Posts Tagged ‘Peter Doig’

Blackpaint 609 – Soutine, Kabakovs, Green Penis Man and Giant Cloth Moths

November 7, 2017

Soutine at the Courtauld: Cooks, Waiters and Bellboys (until 21st January)

A great exhibition of Soutine’s colourful, wonky portraits that are so individual I’m hard-pressed to do my usual spurious comparisons.  Although maybe one or two remind me a little of Max Beckmann… and the ghost of Bacon is hovering about here and there.  I like that shoulder disparity below and, of course, the sticking-out ears, echoing the fall of the chef’s hat.  The sumptious blue of the background in the first portrait is worth mentioning too – Soutine uses it a lot.  He was a favourite of de Kooning; maybe some similarities there?

 

 

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov at Tate Modern: Not Everyone will be Taken into the Future (until 28th Jan)

Also one to see.  Ten rooms of the most varied works:  paintings, wooden model “theatres” that you peer into through little windows, full-size, re-constructed rooms full of artifacts, a winding, half-lit corridor, along which you walk trying to read the captions to the old photographs, led on by the voice of Ilya K himself, humming and crooning old Russian songs from somewhere ahead (Labyrinth (My Mother’s Album), 1990) – and the rear end of a train (the exhibition title piece, 2001).  The exhibition requires you to read the brief captions by the pieces to make sense of some; I don’t normally like doing that, preferring the visuals to do the work, but it’s worth doing here, to get the context of the Soviet setting.

The main tone is set by memory, nostalgia and fairly gentle satire; see the painting below, with its layer of torn, floating fragments, as well as the “Labyrinth” corridor.

My favourite piece is the model “Where is Our Place?” (2002 – 2017);  I missed the giant legs and feet completely until I read the caption.  Some of the paintings have a slightly Peter Doig feel to them (probably the “Snow” ones in Room 7) and the attachment of a severed arm to one item – I forget the reason given – recalled the current Jasper Johns show at the RA; very superficial connection,  I admit.

Ilya Kabakov was never imprisoned or persecuted under the Soviet regime, but showed only to “a close circle of artists and intellectuals”.  He married Emilia in 1992, after emigrating to the States.  It is not clear to me what Emilia’s contribution is – most of the pieces appear to be Ilya’s.

Venice Biennale (on until 26th November)

This year, the theme of the Biennale is “Viva Arte Viva”, a suitably Fellini-esque title for the often staggeringly pretentious pieces on show at the various sites.  This year’s theme is “The Journey”.  I quote from the Short Guide: “Along the journey of the Exhibition’s itinerary, the artists encounter each other; they draw near to, or distance themselves from one another, according to the affinities manifested in the impulses and stimuli which move them, in the challenges they must face, or in the practices they have chosen to follow”.  As far as I can make out, this means that some are like each other and some are not.  To give an idea of some of the pieces on display, I reproduce a few of the notes I jotted down as we went round the Giardini:

  • Huge fat blonde disco video (Divine?)
  • Eskimo paintings (Pootoobok)
  • Snow monkey video
  • Green penis man (Uriburu)
  • Trainer plant lattice
  • Hexagonal quartz pillars
  • Giant cloth moths

Plenty of variety, with the usual dubious connections made in the blurb(s):  migration, refugees, threatened ethnicity, climate change…  Below, three of the best from the national pavilions:

Frank Walter, Antigua and Barbuda Pavilion

“Outsider” painter (brilliant) and sculptor (not so good); lived latter part of his life in an isolated shack/studio, no power or running water, churning out the most vivid and exciting pieces on discarded and improvised supports, like old boxes of photographic equipment.  A couple of examples below – his colours are really piercing.

 

 

Geta Bratescu, Romanian Pavilion

This woman, now in her 90s, we knew from an exhibition at Tate Liverpool a couple of years ago – but there, the artworks were nearly all cloth pieces.  This time, her very varied graphic styles (she has at least three) are on display, ranging from the fiendishly detailed and accurate hands and mouth below to animated cartoon style.

 

 

 

Mark Bradford, US Pavilion

Interesting American artist who works on a giant scale, layering and tearing, scraping and sanding at his multi-coloured placards of paintings.  This huge downward bulge of a work requires you (or me, anyway) to stoop low as you enter the pavilion.

This giant head, if that’s what it is, reminds me a little of a Guston made out of Weetabix, or maybe shown on a giant TV with the reception breaking up.  Fizzing with energy.

Nothing completed by me recently, so best I can do is this work in “progress”.

Work in Progress

Blackpaint

5/11/17

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Blackpaint 325 – Fabric Penis Stalactites

February 16, 2012

Yayoi Kusama

This artist now in her 80s, has an exhibition at the Tate Modern at the moment and I went, expecting not very much.  From what I had heard, she was a performance artist from the 60s who now lived voluntarily in a mental institution in Japan, and tended to cover everything in sight with coloured spots, from tiny to huge.  True, but much more, it turned out. 

First, there is are some surrealist drawing/paintings, resembling vaguely threatening dragons or snakes, and then some quite beautiful small drawings/collages/paintings in vibrant colours; moons, bacteria, some that reminded me of Hartung, dots, lines, fish (deep-sea phosphorescent)… terrific.

Then, the “Infinity Net” paintings, huge, white, covered with little bobbles of paint, with maze-like patterns just visible.  There are nine or ten of these, and I must admit they don’t look that great in the exhibition book – better on the wall. 

Then, you come to the bit where she covers a variety of things – a rowing boat, sofa, armchair, ladder, cabinet, women’s shoes – with sewn and stuffed little bags in the shape of penises.  An old-fashioned kettle hangs from one.  By way of variety, flowers and macaroni are used to cover shirts and coats and there is an attractive “Bronze Coat”, covered with sewn bags like horse dung.  The echoes of Oppenheim’s fur cup and the jacket covered with glasses (Duchamp?) are obvious.  I thought the penises looked like some mineral growth of little stalagtites – very pleasing.

Then. you come to the dark room, covered with little reflecting coloured discs that show up in one of those fluorescent lights –  and then to the reflecting mirror room, in which hundreds (?) of little coloured lights succeed each other in casting reflections into the surrounding mirrors and shallow pools of water, creating ever-receding pinpints of light.   Careful here – one chap stepped unwittingly into the water.  In the photos, this room resembles a Peter Doig painting somehow; but not in the “flesh”.

There’s much more, but it should be seen, not described.  I have to say, I didn’t see anything here that indicated she was more mentally ill than any other artist – obsessive, maybe, but most artists are, really.  After all, doing art is essentially playing.  Academies have been set up, rules laid down, techniques set in granite,  critics like Robert Hughes intone solemnly on the practices of Auerbach, say, working every day, 10 hours a day, covering everything in charcoal dust, taking 2 years on every portrait – it has to be done properly.  Then, along comes someone who breaks all the rules, sticks up two fingers to tradition, and becomes a huge success.  I love it – long live Damien and Tracy, and Julian Schnabel, who Hughes doesn’t seem to like much.  Play away, make (more) shedloads of money.

Albert Irvin

I’ve just discovered Tate Shots on YouTube, which are short films on artists, talking about their work, and watched the one on Albert.  The paintings (which I hated at first) are now so beautiful that, if I weren’t a working-class boy from South London, would make me weep with ecstasy.  No, not really – but they are good, especially that one with the great, diagonal sweeps of purple with little splats of blue.  Nice bloke, too.  Fiona Rae’s film is good as well – she has a little gizmo for squeezing all the paint out of a tube; must get one.

Flodden, Albert Irvin

Fellini

I’ve just bought the DVD of “the Ship Sailed On”, by the above, but haven’t yet seen it; I am intrigued by the book I have on Fellini, in which he avoids answering the question “What is the significance of the rhinoceros?”  Needless to say, … well it’s needless to say, so I won’t say it.

Can’t decide which way up this should go, so here’s both until I make my mind up.

OR…

Blackpaint

16.02.12

Blackpaint 249

February 6, 2011

Don’t Look Now

Another example of the Odessa Steps Scream in slow motion, after Bacon, of course, but preceding Eraserhead (see Blackpaint 219); Donald Sutherland, lifting his drowned daughter’s body from the river.

Roeg is great with glass and liquid too – the embryo-shaped bloodstain spreading around the photographic slide, the glasses and water or white wine, splashing and crashing onto the tiles when Julie Christie collapses…

Actually, while typing this, another example of the Odessa Scream occurs to me – the animal roar of the “possessed” on detecting a “normal” person in the 1978 “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” – that was Donald Sutherland too.

Two abstract painters this Saturday –

Varda Caivano; Voice at Victoria Miro

Nine quite small pictures, the biggest 36* 44″ approx., all oil on canvas, one each with charcoal, pastel and ink markings.  Totally abstract, very thin paint, small areas of bare canvas here and there, for instance along upper margin; trickle downs, scrapes, busy, crowded surfaces.  Sombre colours, mostly; one a glowing red/orange, one an acidy green, two black, grey-blue, cloudy switches and swags (these two the best).  They are all called – “Untitled”.  Strangely, a couple reminded me of that Kokoschka of the woman and the swan, was it?  Alma Mahler, anyway.  It was the swirly, grey-blue surface.  And one, definitely, of Per Kirkeby (the acid green one).  In fact, I would have guessed she was Scandinavian, not Argentinian thereby proving myself foolish in expecting artists to meet some spurious national stereotype .

Victoria Morton at Sadie Coles

Some of Morton’s pictures much bigger, 98*66 in approx.  the big paintings, for example “Figurene” and “Soft Eater, Hard Eater” a tangle of bright colours and pulsating, yellow-white blobs, with a suggestion of cityscape at night about them.  One, “Wah Wah” I think, much darker, almost like one of Ofili’s recent paintings; dry, matt, thin finish.  Reminders then, of Ofili and Doig in the technique and even Hodgkin (the spots and the bright orange frame on one of the smaller ones).

Various other assemblages:  two low, hinged, painted wooden panels like a screen for dwarfs; a smeary, sketchy watercolour on paper entitled “Children” ; a couple of lovely oil sketches in a far-too-big frame; “Ballet Costume”, a black stand with a crown of painted tissue ribbons billowing from the top.

In the Guardian review of this show, “SS” writes of Morgan’s work being “Lush with thick, expressive swabs and light dashes of brightly hued pigment…”; Well, I got the “light dashes” and the “swarming, pointillist dots” s/he writes of elsewhere – but I must have a very different idea of “thick, expressive swabs”.

The notes accompanying Morton’s show are impenetrable.  The notes on Caivano are merely pretentious and very hard work.  Enough moaning, though; two excellent free exhibitions of  abstract painters, to be snapped up by those who love these things.

Listening to “Midnight Shift”, by Buddy Holly-

“Well, if you see old Annie, better give her a lift;

Annie’s been workin’ on the midnight shift.”

Sorry, old image – run out of paint.

Blackpaint

06.02.11

Blackpaint 201

October 1, 2010

Gauguin

Review of the new exhibition at Tate Modern by Adrian Searle in Guardian this week said Gauguin had re-emerged in the work of Peter Doig and Chris Ofili.  Hadn’t thought of this before, but he’s right, in my view.  Easy to see why Ofili, the relocation to Trinidad, the choice of local subject matter, even the use of colour – the central picture in the Guardian article is suffused with a shade of mauve reminiscent of Ofili’s latest work (at least, the work exhibited recently at the other London Tate).

Why Doig?  his paintings, after all, are usually enigmas, in a way that Gauguin’s are not, or are not intended to be.  I suppose it’s simply that sometimes they resemble one another in their use of tropical location, colours and configuration.

He also mentions Tuymans – have to think about that one!

Rauschenberg

He uses the word “schwandel” or “schwendel” when discussing red paintings in “Painters painting” in a manner which suggests he thinks it would be  a familiar term to viewers; what is he talking about?  Is this a term in frequent use in the art world? 

Grown up Politics

I know it’s nothing to do with art, but I have now heard or seen this term used not only by the insufferable prick of a Lib Dem MP (see Blackpaint 197) but Toby Young on TV and Polly Toynbee in the Guardian.  Another phrase which seems to have spread like germs on a toilet door handle is “wriggle room”, sometimes delivered as “wiggle room”.

Exhibition

Tomorrow.  Haven’t done the titles or prices yet – panic!  Closing now…

Blackpaint – Old one

Listening to Richard Thompson, Vincent Black Lightning 1952

“I see angels and Ariels in leather and chrome,

Swinging down from heaven to carry me home,”

And he gave her one last kiss and died –

And he gave her his Vincent to ride.”

Blackpaint

October 1st