Posts Tagged ‘Oscar Kokoschka’

Blackpaint 661- Vampires, Volcanoes and False Confessions

January 1, 2020

Elizabeth Peyton, “Aire and Angels”, National Portrait Gallery until 5th January 2020

So not much time left to see these paintings, if you should want to – exhibition has been on since October, it seems, without entering my consciousness.  Mostly celebrities: Kurt Cobain, David Bowie, Liam Gallagher (whoever they might be), Napoleon….

Critics are somewhat split on the quality of these works: The Time Out critic, for example, thinks that the exhibition as a whole works, but that, individually, the paintings “stink”.  Bidisha in the Guardian is rapturous about this collection of beautiful (?) boys, and says that they smack of the “hot vampire”, which seems about right to me.

Strangely, none of the pieces I read, including the NPG’s own site, make any comparisons, or attempt to locate Peyton in any context.  I imagine Alistair Sooke does, in his Telegraph review, but since you have to subscribe to read it in its entirety,  I’ll never know.

Here, then, for what they’re worth, are my contributions.  First, Marlene Dumas – the flatness of texture, the graphic, cartoon-y nature of some of the portraits.  Then, German Expressionism, especially Oscar Kokoschka, in the entwined lovers below; finally, that woman with the flowers, against the green wall – a cross between Christian Schad and a Scottish Colourist like Peploe, maybe?

 

Quite unlike anything else in the exhibition – slightly blurred, I’m afraid, but definite Dumas touch, reinforced by the monochrome.

 

Vampire lovers…

 

Kokoschka crossed with Burne Jones?

 

Who’s this vampire boy?  No-one I know recognises him…

 

 

The exhibition is not confined to the rooms devoted to it; there are several portraits elsewhere in the galleries (although I didn’t see them).  It’s free, so definitely worth a walk through before it finishes on the 5th.

Erebus, The Story of a Ship – Michael Palin (Arrow Books, 2018)

John Hartnell, one of Franklin’s crew, buried in the 1840s and preserved by the ice

I got this book for Christmas and find it absorbing and beautifully written.  Erebus was the name of the ship which James Clark Ross sailed to the Antarctic on two expeditions in 1840 and 41 – and Lord Franklin took towards the other Pole in 1845; the voyage which led to his death and that of his entire crew and the disappearance of the ship.  The Erebus has now been located, sunk in shallow water; the bodies of some sailors discovered and exhumed (see above) – but I haven’t got that far yet; I’m still in Tasmania with Ross, just back from the first Antarctic “trip”.  I was interested to find that Mount Erebus, the active Antarctic volcano, was named after Clark’s ship, not the other way round.  Seems obvious now…

The Confession Killer and The Confession Tapes (both series on Netflix)

Henry Lee Lucas

I haven’t been to the cinema recently (apart from the latest Star Wars effort on Christmas Eve), but have been watching these two fascinating series on Netflix.  Lucas – you may remember the film “Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer” – confessed to around 600 murders when he was in the custody of the Texas Rangers, murders which had been carried out all over the USA, sometimes in different states simultaneously.  Police forces from numerous states queued up to clear their unsolved cases; Lucas, with his Texas Ranger “handlers” rarely let them down.  He was eventually convicted of one particular crime, the “Orange Socks”murder, which led to a death sentence – and it subsequently became clear that the confession was false.  I think I’m right in saying it was the only time that George W Bush ever granted an appeal against the death sentence.  Lucas died in prison in 2011 – no-one knows how many – if any – of his claims were true.

As to “The Confession Tapes” – there are two clear lessons to be learned.  NEVER falsely confess to a crime to relieve relentless pressure from interrogators, and NEVER agree to a plea bargain in Arkansas.

Anyway, I’ve finally been doing some proper painting again.  Latest efforts below:

 

Erebus

 

Night Visitor

 

New Years Eve

Happy New Year to all readers (for whom it IS new year, of course)

Blackpaint

January 1st, 2020

Blackpaint 459 – Martial, Andre and Oscar at the Pompidou

August 22, 2014

Martial Raysse at the Pompidou Centre

I’d never heard of this artist until now; I suppose he’s a sort of Richard Hamilton – pop art, ideas man, always changing, cutting edge.  His early stuff is a combination of the matt face portraits along the lines of Warhol, often combined with neon bits (see below).  He also did a lot of neon sculptures;   A painting with the corner missing, replaced with a piece of neon that makes a corner frame.  the colours are vivid, the pictures striking and witty.

Then, paintings with additions, such as a set of antlers, becoming more extensive, until at least half sculpture – Stella, or maybe Bill Woodrow.

raysse2

raysse3

Later, he did massive canvases, peopled by partying mobs of strange, incongruous people in bright, almost painfully bright colours.  This phase reminds me of the sort of paintings that appeared in the recent Saatchi exhibition; strange groups doing strange, suggestive things (see previous Blackpaint).  A completely bonkers short film called “Jesus Cola”, in which a professor is a sort of quiz contestant, answering questions, usually with an emphatic “NON!”  Cut to youths playing at cowboys, one “shooting” all the others with a toy pistol, to what sounded like Dylan’s “Oxford Town” speeded up to the Nth degree.

raysse4

Some ceramics, mobiles made from clothes pegs etc., like sinister charms hung from trees in “Blair Witch” or “True Detective” and the odd painting of banal, everyday articles like the basket of fruit above.  And then the stranger and stranger ensemble paintings in vile colours.

He’s the most expensive French living artist, apparently; a real find for me.

Pompidou permanent collection

Some real beauties in the permanent collection –   my favourites are:

Andre Kertesz photos of New York

kertesz1

That’s a pigeon taking off.

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Reminds me of Brueghel.

Marc Chagall’s bride and groom.

chagall pomp

Asger Jorn (of course)

jorn pomp

 

Karel Appel (of course)

appel pomp

 

And this fantastic portrait of Brancusi by Kokoschka.

kok pomp

 

OK, enough Pompidou for now; more next blog.

A Separation (cont.)

I was halfway through when I wrote about this film last week; it got even better in the second half, with a potential murder accusation (of an unborn child, under Iranian law).  Ended inconclusively, I think without a taking of sides; could be wrong though – I’d need a rigorous feminist analysis to be sure.

Like Someone in Love

Kiarostami film, set in Japan, concerning an odd triangle of young student/prostitute, elderly professor/client and boyfriend/mechanic/thug.  The last is unaware of his girlfriend’s job; the film concerns the attempts of the girl and the client to keep it that way.  Like “a Separation”, it ends inconclusively – but no other similarities, apart from the nationality of the directors.

The tone of the film is indeterminate; at times, I thought I was watching a gentle comedy – the elderly client is a benign grandfatherly type, who only wants company for dinner and someone to listen to Ella Fitzgerald with him.  He eschews the opportunity to sleep with the girl.   Then it gets darker as he loses control of the situation with the boyfriend.

The night scenes from a taxi in the Japanese city – Tokyo? – are beautifully photographed but it’s not breathtaking, like “The Wind Will Carry Us”, for example; the only other Kiarostami film I know.  Reminded me of “I’m in the Mood for Love”, maybe, but probably its just the use of a torch song title.

 

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Theory Split 2

 

 

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Theory Split 2 

Blackpaint, 22.08.14