Posts Tagged ‘Michael Armitage’

Blackpaint 664 – It’s Figurative Week, here at the blog

February 17, 2020

British Baroque: Power and Illusion, at Tate Britain until 19th April

Fantastic exhibition, despite Jonathan Jones in the Guardian.  It covers the years 1660 – 1714, the reigns of Charles II, James II, William and Mary and Queen Anne. Below is the centre piece of the first room, by Verrio; great explosion of figures fanning out from the upper centre figure of Charles II.  We’ve seen plenty of Rubens and Van Dyck in recent years, so although they sort of haunt, from an earlier era, this show of largely lesser mortals, their absence is definitely not fatal.

 

Antonio Verrio, “The Sea Triumph of Charles II”, 1674

 

This is the Earl of Rochester; I take it that the monkey is a comment on the nature of his poetry – but maybe he really had one, or the artist did; “No really, my Lord, the monkey will look wonderful in the picture…”

 

This picture carries a warning about the “demeaning” depiction of the black youngsters cavorting around the central character.  Stunning blue robe though …

 

I think this is the Duke of Monmouth, presumably channeling John the Baptist – or Bo Peep.

 

You get the impression at this show – or at least I did – that these artists are really interested in the dresses and fabrics, and how they drape and fold; the subjects, their faces, are secondary (a lot of these court beauties look pretty similar anyway).  Once or twice, I thought the artist could have done the dress and setting and left a hole for the face.  This silver silk or satin, shiny as Bacofoil, for instance.

Illusion

Trompe l’oeil plays a big part in this show, as it was very fashionable in the period.  Some examples below:

 

Hang on – isn’t that last Monday’s Guardian at the top?

 

This stand up, cut out figure could be placed in a dark  corridor or even the corner of a guest’s room in your mansion; what a laugh that would be when you suddenly caught sight of it…

 

The bottom half of the door is the real thing; the top half with the fiddle and no light streaks on the inlets (or whatever you call them) is a painting.  Maybe that’s obvious – a friend had to point it out to me.

 

Various parrots, a peacock, pheasants, a jay, a lapwing, turtle dove and a couple I can’t identify, all together as you would see them in the wild…

 

We’ve left “Illusion” now and are back in the world of beautiful (?) children and the dressing up box.

 

This is Matthew Prior, the writer, painted by Godfrey Kneller, and distinguished in this show by the lack of a resplendent wig – the only male, apart from children and servants, without one, I think.

 

Peter Lely, Anne Hyde, Duchess of York, 1661

That’s the lady in the painting, not the foreground.  Again, look at the sumptious rendition of the dress; colours recall Titian and Veronese, I think.  More of these fantastic swagger portraits next blog.

 

Radical Figures – Painting in the New Millennium,  at the Whitechapel Gallery, until 10th May

To quote from the booklet, “…ten artists who represent the body….to tell compelling stories and explore vital social concerns.  Largely avoiding the conventions of realism, they ….explore timely subjects, including gender and sexuality, society and politics, race and body image.”

 

Daniel Richter, Asger, Bill and Mark

That is, Asger Jorn, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko.

 

Daniel Richter – Tarifa

About as close as this exhibition gets to a straightforward visual depiction of a single event.  The black sky and midnight sea, I think, are rather overwhelming…

 

Michael Armitage

I love the washy green and pinks; saw a lot of his stuff in Venice last year, like hand-painted film posters, somehow.  These paintings are quite different.

 

Christina Quarles

The entwined bodies, flattened field (“pressing against the confines of the canvas”, to quote the booklet again) and smooth, graphic style remind me somewhat of the Australian artist Brett Whiteley, although the exploration of “female, black and queer identity” was not Whiteley’s aim…

 

Ryan Mosley

I think this must be Teaching Snakes to be Snakes – I must get into the habit of photographing the titles, like all the other bloggers you see in galleries…

 

 

Tschabalala Self

Love those brick wall legs, that brick wall torso.

 

Nicole Eisenman, Progress Real and Imagined (detail)

This is from the second panel of a diptych, “a creation story or apocalypse unfolding in an Arctic landscape”; the booklet mentions Bosch and Brueghel; I must say I thought first of Bosch because of the multiplicity of outlandish events rather than the great detail which the booklet cites – but now I’m thinking Mexican muralists, Rivera above all.  Intentions completely different, of course.

And some of mine to end with..

Bent

 

Man of Sorrows

 

Armpit

Blackpaint

17th February 2020

Blackpaint 657 – Cow on Wheels, Slamming Gate, Flat Brick Skirts

November 8, 2019

Venice Biennale continued

Seems like weeks ago now – but here is the remainder of my pick:

 

Italian Pavilion

This is in the firm of a labyrinth with melted human remains at various points, as well as an artificial beach set up with deck chairs and umbrellas – and the above.

 

Peruvian Pavilion

Several billboard-size paintings like the above; indigenous peoples displayed, ironically, I assume, in leisure/glamour poses.

 

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Uruguayan Pavilion

Great collection of little paintings and drawings, like the above.

 

Serbian Pavilion.

Contrasting paintings (colourful and snappy) and sculpture, in old Communist heroic style.

 

Belgian Pavilion.

A series of unsettling tableaux, making up a sort of asylum of demented characters like those in the picture.

 

Great Britain 

Works by Cathy Wilkes.

Assemblages and paintings, in bland, pastel shades like the above, which refer to domestic, “feminised” surroundings suggesting (to me) a sort of restricted, imprisoned existence – maybe that’s just the meaning I expect such pieces to carry.  The piece is a moulded pregnant female belly.

 

German Pavilion.

Large boulders distributed around a space divided by marked out lines on the floor, as in the picture.   Loud, whining, screaming noises.  According to the handbook, “architectural elements, sound, sculptures and installations create a space that makes the economic, political and social conflicts of the present day socially tangible…” and so on.  This is very typical of the handbook, which is strong on interpretation, but gives one very little idea of the actual nature of the exhibits.

The Greek pavilion provides another good example of this.  My diary entry reads: “GREECE – Liked this one; video of Christos and his mate making bean stew – courgettes, beans – toms? Why not?.. and some celery.  His mate preferred the chicken.  Also, thousands of upside-down jam (?) pots, crammed together on the floor, so you could walk on them.”  The handbook says:”Sounds, moving images and architectural elements dub the pavilion building with new layers of meaning: translucent and open, the past and the future coexist in a condition of active present, where the ardour of the instantaneous allows for interpretations of the past to configure in an associative and instinctive manner.”

 

 

Czech Republic.  Stanislav Kolibal

Liked this one.  Terrific geometric drawings and sculptures, some with string, some with melted ends.

 

Nordic Countries Pavilion.

Artificial tree trunks, more boulders (see Germany) and hanging sheets of vari-coloured latex “seaweed”.  It’s all to do with environment, climate change and mass extinction, obviously, I guess.

From here on, displays by single artists in the Central Pavilion of the Giardini:

 

Soham Gupta, Kolkata

 

Zhanna Kadyrova, Ukraine

 

Henry Taylor, LA

 

 

Ulrike Muller, Austrian, works in LA

 

 

Njideka Akunyili Crosby – Born Nigeria, lives and works in LA

These collages, together with the paintings of Michael Armitage (below) were my favourites in this section.

 

Nabuqi, Beijing

Cow on wheels, on track – what could be more profound?

 

This could, I suppose…Shilpa Gupta, Mumbai,

Gate slams periodically into white wall, slowly demolishing, or at least, damaging it.  Shades of Kapoor…

 

 

 

 

Three works by Michael Armitage, born in Kenya, lives and works in London and Nairobi.

Big, sometimes crudely coloured and drawn African paintings, suggestive of hand-painted posters; some with pink undercoat shining through, like Poussin (or Harold Gilman).

OK, enough with the Biennale-

 

Had to include this photograph I took last week, of the house opposite, which is having a loft installed.  Two apparently cloaked figures stand motionless behind the polythene sheets, while a yellow-clad guitarist plays his instrument at the front of the building…

 

Across the Great Divide

Blackpaint

8.11.19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 525 – Tight Rope, Frenzy and Sex in Gothenberg

December 20, 2015

Tight Rope, White Cube Gallery, Bermondsey Street

This is a great exhibition; it has to do with artists who walk the line between figurative and abstract, I think (I haven’t read the book that goes with it yet – £20.00) – whatever, it has some lovely pictures from the likes of Guston, Bacon, Freud, Baselitz, Matisse, Duchamp et al.   It has one of the worst Picassos I’ve ever seen ( horrible, evil yellow with scrawls) and a terrific Tracey Emin figure on white over two or three panels.  My favourites below, starting with the great Bay Area painter David Park:

david park

Untitled (Portrait of Tom Jefferson), 1957

 

plessen

Magnus Plessen, Untitled, 2015

Plessen seems to have used tape which he has pulled off to get the straight lines.

 

armitage

Michael Armitage, Conservationists, 2015

 

Here’s the Emin –

tracey

Tracey Emin, I think of you all the time

 

– and here’s the Picasso –

picasso mustache

Picasso, Man with a Mustache, 1970

Despite the Picasso, there are loads of excellent pictures here.  Even the ones I didn’t like – Dana Schulz’ retina-burners, for example – made me want to go home and paint immediately; those chunky but slippery brush sweeps, I imagine.

Also on show there are Gilbert and George’s “Fuck You” posters (that’s probably not their proper title, but gives an idea of the content).  Should detain you for a minute or so, long enough to read them all.

 

John Berger on Rembrandt and Goya

I’m reading Berger’s “Portraits – John Berger on Artists” and I find him insufferably precious at times – “It is remarkable how, for those who suffer a desire for art, so much does begin and end in it” (the National Gallery).  He also tends to make confident assertions about doubtful things.  There are examples throughout, but here’s one: “Goya lived and observed through something near enough to total war to know that night is security and that it is the dawn that one fears”; is that really right?  It fits his argument..

However, his comments on Rembrandt’s late self-portraits are interesting; he suggests that R. painted himself from memory, rather than using mirrors – thus avoiding the theatricality that Berger says always creeps in when artists do mirror SPs.  Have a look at the Courbet SP “The Desperate Man” to see what he means.

courbet

OK, it’s an extreme example.  Berger also suggests that Goya painted “the Naked Maja” from imagination – he simply did the clothed Maja without the clothes.  In evidence, he offers the breasts; falling unnaturally to the sides as they had done when she was dressed.  That’s what Berger says, anyway.

Frenzy

Hitchcock’s murder film on TV the other night; the cast was staggering, straight off the Shakespearian stage of the 70s – Jon Finch, Anna Massey, Billie Whitelaw, Clive Swift, Barry Foster et al.  The lewd conversation between barristers and the pub landlady about rape comes as quite a shock to contemporary ears and there is a very nasty rape sequence later.  Great bit in the back of the potato lorry, however.

Star Wars – film critics

They’ve all abandoned their critical faculties; not worth listening to (as I write, Mark Kermode is on TV, shouting and waving his arms about).

Casanova

Fellini, Donald Sutherland in the title role, having sex with a mechanical life-sized doll in Gothenburg, a debauched Dudley Sutton playing a harmonium halfway up a wall…  Now, that’s what I call a film.

 

dirty protest2

I’ve finally finished a picture – here it is; it’s called

Dirty Protest

Blackpaint

19.12.15