Posts Tagged ‘Mastroianni’

Blackpaint 640 – Bill Viola, Michelangelo, Ken Kiff and Fellini – the sublime and…

March 5, 2019

Bill Viola and Michelangelo, RA

No photos allowed, so can only comment on this.  The Michelangelo drawings, Archers Shooting at a Herm, notably, are as wonderful as one might expect and would constitute a great exhibition alone (as I think several have, a few years back at the Courtauld – I’m sure Tityas was there and Phaeton). It seems to me an enormous stroke of hubris to display them with Viola’s works, as if there were something fundamental that they had in common.  As it is, it strikes me as two separate exhibitions in one space.

As for Viola’s videos and installations, there’s no doubt that they are striking – who wouldn’t pause and watch transfixed as a baby emerges from the mother, who squats facing the camera?  I’ve been there (childbirth) three times, but I was always at the other end so the view was obscured.   At the other end of this triptych, Viola’s mother is dying – one might think filming to be an intrusion at such a time, but I suppose it’s easier than getting a stranger or his/her family to consent…  Can’t remember what’s in between; life, presumably.

My favourite of the Viola’s is the one with the diving figure that never arrives at the surface of the pool.  Reflected in the water can be seen the upside down images of poolside people walking – but they are not there.  The most annoying film is that of the two old people examining their naked. scrawny bodies with pencil torches – saw this in Bilbao a while ago and it annoyed me there too.

Here’s a Viola from Bilbao – not in this exhibition, but it will give you an idea…

 

Ken Kiff, Sainsbury Centre, UEA Norwich, until 23rd April 2019

This is without question the strangest exhibition I’ve seen for a very long time.  Kiff, who died in 2001, started a sequence of paintings in 1971 that eventually ran to around two hundred.  He called it – The Sequence.  The catalogue refers to Bosch, Klee, Chagall and Samuel Palmer as possible influences, or “fellow travellers” at least, and the Jungian influences are hard to miss; or so the book tells me.  Ovid, Yeats and Rilke also get a mention.  He was in psychoanalysis from 1959 onwards and this also informs the work, to say the least.

No title given in book

 

Love and shadow – sorry about the reflection; she’s holding his leg, by the way, not a stick

 

Crouching Man (1)

 

Dignified man in a respectable London suburb, passed by a girl

Talking with a psychoanalyst; night sky – the analyst is the black seated figure; the pointing finger is mine

The poet; Mayakovsky – For what its worth, Kiff is wrong – Mayakovsky shot himself in the chest, not the head (photograph in David King’s brilliant book, “Red Star over Russia”).

 

(Woman with) protruding tongue – reflection again

The works are all small (the largest is 113×76 cm) and are in acrylic on paper, gummed to board.  The book claims him as, for a time, a very influential figure in British art.  I can’t see any obvious evidence of his influence, however; he seems a complete one-off to me.

City of Women (Fellini, 1980)

Watched the DVD of this fevered and feverish film, starring Anna Prucnal and “Fellini’s favourite alter ego”, Marcello Mastroianni as Snaporaz,  and was deeply moved.  In the age of #MeToo, it seems to me that Fellini’s film still has much of relevance to tell us.

Next time, Don McCullin, Franz West and Dorothea Tanning.

 

Free Radicals

Blackpaint

05 March  19

Blackpaint 481- Posy and John, Flowers and Bees, Michelangelo and the Easter Bunny

February 7, 2015

Posy Simmonds

Just picked up her “Literary Life” in Quinto Bookshop, Charing Cross Road, for a fiver – best investment I’ve made for some time.  For me, she is far and away Britain’s best cartoonist and she writes a mean story too; her envious, embittered authors, lusting after the waitresses at the book launches….

posy simmonds

I think her cartoons stand comparison with John Cooper Clarke’s poetry, although admittedly, they  chronicle different social milieus…

Angela Flowers Gallery, Old Street – Seven from the Seventies

A rather sparse exhibition of huge abstract paintings – one from each artist, with smaller works upstairs – that eschew expressionism and mostly follow an ordered, geometric (but highly colourful) aesthetic.  The painters are Colin Cina, Bernard Cohen, Noel Forster, Richard Smith, Derek Hirst, Michael Kidner and Jack Smith.  Few paintings, but some are great; they stay in the mind.

colin cina

Colin Cina 

The Beekeeper, Angelopoulos

The great Marcello Mastroianni as an elderly beekeeper who goes on a road trip with his bees (in crates in the back of a white van), leaving his wife and newly-married daughter.  Improbably, he gets picked up by a young woman hitch hiker, a free spirit, who travels with him and sponges off him, while picking up young men for sex when she fancies it, once bringing one back to the room she and MM are sharing (they’re not sleeping together yet – when they finally do, the relationship founders).  In the end, he gets stung to death by his bees on a lonely hillside in the end.  Even in an unlikely story like this, Marcello manages to shine – and his co-star, Nadia Mourouzi, certainly has the most staggeringly beautiful body I’ve seen recently.  Apart from yours of course, darling… and of course, I’m speaking as an artist…

mourouzi

 

The “Michelangelo” Bronzes

michelangelo bronzes

 

I saw the big Bronzes exhibition at the RA in 2012, and I have to say I don’t remember these statuettes at all.  If they’d been exhibited as Michelangelos, of course, it would be a different story; the name makes you look and remember.  Without the attribution, you edit them out unless they are really striking.  So, either they are not that striking, or my taste and judgement are crap.  Not that striking, then.

The arguments in favour seem pretty convincing – but what happened to that other putative Mick, “St. John the Baptist Bearing Witness”, proposed by Everett Fahy a couple of years ago (see Blackpaint 111 and 112)?  I dismissed the claim of course, on the basis of Blackpaint’s First Law relating to Michelangelo, which states “Michelangelo doesn’t do trees”; there are lots in the St.John.

easter bunny1

 

Blackpaint

Easter Bunny 

7.02.15 

 

Blackpaint 311 – Fellini at Skegness, cont.

December 8, 2011

Butlin’s Folk Festival

Last blog, I was rambling on about the Fellini-esque nature of the views at Skegness Butlins – the white tent, the beach, the groups of wanderers – thinking that Butlins and Fellini would make a nice, incongruous pairing for a title.  Nothing incongruous about it at all, of course; Fellini’s films are full of popular entertainment, wandering show people, circus acts, clowns, brass bands…

City of Women

Mastroianni in the above, bewildered, harrassed, pushed downstairs by revolting (but mostly very attractive) women, a strong reminder of Milo O’Shea as Bloom in Ulysses; apologetic, trying to excuse the inexcusable, guilty by nature of his existence – just perfect.  Great scene in which the burly( but oddly alluring) stoker woman tries to have sex with him in the polytunnel and is prevented by the arrival of her mother.

Cara Dillon

I said last time that she was like a gutsier Alison Krauss – since then, I’ve bought some of her records, and only the last, Hill of Thieves, could be called gutsy in any shape or form; beautiful, but wistful.  But live, she’s a different, more powerful proposition. 

Albert Irvin

Strange how you suddenly “get eyes” for a picture, or a painter, if they pursue a distinctive style;  it’s happened to me with Irvin.  I used to think his bright, almost fluorescent colours and lack of “painterly” texture were somehow shallow and trivial.  Someone sent me a postcard of one of his pictures a year or so ago and it’s been on the mantelpiece all that time, slowly (it seems) sinking in – and now I love it.

Gesamtkunstwerk at Saatchi

Free exhibition at Saatchi Gallery in Kings Road; it’s so good, I’m going to take a couple of blogs over it.  First…

Andre Butzer

Like an angry child’s parody of Asger Jorn; the gnome-like faces with big ears, but crudely sketched on the surface, graffiti style, not scratched and sculpted out of the background, like Jorn.  Those flat, jarring colours, especially the green, like a Basquiat with no taste.  They’re huge, of course – great.  That’s three of them, then there were another three with beautiful, clotted, light grey surfaces, over and across which, he’d slid a black-laden brush in geometric shapes – slidey triangles, like Bram Van Velde, only more straight – and other colours too.  These ones were more conventionally beautiful.

Isa Genzken 

A panel made up of maybe four large mirrors, plastered across with fluorescent tape like repairs or crime scene tape; rusty red paint running down, photo-posters of a Leonardo painting and several Michelangelo sculptures stuck on it (photos, not sculptures).  Again, great, but I don’t know why; something to do with modern life and traditional culture, street v. salon, Baader – Meinhof in there somewhere, probably..

Her other exhibits were assemblages on little podia, the most memorable built round a big artificial palm plant, with a large beer glass wearing a hat.  It looked like a bizarre machine.  She often uses little toy soldiers and cowboys, dolls – one with a scorched face – as in horror film cliches, toys/children, vulnerable, innocent/sisnister somehow.

In fact, several of the artists use toys in their work.  As well as the innocent/sinister thing, there is the glamour of a brightly coloured plastic toy – it can set off a drab assemblage of diverse objects like Turner’s red spot on in the London Bridge painting.

This is how my De Kooning type painting is progressing (or not); see last blog.  Final version in next one – something for readers to look forward to.

Blackpaint

8th December 2011