Posts Tagged ‘Mike Nelson’

Blackpaint 647- Three at TB; Bowling, Nelson and VG

June 15, 2019

Frank Bowling, Tate Britain until 26th August

Brilliant show, and a real revelation.  I’d seen Bowling’s poured paintings a few years back at the Tate Britain, when they devoted a single room to them; in addition, there was the huge spiral staircase one that was on permanent display there (and which is in this show, of course), so I knew he’d had a Pop Art period, a sort of Hockney/Kitaj/Blake phase – see the first painting below.  There’s even a girl with a Who-type target on her tee shirt in another one.  The figurative elements gradually receded, however, until he arrived at pure abstraction – for a while, anyway.

 

 

I’d not seen these vast map jobs in screaming colours, though; Africa, South America, Europe, USA, and Asia are all there somewhere – though not necessarily in the usual positions (and, obviously, not all in the example below).

Bowling wanted – I think he still does – to be thought of as a painter, not as a black painter.  The poured paintings, for example, are not really about anything but colour and maybe texture; the properties of the paint.  When he went to the USA, he was out of step – his choice – with some of the black painters who were overtly political – some of their work was recently shown at the Tate Modern.  There is some politics on show here; this one (I think) is called “The Middle Passage”, a reference to the slavers’ sea route – but most of the (often long and oblique) titles are clearly personal, not political.

 

 

An example of the poured paintings, which he did on a tilting table of his own devising.

After the poured paintings, there is an “encrusted” period (see above); thick slathers of acrylic paint, often scraped or shaped into squares that look like slices of bread submerged in pigment.  Chunks or banana shapes of polystyrene are sometimes present, shipwrecked in the paint.  Still the colours though, are paramount.

 

 

These last two – the bottom one is huge, the other a much smaller panel shape – are quite recent; 2014-ish, I think.  So he’s still doing great work in his 80s.  Best in London, in my opinion, depending on whether the Bellany/Davie show is still on at Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery.

 

Van Gogh and Britain, Tate Britain until 11th August

My fourth (or is it fifth?) visit to this show, and it’s still packed  every time.  You can get in OK but you will have to peer over shoulders or use binoculars to read the captions.  I think some of the links that the show seeks to make are rather contentious; I can’t see much similarity or evidence of VG influence in the Bomberg self portrait below, despite the caption.

 

 

Another Bomberg and the only still life I’ve seen by him; I suppose you could make a case for some VG influence here…  Great vase of flowers though. exploding in all directions – makes “still life” a ridiculous description, really.

 

The Asset Strippers, Mike Nelson, Tate Britain until 6th October

Nelson has been round the country, buying up redundant plant and machinery, which he presents as if each piece were a piece of sculpture in an exhibition.  Some are combined, that is, balanced or stacked on top of each other.  Lathes, milling machines, jacks, scales, agricultural machinery – is that a threshing machine? – knitting machines, sequin machines…  You think “Look at that machine!  It’s really complicated and it does one specific job.  What if someone says,” There’s a better way of doing that, we can skip that bit of the process by doing a or b or c…. “; That’s it for the machine – now it IS a piece of sculpture – or scrap.

 

Not sure what the “bed” of sleeping bags is supposed to represent, if anything.  Everyone in the exhibition seemed to be smiling, the old ones (and there were many) wallowing nostalgia; younger visitors trying to work out what the stuff was for.

That’s the three shows currently at Tate Britain; next time, Goncharova at Tate Modern and Huguette Caland at Tate St. Ives.

Three really old ones of mine to finish –

Angelico Tower

 

 

Fish Head

 

 

Red Guard

Blackpaint, 15/06/19

 

 

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Blackpaint 175

August 15, 2010

Douanier Rousseau

I’ve read the passage in Penguin Book of Art Writing on the above, to which I referred in BP 173 and, as usual, I was quite wrong; it’s written by Picasso’s lover at the time and, although Rousseau is portrayed as a comic, rather pathetic buffoon, there is no suggestion that Picasso himself regarded him as such.  As to my comparison of Rousseau to Ornette Coleman, that was wrong too.  Rousseau was a catalyst; he influenced P. and the Cubists, but didn’t develop much himself.  Coleman, by way of contrast, became the next big thing with, and after, Coltrane and the leading force in “free” jazz from the late 50’s on.  So – moving on…

Rauschenberg’s “Gluts” 

Last word for this year on the Guggenheim Bilbao.  These sculptures and found objects are so named because they are the detritus from the North American culture of overproduction, conspicuous consumption and built-in obsolescence (three cliches in succession!).  It’s capitalism, anyway; nothing particularly USA about it – except for the scale.  Rausch, fortunately,  had a rather sentimental attitude to these bits of refuse and went round rescuing them like stray cats.  then he attached this to that, producing a sculpture; maybe adding some paint, maybe just calling  it something.

Scoreboards, calendars, road signage, car parts (fenders,  exhausts, tyres), garage detritus, STOP signs, production statistics on factory notice boards, iron ladders (maybe attached to venetian blinds – or not), bent panels, cots, a pair of Pegasus horses facing each other across a Greek marble head painted over in yellow, those silvery aluminium air ducts, squashed and twisted…  He’s like Ed Ruscha’s younger (?) vandal brother; Ruscha’s stuff is spick-and-span, Rauschenberg’s is crushed and crumpled.  White blinds, long yellow metal slats, cymbal, old wheel, blue “wood effect” panel, iron stove, chair, car radiator.

One room contains only silver metal, no painted objects – I like the painted stuff better, less pure but the paint’s part of the glut too.  Interesting that he got names from what the sculptures and objects look like – for example, “Dirty ghost Glut”, “Samurai Glut”, “Gold Strike Glut”.

The exhibition ends with photographs of R’s collaborations with dancers Merce Cunningham and Trisha Brown.

Mike Nelson

Went to Tate Britain yesterday, and very nearly missed this artist’s “Coral Reef”.  That’s because you enter the installation through a little scruffy cream doorway and are confronted with the uniformed back of a Tate attendant sitting at a wooden counter behind a grille, filling in some forms.  As you mutter an apology and go to withdraw, you notice that there are other punters beyond the grille.  Progressing further, you find a confusing suite of rooms, low ceilings, made out of wood, dark, smelling  like the basement of  a second-hand bookshop, with various random objects scattered around: a settee, rumpled sleeping bag, clown’s head, tommy gun – some of the rooms look like temporary offices in old Portakabins, or more likely, disused rolling stock.  It was a little like going round the Haunted House in some impoverished travelling fairground.  It reminded me of the Kienholz “Hoerengracht” thing (see Blackpaint 34  ).  Coral Reef?  I suppose it winds in and out, like a maze – but it was more like a reef of detritus, washed up by the tide.

Listening to Easy Rider Blues by Texas Alexander.

“Takes midnight til the early rising sun,

Midnight til the early rising sun,

Stood on the corner, just to see my baby come.”

Torn Curtain by Blackpaint