfectant, medicine and cooking; the signage was bad – had to ask the way to the toilets, and as often, difficult to find the captions to some exhibits.  In the bookshop area, interesting books were displayed high and out of reach.  Piled on the lower shelves beneath, but still sealed in plastic, so unbrowseable.  All attendants wore immaculate black aprons for some reason.  Why are design museums always so badly designed?

The building, on the other hand, is great; huge, ship-like curved ceilings, built around 68, I think, by Pawson.

Endless Poetry (Jodorowsky, 2016, ICA)

It starts where “Dance of Reality” finishes; same actors, plus Jod’s older son.  Mother still singing her lines, Father still a screwed-up bully (kicking his “thieving” customers repeatedly as they lie cowering on the floor); still the masks, cardboard trains and store fronts, dwarves, skeleton suits, red devils.   Plenty to shock the shockable; hanging suicide, rampant penises, graphic sex with a menstruating woman (who has dwarfism) – but all somehow OK because of the relentless – well, optimism.  Jod’s younger self actually says “Life is beautiful!” at one point – so laugh and smile through the pain, bereavement, torture, disappointment; there’s nothing else you can do.  So what, if it all burns down, you can’t take it with you…  It’s Fellini, of course, but rather explicit; the message, that is.

I think I can take maybe one more episode of this, without it becoming slightly winsome.

Jodorowsky’s Magic Real-ish autobiography (sort of),  “Where the Bird Sings Best”, is out in Restless Books; the similarity to Maya Angelou suggested by the title is misleading.

Maggi Hambling, Touch (British Museum print room)

I wasn’t keen on Hambling’s drawings before – I thought they made her subjects look thorny and scabby.  There are two superb life sketches in this show, however, and three small figure studies on a matt black background that are just as good.  See also her portrait of the dying Cedric Morris.  John Berger and Stephen Fry are instantly recognisable from across the room.

From Clouet to Courbet (also BM print room)

Clouet like Holbein, but without that spark of life that makes Holbein unique.  Two lovely Ingres,  a great Gericault, and these two:

biard

Attributed to Biard.  Touch of Spike Milligan out of Kirk Douglas?

 

toulouse-lautrec

Lautrec, of course.

 

little-sea-jetty

Little Sea Quay

 

little-ice-fall

Little Ice Fall

Blackpaint

14.1.16

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Blackpaint 474 – Kiefer, Hambling and Balke: walls of mud and water

December 21, 2014

Anselm Kiefer, Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow

I watched this DVD in disbelief; every artwork, every scene – it was permeated with images that to me were about the Third Reich and yet, they seemed to him to be about other things entirely.  As the artist, I suppose his own ideas have some claim to privilege here; I’ve written about this before in relation to Kiefer and other German artists and also Balka, the Polish artist.  Their recent catastrophic history tends to colour interpretation of their work, regardless of the artist’s intention.  Here, though – his colours are mostly earth colours, mud, brown, grey, black; he has excavated tunnels and pits, underground passages like torture chambers; the pits are like graves, containing sometimes, stiffened and smeared articles of clothing; he burns books; there’s razor wire, great sheets of broken glass, wreckage; in one shot, he prods at a great fire with a long iron bar, looking just like those photos taken secretly of the sonderkommando in Auschwitz, burning bodies in 1944.

Kiefer, however, maintains that the works relate to alchemical processes and the mysteries of the universe to be read in the stars, the transmutation of materials, legends like that of Lilith – nothing relating to the camps and the holocaust.  Since he HAS dealt explicitly with these topics – notably in his pieces relating to the poems of Paul Celan – his word must be respected; interesting though, that this process of dual meaning can unfold.  Or perhaps it’s commonplace…

In the final shots of his abandoned, wobbly towers returning to “Nature”, I saw the ruins of bombed German cities.

kiefer cities

 The Missing, BBC1

In the closing episode of this serial, it seemed to me that James Nesbit was transforming into the George Clooney of “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?”; when he popped up at the end in a snowbound Russian town wearing a heavy beard and staring eyes, the transformation was somehow complete – even though Clooney had no beard.

Actually, this week I’ve had this experience several times – on TOTP2 (BBC4) the other night, the Mick Jagger of the late 60s was turning into George Melly… and Kennedy on PBS was becoming FDR…

Maggi Hambling’s  Walls of Water

There are eight large paintings in the National Gallery under this title, black, white and grey with shreds and streamers of bright colour intertwined; they do indeed represent walls of water (except for one to dedicated to Amy Winehouse. that I presume represents her in some spiritual way).  I have to say that I was disappointed; the “water” didn’t look solid enough to be a wall, nor was it dark enough to be ocean.  More like exploding shower water, in fact.  Pity, because they looked impressive in the paper.

maggi hambling

See what I mean – looks great in a photo, doesn’t it?

Peder Balke

The Hambling is free, and so is the exhibition of this Norwegian painter’s work, from the 1850s; his most impressive sea- and landscapes are virtually monochrome – massive mountains looming up from sea mist, thunder black and blue skies, lonely forts on headlands, the massive blocks of the North Cape, painted from the same viewpoint in different (but not very different) weathers.  Some, like the one below, are really impressive, even allowing for the solid, rather plastic-looking rollers coming in.

Also impressive are the little pc sized ones that look like old sepia photos.  It’s when he’s got hold of some colour that everything goes to pot – the coloured ones look like bad Caspar David Friedrich, or maybe the woods in the old Rupert annuals of the 40s and 50s.

Balke

 

Messums Gallery, Cork Street

While at the Frank Phelan exhibition (see last blog), I came upon this still life by William Brooker.  Seen it before at an art fair; I think it’s brilliant, reminds me somewhat of Uglow.

Brooker

 

And finally, at the National Portrait Gallery, this painting by William Nicholson, of Max Beerbohm;

NPG 3850; Sir Max Beerbohm by Sir William Newzam Prior Nicholson

 

tromso

 Islares,

Blackpaint 21.12.14