Posts Tagged ‘Missing’

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

 

Blackpaint 470 – Wet Paint and Whales, Sex Dolls, the Blues and Killers

November 21, 2014

Beware Wet Paint at the ICA

Upstairs at the ICA, a small exhibition of (mostly) big paintings, the best by the following three:

Korakrit Arunanondchai  He painted two big pictures, set fire to them, photographed the burning canvases, blew up the photos and used them as an underlay to the holed and charred originals – shades of Metzger and Miro also exhibited a few burned “remnant” paintings – or at least, the Hayward did, Miro being dead at the time.

korakrit

 

Parker Ito,  who had a huge, Manga-style effort which was built around a cartoon girl eating ice cream;

 

Christopher Wool; big grey swipes and washes, black enamel paint Marden lines, from which, here and there, the central pigment had been wiped, leaving “ghost” lines – lovely painting, see below.

christopher wool

 

Leviathan, Zvyagintsev 

The director who did “the Return” 12 0r so years ago.  Town in northern Russia on the Barents Sea, rocks, cliffs, fiords, smashing waves, bleached whale skeleton.  Central character locked in legal battle with corrupt local mayor and officials, semi – gangsters; mayor wants to annex his house and land to demolish it and build on.  House-owner brings in his old army mate, who is a Moscow lawyer and comparatively honest…

More drinking even than the average Bela Tarr – although vodka rather than palinka – and/or smoking and scoffing pickled herring, sometimes all three simultaneously.  And target shooting with AK47 (I think).  The odd, oblique,  swipe at Putin, more direct fun-poking at previous leaders, both Communist and post – Soviet (but not Stalin).  A glimpse of Pussy Riot on TV; Orthodox Church shown as natural allies of the new state gangsterism.  Good, but heavy-handed with the symbolism; the bleached whale bones made a couple of predictable appearances.

Kettles Yard, Cambridge

Rather reminded me of visiting Charleston recently, although here they let you sit on the chairs in the house.  A brilliant collection of Ben and Winifred Nicholson, Christopher Wood – easy to mistake for early Ben, or I did anyway – David Jones, some very unusual drawings, nothing like his usual, busy, spidery style, and Gaudier-Brjeska, who has a whole storey to himself.  There’s the Ezra Pound below, the curved fish, the broad-shouldered man…  In addition, there is a great sketch of a nude woman by Brancusi over the piano and to the left, an unusual monochrome Roger Hilton.

 

gaudier1

Silent Partners, the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

This exhibition is about artists and their mannequins, used for artistic –  and other purposes in the case of Kokoschka and probably Bellmer – down through history.  Some highlights:

Janos Bortnyik, paintings of Adam and Eve, geometric buildings, natty man, pointy legs, tiny waist.

bortnyik1

 

Millais, the Black Brunswicker; look at that white satin dress – fantastic.  The one on the left is the Brunswicker.

millais the black brunswicker

 

Oscar Kokoschka, a selfie in garish tones with a painted life-size doll (not the Alma one).  Good likeness of Oscar, not flattering of either.  Also photos of him with the furry- legged Alma Mahler doll, and Bellmer’s sexy poupee dolls, legs splayed…

kokoschka silent partners

 

Also, a great Degas artist and mannequin, Burne-Jones Pygmalion and Galatea  – Galatea long body, bruised eyes, real Victorian beauty.

The permanent collection at the Fitzwilliam deserves some space so I’ll defer it to next blog.

The Blues and Killers

I imagine it’s a function of TV writers’and researchers’ record collections – blues and even folk music popping up all over.  In the first “Fall” series, the killer was listening to Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Help Me” and others; the paedophile (or he’s shaping up to be) played by Ken Stott in “Missing” listens to Robert Johnson.  Johnson again, as well as the Copper Family and Karen Dalton, in “Down Terrace”, the brilliant, funny and horrifying gangster film by Ben Wheatley (although that was made in 2009).  I don’t buy it really –  can’t see blues fans as killers; anorak seekers after authenticity, more like.

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For Derrida, Blackpaint

21.11.14