Posts Tagged ‘National Gallery’

Blackpaint 638 – Asger, Louis, Lorenzo and the Singing Raspberry

February 8, 2019

Amadeo Lorenzato, David Zwirner Gallery W1 until 9th February

You’ll have to hurry if you want to see this one – ends on Saturday!  He’s a Brazilian artist, about whom I have no information; don’t even know if he’s living.  The paintings are small, mostly around 19×15 or 16 inches.  They have a strange, “combed” surface – that’s to say it looks like he’s run a comb through the wet paint.  Most are titled “Untitled” and these three are all undated.  Dates for the others are 1971 – 1993.  There are two that look a little like miniature Hockneys, those treescapes of Yorkshire he’s been doing over the last few years.  The Zwirner Gallery is in Grafton Street.

 

 

 

Asger Jorn, Per Kirkeby, Tal R, Victoria Miro Gallery W1 until 23rd March

Jorn and Kirkeby among my favourite artists; never heard of Tal R and he seems to me to be unlike the other two.  The Guardian reviewed this exhibition last Saturday and dealt only with Tal R, whose works, the reviewer found, concealed perhaps sinister secrets behind the unrevealing facades and fences in his works.

Jorn and Kirkeby both dealt with Scandinavian myth and also with historical themes; Stalingrad and the battle of Copenhagen come to mind, both Jorn, I think.

 

Asger Jorn, “Overlord and Underlings”, 1951

Typical Jorn mythic figures…

 

Per Kirkeby, “Untitled”, 1964

 

Tal R, “punta de chroores”, 2006

That’s not Tal R in the picture, but a punter, rapt, by the look of him.  Oil and pins on cardboard, wood, artist-made frame.

 

Per Kirkeby, “Untitled”, 1964

Very Jorn-like, this one, with the floating jelly fish figure emerging from the black and reaching towards the reddish outline figure (looks like a female symbol or one of those Egyptian crosses, an ankh).

 

Jorn, “Aurorapide”, 67-68

Lovely, thick, swirling paint…

 

Jorn, “Untitled”, 1943

 

Jorn, “Black Lac Blues”, 1960

Great title, great painting – love the crusty, creosote-y surface.

 

Richard Pousette-Dart, Pace Gallery, Burlington Gardens W1 until 20th February

Pousette-Dart is the lost Abstract Expressionist – he was in the famous photo with Pollock, Kline, de Kooning, Rothko et al, Hedda Stern the only woman, in the foreground.  To be honest, the smaller works like that below strike me as not especially great; they look to me a little like surrealist automatic drawings, or maybe the early Rothkos.  Most of the pictures are the usual Ab-Ex size, that is to say huge; they are “all over”, densely coloured and figured canvases like those of Mark Tobey – another “Ab-Ex” who really wasn’t.

Lorenzo Lotto, National Gallery

This is absolutely the best free exhibition in London at the moment; several of the portraits are up there with Holbein – well, nearly, overstated a little maybe – and there is a madonna and child with a couple of saints in which the colours are superlative; Mary’s dress is a sort of raspberry which sings against blues and a lovely ochre.  No photos, I’m afraid.

Louis Malle’s Films

Lacombe, Lucien (1974)

Got a box set of 10 Malle films for £25 from Fopp at Cambridge Circus; same box costs £54 odd at the BFI.  Tragically, Fopp is owned by HMV, so its demise might not be far away, if this Canadian buyer decides not to keep it afloat.  Where will all the old gits like me go to get their CDs, DVDs and vinyl?  Another one gone into the darkness, maybe, like Gaby’s and Koenig and Blackwells a while ago…

Anyway, I’d always thought that Malle was a bit soft, bit romantic; turns out not so.  Seen six so far, and apart from “Zazie Dans le Metro”, they have all been about transgression.  “Lift to the Scaffold” is about murder, both planned and random, “The Lovers”, adultery (and child desertion), “The Fire Within”, alcoholism and suicide, “Murmur of the Heart”, incest (mother and son) and “Lacombe, Lucien”, collaboration with the Nazis and anti-semitism.  So quite strong stuff, but done with a light touch.  His use of music is brilliant too.  Scaffold has Miles Davis, Lovers a Brahms string quartet, Fire, Eric Satie, Heart, Charlie Parker –  and Lucien, Django Reinhardt.  I can’t think of a more exciting opening than Lucien tearing along country lanes on his bike to the strains of Django and Grappelly tearing through “Swing 42”.

 

Dream South Bank

Blackpaint

07/02/19

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Blackpaint 633 – Joe Bradley, Brent Wadden, Bellini, Mantegna and Me

December 24, 2018

Joe Bradley, “Day World”,  at the Gagosian W1

I’m sorry to say that it’s too late to see these great paintings at the Gagosian – the exhibition finished a week or so ago.  Even so, I think it’s worth putting the photos up, so readers might look Bradley’s work up online.

As can be seen, they are rough-surfaced in places and generally  “painterly” – hate the jargon – one or two resemble street art with their broken, spattered surfaces.  I think they have that shimmery quality that some of Rothko’s have and the bright palette of, maybe, Albert Irvin?  Maybe that’s pushing it, but I really like them.

 

Hard Time

 

High Rise

 

Black Peter

 

Day Rite

All the works are dated 2018; apart from “Hard Time” (and the drawings I haven’t mentioned), they are all over 200 cms each way.

 

Brent Wadden at the Pace Gallery until 10th January

By way of total contrast – well, actually, they are similar in size and all done this year – are these pieces, which are “handwoven fibers, wool, cotton and acrylic on canvas”.  I didn’t like them at first, thought they were well-crafted but anaemic – but I find they have grown on me.  I like the awkward, crooked join-ups in the middle and the way that the one at the bottom looks as if it’s painted with wide sweeps of emulsion and scraped a bit with a …scraper thing.

 

 

 

 

They are all titled “Untitled”.  Bradley was born in 1975 in Maine, now living in New York;  Wadden is slightly younger (1979) and was born in Nova Scotia, now living in Berlin and Vancouver.

Bellini and Mantegna at the National Gallery

Bellini Resurrection

It turns out that that they were brothers in law, Mantegna a few years older.  Giovanni Bellini was influenced by Mantegna at first; the latter was sort of self-made, while Bellini’s family were painting “royalty” in Venice.

The early, smaller ones (Georgione size) by both painters had those weirdly shaped, sharply defined rocky landscapes; Bellini later gave up on deserts and reverted to lush Italian landscape backgrounds instead.

Some paintings, by both, are startlingly bad.  A Bellini piece, “Feast of the Gods”, looks like a bunch of drunken peasants, one with a shiny comedy helmet; the women have the serene Bellini faces – see his Madonnas, usually that teenage babysitter model – but strangely distorted, one with a flattened nose…  Another, early one has a really unconvincing desert backdrop like stage scenery.  And that Christ in the painting above, emerging from the tomb and shooting straight up in the air with no muscular movement, like a cardboard cutout.  Worse, though, is a Mantegna of Christ being lifted up by two angels, they look like a singing trio.

But – some are fantastic.  There is a beautiful St Jerome by Bellini (again, Georgione comes to mind) and the Loredan.  This latter is oil on poplar and is rich and gleaming; some of the others, on canvas, are rather dry surfaced.  As for Mantegna, there are three of those huge ones of Caesar’s triumphal march that were in the Charles I exhibition at the RA a while back.  I like the one with the elephants and the grinning horse.  Much more to say, but I want to publish this before Christmas.

Venice Marathon October 2018

That’s me in the Vietcong headband, with my number one son, about to finish in the rather unusual prevailing conditions.  Two more sons, somewhere ahead in the water.

 

Two recent pictures to end with-

 

Still Life with Blue Vase on Fire

Blackpaint

 

Mystery  Train to Nowheresville on the Lost Highway

Blackpaint

24.12.18

 

 

Blackpaint 624 – Hodgkin, Prager, Murtha and Kubrick

July 23, 2018

Howard Hodgkin at Gagosian – until 28th July only, so go now.

These are Hodgkin’s last paintings; as can be seen, there are few surprises for those familiar with his work, but absolutely no evidence of decline as far as I can see,  The colours, textures and impact are as strong as ever.  They are all oil on wood.

Bombay Afternoon, 2016

 

Love Song, 2015

Floating dots…

 

Darkness at noon, 2015-2016

I wonder if the title is anything to do with the Koestler classic.

 

I love the floating quality of many (push-pull colours) and the tracts of bare wood, and of course the way the brushstrokes wander over the frames (where there are frames).

Aftermath, Steppenwolf

Mentioned Hesse’s Steppenwolf in last but one blog;  I forgot to say that the jazz dance scenes inevitably conjure Otto Dix’s Metropolis and one or two paintings at Tate Britain’s current “Aftermath” exhibition – notably, one by William Roberts, called “The Jazz Club”, I think.

Dr Strangelove, dir. Stanley Kubrick (1964) – Chill’s last flight

Chill Wills atop his nuclear bomb

This pretty much tore up anything in the way of current “satire” on show on British TV last week and jumped up and down on it.  Sellers is unapproachable in his three roles as Strangelove, the US President and Mandrake, as is Sterling Hayden, as is George C Scott – but I found myself willing Chill on to his target, as “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” played insistently in a minor key on the soundtrack.

 

Alex Prager,  and Tish Murtha at the Photographers Gallery

Prager’s large photographs are like stills from films, which is exactly what many (all?) of them are; the placid, plastic features of the girl below like something from a Hitchcock film (there is a still of a pigeon attack on another woman); struggling survivors of some sea disaster, floating in vivid green water, a helicopter’s eye view; a woman hanging in mid air from the bonnet of car.

The other type of Prager photo is the crowd scene, like the beach below.  Lots of hired actors, each performing some mundane but strangely complete task (they look posed, as they are).  In each picture (according to the notes on the PG walls) a woman seems to be anxious and apart – not sure which woman in the photo below.  Then, I went into the curtained film room and saw that many of the photos were stills.

 

Tish Murtha’s, by contrast, are all monochrome and are photos of children and teenagers amusing themselves in the cobbled streets of Elswick, Newcastle in the 70s.  Roughly dressed, jumping on to mattresses from derelict buildings, pushing younger siblings in old prams, playing street games – bulletins from a disappeared world before computer games and mobile phones.

She moved to London, and there are Soho photos of strip clubs, punters and performers, cross dressing acts; also powerful, but without the fascination of the Elswick pictures.  At times, there is a chiming with the Prager stuff – who is the rather smartly dressed teenage girl with the glamorous shoes; what is she doing?

An Elswick picture – something rather Last Supper about this image.

 

National Gallery – the early galleries

Fabulous diptych – adult Christ in Mary’s arms and green Man of Sorrows on the right.

Never seen this one before – because it’s not finished it looks modern.  Could be from Lord Leighton or a Preraph, maybe.

 

Suez Canal Zone

Blackpaint

23/718

Blackpaint 620 – Signorelli, Picasso and the Ape in the Museum

May 26, 2018

National Gallery

A new Signorelli, someone up a ladder, probably related to a Crucifixion.  This one’s good, but I have to say, I wasn’t keen on his other big ones – a visit of the Magi and a Circumcision.  The first has one of the worst baby Jesuses I’ve ever seen (and I’ve listed several in previous blogs).  I think Signorelli is much better doing his murals of writhing, fighting demons in his cartoon-like style, like those in Orvieto, for instance.

 

Yes, it’s definitely a baby…

That’s more like it, Luca…

In addition to Signorelli, we were looking at the painting by “Follower of Georgione” and the one by G himself and it struck me that the texture and detail involved reminded me a little of Richard Dadd’s “Fairy Feller’s Masterstroke”.  Fanciful, I know, but then I got another blast of Dadd from the Altdorfer – I think it was the legs of the man on the right…

Follower of Giorgione

Altdorfer

Finally,the big Perugino and the Mond Crucifixion by Raphael, the one with the sun and moon with faces: surely both P and R were using the same model for Mary?

The Square, dir. Ruben Ostlund (2017)

From the director of Force Majeure, this repeats the motif of a smug, liberal, bourgeois male who commits a disgraceful act.  In FM, it was running away from an avalanche, leaving his family; in this film, the guilty man posts accusing letters through all the doors in a block of flats, knowing that his stolen phone and the thieves are in one – but which one?  It has unfortunate consequences for a young boy in one apartment.

The erring male is an art museum director and the scene above is a performance staged at the museum by an actor who imitates an ape.  Of course, he goes too far and begins an assault on a female guest that looks as if it will turn into rape if uninterrupted.  Eventually, one of the suited guests tries to pull him off and the others  join in, punching and kicking.  Funny, and reminiscent of Bunuel, Festen, and maybe Airplane, a little.  Not sure what point, if any, was being made here, however.  Those Swedes, though – they do love to “epater les bourgeois”, don’t they?

More Picasso

As promised last time, some more pictures from the Picasso Year 1932 exhibition at Tate Modern.  Some of them are in hideous frames, so I’ve cropped them out.

Inflatable ladies playing at beachball.

 

One of an impressive Crucifixion series, recalling both Grunewald and Goya’s Disasters of War.

 

This looks like a beautiful flower from across the gallery; pretty good close up too, except that the breasts resemble the eyes of a frightened ghost…

 

Bit of a horror image – her face looks like a stylised Otto Dix trench corpse…

 

Unusual for Picasso (that sounds odd in itself), in that there are no hard lines around the various components of the image.  Great little painting.

 

Continental Drift

Blackpaint

26.5.18

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 449 – Glassy Seas at the National, Harbours and Wrecks at St.Ives

June 6, 2014

National Gallery – the Basement

There’s a “new” room downstairs in the NG, open to the public on Wednesdays and Sundays; not new at all, of course, but newly opened up.  You go through to room 15 where the Turners and Claudes are, and downstairs from there.

It’s like the “B” List; everywhere you look, you see something that looks like a copy of a famous painting elsewhere (sometimes upstairs).  My guess is that they are not copies – they’re not THAT similar – but maybe done from some sort of template that was going the rounds.

There’s so much down there that it will take a couple of blogs at least – but here are some highlights:

The Workshop of the Master of the Female Half – Lengths; St. John on Patmos.  Lovely little painting, I thought with shades of Giorgione.

master-female-half-lengths-saint-john-patmos-NG717-fm

A big, cartoon-y Signorelli, The Circumcision.  Who is the evil -looking character in the headcloth?  Dodgy eyes, if ever I saw them.  Unfortunately, can’t find a good repro on line, so you will have to visit to see what I mean.

Zanobi Strozzi’s Annunciation.  Like Lippi maybe, but with an astonishing  Expressionist floor.

strozzi-annunciation-NG1406-fm

Fra Angelico, St. Romulus – another vivid little beauty.

Then, there are the lookalikes:

Mano d’Oggiono, Virgin and Child – that fat baby leaning forwards, arms outstretched, reminded me of the Christ in the Virgin of the Rocks, the one with the unhealthy looking baby making the blessing gesture.

Gio. di Nicola, an Anthony Abbot, just like the frowning Masaccio? one upstairs.

A St Catharine with a face just like Leonardo’s St. Anne.

Venusti, a “follower of Michelangelo”; a small Holy Family with a dark green background that reminded me of that fabulous Raphael with John the Baptist and a pope…

Then, there is Clays, a Dutch painter who does glassy green, calm seas, in the way you look to Cuyp for cows.

clays-ships-lying-dordrecht-NG815-fm

Loads more; its a great visit.

Tate St.Ives -Modern Art and St.Ives, International Exchanges 1915 – 1965

First, there are a lot of “old friends” here, if you go to the London Tates much:

Franz Kline’s Meryon, the giant black bridgehead;

Gorky’s Waterfall;

Helion’s colourful little abstract;

Winifred Nicholson’s “yellow patch” abstract from Tate B;

Lanyon’s Thermal and Wreck;

Hockney’s Third Love Painting;

The big, blue Clyfford Still – you know the one;

The Rothko, that yellow-green “window” one;

Ben Nicholson, Gabo, Moholy- Nagy, Van Doesberg, Margaret Mellis, all have geometrical pieces; and there’s an El Lissitsky, which is interesting,  in that it is the only painting or construction of this lot that contains an illusory (desk-shaped) 3D image.  Some of the others have depth, but it is created by layering.

lissitsky

Here are a few of the other treasures on view – again, I’ll need another blog to do justice to the exhibition;

de Kooning, Zot – a mini “Excavation”.

DeKooning, Zot, 1949,339

Alan Davie, Bird Singing; little, dirty – fantastic.

(c) Alan Davie; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Roger Hilton, Grey day by the Sea.  So simple…couldn’t find a good one online.

William Scott, Harbour.

william scott st ives

Serge Poliakoff, Abstract Composition; Blue, brown, red, yellow.

poliakoff

 

And of course the Lanyon paintings…

Wreck 1963 by Peter Lanyon 1918-1964

Wreck, Peter Lanyon

Anyway, more on St.Ives and NG next blog.

Nineteen Eighty-Four

Struck again by Orwell’s concept of Doublethink, the ability to believe two absolutely contradictory things simultaneously – it seems to me that this is extremely common, perhaps even universal.  I know that I’m capable of it, and even comfortable with it.  Good example in the paper today, Richard Dawkins talking about people who dismiss the idea of Father Christmas as nonsense, but profess a belief in a supernatural god figure…

 

??????????

 

002

 Cornish Cave Paintings, Blackpaint

6th June 2014

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 184

August 29, 2010

Robinson again

(See Blackpaint 177).  Visiting the National Gallery again on Saturday, we noticed that the Cailey Robinson exhibition went on round the corner of the room and consisted of several more paintings than the two I mentioned before.  This should have been obvious, since the poster showed a different painting, but I missed it.  These other paintings were enormous and consisted firstly of processions of attractive, innocent young maids in hospital/orphanage/school uniform, trooping around the castle-like interior of an institutional building, set off by interesting lighting effects; and secondly, of groups of wounded WWI soldiers in “convalescence” uniforms (light blue with red flashes)  with the odd kilted Scottish soldier and picturesque veteran in foreign(?) kit for effect.

Again, the thin black outline was present around the figures, making them static, and calling to mind illustrators of the period, and earlier.  I checked to see if there were any of the random red dots I’d noticed on the sheep (see Blackpaint 177), but could find none.  My partner suggested I should look at Seurat’s writing, since this sounded like one  of his techniques – but I can’t see how they could have operated; too few, too small, too dispersed and random.

Interesting to me to see how a painter so technically proficient – these paintings are really huge and beautifully controlled – could produce works so lifeless.

Fakes Exhibition

Dropped in on this again, and this time, I was impressed by the awfulness of the fake Botticelli;  the faces were  staggeringly bad and worth the trip alone, for the laugh.  I didn’t mention last time the Caspar David Friedrich painting, which isn’t a fake but a copy of the original by CDF himself, they think.  One of those beautifully  painted  snowbound scenes, lonely, fir trees, woods..  This time, I looked a little more closely and saw the wooden crucifixion seen in the central grove.  A country shrine, then, and in the snow – a pair of abandoned crutches!  Clearly, sometimes it’s better to view from a distance and overlook the detail..

Tintoretto

This is getting really bad, as I am about to abuse yet another great painter.  Still, he’s dead and this is an anonymous blog and gratuitous abuse is one of the pleasures.  Anyway, fantastic Tintoretto St. George and even more fantastic “Milky Way” upstairs – and next to it, a vast, rough, black, Spanish- looking painting of Christ  washing his disciples’ feet; it’s terrible, isn’t it?  Or am I missing something?  I can’t believe that the same artist could produce this monstrosity and the Milky Way.  it must have been his studio, not him.

Moroni

Then another example on the way out, but not so bad; the great portrait of the rosy-cheeked blond woman with her pink, anxious eyes and the fantastic pink satin dress  – next to the boring, bearded officer in black with the thin legs and knobbly knees.  I suppose the sitter (or stander in these cases) must make  a difference to the outcome, but hard for me to credit they are by the same artist.

Oil Painting

My own results are, by way of contrast, at least consistent.  Chopped-up ridges, slabs, scrapes and scores, they are getting thicker and busier all the time; more and more claustrophobic.  The trouble is, the oil is so seductive, you want to S-Q-U-E-E-Z-E it straight on and then slice into it and squirl it about – ended up with green paint gloves on last night.

Road to Mandalay 2

Blackpaint

29.08.10