Posts Tagged ‘Martin Creed’

Blackpaint 435 – Hamilton, Richter, Baselitz, Andrex and the Phuncbot…

February 20, 2014

Richard Hamilton at Tate Modern

richard hamilton 2

Surprising how much ground he covered in his ideas and work.   It starts with shapes and forms from D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson; then those parchment-coloured, fragmented, “technical” drawings – car grids and headlights, electric toasters, commercial hairdriers, collages using plates of reflective silver material; a room based on Hamilton’s reconstructions of “Bride Stripped Bare”; blurred photographs, recalling (prefiguring?) Richter – anonymous blobs on crowded beaches, the Jagger-Fraser handcuffs picture, the Kent State victim, echoed in Richter’s Baader Meinhof pics; the flower pictures (Richter again); the political stuff – Treatment Room, with Thatcher holding forth (silently) on screen over bed (touch of Hirst here); Blair as a two gun cowboy, the Christ -like Dirty Protester in his cell, British soldier in Belfast street, Orange Order bowler hat man, maps showing expansion of Israeli occupied territory…

There are a couple of pictures containing Andrex toilet paper; not adverts, but semi-abstract paintings – and a trendy 60’s model girl, squatting fully dressed (paisley, I think) and taking a little curly shit on the floor – clearly where Martin Creed got the image; then there are the empty, mirrored hotel lobbies and stately naked models hoovering and hovering; the “Richard” (Ricard) parody logo that recalls Ed Ruscha’ s work; the electric toothbrush with denture plate attached and parody advert with Lorraine Chase- and, of course, “What is it that Makes Today’s Homes..” – this is so small that I missed it first time round and had to go back through to find it.

richard hamilton1

So, rich mix of ideas, startling originality, immaculate execution, with an underlying coldness and disengagement, even in the political work.

Philemon (Bible)

A short letter from Paul; but the interesting thing is that this letter, to Philemon, asking him to take back his former slave Onesimus, a runaway, demonstrates that slavery was not incompatible with Christianity – or, at least, with the Bible.  I suppose this should be obvious – nothing against slavery in the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount, for example – yet you tend to forget, because of the Christian influence in the anti-slavery movements in the 19th century.  I wonder if the other great religions condemn slavery explicitly?

Memphis Tennessee

I’ve been listening to this for 50 odd years – not continuously, of course – and have always wondered who “took the message and he wrote it on the wall”.  It sounds like “the phuncbot” to me.  So I finally looked it up on the net and it’s “My uncle”.  One version gives “Cos my uncle…”.  I’m still not convinced and prefer phuncbot.

The Travelling Players

travelling players

Theo Angelopoulos’ masterpiece; an ever dwindling, forlorn band of actors trudging and training through 20th century Greek history, putting on the same classic play in village halls, as war, murder, treachery and tragedy surround and wash over them.  It has that sort of tableau vivant style, interspersed with chunks of history spoken straight to camera by actors, like narrators in a play.  This sounds dreary, but isn’t; there is staggering mountain scenery, grotesque violence, partisan politics in both senses – and classical references, in that the players correspond to the tragedy of Agamemnon – Electra, Orestes etc.  And music – beautiful, haunting songs and American dance tunes.  Suitcases, shabby suits and coats, umbrellas, railway stations, mountain roads in the snow.  Long, but fantastic.

Baselitz, Richter, Penck at the British Museum

Powerful and dramatic woodcuts and drawings from Baselitz.   In 1967, he began to turn everything upside down; seated figures, eagles, trees, the lot.  The info on the wall explains that he was trying to empty the pictures of their figurative content, to abstractify them in some way. He succeeds sometimes, but mostly you think this is a seated man upside down; I wonder why.  Great, Seurat-like portrait woodcut from Penck and spirally, scribbly abstracts from Richter.

Burmese Days

I’ve been looking at Orwell’s writing on Forster and Passage to India; mainly favourable, as you would expect.  He does say that Forster’s characters sometimes die for no real reason – and that the Germans broadcast Passage in the war as anti-British propaganda.  This was not a criticism; rather, it showed how powerful Forster’s novel was as a critique of British imperialism in India.  I imagine they would have broadcast Burmese Days too, had Orwell been as distinguished a novelist as Forster at the time.  It’s much more vehement than the earlier novel.

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Flowerpot

Blackpaint

20.02.14

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Blackpaint 434 – Creed; the Piles, the Cacti and the Suspense

February 14, 2014

Hayward Gallery – Martin Creed, “What’s the Point of it?”

This was reviewed on the Review Show (BBC2) and was described as “joyous” by Paul Morley; the others agreed.  I was astounded to hear that music was part of the exhibition, in the form of several soundtrack items – I was totally unaware of this; just didn’t notice it, I suppose.  In fact, the reviewers mentioned a number of items I missed; as always, sounded as if they were at a different show.

It’s packed with exhibits, mostly numbered not named – here’s my list, with the occasional comment:

  • Swinging “MOTHERS” sign, nearly skimming the head, if your as tall as me (6ft 4in)
  • Diminishing, or growing, stacks/lines of cacti, chairs, tables, planks, boxes, girders

creed cacti

  • Pictures of stepped pyramids and staircases

Creed pile

  • Stripe paintings on walls (horizontal, vertical, diagonal,  criss-crossed…)
  • Film of rather small erect penis, gradually diminishing, on terrace
  • Pointed tower of LEGO
  • Rough portraits, duff portraits, freely painted, multi – colour abstracts (small)
  • Metal nozzles, protuberances and er – intuberances (?) like bathroom fittings
  • smooth white breast-shaped swellings, “growing” from wall
  • Dark piano, each key of which sounded at intervals by attendant
  • White piano, lid opening and crashing shut automatically at regular intervals
  • Door, opening and closing
  • Car, bonnet, doors and boot of which opening and shutting, lights on and off, regular intervals
  • Line of metronomes, out of sync (when we were there, anyway)
  • 1000 differently coloured and framed prints of a broccoli “tree”
  •  A load of balls (tennis, basketball, football, etc.)
  • Little ticky-tacky paint and tape pictures, quite nice
  • Video of two dogs, wolf hound and chihuahua, wandering about and pursued by men
  • Video of a young man and young woman, walking on into a white space and being sick on the floor.  The man is first, and accomplishes his puking with something of a swagger; hands on hips, I think.  The woman, however, outdoes him with about six consecutive large sploshes of thin red winey vomit – couple of bottles’ worth, I should think.  Well done!
  • Separating the two vomits is a sequence in which a young woman comes on, hitches her dress up, squats down and proceeds to have a shit.  This is quite tense, as at first, she only manages a couple of little pellets.  She grunts a bit; obviously she thinks there is more to come.  I got a little annoyed at this point when a young couple came and stood in front of me – didn’t want to miss anything…. and then there it was – curling out slowly and finally achieving separation.  She stands and walks off; job done.

In the leaflet, it says “horrible vomit” becomes a form of painting, and shit – the first solid thing that any of us makes – is sculpture”.  This reminds me of the David Foster Wallace story of the man who shits out fully-formed “sculptures” like portrait busts of celebrities…

Saatchi Gallery – Body Language (cont.)

Couple more painters worth a mention in the above exhibition:

Dana Schutz

dana schutz picnic

This one’s called “burnt Picnic”, I think;

And Andra Ursuta

“Vandal Lust”, a fantastical trebuchet (catapult) thing – sort of ramshackle Anish Kapoor, not working – with a couple of flattened, smashed bodies lying around, one of which appears to have been propelled into a wall, going by the damage to the plaster.

Denis Tarasov‘s Russian and Ukrainian gravestone C prints, showing the dead in their lives with their cars, cigars and champagne are worth mentioning too.

Days of 36, Angelopoulos (1974)

Made under the “Colonels’ ” regime in Greece, on a tight budget, this story of a jail hostage taking and the political intrigue behind the scenes is difficult to follow at times; whose is the body fished out of the sea, for example?  It does, however, have a scene which anticipates “The Shawshank Redemption”; music (a tango, it sounds like) is played in the compound – the inmates crowd the windows of the cells, overcome with emotion…

Burmese Days 

Re-reading Orwell’s book to compare it to Forster’s Passage to India.  Orwell’s is much more forceful, more angry, the language of the British violent and racially abusive; maybe it’s the 10 years’ difference between the books, as well as Orwell’s more radical (?)political outlook..  A couple of scornful remarks about Jews and homosexual scoutmasters from Flory, Orwell’s “hero” (sort of)…

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Garden House

Blackpaint

14.02.14

Blackpaint 247

January 30, 2011

Gabriel Orozco at the Tate Modern

One of the main exhibits at this show is a stone(? actually plasticene, the booklet says) ball that Orozco rolled around Monterrey, and then New York – an act reminiscent of Francis Alys and his melting block of ice (Blackpaint 180).  Different point, of course; ball was to pick up impressions, not to disappear in a demonstration/celebration of futility.  Close though, trundling objects round the streets.  The connection goes further;  Mexico City is where Alys lived.  Who had the idea first, I wonder.

The booklet that goes with the exhibition, like the Alys, is great; pretty much everything listed with a brief explanation.  The trouble is, you end up having everything explained to you and you don’t think about what you see.  Martin Creed is right – you should go round, look at it all without reading anything (unless there are words on the art itself) and then, maybe, read the booklet and the wall plaques and labels.  Then again, see the stuff above about the plasticene ball; wouldn’t have known that, without the booklet. 

So, what’s in the exhibition?

Some lovely small oil works on paper – blotty, a bit Nogueira, bit Tillmans..

The squashed-in Citroen (actually middle chopped out and resealed).

Four bikes, screwed together in improbable ways to make a sculpture.

Lots of – too many – photos of two yellow motor bikes, like little friends, parked in different locations.

Inner tubes inflated to huge balls.

A whole room of shredded tyre fragments, laid out, alligned on the floor.  Kieferish.

“Lintels” – shreds like flags, strung on wires across the room, assembled from the fluff collected in industrial cleaning machines.  When this, according to the booklet, was first exhibited in NY in November 2001, “the ash-coloured lint took on a poignant significance”.  I thought of Beuys – a bit.

A billiard table with no pockets, and a red ball suspended and swinging in an arc across.  Children were playing , trying to get the red ball as it swung.

“Samurai tree” paintings, on wooden blocks; highly coloured spheres and half spheres, connected like some table construction game.

The chequered skull, of course.

Ripples in lines of print on long, Chinese scrolls that turn out to be tiny numbers assembled from phone books.  A huge amount of fiddly work – symptomatic, really.

I felt that, with some exceptions, the show consisted of knick-knacks; contrivances to make you smile wryly, or exclaim gently, like something in Covent Garden on a Sunday afternoon.  The skull is beautiful – skulls are – and so is the way the chessboard pattern is stretched in the eye sockets, for instance, like netting – but none of it really says much to me, unlike the Francis Alys.  I would compare it to Anish Kapoor’s show at the Guggenheim – high quality fun objects, to make you smile, but not laugh or frown.  I couldn’t see a dark side to it at all (the September 11th suggestion in the booklet didn’t persuade me).   

all that said, the small oils were beautiful and there were two intriguing photographs; “Plastic Bag with Water”, I think, Prunella Clough – type image, and “Simon’s Island” – I can’t make out if it is an egg in close-up or someone’s – presumably Simon’s – globular belly, rising from the bath water.

Varda Caivano

Argentinian abstract painter, looks more my sort of thing; at the Victoria Miro Gallery to 12th March.

Blackpaint

30.01.11