Posts Tagged ‘Patrick Caulfield’

Blackpaint 443 – Deacon, Cezanne, Fellini and Bragg

April 25, 2014

Richard Deacon at Tate Britain – until Sunday!

I was unexcited about the prospect of visiting this exhibition, since painting is more my thing than sculpture usually; that’s why it took me so long to get around to it.  I was surprised – it’s great.  Wood, metal, cement. sometimes all three together – wooden strips looping along the floor and rearing up like lassos; an oblong metal “shell”, open at both ends, with a flat metal lip overlapping and then blending with the edge of the orifice.  It just lies there on the floor, like a giant grey metal cream horn.

deacon1

A splintered and tortured steamed oak and metal structure, writhing all over the floor – how does he twist the wood like that?  I presume it’s made possible by the steaming process.

deacon2

A black “hogan” shaped thing, or maybe giant seed case called “Struck Dumb”, rather spoilt in my view by a red bow tie shape at one end;  “After”, a huge, “wickerwork” snake, curling across the gallery, stiffened by a wide silver metal band running from end to end.  A group of small, organic shapes, sculpted in various materials, like a group of sea creatures washed up by the tide.  And terrific, looping, diagramatic drawings with erasures and fuzzed lines in blue ink.

deacon 3

Great sculptures and great engineering.  It finishes this Sunday, so go this weekend.

Ruin Lust, Tate B

I thought this stretched the definition of “ruin” a bit far; there is a series of photographs by Gerard Byrne, for instance, which show hangovers or survivals of 60s design in present-day architecture and society – great photos, interesting idea, but not really “ruin”.  Unlike Waldemar Januszczak, however, I don’t really care if the concept is stretched though, as long as there’s some good art to look at in the exhibition.  And there is some; several paintings and prints of Llanthony Abbey to kick off.  I know it well and none of these look much like it (not that it matters).   The usual suspects are here; Turner, Constable, Wilson Steer.  There’s a mildly Apocalyptic John Martin, of the Pompeii eruption, which looks to me as if it’s happening in a vast underground chamber – my partner tells me he did some designs for sewers during the cholera epidemics, so maybe that influenced him. They are in Jeremy Deller’s exhibition in Nottingham, I understand.  Photos of stupendous German bunkers and gun emplacements on the Atlantic coast, by the Wilson sisters;  A couple of familiar surrealistic pictures by Paul Nash; a great Sutherland and a Piper church.

piper 1

I thought Ian Hislop’s description of Piper as “a committed Modernist, in love with the Olden Days” (The Olden Days, BBC2) was spot on.  Some war photographs from Rachel Whiteread and a Patrick Caulfield, which displays the contrast between his clean, radiantly coloured, graphic style and the ruinous subject matter.  Not one of the great exhibitions, but a good 30 minute job. if you are a Tate member and don’t have to fork out specially.

Cezanne and the Modern , Oxford Ashmolean Museum

This is just packed out with interesting things, as is the permanent collection at the museum ( I’ll write about that in next blog, along with the Matisse cut-outs).

The Cezannes are mostly watercolours; the best of these are one of a rockface or quarry, almost like an early Hamilton car fender drawing from a distance; and one called “Undergrowth”, I think, like a pen and ink and wash drawing.  Then, there is a single, large, unfinished oil painting called “Route to le Tholonet”, which has beautiful, subtle blue, brown and green hillsides behind a couple of tree trunks and a sketchy cottage – it’s oil, but it looks like watercolour, especially in the exhibition guide (good for £5).  Also pears in a bowl, a skull and a shimmering bottle still life.  Great St.Victoire, next door with the others.

Others: Great Modiglianis, one of Cocteau, pink cheeks, spidery body and features, wrists and chin and a male face, a Russian I think, with a crooked, “stuck on” nose;

A striking Degas nude, “After the bath, woman drying herself” – her bum is right in your face as you enter the gallery; she appears to be diving forwards, her arm and shoulder outlined in red, head disappearing behind divan, or whatever.  Her head’s in the wrong place, it seems to me, too far to the right…;

degas ashmolean

A Van Gogh, “the Tarrascon Stage”, the paint badged on thickly in sticky-looking squares;

A fabulous Manet, “Young Woman in a Round Hat” – on the wall above is a quotation from Manet; “There are no lines in Nature…” and yet, round the woman’s left shoulder and arm, a very visible black line.  Great painting though.

manet round hat

 

Soutine – these are a revelation; he’s much more than the sides of beef.  A thick red-lipped, crop-headed self portrait; A beautiful, sad-eyed portrait of an unknown woman in a black dress, with a dark blue background;  an awful choirboy and an awful hanging turkey BUT – three expressionist paintings of the town of Ceret, that look a little like Auerbach building sites, but with curving lines.  There’s a church spire from below looking up, recalling Delaunay’s Eiffel Tower.  Another, with two paths meeting to form a triangle, like the legs of that Boccione statuette… all done in the late 20s.

soutine 2

Fellini, “81/2”

Stunning opening and closing sequences – in the opening, Mastroianni (Fellini) floats high above, attached by the ankle to a line and to a car (it’s a dream sequence) – and the closing, the actors take part in a Dance of Fools, hand in hand, to the music of a clown band – shades of “The Seventh Seal”.

The Olden Days (BBC2)

I mention this series again, NOT because my son Nicky was a researcher on it (although he was), but because I was struck by the startling resemblance of Billy Bragg to the photograph portrait of the older William Morris…

??????????

Heaven Only Knows (final version)

Blackpaint

25.04.14

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Blackpaint 398 – Murder on the Ark, Merkel at the Tate

June 13, 2013

Michelangelo

noahs sacrifice

Mich himself reminded me that I haven’t mentioned him much lately – I was dusting the bookshelf when the giant Taschen fell on me.  Sorry as I am to be disrespectful,  the first thing I noticed on flicking through was the comedy cow’s face in the “sacrifice of Noah” section of the ceiling (see above); that eye isn’t right, surely – and what about the horse’s head behind?  I know I’ve said this in previous blog, but what is going on at the end of the Ark?  It looks like an axe murder to me.

ark

Tate Britain Re-hang – Caro, Hockney, Cragg

Looking at the Caro sculpture again, positioned as it is, in front of Hockney’s “A Bigger Splash”, it looks as if short red diving boards are positioned above the pool in the painting.  If you’re really being fanciful, the thin, curly, red bits echo the streaks of water flying up in the painting…

The Tony Cragg “Stack” could be a four- (or five, with a top shot) faced painting, with the bucket or the blanket like a Turner red spot.

cragg

Blake- William, not Peter

In the Blake room – easy to miss, tucked away – I was looking at that body of Newton’s, in the picture where he’s using the calipers; the muscles under the skin make his body look like a snake’s – or rather, how you would imagine a snake’s body to be.

Patrick Caulfield and Gary Hume

There’s a double exhibition of these two painters at Tate Britain at the moment, and it seems an appropriate pairing, although I can’t quite work out why.  Surface, I think – they’re both about surface, Gary Hume avowedly so.

Caulfield’s paintings have perspective but are mostly rendered in thick dark diagrammatic lines, with insets in a photographic or painterly style as contrast.  The effect is all in front, no depth.  The diagrammatic bits depict restaurant rooms or complicated terraces and staircases, empty of life except for a linear proprietor, lounging through a serving hatch, strangely effective as part of this set of lines.  The Alpine lake and castle scene, “caged” with the fish tank by these lines, looks like a blown- up photograph; I’d always assumed it was, but on close inspection, it looks like a screen print touched up, or maybe even hand painted, super realist-style.  Other insets include Kalf lobsters and drinking glasses, surfaces precisely rendered.  He loves doing different styles; the catalogue roses, for example.

At times, it looks as if he’s doing impossibilities with perspective and architecture, like Escher – but no, on close inspection, it’s all right and accurate; just complicated.

Hume, famously, paints on aluminium panels, using gloss paint, often in sickly pastel shades, poured on to avoid brush marks.  I think that he uses some sort of string or filament to  stem the flow, forming ridges where two colours meet, or patterns under the paint.  Maybe it’s some sort of cut-out or stencil.  One painting looked like poured toffee or caramel, gone hard.  I only really liked one – the “portrait” of Angela Merkel, with its curved white border.

Dubliners

I’d always thought these stories were beautifully written, but that their beauty lay in the characters and the stories.  Re-reading “A Mother”, however, I find it’s full of great images: “She sat amid the chilly circle of her accomplishments, waiting for some suitor to brave it and offer her a brilliant life”.  Or: “His conversation, which was serious, took place at intervals in his great brown beard”.

Point Break

Surfing, sky-diving, bank robbing film directed by Katherine Bigelow; ridiculous story, fantastic surfing and free falling.  The bank robbery scenes, with the ex-president masks, are straight out of “The Friends of Eddie Coyle” and the chase through the back gardens reminded me strongly of “Straight Time”, the great Dustin Hoffman/Theresa Russell film.  There is a link to the Bigelow film in the presence of Gary Busey, who gets shot in both.

The Fall

Watching Gillian Anderson’s highly sexualised performance in this serial, I wondered if the writer or director had seen the down- market Swedish crime series “Those Who Kill” (see previous Blackpaints).  Laura Bach, as the woman detective, wears a similarly sexy “uniform” and at one stage, is actually having sex with the serial killer she is hunting – unwittingly, of course.  To be absolutely clear – she knows she is having sex with him; but not that he’s a serial killer.  I hope that we don’t get something like this in the second series of “The Fall”.

001

Headlong Changed

Blackpaint

13.06.13

Blackpaint 310 – No Mud, just Clean, Singing Colours

December 5, 2011

De Kooning

Sometimes painters just cut through everything else when you look at something and so it is for me with DK – picked up the Taschen to see if it’s worth getting the new Retrospective for 34 quid (it is, of course) and I couldn’t believe how clean his colours are – no muddy slurry, just clean, pure greens, blues, pinks; loads of scoring and dripping and strokes of black – well, you can see in the Woman  below:

See, no mud?  When I try, I get mud straight away, as in first stage below;

Will try to rescue it, but I don’t hold out great hope.

Degas’  Ballet Dancers

I repeated my remark about the Degas exhibition at my life drawing class on Friday – namely, very wonderful drawings and paintings, but you can have too many ballet pictures; it didn’t go down very well – apparently, you can’t have too many.  Coincidentally, we had some ballet-type poses for the 5 minute jobs, and I reproduce a couple here:

The one on left above illustrates the pitfalls of not standing back to check your dimensions – you get stunted appendages (no, not that one) like the tiny left arm, bursting from his upper chest like the Alien baby. 

ROYGBIV at the Whitechapel

Forgot to mention the Macaw’s Wing watercolour by Elizabeth Butterworth and Patrick Caulfield’s Pipe with Smoke; don’t know why they’re so good, really – I think it’s the red and deep blue in both.

Fellini at Skegness

Spent the weekend at Butlin’s in Skegness at the Butlin’s Folk Festival – most of the crowd were white, many were bald (as were some of the male singers); if you were there, my partner and I were the well-dressed, youthful, rather good-looking couple in the queue – you probably noticed us.  All the acts great, as they were at Cropredy (big overlap) but only one really for me, Cara Dillon and her band.  I had thought she was a bit twee, having seen her on that Celtic Connections thing with Aly Bain, where everybody is rather well-pressed  and pleased with themselves; very mistaken.  Powerful voice over Sam Lakeman’s driving, commanding  guitar, she sounds to me like a gutsier, Irish Alison Krauss.  Hill of Thieves – fantastic. 

So, what’s this about Fellini? Being dead, if for no other reason, he wasn’t really in Skegness. But outside the Butlin’s gates, on the windswept beach, with the strange, pointy cone- shaped turrets of the big entertainments tent towering behind the fence, dozens of little groups of people trudging along like pilgrims, walking off the Guinness between sets,  it looked like a scene from 8 1/2, or maybe Dolce Vita, or Amarcord…  Anyway, I’ll post our photograph and you will see what I mean.

The Devils

Hopefully, now Ken Russell’s dead and everyone realises how brilliant he was, there will be a DVD of the director’s cut issued.  I was remembering Dudley Sutton in the film, tossing a blackened bone to Vanessa Redgrave in his best insouciant manner; he was a Ted in “The Boys” with Jess Conrad, I think, years before, and was in Fellini’s Casanova, dementedly playing an organ, halfway up a castle wall.  All this, and a close friend of Roger Hilton too.  And Tinker….

Synapse, Blackpaint

5th December 2011