Posts Tagged ‘Oiticica’

Blackpaint 454 – South American Abstracts, Magic Realism and Dead Drunk Danes

July 11, 2014

Radical Geometry at the Royal Academy

South American geometric abstract art from Brazil (Sao Paolo, Rio), Uruguay and Argentina (Montevideo and Buenos Aires) and Venezuela (Caracas).  I’m always surprised to see this sort of art, geometric and minimalist, coming from SA – I suppose I expect it to be sort of wild and profuse, colourful like the Amazon jungle; Mireilles maybe.  This exhibition is nothing like that at all; collectively, it reminded me of modernist decor in a Corbusier mansion – some of the ceramic wall plaques have overtones of the Festival of Britain.  The highlights for me were:

Brazil

Oiticica’s wobbly squares – indeed, everything on Oiticica’s wall.

oiticica1

Lygia Pape’s lovely woodcuts – surfaces of wood and unique in this company.

lygia pape

Lygia Clark’s triangular works, in a variety of formats, opening out in surprising ways.

Willis de Castro’s minimalist, single colour plaques with tiny marginal “bits”.

de castro1

Looks much better than this in the gallery.

Uruguay

Torres-Garcia’s Klee – like tablets of images.

torres-garcia

 

Venezuela 

Carlos Cruz-Diez – this is the man who does the light saturated, coloured rooms (see Blackpaint on the Hayward light show some time back).  A wall- length series of graduated coloured light slats, glass I think, or maybe perspex, to finish the exhibition.

Asger Jorn – Restless Rebel

This book of essays and great pictures about my Scando hero is a revelation; I knew he did a whole lot of different stuff – the paintings of trolls and mythic animals, the ceramics, the mosaics and murals at the house in Albisola, the illustrated books, the altered (“detourned”) kitsch pictures – but I didn’t realise that there was always a philosophical underpinning to what he did.  Even if it was – well, a bit eccentric.  He kicked off with Marxism, but wasn’t content with dialectical materialism; he invented “triolectics”, that’s three forces involved in the conflict – thesis, antithesis and something else (artistic creativity, I think).

Famously, he was a founder member of Cobra – he also contributed to the split, by taking up with Constant’s wife and alienating the Dutch contingent.  No doubt there were ideological differences too. There was his “Scandinavian Institute of Comparative Vandalism” and the liaison with Guy Debord in the Situationist International, which he funded, despite Debord’s opposition to artists’ involvement(!).

Then there was the telegram he sent to Harry Guggenheim, who had the nerve to award him a prize of $2500 in 1964: “Go to hell with your money bastard.Never asked for it.  Against all decensy mix artist against his will in your publicity….Jorn.”

So – full ideological back up throughout.  But I still like him because he did really colourful, vigorous, writhing paintings with birds and trolls and other things lurking in them and he mixed a whole load of different colours successfully, like de Kooning and Joan Mitchell, say, and of course, Karel Appel.

dead-drunk-danes

Asger Jorn, Dead Drunk Danes

Ingmar Bergman, Fanny and Alexander

This appears to be turning into the Scandinavian post – apart from all the South American stuff above, of course; but maybe there’s a connection here too.  I’d always thought Fanny and Alexander was one of those lush Visconti-type films, Death in Venice or the Leopard maybe, and was set in Russia.  Wrong – it concerns the Ekdahls, a wealthy Swedish family and it has a very dark Gothic story-line and strong elements of magic realism in it.

What it also has is a magnificent speech at the end, going for (and touching) Shakespearian once or twice: “We must live in the little world… The world is a den of thieves and night is falling….Evil breaks its chains and runs through the world like a mad dog….The poison affects us all…no-one escapes…Therefore let us be happy while we are happy…

Well, maybe more Beckett than Shakespeare, except for the last bit, of course.

Urban Art

Exhibiting tomorrow at Urban Art, Josephine Avenue, Brixton London – in the street with 200 other artists, 10.00am to 6.00pm, Sunday too.  Please come and buy the painting below and many more that have appeared in this blog.

 

 

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Islares Farewell

Blackpaint

11.07.14

Blackpaint 381- Cutting Edge Stuff

February 14, 2013

Photographers Gallery

Fittingly, with Schwitters on at the Tate Britain, the Photographers Gallery has three exhibitions on, all of which involve collage.

First, there is Laura Letinsky.  Large, pastel-tinged photos of halved fruits, cakes and pastries, spoons and forks, cut out and reassembled on large, thick sheets of knife-edged paper.  The effect, from a distance, is rather like those early drawings by Richard Hamilton, of household goods and machines on cream paper.

laura letinsky

Next, Geraldo de Barros.  A Brazilian art photographer, de Barros’ work, all in black and white, varies from shots of alleyways and doorways in sharp contrast of shadow and light, swarthy – textured walls, crumbling in decay – is “swarthy” the right word?  It has the right sound, like running your hand over rough plaster – to simple monochrome planes, crossed by what looks like masking tape, to make striking minimalist images.

de barros

This minimalist strand falls into the somewhat surprising Brazilian tradition of artists like Oiticica, making art from cardboard boxes, crates and other detritus.  Why surprising?  I suppose because it’s Brazilian – think jungle, sunlight, colour, effusion, exuberance, all that stereotypical stuff.  Beatriz Milhazes, maybe, does the sort of art I would expect from Brazil; effusive, exuberant, blinding colours – not cardboard boxes, black and white minimalism.. but she’s not in this exhibition.

milhazes

Milhazes

Finally, at the PG, there is a floor of other photographic collagists, one of whom is Anna Parkina, also showing recently at the Saatchi Russian exhibition.  I liked Parkina’s work, and the marine – themed collection spread out on the floor.  Had my fill of collage for a while now…

Pacific Standard Time; Los Angeles Art 1945 – 1980

Great Tate book, got it at TM in a sale recently.  It’s got stuff on the artists featured in “The Cool School” film; but I haven’t got to that yet.  I was interested in the row at Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1947; the director, James Byrnes, put on a show of local moderns, AbExes and others and the museum was picketed by hundreds of excluded “traditionalist” artists from the area.

Later, Byrnes was allowed to buy a small Pollock for the museum – on condition that he didn’t show it!  He ignored this condition, and was forced to resign, after refusing to sign a McCarthyite loyalty oath. Another artist, Rex Brandt, was investigated after someone discerned a hammer and sickle device on the sail of a yacht in his picture “First Lift of the Sea”.  Interesting to read about this identification of abstract and “modern” artists with communism, given the later connections made between the Abstract Expressionists and the CIA.

Holy Motors

I can see why the fuss; it’s wild, stylish, fast-moving, and with the feel of anarchy of something like Themroc (without the politics).  Leos Carax comes across as annoying, greying, punky git, which is fitting, of course.  I’d thought that the beautiful Modernist building where we first see Oscar was the Corbusier Villa Savoye; wrong, it turns out to be the Villa Paul Poiret, by Robert Mallet – Smith (1925).  Have a look at it online – the Corbusier as well.

The other building featured is the derelict Samaritaine store, where “Oscar” and Kylie meet.  And that cemetery – is it Pere Lachaise?

No doubt it’s full of film references; the only one I got was Les Yeux Sans Visage, when Edith Skob puts the mask on.  She starred in “Visage”, so it’s not much of a spot.  I  think I recognise Oscar’s wife from a recent documentary.

La Belle et la Bete

I’m watching Cocteau’s version of the story, in which the influence of Max Ernst seems clear to me – the Beast strongly resembles the massive, feathered, owl-or hawk-headed striding figures from his Surrealist paintings and collages.  So there we are, collages again; full circle.

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The Lake District

Blackpaint

14.02.13

Blackpaint 124

April 30, 2010

National Gallery

As well as visiting the Kobke (see last blog), also had a general look around the gallery.  I was with one of those friends who take a perverse pleasure in acting like Philistines; “What’s good about this one, then?  Why is that a great picture?” and so on.  I went on , not very convincingly, about structure and composition and movement and surface and was very soon boring myself and feeling a bit sick.  As always, when this sort of interrogation happens, I found myself agreeing with him; yes, it’s not a very good Rubens, yes the head is too big and looks stuck on (Titian, the Flight into Egypt) – and so on.  The Vendramin family portrait looks as if apprentices did the children;  King Charles’ horse in the Van Dyck is definitely wrong (neck too thick, head too small).  As for the Van Gogh sunflowers… no, stop – a bridge too far.  Although, actually, I was never a big fan of the sunflowers; one of those blind spots, I suppose.

Tate Modern

Nice, quiet little anteroom to the Pollock/Kline/Jorn gallery with sculptures by Victor Pasmore, Mary Martin and somebody Biedermayer.  They were highly coloured little shelves and geometric protrusions in wood, plastic or metal, mounted on a flat board.  Similar stuff in Tate Britain by Pasmore and Ben Nicolson.  In the same, or next room, work by Helio Oiticica – the work that Serota said he would have to save in the event of a fire, because it’s so rare.  It consists of squares and oblongs drawn or painted on brown cardboard sheets; the blurb compares them to Mondrians – except that each of these are the same colour and they are set at very small angles, as if jostling each other across the board.

There was some other Brazilian and Venezuelan work with it, surprisingly minimal and colourless – I suppose I expected stuff that was more lush, colourful, vivid; Franz Ackermann, say.

The Kiefer palm tree has gone and in its place, huge, hanging, red and orange sisal sculptures, like a great, soft Marsyas.  Done in the 60s by Magdalena Abakanowicz, a Polish sculptor (sorry, one of the world’s leading woman artists), she  calls them  “Abakans”.  I thought that these soft sculptures might disprove my Polish thesis (see Blackpaint 20 and 21 ), that critics tend to analyse all works by Polish artists in terms of references to Auschwitz, WW2 and/or the post-war Communist period – but I was wrong.  From various sites, I found that her work is “emotive”, “disturbing”, about “lasting anxiety”, about “the missing”, the “crowd” and the individual’s struggle – it “reflects the emotional heritage of her political environment”.  Not Auschwitz then, but not far off.

Parrot, by Blackpaint.

Listening to If IGet Lucky by Arthur Big Boy Crudup.

“If I get lucky mama. with my trainfare home (*2)

I’m goin’ back to Mississippi now, mama, where I belong”.