Posts Tagged ‘Paul Klee’

Blackpaint 629 – Venice under Water and Anni Albers at the Tate

November 2, 2018

Venice under Water

Just back from flooded Venice, where I ran the 33rd Venice Marathon with my three sons, to raise money for Myeloma UK and to celebrate, if that’s the right word,  my 70th birthday.  This year, the conditions were the worst ever, at least for us slower ones ; a blasting headwind, driving hail into one’s face for several kilometers on the long bridge over the lagoon, followed by a step into calf-deep salt water on the car-free touristy stretch.  Sloshing on to St.Mark’s Square, with some desultory jogging over the seven or eight ramps to the finish by Giardini.  The day before, we were laughing at the tourists buying blue, orange and green galoshes; the day after, my eldest son had to go out early and find four pairs for us at E20 a pair.  BUT I did spot a peregrine falcon, cruising among the gulls in the red dawn sky over the Grand Canal, on the way to the start.

What has all this to do with art, you say?  Well, not a lot, but on the Monday (a dry day- the water comes and goes quickly with the tide and the wind), we came across the following, in a silent campo with several trees and surrounded by cloisters, on the other side of the island near Ospedale, and opposite the cemetery island:

Church of St. Francesco della Vigna

Big, white austere frontage with two huge bronze(?) statues, one a Moses horned like Michelangelo’s,  looming from alcoves about halfway up the wall – it’s got the feel of an abandoned Hawksmoor church about it (it’s not, of course – it’s Palladio; and it’s not abandoned).  And there’s the cloisters and no-one about at midday, a miracle in Venice.  In the gloom inside, there are a couple of great Veroneses, Tiepolo and the Negroponte below;  a fantastic painting, and no, I’d never heard of him before.  You have to drop a 50 cent piece in a box to get lights on the pics for a minute or so, like with the Bellini in S. Zaccaria.

 

 

Holy Family with Saints Anthony Abbot, Catherine and the infant John the Baptist, Paolo Veronese

Look at those fabrics, especially Catherine’s.

 

Resurrection of Christ, Veronese

 

Virgin and Child Enthroned, Fra Antonio da Negroponte

 

Another view of the above.  Love those putti swimming about in the sky under God, and the birds at the bottom; you can just make out a duck (mallard?) on the left and a hoopoe, last but one on the right.

Anni Albers at Tate Modern

I have to admit that this is not amongst my favourite exhibitions of all time, although I acknowledge the skill involved and the quality of the textiles displayed.  It’s all a bit too brown, grey and beige for my taste (although the examples I have picked to photograph seem to contradict that – because I picked ones I liked, I suppose).

I think you can see a resemblance to Paul Klee’s work in the second example especially; the interlacing tendrils in the 4th and 5th remind me of Brice Marden’s patterns – and maybe there is even a touch of Sean Scully in the pieces in general.  I thought the bedspread was nice, but better in a furniture showroom than an art gallery.  Yes, I know about the Bauhaus ethic of producing “practical”items, teapots, plates, chairs etc – I just like Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns and Joan Mitchell and the AbExes better.  No doubt, a major failure of taste and intelligence on my part, but I am an old white man, after all.

 

I really like this one.

 

But not so keen on this.

 

Crap frame.

 

An apology

First one above is blurred and I’m not sure it’s the right way up.

Trust (FX, Simon Beaufoy, Danny Boyle et al, 2018)

The US made, Simon Beaufoy version of the Getty kidnapping has to be the best thing on British TV this year.  Donald Sutherland is turning in a brilliant performance as the old man (Venice connection here – “Don’t Look Now” of course, and Fellini’s “Casanova”) Luca Marinelli, Hilary Swank.. well, they’re all terrific, as is the soundtrack, as is the camerawork and the script.  Shades of Godfather obviously, but also Fellini, I thought – or maybe the Sorrentino of “Il Divo” and “The Great Beauty”.  And there was all that hype about “the Bodyguard”…

Pictures of mine to finish with:

Rain over the Sound

 

Still Life with Milk Bottle

Blackpaint

02/11/18

 

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Blackpaint 518 – Last Venice; Red Roofs, Red Guards, Red Dress

October 30, 2015

Biennale – the Town

My last Venice blog – this Biennale, anyway –  is about the various exhibits scattered around the town.  In the case of Scully and the Bailey-Eno collaboration (see below), the magnificent venue is at least half the attraction.

Land Sea, Sean Scully

scully

Sean Scully

I’d considered Scully one of those one-trick artists whose work repeated itself, more or less;  stripes and intersections in greys, browns, blacks and whites, vaguely reminiscent of the side of a cattle truck  – and so, with sinister and depressing associations.  This show, of around thirty works, revealed to me a very different artist;  still stripes, but a variety of luscious colours and textures.  You can clearly see the thickness of the paint, slippery and glossy, and the sweep and chop of the brush marks.  Many are huge and some of the best are done on aluminium.  When he works in a variety of blues (the “Sea” bit, I guess),  he gets a depth and vibrancy of tone I’ve not seen matched.  The venue is one of those old, deserted mansions with ochre and sienna walls, roughly textured.  The walls made me think, totally inappropriately, of the Dirty Protest in the HBlocks…

 

The Sound of Creation – Sound Paintings, Beezy Bailey and Brian Eno

beezy bailey

Beezy Bailey 

This show is in the Conservatorio Benedetto Marcello, a working music academy in a beautiful seven or eight storey building with an enclosed courtyard.  As you climb the stairs, classical singing and orchestral music from the rehearsal rooms accompany you.

The paintings, vigorous, colourful, gloss on board, abstract and nearly abstract, are on the landings as you go up; some have earphones with them, through which you can hear Eno’s electronic music.  I found it pleasing, especially the one with the jaunty bass line and the unmistakeable whirr of an electric toothbrush, but not obviously connecting with, or enhancing the paintings.

Great view over the rooftops of Venice from the window next to the painting above; the slightly variegated roof tiles look like a Paul Klee painting.  As we descended, we couldn’t resist peering through a keyhole at a rehearsal in progress and only narrowly saved ourselves from falling forwards through the door.

 

Path and Adventure, Mio Pang Fei

mio

Mio Pang Fei

Chinese artist, now based in Macao, an astonishing body of work recapping Impressionism, Post Impressionism, Modernism and Abstract Expressionism, produced under one of the most hostile regimes in history.  A dim, crepuscular film playing, showing a series of horrible images from the Cultural Revolution; victims paraded with placards, heads bowed. as they are punched, manhandled, screamed at by manic Red Guards.  Many of those shown were surely shot soon after.  A line of nuns in white habits being given similar treatment.  Mio, on video, is low key and impressive but with no optimistic message for us – I’m glad to say; his work provides that.  Comparable with the ground floor of Russian pavilion.

 

…the Rest is Smoke, Helen Sear

More great art from Wales – Beddwyr Williams’ “Starry Messenger” at same venue two years ago.  The still below is taken from a looping sequence, in which a young woman in a red dress circles a beech tree, or maybe a series of beech trees, over and over again, caressing the trunk with one hand.  The tree trunks and leaves shine through her body; the reds and golds of the leaves echo her dress.  You never see more than the lower half of her face.  I found it erotic, hypnotic and ghostly.  There are other tree- and woodland- related images in the show, but this is the one that stayed with me.

 

helen sear

Helen Sear

 

 

work in prog 1

An old one of mine, but I’m anxious to publish.  Next week – Manchester galleries.

Blackpaint

30.10.15

 

 

 

Blackpaint 492 – The Three (or Four) D’s and Art House Sleaze

April 24, 2015

Sonia Delaunay, Tate Modern

delaunay black snake

A stunningly beautiful exhibition, cousin to the recent Matisse cut-outs and the Paul Klee show;  I was interested to see that the paintings got more vivid as she got older – in the earlier ones, the colours are more “muddied”, as can clearly be seen in the two examples below.  Another thing I liked was the rough edges, as if she’d cut out the shapes and stuck them on; gives the earlier works a pleasing wobbliness, somehow.  Like most – all? – artists, she has limits; there’s little texture or spontaneity and she recycles a number of devices: squares, triangles, circles, “S” shapes.  But then, that’s probably enough for one life-time, if you take the costume- and textile design, mosaic, tapestry and book/magazine covers into consideration…

Anyway, here are some things to look for:

  • Tchouiko (1907-8) – portrait; check out the droopy, Nosferatu fingers.
  • Binding of “der Sturm”, in the cabinet.
  • Young Finnish Girl – that blue (and red/pink).
  • Box (1913) – I’m sure that’s a painted button on the lid.
  • Bal Ballier, on mattress ticking – the women reminiscent of August Macke, I think.
  • The two on the end wall that are like knots, or skeins of coloured wiring.
  • The switch – or diversification – into fabric and costume design; hilarious film of lovely 20s and 30s models posturing and the huge, perpetually rolling fabric machine; dresses, ballet/theatre costume, fashion drawings and photos.
  • THEN – in the late 30s and 40s, back to painting.  I’m not sure if that corresponds with a real change, or if it’s just the effect of the way the exhibition is set out.  Vivid, sharper-edged paintings reminiscent of watch movements (see Rhythm Colour 1076, below)
  • The 1937 Paris exhibition room, with the huge, Gris-like murals of the propeller, the steam engine and the control panel.
  • “Coloured Rhythm 52” – my pick of the exhibition (can’t find a picture of it), along with “Black Snake”, just about the last painting in the show.

Great to see her separated out from Robert for once – as soon as I publish, I’m going to Google him to see if I can discern a clear difference between them; I seem to remember a shape or motif one used, but not the other.  Apart from Robert, the only other artists that popped into my mind going round this were El Lissitsky and Malevich – not that similar, but passing resemblances..

Delaunary 2

1914

 

delaunay 1

Rhythm Colour 1939

As my regular reader will know, I am a connoisseur and originator of Fortean-type theories – see, for example, Blackpaint 217, in which I prove that Shakespeare was a reincarnation of Michelangelo.  I cannot be alone in wondering about the cosmic significance of  three great “D”s in modern painting, all on exhibition in London at the same time – Diebenkorn (RA), Dumas and Delaunay (TM).  Actually, it’s four, if you count the De Koonings that are part of the Jenny Savile– selected group at the RA.

Climates, Nuri Bilge Ceylan (2006)

Following on from last week’s “flawed male characters” feature, Ceylan himself appears in this with his wife, playing the sleazest, most self-regarding male lead I can think of in modern cinema; he hangs around hidden in a doorway, waiting for a target woman to come home alone, then lets her spot him – and of course, she lets him in and ends up rolling about underneath him on the carpet as he pulls her clothes off and… cut away.

His wife, a TV producer, leaves him – actually, she sticks her hands over his eyes while riding pillion on his scooter, causing him to crash, so she must have been desperate.  He pursues her to a remote location in a permanent blizzard, waylays her in the company bus, tells her he’s changed – he’s ready to marry her and “give” her kids, so she should pack up her job and report to his hotel for sex forthwith… And, yes, she’s there waiting for him, on the bed (still dressed, but not for long).

I won’t spoil the surprise ending; presumably, Ceylan would argue that the film critiques the sexism of the sophisticated Turkish male – but the women are shown as vamps or victims.  Great cinematography and locations, of course.

 

Down Dog

 

Down Dog.  I think this is my best for ages.

Blackpaint

24.04.15

Blackpaint 418 – Whiteley, Schendel, Shining and Drowning

October 24, 2013

Brett Whiteley

I’d hardly heard of the above Australian artist until I saw “Art of Australia” this week.  What a brilliant painter he was  (died of an overdose in 1993); earlier stuff looked like Diebenkorn a bit – later, shades of Roger Hilton, Bacon and, I think, Scarfe and/or Steadman.  He mixed abstract, figurative, letters, techniques in a manner reminiscent of Albert Oelhen (but before Oelhen?).  Fantastic.

brett whiteley

Mark Bradford and Larry Bell at the White Cube Bermondsey

Bradford does huge canvases – I estimate the largest are 20ft * 18ft (dimensions not given and attendant didn’t know).  He plasters them with paper, paints it and then rips and shreds it down with a power sander.   The results resemble road systems and landscapes – one is like a coastline, another a tsunami investing a coastal city, another, Turner’s “storm at Harbour Mouth” (the sander swirls on black are like the rings on the cross section of a felled tree).  Some are bright – blue, pink, orange, white – reminding one of Peter Doig’s early paintings; others, dark and oppressive, like Anselm Kiefer’s work.

There are two beautiful Larry Bell pictures; they are like crumpled tinfoil and celluloid film, printed onto white canvas.  there are many more, but for my money, they are spoilt by being on black canvas and in black frames.

Blue Jasmine

Saw this Woody Allen film this week – it’s Streetcar, set in San Francisco rather than New Orleans.  Cate Blanchett does a great job of playing a neurotic, pampered, addicted, desperate woman, once rich, now broke, dumping herself on her despised working-class sister.  Script is great, but you never for a second forget you are watching acting; it’s naturalistic, rather than natural.  I can’t help comparing it to the fabulous Joanna Hogg films, Archipelago and Unrelated, that I’ve written about – in which, most of the time, no-one, pro or amateur, appears to be acting at all.

Reading Sebastian Faulks’ A Possible Life, which begins with a WW2 training exercise; officers lead their men mistakenly into flooded area and a soldier is drowned.  Strangely similar stories from two sources; Pete Seeger’s song “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” (I have it by Dick Gaughan on his “Sail On” album) and a Scott Fitzgerald story I read recently – can’t find it at the moment, he wrote so many stories.  The SF version is the earliest – I wonder if it’s the original.

The Shining

Watched it yet again the other night; like Goodfellas and Casino, you only have to see a few seconds and you are hooked – these films are Ancient Mariners.  I can’t understand why Stephen King hates the Kubrick film – it’s obviously a work of art, unlike most attempts at filming King books.  Kubrick changed it a bit – killed off the Scatman and left the Overlook standing, whereas King blew its boilers and burned it down.  I think Kubrick’s ending was better.  Pity about the Scatman, though.

Klee at Tate Modern

Went round this exhibition again, and, yes, I was rather snotty about it last time.  Room 13 is great, with the ones that are composed of dots and look like little tapestries – also the blue one, “path into the Blue” I think it’s called.  There’s also the miniature opera stage set that reminded me of Picasso’s “Night Fishing at Antibes” – but much smaller.

Mira Schendel

Great antidote to Klee – Brazilian minimalist, recalling Lygia Pape and Oiticica a little; wobbly square…  Triangles, bi-and trisected canvases; then, rough paint drawings and collages of bottles on bars, drips and splatters; some brilliant black ink on off-white paper, strong lines and jagged scribbles.  Then letters appearing and playing with typefaces; hanging tablets of rice paper; Eva Hesse-like tubes of gold-ochre, suspended from ceiling; silky, white nylon threads hanging in masses and curling up like hairs at the floor; a series of rough, eye-catching tablets on walls with bible quotations – she was a struggling Catholic, apparently.

schendel1

schendel2

Also visited “Art Under Attack” at Tate Britain; save that for next time.

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Work in Progress

Blackpaint

24.10.13

Blackpaint 417 – Size Matters; Big it Up

October 18, 2013

Paul Klee at Tate Britain 

Some of these are quite nice.  Not a ringing endorsement, I know, but my genuine reaction.  Klee is a techniques man ; his “oil transfer” drawings are an example – the method produces a yellow-brown, stained background on which the spidery lines of the drawing appear to be roughly scorched in.  Then, there are the dots; tiny, variegated blobs of colour that produce a tapestry or carpet effect – which is tasteful and nice.  There are the dark tiles of midnight blue and grey and black with a disc of bright yellow and a patch of orange; “Full moon and fire”, or some such title – no prize for spotting the moon…

klee1

There are a lot of fish, tastefully drawn and coloured; little imp figures that recall – or maybe prefigure – Victor Brauner and other surrealists; many of the pieces remind one of rock and cave drawings, thick black lines done with a scorched stick, maybe.  Hot air baloon heads, spider web drawings…, there’s a touch of those early Mondrians, with the interlocking lines before he moved on to squares.  And maybe a bit of Asger Jorn, without the texture…

klee2

What I really missed, however, was some size.  They are all small; after five or so rooms, you want to see something by some drunken American abstract expressionist who has crashed his car into the Tate front door, strode in trailing fag smoke and whisky fumes, and started to hurl paint over a five metre square canvas, stretched on the floor (canvas, not drunken ab-ex).

When you look at the catalogue, however, the pictures look beautiful – glowing and luminous.  That’s the way to see them, in a book.

Unrelated

Joanna Hogg’s 2007 film, I think it’s the first of a trilogy, with “Archipelago” and her latest film “Exhibition”, with Liam Gillick, Viv Albertine and Tom Hiddleston.  In “Unrelated”,   Kathryn Worth plays Anna, a middle -aged  woman on a Tuscan holiday with her best friend’s family, including Tom Hiddleston as the eldest son.  She tries to keep up with the “youngs”, swimming naked, smoking dope, fancying Hiddleston, and ultimately being politely rebuffed by him when she makes the offer.  Anna is taking time out from her partner but staying in touch with him by means of anguished mobile phone conversations at the top of hills – shades of Kiarostami’s “The Wind will Carry Us”.  Again, the acting is totally believable: Hiddleston and Worth are fantastic and excruciating.

The cinematographer is Owen Curtis, but the look is the same as “Archipelago”;  those doorway shots, light limning figures in bedsheets in dark rooms, Tuscan landscapes instead of the Scilly Isles, but that same Old Master quality of light on the skin in the close-ups.  The director of photography for “Archipelago” is Ed Rutherford, so I guess it must be Hogg herself who sets the look of the films.  Just great; can’t wait to see the latest film.

Jacob’s Room

I’m now on the third novel in Virginia Woolf’s collected works (NOT illustrated by R Crumb, more’s the pity), after “The Voyage Out” and “Night and Day” – for the first time, I realise how she could possibly be compared to James Joyce, in terms of narrative experimentation.  the first two were conventional; in “Jacob’s Room”, you have to wait for the next page to find out where you are (or more accurately, where Jacob is) and what’s going on.  Incredibly annoying, but I’m still reading.. no doubt, I’ll end up thinking she’s a genius.  Could be worse, could be Jane Austen.

Phil Chevron

Died recently – wrote “Thousands Are Sailing”, the Pogues classic, which if you never did anything else of note…..

003

 

Meeting at Roissy

Blackpaint

18.10.13