Posts Tagged ‘Phoebe Unwin’

Blackpaint 577 – Saatchi Painters, Russian Painters, Russell and the Little People

December 4, 2016

Painters’ Painters, Saatchi Gallery

The only common denominator for these painters is the fact that they ARE painters – supposedly a rarity in this age of video and multi-media installation.  Actually, on reflection, there is another thing they have in common; the deadness of the painted surface.  None of them seem to glow; there is a liverish colour that many share in their backgrounds – as far as I can make out, it seems to be a mix of crimson, grey and maybe insipid cream, and/or mauve.  Where they are bright (as in Bjarne Melgaard, below), they are livid; still no glow.  The photographs actually glamourise the paintings a bit.

One other common factor – they’re all men.  But, to be fair, there are three women artists exhibiting individually in the upper galleries, and the last main exhibition was all women…

 

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Ryan Mosley

 

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Ryan Mosley

 

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Bjarne Melgaard

 

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Don’t know who did this one, but I love that right buttock…

The reason I made the adverse comments about colour is that I’ve twice visited the stupendous Rauschenberg exhibition at Tate Modern this week and the colours are rich and glowing.  The most staggering work – and there are many – is the Combine “Ace” (below), no photo of which comes anywhere near doing it justice.  Review next blog.

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Robert Rauschenberg, Ace.  This pic doesn’t do it justice, it has to be seen in the flesh, so to speak.

 

Also at Saatchi…  Not part of “Painters Painting”, there are separate exhibitions in the upper galleries by Phoebe Unwin and Mequitta Ahuja.

Phoebe Unwin

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I love this imprisoning criss-cross patterning.  Other works here by Unwin suggestive of Gerhard Richter’s faded photo style.

 

Mequitta Ahuja

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I still think there is a hint of Ofili in these great action portraits (surely selfies) of a woman with a cast in one eye.

 

Bloomberg New Contemporaries, ICA

Several arresting works, including these two:

Janina Lange, Shooting Clouds (video)

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Jamie Fitzpatrick, The King (wax sculpture)

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Revolution – New Art for a New World (Margy Kinmonth, 2016) – ICA

Fascinating documentary made by Kinmonth based on research in the Russian archives and interviews with curators and descendants of the artists discussed. The usual suspects are there; Malevich, Kandinsky, Chagall, Rodchenko – but also lesser known artists, namely:

Filonov, Lentulov, Klutsis, Konchalovsky, Popova, Stepanova and Petrov-Vodkin.

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Klutsis

 

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Petrov-Vodkin

The history is sort of GCSE level, but I guess Kinmonth wanted to get onto the art as soon as possible, so fair enough.  It’s sobering to remember the fate of some of these artists, in particular Klutsis and Meyerhold, the theatre director, both of whom were shot, after vicious beatings and torture in the case of Meyerhold.  Why? To wring out vital information about directing and screenprinting?

 

Dante’s Inferno, Ken Russell (1967)

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Oliver Reed and co-smoulderer Gala Mitchell as (respectively) Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Jane Morris, in this fabulous Ken Russell film for the BBC, made in 1967.  According to Russell’s film editor, Michael Bradsell, Reed had three “settings” – Smoulder 1, 2 and 3.  Russell would simply call out the number he wanted and Reed would deliver the appropriate intensity of smouldering look.

 

Little People

A couple of my life paintings to finish, from my series “Little People” (actually, it’s the canvases that are little, not the people – but anyway…)

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Faun’s Afternoon

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Man Sitting Uncomfortably

Blackpaint

4/12/16

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Blackpaint 488 – Ingrid and Ingmar, Liz and Phil and Eleanor at the Tates

March 29, 2015

Marlene Dumas

OK, I know I’ve done this twice already, but I’ve got a member’s card for Tates Brit and Mod, so it feels like free when I go.  Anyway, two things – no, three – to say in addition to previous: first, the picture of the woman in tears, entitled “For Whom the Bell Tolls”; it’s not Dumas herself, as I’d thought, but Ingrid Bergman (of course, because she stars in the film, but it got past me); secondly, the paintings of her daughter Helene – the facial portrait titled “Helene’s Dream”, in which the lips, the nose and the closed eyes seem to be floating on a somehow convex surface of smooth coffee and the full-length picture of her wrapped in a bath towel, looking irritated (girl, not towel).

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dumas helene

 

I like the way she’s painted the hair in the top one; single, square-edged strokes of a drying brush.  And in the second one, it’s the knees – it looks rough at first, but it’s precise and subtle.  There’s a lot of “looks rough at first” in this exhibition, but it’s mostly (not always!) subtle underneath, so to speak.

And third thing is the little, quick, brush drawings; the one on the far left of that little group opposite the full-length prone body drawings – can’t find a picture of it, so go and look.

Sculpture Victorious, Tate Britain

This is interesting and funny, rather than jam-packed with great art.  The pieces on show suggested novelties turned out for Great Exhibitions, which they were in some cases.  There are miniature busts of the young queen, turned out by Chevenor’s Reducing Machine – you put a big one in and a sort of pantograph affair carves a perfect small version out of a soft -ish medium.  Ivory was good, unfortunately for “up to 6000 elephants a year”.

There’s a statue of some baron, Winchester possibly, who was at Runnymede for Magna Carta, which was coated with copper by an electro-plating process (the statue, not Magna Carta – or Runnymede); an Eleanor of Aquitaine, lying comfortably on her back, atop her tomb presumably, reading a prayer book or bible, as if she was reading “Gone Girl” on the beach; and there’s a life size piece of Elizabeth I playing naval chess – the pieces are galleons – with Philip II of Spain.

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It looks like one of those clockwork – or maybe magic – pieces you get in a necromancer’s workshop in a Polish film, where the players “come to life” with a lot of clicking and whirring…  I’m thinking “Saragossa Manuscript” or maybe Bergman’s “Nicholas and Alexander”.

There are two slave women in chains; one white, one black.  The white woman, a captive of the Turks in the War of Greek Independence, is beautiful of course, with a very shapely bottom and downcast eyes and is completely naked.  The black woman, also beautiful, but with slightly odd features, the eyes I think, wears a sort of skirt.  I find this interesting, in that it is a reversal of the old National Geographic racialism; in the 1950s and before, magazines would show “native peoples”, male and female, naked, whereas white people had to be clothed, except in pornography, which was illegal anyway.  Maybe because the white slave resembles a classical Graeco-Roman statue in pose, Hiram Power thought he could get away with it.  The black woman, or American Slave, was done by John Bell in answer to Abolitionist demand; apparently, the white slave was interpreted as an attack on slavery too.  Surprising to me; it strikes me more as an opportunity for the sculptor to do a provocatively naked woman in a submissive pose and dress it up with a moral message – then, that could be said of a lot of sculpture, Victorian and earlier…

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White Slave

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Black (American) Slave

Some of the other sculpture on show – big muscles, heroic poses, firing arrows, struggling with snakes, gazing fiercely into distances – looked distinctly pre-Nazi to me; would have fitted in at Goering’s hunting lodge.

Worth a visit then, despite Richard Dorment’s blistering Telegraph review, which I recommend, online.  Dorment roundly berates the curators for lack of focus, stating the obvious and getting major things wrong; for instance, the reason why Alfred Gilbert  resigned from the Royal Academy.  He knows, because he’s written a book on Gilbert, and  catalogue notes for the RA.  it’s a pity Tate didn’t ask him to advise, before rashly going ahead with the show.  He does describe the black slave as a nude statue, however.

Other things new at the Tate, in the permanent galleries:  Phoebe Unwin, “Man with Heavy Legs” or something;  Vicken Parsons, tiny room paintings; a huge Rose Wylie pattern painting; and a new Kitaj, a man as a cat…

Next blog – two more Tate Britain shows, Salt and Silver and the Waplington/McQueen show.

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Vanessa, standing and stooping

Blackpaint

29.03.15

 

Blackpaint 256

March 1, 2011

British Art Show 7 (Hayward) continued – a bit

Olivia Plender – One of those things where a fictional person or story is fabricated and developed; this one is a film director.  Posters, interviews with “colleagues”, autobiographical details, filmography… clever but irritating.

Mick Peters – an architect’s table (cheated, and read the notes), supporting a couple – or maybe just one – of those huge, two man lumberjack saws, painted bright red and rendered “soft”, like Dali’s watches or Oldenberg’s stuff.

Karla Black – A squared-off-at the top pyramid of earth, Aztec rather that Egyptian, with bits and pieces of -coloured plastic (?)  littering the top.  something to do with the brain, I remember.

Drawings/paintings of pseudo-mechanical structures in bright red on off-white paper.  I liked these, but didn’t get name of artist.  If it’s you, please comment and let me know.

Becky Beasley – 6 (I think) enormous photos of the same two interlocking pieces of iron pyrites, taken from different angles.

Matthew Darbyshire – an open-plan room in pinks, with sofas, soft furnishings and lampshades.

Maaike Schoorel – What at first look like plain white paintings, prove to have very faint figures drawn on them with a brush.  Similar – ish idea to the Portuguese artist in the Tate Modern, who erases big tracts of his paintings; I can’t remember his name (rather appropriately, really).

That’s it – for my money, Cullinan Richards, Christian Marclay, Phoebe Unwin and Charles Avery are the most interesting.  I’d have liked to see the naked man on the burning bench, though.

The Man from London, Bela Tarr

Tarkovsky’s Solaris was once memorably described as “stately paced” in a Time Out review (maybe it was City Limits, come to think of it).  This description also fits Tarr’s film, based on a Simenon story.  Black and white, harbour, ferry, night time, rain, steam, trains, gantry, signal box, silent, brooding men, suitcases, fag smoke, spirits, glimmering lights, darkness slowly lightening… There’s a murder, maybe two, interminable scenes in a dockside bar, a reptilian British detective grinding out sentences with interminable gaps (the voice is Edward Fox’s), Tilda Swinton doing woman on the edge – the angular mouth; and interminable accordian music.  Tarr lingers on details at the end of scenes until it becomes annoying – and then a little while longer.  In one scene, a man brings a huge fish from the cold store of a shop and begins to chop it up.  You think – that’s 48 slices, surely no more?  But yes, there’s always more…

Fabulous film, actually, must now get the other two available.

Blackpaint

01.03.11

Blackpaint 254

February 25, 2011

London Street Photography

At the Museum of London.  As always, with photography like this, there is the historical interest: clothes, transport, shops, trades… but there are four whose work jumps out:

Wolfgang Suschitsky – a single blossom tree in a misty street, reminiscent (to me, anyway) of Whistler; and a night scene of a man pushing a milk cart past the neon-lit frontage of the “Revudebar”.  It turns out that he’s a famous cinematographer who worked on “Get Carter”, “Theatre of Blood” and the “Ulysses” which starred Milo O’Shea as the definitive Bloom, TP McKenna as Buck Mulligan and for some reason, is always described as a failed project.  Of course it fails to present the book adequately – how could it not?  Fantastic success in its own right, however.

Back to Suschitzky – born in 1912, still living, son Peter also a cinematographer (Naked Lunch and other Cronenburg films).

Humphrey Spender – A beautifully “lit” view of a lake or riverside with sitters on grass and  swans, I think; Seurat via Cartier Bresson.  Stephen’s brother, worked for Mass Observation, most photos of cloth-capped workers, factories, mills, stadiums – only one other I could find on Google like this one, on a river or canal bank in North East.

Terry Spencer – Mods and skinheads; I thought Terry was probably a Mod himself, but no – Spitfire pilot, DFC, record for baling out of an aircraft at lowest height, subsequently war photographer…

Roger Mayne – Those great shots of Notting Hill boys and girls in the 50s.

In all above cases, I recommend Google Images to see some beautiful photographic art.

Courtauld Gallery

Bellini, Assassination of Peter Martyr – gory murder in a forest, knife lodged in his head, “CREDO” written in his own blood on ground, the surrounding chopped tree trunks bleeding in sympathy.

Signorelli, Massacre of the Innocents, little picture in which dead babies lie around marinating in pools of their own blood – he’s a real sensationalist.  His Last Judgement in Orvieto Cathedral on TV the other night (Fig Leaf, see last blog) green demons dragging the damned to the pit – a real cartoon feel to it, in the modern sense.  I like him -he’s the graphic novel version.  There’s a touch of that to Michelangelo’s too, but more classy.

Gauguin, Haystacks, a sort of huge, incoming yellow wave of hay rolling towards the viewer, white-capped women surfing it with hayforks.  Thinly painted, outlined, a “drawn” quality.

British Art Show 7 – “In the Days of the Comet”

At the Hayward.  A lot to write about so I’ll do a couple today and carry on next time.

Phoebe Unwin – Proper paintings, hints of Clough, Hodgkin and maybe Rauschenburg.  Silver Shower, a showerhead against a background of aluminium foil; another like a stack of cake slices, thin red filling..

Charles Avery – A long, white, cartoon riverside panorama; hotel with a lot of sex going on in windows; dogs cavorting, a big shop or restaurant at top of picture, a ship coming in on right.. a long, jokey title, seems to be a feature of this exhibition.

Also – A big glass case containing a desert scene, sand, snakes, broken glass a young woman in shorts and a see through shirt, reflected on outside of case; a big excrescence on top of case – glazed triangles stuck together like a bunch of coagulated wigwams.

Roger Hiorns – Transparent globs of epoxy resin, distorted by application of heat, perhaps, hanging from ceiling.  Also – a complete engine and drive shaft (?) just lying flat on the floor like a dead pterodactyl.

We waited by the bench to see if the naked man turned up; every so often, he comes to the bench and a small fire starts up under it.  On this occasion, we were disappointed – no show.

Enough for today; more tomorrow.

Blackpaint

25.02.11