Posts Tagged ‘Ofili’

Blackpaint 271

May 4, 2011

Max Ernst

Bought the Phaidon book on Ernst by Ian Turpin and was surprised by the variety of techniques and effects Ernst achieved over the years, many of which come under the heading of “oil on Canvas”.  frottage (rubbing of pencil et al over a textured surface), grattage (scraping away of paint), decalcomania (laying paper or some other medium onto an area of wet pigment and then shifting it slightly and peeling it away), this latter invented by Oscar Dominguez – as well as collage, of course.  Birds, plants, insects, plumage, jungle, psychomachinery, eyes, thin, overlapping panels of paint (colour fields, in fact) – echoes of Picabia, Magritte, De Chirico, Douanier Rousseau, Dali, even one that looks like a Chris Ofili! (“One Night of Love”, demonstrating yet another technique; coiling twine or string down onto wet paint and then removing it to leave the trail).

My current favourites are “Garden Aeroplane-Trap” from 1935, in which white, bony, plane-ish structures lie in wooden trays piled up into citadels, being crawled or grown over by pink, fuzzy, mollusc-like plants, or maybe shellfish – AND –

“The Robing of the Bride”, 1939.  A naked, elongated, high-breasted woman is cloaked in a robe of rich red feathers which mask her head and face, attended by a green feathered snake-bird man holding a big broken arrow, another long naked girl, and a four-breasted, little green Manalishi thing with a distended belly, picking its nose with a thumb.

What does it mean?  Possible sexual connotations, I would think – and the text refers to Duchamp, if that’s any help.

Phillip Taafe

At the Gagosian Gallery, Kings Cross.  Huge, high white walls, silent, suited security attendants hold the door open for you.  Various painted layers on paper attached to canvas – huge rectangular or triangular works in a range of bright colours; pink, greens, blues, reds,  oranges, often featuring masks (Noh theatre) and harem-like grilles.  Scimitar shapes, one with gold, spidery, bursting fireworks or stars, another like petals cascading down in straight lines.  Faint echoes of Ofili again, and perhaps Gilbert and George without the swearwords.  Wallpaper-ish sometimes, too.

Turner

That strange painting of Napoleon against a garish sunset, contemplating a shell – its in the Tate Britain, the one in which his reflection makes his legs look twice as long.  There’s an Ernst, “Napoleon in the Wilderness”, in which N is contemplating an encrusted, but otherwise naked woman, holding a saxophone-shaped strap thing with an odd little dragon on the end, where the bell should be.  Did Ernst know the Turner?  Turpin makes no mention.

Anthony Quinn

What a brilliant thug he makes in “La Strada”, displaying not the slightest concession to manners, politeness, normal social intercourse anywhere in Fellini’s film, beyond addressing the audiences of his strong man act as “Ladies and Gentlemen” and a nun as “Sister”.  Otherwise, he leans scowling against walls, scratching, smoking into his cupped hand, grunting, swilling wine, roaring about on his motorbike with the caravan thing attached – and fighting and beating people up, of course.  Haven’t seen him as Michelangelo painting the ceiling, but his Gauguin bore some resemblance to Zampano.  Actually, it was Charlton Heston who played Michelangelo, not Quinn (BP, 6th Dec 2011)

I love those Italian films of the early 50s, “Bicycle Thieves” and “Miracle in Milan” for example, with huge blocks of flats on wasteground, Roman ruins, people living in shacks, caves, dressed in odd bits of uniform, forage caps, greatcoats, driving odd vehicles (broomsticks in “Miracle”)…

Van Gogh

Was surprised to read that VG was barred entry to Arles, as a result of a petition by the people, shortly after the ear incident, and was locked up on grounds of public safety; up to that point in the letters, he seemed a peaceful and harmless sort of cove, apart from some mild stalking of his cousin and tiresome religious mania…

Blackpaint

3/04/11

Blackpaint 236

December 29, 2010

Review of the Year (Part 1)

OK, all the swanky broadsheet newspapers and TV culture programmes do an annual review, so Blackpaint’s readers are required to at least read the heading before – heading off in a more interesting direction.  Be reassured, however; I will only mention one thing under each heading.  So, assuming one of you is still reading, here goes:

Nov. 2009 – Balka box at Tate Modern.  Thick, felt blackness on your own in the morning; hordes of Spanish kids with phone cameras in the afternoon.

Dec. 2009 – Turner Prize Show.  Lucy Skaer’s whale skeleton and the powdered plane by Roger Hioorns – sorry, that’s two.

Dec – Mexican prints at British Museum.  Influence of Siqueiros on Pollock.

Dec – Updahl at Kings Place.  Purple skies over the fjords, amidst the corporate hospitality.

Dec – Photography at British Library.  Those weirdly humanoid X rays of frogs.

Jan 2010 – Photographers Gallery; Goldberg etc.  Afrikaaner boys on horseback with Easter Island expressions.

Jan – Chaldon Mural.  Demons like aliens, in Happy Valley.

Jan – Chris Ofili, Tate Britain.  The hanged man on the right of the picture.

Feb 2010 – Van Doesburg, Tate Modern.  Diagonal or square?  VD says former, Mondrian latter.

Feb – Arshile Gorky, TM.  Had no idea how influential he was on the Abstract Expressionists; didn’t like those fluffy white backgrounds, though.

Feb – Brighton Art Gallery.  The Christopher Wood and the Mods and (especially) Rockers photos.  Two again, sorry.

Feb – “Michelangelo’s Dream”, Courtauld.  Phaeton’s chariot and horses plummeting down.

March 2010 – Threshold; drawings at Whitechapel Gallery, curated by Paula Rego.  That Sutherland drooping, segmented penis on yellow background.  OK, I know it isn’t, but it looks like it.

March – Celeste Boursier – Mougenot at Barbican.  Birds on the guitar strings, everyone loving it; impossible name, though.

March – Paul Nash at Dulwich.  Overkill for me – but I love the Thames Estuary air war.

April 2010 – History of the World in 100 0bjects, British Museum.  The tiny carved reindeer, with no purpose other than to look good.

April – Shobdon Tympanum, V & A.  Wild, hippy woman in sailor top, who turned out to be Jesus enthroned in majesty.  Strangest British object I’ve ever seen (but see Chaldon, above).

April – Pompidou Centre, Paris.  Too much fantastic stuff.  The feminist videos stick in my mind, especially Hannah Wilke’s.

April – Musee d’Orsay, Paris.  Several crap paintings by genius painters (Van Gogh, Cezanne…)

April – Museum of Modern Art, Paris.  Fabulous Bonnards, Marthe in bath.

April – Tate Modern, permanent collection.  Sarmanto, disappearing pictures.

April – Kingdom of Ife, British Museum.  Mix of realism and stylisation in single sculptures – and those heads.

April – Christian Kobke at the National Gallery.  The roof painting, seven -eighths sky.

(Peep Show on now; this continued tomorrow).

Blackpaint

29.12.10

Blackpaint 145

June 1, 2010

Things you have learnt on Blackpaint since November 2009

  1. Michelangelo doesn’t do trees
  2. Romans and Greeks both did landscapes
  3. Egyptians and Romans did still lifes
  4. Raphael’s nudes are well covered; Michelangelo’s and Leonardo’s are “ripped”
  5. Some staggeringly good renaissance painters (and Rembrandt) do limbs and hands too big
  6. Some staggeringly good Post-Impressionists have done some really awful paintings
  7. Some cultures (notably Ife) happily mix abstract/stylised and naturalistic features in same sculpture/picture 
  8. There were lots of Dutch working class abstract artists in the post ww2 years
  9. Paul Feiler is the great unsung St.Ives artist
  10. So is Sandra Blow.

Artists between whom there are resemblances no.3 (I think)

Chris Ofili and Wangechi Mutu.  Check out especially  her heads entitled “the histology of the different classes of uterine tumours” (no kidding).

Listening to Honky Tonk Man by Johnny Horton.

“I’m a honky tonk man, and I can’t seem to stop,

I like to give the girls a whirl to the music of an old juke box;

And when the money’s all gone, I’m on the telephone,

Crying Oh,oh Mama, can your daddy come home?” 

Blackpaint

01.06.10

Blackpaint 84

March 10, 2010

Whitechapel Gallery

Free admission to a great exhibition of drawings called “Threshold”, curated or chosen by Paula Rego and with an expensive-looking leaflet with loads of repros of the drawings.  It’s from the British Council collection.

Without looking at the leaflet, I remember the following:  several coloured drawings by Graham Sutherland, ditto from Sickert, a couple of Victor Willings, a Prunella Clough, two Burras, an Augustus and a Gwen (latter better, I think), a tiny Ofili head, a large Auerbach in black and white chalk, a Harold Gilman, Chris Orr’s “Vegetables go to School” , a Patrick Caulfield, a surprising Stanley Spencer – can’t remember more, but I’m sure there was more.  It’s only on until 14th March.

Celeste Bourgier – Mougenot

At the Barbican Curve gallery, live birds playing electric guitars for free.  Everyone there was smiling – and it was free.

RIP – painted over this (above), over last two days – now looks like this (below – but still changing)

Listening to “Sunday Morning Coming Down” by Johnny Cash.

“On a Sunday morning sidewalk, I’m wishing, Lord, that I was  stoned,

‘Cos there’s something in a Sunday that makes a body feel alone;

And there’s nothing short of dying, half so lonesome as the sound

Of a sleeping city sidewalk, and Sunday morning coming down”.

Blackpaint

10.03.10

Blackpaint 55

February 1, 2010

Ofili

I see Laura Cumming in Observer thinks Lazarus was like Matisse, but I still reckon Art Nouveau; thought her review was a bit sniffy – it was a great show, at least four distinct “phases” and good to see changes in an artist’s work.  The thin, dry surfaces of the latest pieces remind me a little of the Per Kirkesby, on reflection.

Grayson Perry

The above had a column in the Observer on Sunday which I hope will be a regular feature, as I think he talks more sense about art than any other (living, British) artist I can think of.  And, judging from the exhibition he curated in Bexhill a while back, called “Unpopular Culture”, his taste coincides quite closely to mine – the Burra, and the Colquhoun, Chadwick…

Anyway, his article was about class and he describes how, in 2001, he was waiting to discuss his first solo show in the Amsterdam Stedelijk Museum when he was assailed by “the ghost of (his) working class past”, which said to him “What are you doing here, you oik? These places ain’t for the likes of you.”

Reading this reminded me of “Intensely Dutch”, the book on Dutch post-war art I’ve been reading; I was struck by the fact that nearly all the artists featured came from a working class background; fathers were – glazier, blacksmith, painter of Delftware, grocer/saddlemaker, furniture maker, postman, fine carpenter, barber.  One farmer, one office manager.

If you compare this with, say, the St.Ives painters (the men, anyway – not so much seems to have been written about  the women), only Terry Frost seems to have come from a working class background and, of course, Alfred Wallis; although I’m not sure about Bryan Wynter – the Tate book isn’t clear on it.

I’m not sure what all this means, if anything, but it might have a bearing on Grayson’s feelings expressed in the article.

Listening to Son House, Death Letter Blues.

“Got a letter this morning, how d’you reckon it read? (*2)

Said, hurry, hurry; gal you love is dead”.

Blackpaint

1.02.10