Posts Tagged ‘Otto Dix’

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

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Blackpaint 469 – Portraits of Ladies, Lust, Murder and Mayhem by Land and Sea

November 14, 2014

de Kooning

I have finally got hold of the great Phaidon DK book, written by Judith Zilczer and with a number of paintings that didn’t find their way into John Elderfield’s Retrospective published by Thames and Hudson a couple of years ago.  The illustrations are really high quality too.  I find the sheer density of the marks, in paintings like these below, amazing when you consider how he uses so many colours, and yet manages to keep them vivid and fresh.  I love those run-downs in “Two Figures” – dense and dirty – yet bright and seething, in some way.  Anyway, no point in trying to describe them; have a look and see if you agree.

de kooning woman

de Kooning “Woman” – now, that’s what I call a portrait!

 

de kooning two figs in a landscape

DK, “Two Figures in a Landscape”

 

Queen Elizabeth 1 painting,Tate Britain

There’s a fantastic full-length portrait of Elizabeth now on display in the Tate, by Van Der Meulen.  By way of contrast to the DK above, here’s an alternative approach to the full length female portrait.  Actually, it’s much more impressive “in the flesh” so to speak; the face in the actual painting looks like a Holbein (to me, that is).

van der meulen

 

Scene from The Beggar’s Opera, Hogarth, Tate Britain

A Scene from 'The Beggar's Opera' VI 1731 by William Hogarth 1697-1764

 

Also at TB, a roomful of Hogarths, the most striking of which is above.  From John Gay’s play, two women beg two men for MacHeath’s life.  That’s him in the middle, with the manly stance; his legs are chained.  On the left, the gaoler’s daughter pleads with her father; on the right, Polly Peachum pleads with the judge.  I like that colour sequence of the dresses and the drapes – red, blue, red, white, black, red.  I’ve got to say the perspective looks a little odd to me; the gate and barred window on the right look like something out of “Doctor Caligari” and the oval window and gate in the rear wall don’t look “right” either.  Hogarth as a forerunner of the C20th German Expressionists?

The Cowards, Joseph Skvoresky

Finally got round to reading this; I’ve had it for about 30 years in Penguin Modern Classics, with a great Dix cover.  Set in a Czech country town in the closing days of WW2, it covers the retreat of the Germans, mostly SS, and the arrival of the Russians on their “liberation” drive towards Berlin.  For most of the book, the tone reminded me of “Catcher in the Rye”; the narrator, a young middle-class jazz fan and amateur musician, spends time fantasising, getting himself into and out of scrapes with the Germans and the self-appointed Czech militias seeking to fill the space between the departing invaders and the coming Soviet troops; some of these are close to being collaborators, but Smirecky, the hero is only really interested in showing off to, and lusting after, Irene, his hopeless love-object and a handful of other attractive women in the town.  Then, right at the end, it takes a very dark turn into ambush, torture, mutilation and executions – but Smirecky takes this pretty in his stride, and the tone remains, well, cheerful and optimistic….

Autumn of the Patriarch,Gabriel Garcia Marquez

And, after several months, finished this.  No paragraphs, a full stop maybe every ten pages or so, constant switching of viewpoint within the same phrase.  Will Self is like Hemingway by comparison.  It’s magic realism, with the cannibalism, mutilation, mass murder, casual rape, prostitution, disease, parrots, jungles, tropical seas that often figure in the genre.  At times, it felt like a 200 page Dylan Thomas poem with extreme violence and a reference to “general, sir…” every other line.  Thoroughly enjoyable, in tiny doses – say two pages at a time.

Leviathan, Dir. Verena Paravel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor

This is a staggering documentary, filmed aboard a fishing vessel out of Massachusetts, in the North Atlantic fisheries.  God knows how they got some of the sequences – they must have lowered cameras down with the nets, shot from the mast straight down, hung a camera low over the bow so that it took a sort of “selfie” of the ship, plunging below the water line with the rise and fall.  Gulls flying upside-down from below the sea surface (?), dozens of starfish whirling about in the discarded debris as it swirled overboard.  Most of it shot by night, blinding spotlights, livid greens, orange, blues, reds…  Fish heads sliding across the deck like jewelled gargoyles, a horrible but fascinating sequence where two fishermen chopped skate “wings” from the fishes’ bodies – one held the fish, the other whacked a hook in to steady it and hacked the wings off with a machete with two or three swipes.  It had the most uninspiring little blurb on the TV – “Experimental documentary… contains scenes of fish processing”.  Hooks, nets, knives, chains, hatches, slippery debris underfoot – many ways to have a grisly accident, even if the ship stays afloat.

leviathan

 

 

Recent Life-class effort

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Beware of too much white acrylic on backside.

 

 

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Redleg

Blackpaint

14.11.14