Posts Tagged ‘Peter Lanyon’

Blackpaint 648 – Cornwall, Caland, Goncharova

June 26, 2019

Tate St. Ives

This was like a visit to a load of old friends.  The light in the all white building, with the huge, vivid Patrick Heron window and the flanking mirror windows set at angles to display the beach and sea, seems to set these mostly abstract works off beautifully; the way some of them are spaced out on the ground floor foyer, the Joan Mitchell and Peter Lanyon below, for instance, shows them to their best advantage,  Below, some of my favourites:

Winifred Nicholson, not Ben, as might be expected

 

Another Winifred Nicholson, by way of contrast to the above.

 

Great view through archway; sculpture by Lanyon, painting Brian Wynter (don’t know who did the pots)

 

Winifred Barns-Graham, “Red Form”

 

Karel Appel

 

Appel (detail) – you can get an idea of how thick the paint is laid on.

 

Alan Davie, “Fish God” – love the bent shark penis…

 

Joan Mitchell – lovely brush sweeps, drips and colours, as always

 

Peter Lanyon, “Thermals” – you’re in that churning ocean…

 

Huguette Caland, Tate St. Ives until 1st September

Mostly work from the late 60s and 70s, Lebanese/American artist, specialising in stylised erotica; lips, breasts and bottoms, to be more exact, as can be seen from examples below.  Some of the drawings we saw at the Venice Biennale by her a couple of years ago were far more graphic than these, as I recall…  She was the daughter of the Lebanon’s first president, by the way, so probably no advantage there.

 

I like the fuzziness of the line.. wonder what the inspiration was…

 

A style distinctly reminiscent of Beatles record covers, “Yellow submarine”, perhaps – and maybe a touch of Terry Gilliam?

 

The forerunner of all those bare tits on plastic aprons, worn by barbecuing men…

 

Natalia Goncharova, Tata Modern until 8th September

Pre-Revolutionary painter; strange, we tend (I do anyway) to think of the 1917 revolution kicking off a period of wild experiment, creativity and openness in the arts – whereas it was all already going on, with the likes of Goncharova.

 

I like her chunky, big-footed women, roughly carved out of wood by the look of them.

 

Touch of Gauguin about this one.

 

Not keen on this – too Lempiska for me –  but it demonstrates the range.

 

Costume design, not sure for what, maybe le Coq d’Or; for my money, her costume designs are better than her paintings.  There’s a great film excerpt of a ballet performance with Goncharova’s costumes, I think in Canada in the 50s…

Novel on Yellow Paper, Stevie Smith

I thought this would be a quick easy read when I picked it up as a 2nd hand Penguin Modern Classic in Suffolk recently.  It’s very thin, after all, and there’s a faux naif self-portrait by Smith on the cover – looks childish.  Turns out that it’s tougher going than Virginia Woolf and even as difficult as some bits of Joyce (not Finnegan, obviously – although she does have a sort of arch private way of expressing herself, very irritating at times).  I think that Glenda Jackson played her in a film and, I suppose it’s suggestion, but I can’t imagine anyone’s voice other than Jackson’s, as I read it.  No discernible plot – a collection of random remembrances and observations on all sorts; religion, education, sex, Germany, Nazism (it was written in the 30s),,

Prater Violet, Christopher Isherwood

Also thin, Penguin Modern Classic, written in the 30s, a portrait of a Jewish emigre film director, making a pot boiler romantic fantasy movie in London, with Isherwood as the young writer assisting him.  MUCH easier read than Smith; now to re-read “Mr. Norris Changes Trains” and the other Berlin books.

A couple of collages and a couple of paintings to end with; I think I’ve found a sort of 60s SF American paperback cover style with the blue and yellow men below.

Seated Woman Collage

 

 

Standing Woman Collage

 

Blue Man

 

Yellow Man

Blackpaint, 26/06/19

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blackpaint 639 – Irvin, Lanyon, Frink and Malle

February 20, 2019

Albert Irvin and Abstract Impressionism – RWA Bristol until 3rd March 2019 – so hurry to visit!

Following hard upon my enthusiastic review of the Bonnard exhibition at Tate Modern, another positive reaction to the above; I’m sure I’ll soon find an exhibition to hate, but in the meantime, this is really very good.  Not only a great collection of huge, colourful Irvins, but also Brit kitchen sinkers (Bratby, Coker), abstractionists (Lanyon, Hoyland, Beattie, Blow) and American AbExes (de Kooning, Pollock, Jack Tworkov, Grace Hartigan, Newman, Motherwell, Sam Francis).

I’m putting the sizes of these paintings in, since size is one of the main things emphasised by all the British painters in their reaction to the exhibition of US ab exes at the Tate in 1959 – although not all the American pictures on show here are huge; a de Kooning, Motherwell’s “Ulysses”, the Hartigan and the Francis are smallish.

Unless otherwise stated, the Irvins are done in acrylics, which he started using in 1971.  He painted with canvases either against the wall or on the floor, supported by paint cans in the corners to allow air beneath so the paint would dry more quickly.  The catalogue, with a revealing interview with Basil Beattie, a close friend of Irvin, is great at £15.

Untitled 6, 1975, 178×203

Oranges (colours, not the fruit) make a regular appearance in Irvin’s work.  Early on, he used a lot of black in his paintings in keeping with the spirit of the times – but. as can be seen, this soon disappeared, along with most earth colours, apart from the odd patch of yellow ochre, from his paintings and prints.  As Beattie says, there’s no angst in Irvin’s work.

 

Wall of early-ish Irvins

See the black?

 

Untitled 3, mid 70s, 213×305

OK, wide dark slash here – exception to the rule.

 

Kestrel, 1981, 213×305

 

Almada, 1985, 213×305

 

Irvin, Sky 1960, oil on hardboard, 122×183

Lanyon was a big influence early on, as can be seen here.  Compare it to the Lanyon below:

 

Lanyon – St Ives Bay, oil on masonite 1957, 122×183

 

Irvin, Fallen Child in Corridor, oil on hardboard, 1955, 122×77

Example of Irvin’s figurative work in the 50s.

 

Peter Coker, Table and Chair, oil and sand on fibreboard, 1955, 153×122

I love this Coker – the extreme tilt of the table. the flayed head (cow’s?) on the surface; why doesn’t it all slide off?  On the down side, there’s the lemon headed kid, reminiscent of some Mintons, Joan Eardley maybe.  I thought of Colquhoun and MacBryde too, but no, too realist and dowdy.

 

Irvin, Untitled 2, oil on canvas, 1966, 152×127

A rare oil among the Irvin abstracts – note the trickle downs, absent from the acrylic works.

 

John Hoyland, Ivanhoe 16.3.81, 1981, acrylics, 183×167

A very nice (I’m determined not to use any more hackneyed superlatives) Hoyland from the Brit abstractionist section.  Hoyland got Irvin in on an exhibition at the Hayward, from which he got his gallery, Gimpel Fils.  no photos of the Americans, I’m afraid – not allowed.  But check out the Tworkov, “Cradle”, and the Sam Francis especially.  The Grace Hartigan is not her best and I could never “get” Barnett Newman.

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

Just down the road from the Irvin exhibition, this collection, containing the lovely Bouts below, with the refreshingly everyday BVM (is that a chocolate she’s about to give the baby Jesus? and what’s wrong with his left leg?)

Dieric Bouts

…and this treatment (below) of the Annunciation by Berchem, which looks as if it was done by the studio of Jeff Koons a year or two ago.  without the irony though – if Koons IS being ironic…

The Annunciation to the Shepherds, Nicolaes Berchem the Elder, 1656

 

Lanyon – who else?

Other moderns on show are Rose Wylie, Aubrey Williams and Auerbach.  More next blog.

Elizabeth Frink, Sainsbury Centre. UEA, Norwich until 24th February 2019 – so go straight from Bristol!

I thought Frink was some formidable old Iron Lady – turns out she was a ringer for Germaine Greer, so certainly not a FOIL, in the 70s anyway.  The sculptures are superlative and often funny – probably unintentionally – like the two running men, but I think the best in the show are ink on paper drawings called “Cuchulain”, a mythical Irish hero.  No images online that I could find…

Au Revoir Les Enfants dir. Louis Malle, (1987)

Rather devastating in a quiet way, film about a Jewish boy being hidden in a Catholic boarding school in WW2 France.  It seems that it was autobiographical, another take on collaboration and resistance to go with “Lacombe, Lucien”.  Essential viewing for these times.  Essential reading: “If This is a Man”, Primo Levi; essential listening: Ralph McTell’s “Peppers and Tomatoes”.

Next time, definitely Bill Viola, Ken Kiff, Don McCullin.  And Michelangelo.

To the Dream Lighthouse

Blackpaint

20/02/19

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 626 – Talking Pictures, Blake and his Followers – and the Demon

September 4, 2018

Talking Pictures Channel

This is worth checking every night, if you are (like me) a fan of British cinema in the 50s, 60s and 70s; three recent offerings below.  They tend to come round again in a week or two.

Live it up (dir. Lance Comfort, 1963)

Steve Marriot, later of the Small Faces, third from left, shouting at the back of Heinz Burt’s head.  A group of GPO dispatch riders form a beat group led by David Hemings and go through a set of unlikely adventures, before getting their inevitable hit.  It features Kenny Ball’s Jazzmen, Sounds Incorporated, Gene Vincent and Patsy Ann Noble.  The blond Heinz Burt of the Tornados looks, on his motorbike, rather like Sting on his scooter in the much later Quadrophenia.

Villain (dir. Michael Tuchner, 1971)

The great Richard Burton as a London gangster, clearly with a touch of Ronnie Kray.  Here he is with his boyfriend, Ian McShane.  There’s a good payroll robbery, lots of claret flying about; McShane has an interesting abstract mural over the bed in which he entertains his rich “dolly birds”, as they were known in those unenlightened days.  I remember seeing the trailer for this years ago; Burton glares at the rubberneckers as he is arrested and roars: “Who are you looking at?”  Back comes the answer from the posh voiceover: “You’re looking at the face of a villain!”  Nostalgic scenes of railway arches and wasteland around Battersea Power Station.

Night of the Demon dir.Jacques Tourneur (1957)

With the great Niall MacGinnis as Karswell the satanist (MacGinnis played Captain MacMorris in Henry V).  That’s the demon in the picture, by the way, not MacGinnis.  The film is based, loosely, on the MR James story, “Casting the Runes”.  Brilliant demon, very convincing; sure I’ve seen him on some Italian cathedral walls…

Tate Britain, Blake and followers

In the upper reaches of Tate Britain, reached through the Turner galleries, are two rooms, one devoted to William Blake, the other to various followers.  I’ve included pictures by Ceri Richards and Stanley Spencer, which I think are great and as a contrast, one of several by Cecil Collins – which are perhaps not so great.

 

Ceri Richards, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night…

That owl with the shroud looks very Graham Sutherland to me.  At first, I thought the corpse was a dead bloodhound…

 

Cecil Collins

 

Stanley Spencer, The Sword of the Lord and of Gideon (1921)

 

Elsewhere in Tate Britain – 

Ceri Richards, Two Females

Painting and collage, almost a sculpture really; by way of contrast with the one above.

 

Peter Lanyon, Wreck

A favourite of mine is now back on the wall at TB.  Noah’s Ark jumps the shark – and the red guitar.

 

Malcolm Drummond, Girl with Palmettes (1914)

Fabulous portrait by Drummond, a member of the Camden Town Group, who died in 1945.  I love those patches of pink and green on her neck and face.  Though it was a Scottish Colourist like Cadell or Fergusson at first.

 

Top Shots – 

– or top down aerial shots, as I believe they are correctly known.  These are the ones you often now get on opening credits, that once would have involved a helicopter or light plane.  Presumably drones are now used and top downs are everywhere.  Examples on British TV (although not necessarily British made): Cardinal, Wanderlust, Picnic at Hanging Rock; think I’ll count them this week.

Two pictures of mine, this week:

Bloody Glacier

 

Ochre Bolt Hole

Blackpaint

4/09/18

Blackpaint 618 – The World is a Den of Thieves – So Stay Behind the Line

April 9, 2018

Gursky at the Hayward

This finishes on 22 April, so go soon.  No concessions for seniors not on benefits, which is bad for me but probably satisfying if you’re a resentful younger person awaiting the demise of “selfish” baby boomers.  Before entry, we were briskly told to keep behind the lines on the floor in front of the pictures, but were given no further instructions on our behaviour in the gallery.

I had thought that Gursky produced huge, intriguing photos of striking scenes – supermarket shelves, winding motor racing tracks in the desert, panoramic harbours – and yes, these are all there; but he also manipulates the pictures,  adding and/or removing elements from a scene – the river Rhine, straight as a road, dull grey, between dull green banks under a dull sky, for example, has had buildings erased from the skyline and a photo of  museum interior with paintings and sculptures and a nude woman posing is a collage of images making up a fictional exhibition.  One of the pictures in this fictional display is Gerhard Richter’s “Ema (Nude on a Staircase)”,  which is apt, since there are echoes of Richter elsewhere.  A large, grey, ridged expanse of surface turns out to be carpet, but reminds you of Richter’s sea and sky pictures.  A few examples of the pictures below:

 

Rather reminiscent of Ansel Adams’ work, I thought; small and untypical of Gursky…

 

That’s more characteristic; huge and busy.

 

Antarctica, based on a satellite image.

Reading over what I’ve written, I’ve made it sound rather colourless.  There are some stunning examples of colour saturation – another composite image of ocean and islands from satellite images that looks almost like a Lanyon painting, for example; pictures of operatic entertainments from North Korea, a Japanese cityscape, a panoramic view (manipulated?) of Salerno harbour.  And a huge image of two teams at a Formula 1 pitstop, changing tyres or whatever on their team vehicles.  Highly recommended, but remember not to step over the lines…

Fanny and Alexander dir.Ingmar Bergman (1982)

Rewatched this on DVD and struck by the lush sets, costumery and so on, so different from most of the other Bergman films I’ve seen, most of which are set on islands with relatively few actors, pulling carts, chopping wood and having breakdowns.

A mixture of eccentric (and wealthy) family saga and magical realism, it suddenly touches Shakespeare, or maybe Beckett, in  Ekdahl’s speech in the scene above:

“Suddenly death strikes.  Suddenly the abyss opens.  Suddenly the storm howls and disaster is upon us… The world is a den of thieves and night is falling.  Evil breaks its chains and runs through the world like a mad dog.  The poison affects us all… No-one escapes… So shall it be- Therefore let us be happy while we are happy…”  How true.

For a more typical Bergman film – almost a two hander, with Liv Ullman and Bibi Andersson, cooped up together as nurse and mute patient in a house on the seashore, see “Persona” from 1966.  It must have been an influence on Roeg’s “Performance”, with the interplay between Mick Jagger’s rock star and James Fox’s gangster.

Persona, dir.Ingmar Bergman (1966)

Not done much painting lately, due to evil breaking loose and running through the world – but here’s the last one I finished:

 

Den of Thieves

Blackpaint 

10.04.18

 

Blackpaint 515 – The Thicker the Better, Chaps.

October 19, 2015

Auerbach at Tate Britain

There are three fantastic modern painters of wildly different types on in London at the moment – John Hoyland at Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery, Peter Lanyon at the Courtauld and Frank Auerbach at Tate Britain.  I did Hoyland last week; now for Auerbach (the only one still living and, very much, still painting).

Below are two of my favourite paint “cakes”; the earlier paintings are REALLY thick, the paint in semi-detached curls in some cases.  The paint is built up almost into reliefs or sculptures on the canvas.  “Earls Court Road, Winter” (1953)  is brown, black, grey and almost green, a scabby mass of wrinkled oil like a chunk of mud excavated from the site and hung in the gallery.  The paint gets progressively thinner as the years pass, but it’s always oily, slippery, layered and brushed through other colours, picking them up on the way.

auerbach eow on bed

EOW Nude on Bed (1959)

auerbach eow half length

EOW Half-Length Nude (1958)

The heads and portraits are pretty much all fabulous; some of the cityscapes, parks and buildings less so.  I found myself thinking the sacrilegious thought about the picture below: “I could have done that when I was 11”; and then three or four more times, with others, “Mornington Crescent Looking South” (1996) and “The House” (2011), for instance.  The point is, I didn’t and Auerbach did, although not at 11.  Auerbach invites this sort of random, outlaw thought by stating (on the wall, at the start)  that he wants us to consider each picture as a thing in itself, not an example of how he was painting in a given decade.

auerbach vincent terrace

Interior Vincent Terrace (1982 – 4)

As always with Auerbach exhibitions, we were plagued with those who stand for minutes, an inch away from the surface, sometimes delivering lectures to their girlfriends – it’s always men, I’m sorry to say – and blocking everyone else’s access to that picture.  It’s stupid of course, because the portraits mostly resolve into quite startlingly sharp images from about 12 feet away.  Up close, they are a mass of intricate, indecipherable whorls.  Sometimes, they are better like that, though.

I’ve lots more to say on this exhibition, but I’m going for the third time tomorrow, so I’ll save it for next time.

Lanyon, the “Glider”  Paintings, Courtauld Gallery

lanyon solo flight

Solo Flight

I reckon about 20 pieces of work in this exhibition, staggeringly beautiful images; blue curtains of rain or mist, vortexes, cloud, coastline, reproduced in his gestural swipes and sweeps, scrapings, splatters, dribbles and pools – no, oceans – of deep green/blue.  He’s painting the invisible air currents a lot of the time.  There are also several of his assemblages. incorporating thick bits of broken blue glass, scrawled with black paint.

lanyon cross country

Cross Country

It was startling, then, to see two paintings,”Near Cloud” and “North East”,  both from 1964 (the year of his death, after a glider crash) which were “emptied out”, like late de Koonings.  They were flat, untextured, thinly painted, almost diagrammatic.  What happened there?

Sluice Art Fair, by the Oxo Tower

Lots of little art works, some very classy; photographic prints, collages, tiny drawings on blocks – but at gasp-inducing prices.  For example, a small square with some very attractive gestural lines and patterns sketched on it, by Kark Bielik, was priced at £800.00!  Clearly, the labour theory of value not operating in the art world at any level (obvious, I suppose).

One of those riveting and irritating films in which disparate images are flung before your eyes for less than a second before they are thrust out (images, not eyes) by another.  Your mind is always processing them in retrospect.  A lot of war images – there go some Russian attackers! Now it’s a mine going off! – in this one; I think we saw the prototype of this sort of film montage at the Biennale a couple of years ago, by Stan VanDerBeek  (Blackpaint 414).   This one’s by Laura Pawela.

Gargantua and Pantagruel and Finnegans Wake

No doubt someone has done a thesis on it, but reading these simultaneously – well, a bit of one after a bit of the other, as it were – I was struck again by the lists.  They both, Rabelais and Joyce, like a lovely long list of silly names, or disgusting objects, or what have you.  By long, I mean pages in Joyce’s case.  Sometimes funny – often irritating.

 

buff tit 2

Buff Tit,

Blackpaint

19.10.15

 

Blackpaint 479 – Birdman, Auerbach and Cat Strangling

January 24, 2015

Birdman

I think this is the best American film I have seen for years. I was about to say because the others are all superhero crap – but then so is this, in a way;  not crap, but superhero.  Michael Keaton is an ageing ex-superhero, Birdman, who is directing and leading in a Broadway version of a Ray Carver story, “What we talk about when we talk about love”.  The preview stage has been reached and Keaton is struggling with self-doubt and contempt, an egomaniac co-star (Edward Norton, magnificent), a disaffected daughter recently in “rehab” (Emma Stone, also brilliant, below) …. and so on, can’t bother with all this exposition.

Anyway, the dialogue crackles, as does the jazz drum accompaniment, the story is absorbing and funny, sentimentality is kept in check (though not absent) and the acting is great, as are the long takes following the actors’ tracks backstage and out of the theatre in one memorable scene.

I can’t resist the urge to spot resemblances that has often (always?) been a feature of this blog;  I glimpsed Gene Hackman in Keaton, Helen Mirren in Naomi Watts, Matthew McConnaughey in Edward Norton, Richard Dreyfuss in Zach Galifianakis – and in the huge-eyed Emma Stone, Lucian Freud’s painting of Kitty Garman strangling the kitten, below.  Well, just the eyes really – and Kitty is just holding the kitty….

 

emma stone

Girl with a Kitten 1947 by Lucian Freud 1922-2011

 

London Art Fair, Islington Business Centre

Unfortunately, this is only on for another day, but I daresay that some of the paintings below will still be unsold, if you want to buy them (although the first four are not for sale, being part of the Chichester Pallant House Gallery’s exhibition-within-the exhibition, so to speak).

 

auerbach gerda boehm

 Frank Auerbach, Reclining Head of Gerda Boehm – the best painting in the building, a more intense blue than appears here

 

sickert jack ashore

 

Walter Sickert, Jack Ashore – you can see Jack in the background, but he’s not the main focus really – look at her left thigh; it’s made up entirely of loose dabs and strokes of white.  I’m not sure why this is good, but it is.

artfair lanyon

 Peter Lanyon – didn’t get the title;

 

artfair denny

 

Robyn Denny – again, no title, and I’m not sure that this is the right way up.  It’s great though, from when he was doing AbEx stuff before going geometric and minimal.

The following were from various galleries showing at the fair:

 

artfair vaughan2

 

 Keith Vaughan

 

 

artfair vaughan1

 Keith Vaughan again – Two Figures

artfair mellis

Margaret Mellis – love that red

 

artfair cadell

 

 

Cadell – Ben More and Mull

artfair fergusson

 

Fergusson – Still Life with Fruit – I love these Scottish Colourists; there’s also a Melville, the Glasgow Boy, in the same display.

artfair gear

 

William Gear – Two landscapes, 1947 and 1948 

artfair kinley

 

Peter Kinley, Figure on a Bed, 1975

…and, as usual, several great Roger Hiltons, Allan Daveys, Gaudier-Brjeska figure drawings, Prunella Clough, John Golding – great stuff.

Conflict Time Photography, Tate Modern

Revisited this (see previous blog) and found a couple of things I missed last time:

  • The collection of photos of Northern Ireland – irritatingly, these go up the wall too high to see them all properly (they are small), but there are some interesting ones low down – a couple of men or boys, tied up and covered with whitewash (?) wearing placards; one proclaims him to be a drug dealer to “underage children”).  Also, the huge photo of a riot which seems to involve throwing of milk cartons – what does the big red circle indicate?
  • The series of photographs of relics of Hiroshima.  The lunchbox of a schoolgirl, contents carbonised; no sign of the girl.  The uniform tunic, discovered in branches of a tree, of a schoolboy; no trace of boy.  Single lens of eyeglass of a housewife; piece of skull found some weeks later.
  • The odd, but fascinating jumble of photos and memorabilia contained in the little sub-exhibition of “the Archive of Modern Conflict”.

 

Still haven’t done any proper painting for a while, so some life drawings to fill the gap.

life drawing 1

life drawing 3

life drawing 4

life drawing 2

Life Drawings

Blackpaint

24.01.15 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 430 – Abstraction at the Fair; Murder in the Mountains

January 18, 2014

London Art Fair

Some stunning paintings at the above – well worth a visit.  Three fantastic Lanyons to start with. all from the early 60s:

art fair lanyon 1

art fair lanyon 2

art fair lanyon 3

This one is “Pony” – didn’t get the other names.

The fair’s on for a while, so I’ll just put in a couple more of my favourites, these ones by the Scots painter Philip Reeves:

art fair philip reeves 1

art fair philip reeves 2

Rather like John Golding, I thought – until I saw the large number of Goldings at the fair, none of which were like the Reeves, or indeed, the Golding that was shown at the Tate in the 80th birthday slot a while ago, and that I featured in an earlier blog.

The fair has, as usual, loads of great Alan Davies, Keith Vaughans, blinding prints by Bert Irvin and Anthony Frost and a big Kazua Shiraga; heavy, dense -coloured ropes and splodges of deep paint, no doubt hurled in handfuls at the canvas and swept through with a broom.  You might not like it but it’s definitely there.  More pictures (Peter Kinley, Bruce McLean, William Gear) next blog.

Ornulf Opdahl

I think it’s spelt right – Norwegian painter of large, dark sea and mountain-scapes, with cracks and shafts of light penetrating the murk, back at Kings Place; they are really impressive when seen in the round on vast white walls.  He must get through gallons of Prussian Blue.

opdahl

 

The Reconstruction, Angelopoulos

His first film, 1970, set in a bleak mountain village, all stone houses and stone wall  mazes – reminded me of Aran Isles – rain, mud, snow, crisp black and white; the murder of a husband, returning from work in Germany, by his wife and her brutal lover.  They turn on each other – who was the instigator, who the follower? Wild Greek songs, villagers bent with labour, narrative in series of flashbacks – first in a box set.

Heaven’s Gate – Director’s Cut

Complete contrast, the Cimino film a series of big set pieces, beginning with a spectacular waltz scene and riotous college graduation ceremony and shifting to a murderous war on immigrants waged by hired guns in Wyoming.  Kristofferson, Bridges, Hurt, Walken, Huppert… wage bill must have been huge.  The “operatic” style I associate more with the Angelopoulos of “Weeping Meadows” period.  Maybe a touch of “1900” in there, too.

Mrs.Dalloway

The experimental stuff I’ve been discussing seemed to dwindle away in the latter stages of the book, as Woolf focuses on the decline and suicide of Septimus, the ramblings of Peter Walsh and the bringing together of these strands at Clarissa’s party.  I found Walsh’s habit of opening and closing the blade of his pocket knife rather disconcerting.  It has, perhaps, a different resonance for those of us who watch Silent Witness, The Fall et al.  I’m going to the lighthouse next.

??????????

 

Laurels

Blackpaint

18.01.14

Blackpaint 424 – Lanyon Sketches, Guston, Borgen and Sharks

December 6, 2013

Lanyon Sketches at Gimpel Fils

A fantastic exhibition for Lanyon fans at the above gallery in Davies Street W1, off Oxford Street by Bond Street tube.  There are sketches for the murals at Birmingham and Liverpool Universities and some other studies, all in gouache on thick paper, sometimes several layers.

lanyon4

This is the sketch for the Liverpool work, titled, rather portentously, “The Conflict of Man with Tides and Sands”, done over eight panels of paper; the washed-out colours, white, slate grey shading to blue, ochre, are typical of Lanyon, as is the drawing in heavy black line and sometimes wispy sketchiness, as if done with a nearly dry brush twirled against the surface.

In the Birmingham sketch, Lanyon uses much brighter colours, salmon pink, a bright, almost leaf green, a more vivid blue, a richer ochre; no title for this one.

lanyon5

Those black markings look like calligraphy, like Kline a bit – or maybe mathematical symbols; not sure which faculty the mural was for.  One other example – this one’s called “Yellow Middle”, but it looks like a plough to me.

lanyon2

Morton Feldman, “Give My Regards to Eighth Street”

A very abstruse collection of writings by the avant-garde composer, in which he frequently draws comparisons between music and painting, with particular regard to his favourite trio, Mondrian, Rothko and Guston.  In each little segment, there is maybe one paragraph that I understand.  here he is on finishing a painting:  “Guston tells us he does not finish a painting, but “abandons it”.  At what point does he abandon it?   Is it perhaps the moment when it might become a “painting”?  After all, it’s not a “painting” that the artist really wanted…..Completion is not in tying things up, not in “giving one’s feelings” or “telling a truth”.  Completion is simply the perennial death of the artist.  Isn’t any masterpiece a death scene?  Isn’t that why we want to remember it, because the artist is looking back on something when it’s too late, when it’s all over, when we see it finally, as something we have lost?”  I think he (Feldman) is on to something, but I’m not sure I understand it fully…

guston

Guston, in abstract mode.

Borgen

I thought the episode about criminalising prostitutes’ clients in Denmark and the conflation of prostitution and trafficking was particularly good.  I was astounded to read that Hollande’s government is bringing in similar legislation.  On the characters, I like the way that Birgitte is becoming colder, harder, more pragmatic.  The only way, really, since her new party doesn’t seem to have any policies of its own; on the other hand, it’s not real, is it?

Gravity

When she splashed down, and sank, and then emerged from the capsule and began fighting her way to the surface, did you also think “Shark!” followed closely by, “No, surely they wouldn’t…?”

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In Progress

Blackpaint

6.12.13

Blackpaint 387 – The Theory of Validating Crapness

March 28, 2013

Jeremy Gardiner at Kings Place

This was one of those few exhibitions where you are actually excited to see the first few pictures from the floor below – or was it above?  I can never remember with Kings Place and its multi-levels – and you want to hurry to see the rest.  My first thought was how much they look like Schwitters collages from a bit of a distance; then I saw one, framed by the doorway to the large room, which had an obvious affinity to Peter Lanyon – swirls, greys, cold, clean blue – then, inside the room, four or five larger pictures that were stylised views over a bay and clearly recalled Ben Nicholson.

Many of the paintings are acrylic on birchwood, built up with plaques of jesmonite, giving a sort of rough marquetry effect.  They appear to be abstract at first, suggesting coastline, cloud, aerial landscape, rock; then you notice that they contain actual features of landscape, although not necessarily “correctly” placed – another resemblance to Lanyon, many of whose works are not really abstract at all.  The colours certainly resemble Lanyon, and John Tunnard as well.  The only reference which I didn’t get was to Diebenkorn – maybe in the aerial landscape thing, but not in appearance.

In addition to the paintings – one of which contains a moulding of an ammonite, maybe there are more – there are the monoprints.  These are mostly long, textured banners of heavy duty watercolour paper, printed with pictures of fossils, microscopic organisms, tracts of what look like contour lines of coast and hill… for some reason, they reminded me (incongruously) of prints by Sigmar Polke.

We stuck around for the tour and talk; Gardiner gave us a softly-spoken geology lesson and a” journey through geological time and space” from the Jurassic Coast of Devon to tin mines in Cornwall (the Levant Mine of Lanyon’s famous picture) and the coast of Brazil.  Proust got a mention; the white-haired audience of retired teachers nodded and smiled.  Then, we also retired, to egg, sausage and chips in the Turkish cafe up the road, in the company of mud-spattered building workers in high-vis jackets, from the huge site opposite.

Blackpaint’s Theory of Validating Crapness

Over the last three years of blogging, I have developed and promoted a number of original theories and observations:  they include “Michelangelo Didn’t do Trees”;  Blackpaint’s Theory of Spurious Plausibility; Shakespeare was Michelangelo Re-incarnated; and “The Taylor-Vincent Ad: Mistakes take on a Life of Their Own”.  Here is a new one, born when I rang my partner, urging her to look up Gardiner on Google and see the brilliant paintings.

She was less than overwhelmed – partly because I was so enthusiastic, but also because (she felt) they were too attractive, too formulaic, too saleable… briefly, not crap enough.  To be sure, Gardiner’s online images are disappointing, compared to the real thing; I still think he’s great; but the “not crap enough” idea inspired me to formulate the above.

The “Validating Crapness” is that element which prevents the picture being too perfect, too trite.  It may, for instance, be smudges, dribbles, finger marks, a scratch, an incongruous patch of colour (NOT the old Turner red spot, like the one on the picture in the doorway mentioned above); it may be a wobbly line, or anything that undermines perfection.  I realise this is very close to the old “beauty must have a flaw” thing- I’m going further.  My theory demands a real element of crap, a small pustule rather than a dimple.  In future blogs, I shall be identifying the VC in famous paintings, both modern works and Old Masters; watch this space.

Lightfields and The Sopranos

The first of these two programmes, a ghost story in which the action takes place at three different times in turns (1940s, 1975, present day) was on ITV1 and was a serial over five(?) weekly episodes; the acting was mostly good, the story was mildly absorbing – but then, as it finished, I realised I’d been watching children’s telly – anodyne, pretty, cliched, ridiculous.  Midwives, Downton, Selfridge, Mayday (apart from Leslie Manville, of course) – where’s all the offensive stuff gone from the mainstream channels?,

Then, the Sopranos, the one with Tony’s food poisoning, the talking fish, the fur coat and Big Pussy’s murder on the boat – funny, violent, sexy,  tragic, with an ironic distance maintained throughout – although that’s probably a contradiction.

Tate at Yourpaintings

Latest recommendations from above:

Ben Nicholson, “June 1937” (1937);

Keith Vaughan, “Leaping Figure” (1951);

Franz Kline, “Meryon”, (1960-61); my erstwhile favourite painting, I used to call it the Bridge;

franz kline

And Jankel Adler, “No Man’s Land”, 1943.

And here’s my one, called “Carbonara”.  Certainly one or two VC elements on show;

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Blackpaint

28.03.13

Blackpaint 332 – Ken, Katrine and Five Abstract Painters

March 23, 2012

Tonino Guerra

Obit today in the Guardian, the above was the co-screen writer for Tarkovsky’s Nostalgia (the one with the self-immolation at the end); Antonioni’s l’Aventurra (the one with Monica Vitti, in which the girl Anna goes missing from the island); and Fellini’s Amarcord (the one with the fog, and the motorbike races, and the uncle who climbs the tree and throws stones at everyone) – but also those neo-realist(?) films of Rosa; Giuliano, Illustrious Corpses..  a major passing.

BFI Documentary Section

On the South Bank, by Waterloo Bridge, is the BFI and you can walk into the above section and sit at a screen and watch anything they have for free, no membership or bother.  I walked in today and found they have all Ken Russell’s BBC stuff, Elgar, Delius, etc.  I watched “Scottish Painters”. his 10 minute prog on Colquhoun and MacBryde; loads of great paintings on show, MacBryde’s still lifes and Colquhoun’s eerie, stone-faced women in shawls with Picasso hands..  Then, his 16 minute feature on the guitar, with Davey Graham doing “Cry Me A River” on a bombsite – looked about 16.  Leave it for a week before you visit – I want to see all the Kens first (Devils now out on DVD; got it today).

Those Who Kill (ITV3)

Why have there been no reviews in the broadsheets of this Danish serial killer series?  After all, Troels from the Killing is in it; Rie popped up last night, as the wife of the psychopath.. Presume it’s because it’s ITV3, not BBC4.   No woollen jumpers, it’s true, but Katrine, the damaged heroine, has established a sort of uniform of her own.  they are pretty much a disaster as police; there have been four episodes, I think; she was kidnapped and tortured in one, taken hostage in a prison and nearly raped in the next, had a week’s rest while Thomas, her sidekick, went undercover and was beaten up and came close to being killed – and in the last one, she had a brief, vigorous affair with the psychopath of the week – and, yes, was nearly murdered.  I love those ballet-like bits when they go into dark, derelict buildings, holding their pistols out before them in a double handed grip, then spin round, dart round corners, etc.  Unmissable – unless, of course, you missed it.  Repeated Saturday night.

Back to Painting..

Thought I could do five great abstract paintings today, so here goes…

Joan Mitchell, Evenings on 73rd Street

Headwind, Peter Lanyon

Berkeley no.38, Richard Diebenkorn

Terry Frost, Red, black and white

Interchange, Willem de Kooning

Nothing really to say about the above pictures – except that I think they are all staggeringly brilliant.  my own pathetic effort below:

My New Colours

Blackpaint

23/3/12