Posts Tagged ‘Photographers Gallery’

Blackpaint 651- Annely Juda, Mary Ramsden, Helene Schjerfbeck and the Whole of South America

August 12, 2019

Annely Juda – Summer Exhibition until 30th August

A sort of retrospective of AJ artists, leaning towards geometric abstraction, I guess (see examples below) – but also figurative and sculpture; Hockney, Caro, Kossoff, Roger Ackling, et al.  A selection follows, not necessarily the best – although I like the Shiraishi red zips on grey – but giving some idea of range.

 

Alan Green – White over Red/Violet 

The title makes sense in the gallery, but not in this photo, where the subtleties of colour are lost, rather.

 

Yuko Shiraishi – Boulevard No.2

 

Sigrid Holmwood – Land of Cockaigne

Seen her work before in the Saatchi Gallery; the cartoonish quality is almost a Saatchi house style, it seems to me.  I think a faint hint of early Sigmar Polke too…

 

Leon Kossoff 

Didn’t get the title of this, but that building looks really familiar.  John Berger’s occasional correspondence with Kossoff about drawing is an interesting read.

 

Mary Ramsden at Pilar Corrias, Eastcastle Street W1

Sorry to say that this exhibition finished on 9th August (I didn’t check the dates before I went on holiday); I was so impressed with the paintings, though, that I thought it was worth uploading a few – you can always check her website.  Colours remind me a little of Mary Heillman, contents and the sort of roughness of the paint suggest Roy Oxlade maybe?  to me anyway; maybe it’s the orange coffee cup ring on the blue painting.

 

 

 

 

Urban Impulses 1959 – 2016; Latin American Photography, Photographers Gallery until 6th October 

Mostly Mexico, I think, but most other LA countries represented.  Demonstrations, police beating students, students beating police, murders, accidents, bars, transvestites, brothels, dancers, artistes, beaches, posers, posters, shopfronts, mannikins, lovers, cinemas, walls – I have avoided the sensational and given some examples of the Colombian Beatriz Jaramillo’s “Zocalo” series of vernacular architectural features.  As usual at the PG, fantastic and varied work and a thick, free booklet.

 

Not sure if these are also Jaramillo’s; they were next in line.

 

Helene Schjerfbeck: RA until 27th October

By way of total contrast to the other exhibitions I’ve mentioned is this one of the Finnish artist (Swedish speaking, according to the booklet – is that significant?), 1862 – 1946.  A range of her work  below, starting with a self – portrait of the young artist (compare it to that of the old woman portrayed in the 5th picture down, her last self-portrait, one of twenty she did in the last year of her life; actually, there’s a later drawing but the one here is the last painting).

 

Portrait of her mother; I like the light on those knuckles and fingers…

 

Nothing like the others, this one…

 

Her mother again; the blue background and the dazzling white of the open book sing out to you in a gallery full of rather – well, brown and grey pictures.

We’re in the land of Munch here, aren’t we?  I don’t mean that as a compliment.

 

Like the blue mother above, a welcome splash of colour in a drab world.  I liked the paintings for the most part and was reminded here and there of Gwen John (but also, unfortunately, of Munch).  Thirsty for colour, as well as for a beer of course, by the end of the visit.

Modernists & Mavericks; Bacon, Freud, Hockney & the London Painters.  Martin Gayford, Thames & Hudson, 2018

Buy this; it’s £12.99 well spent (has to be the book, not a Kindle version, if there IS one).  No jargon; all the famous anecdotes are there, but Gayford does a great job of putting this lot in the context of the times and of each other.  There’s a very clear discussion of just what “abstraction” can mean – about five different things, I made it – which, as the author says, is a question which kept a lot of drink-fuelled arguments going all night in the 50s and 60s.  I was astonished – no, overstated, but surprised – to read about the furore over William Gear’s “Autumn Landscape” at the Festival of Britain.

As always, a couple of new ones of mine to finish:

Before the Snow

 

Drying off

….and three others that I will be exhibiting with ArtBridge in Paris in September:

Caen

 

On the Rocks

 

Crossfire

Blackpaint

12.08.19

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blackpaint 614 – Heavy Metal, Carnal Pots, Wenders and Peakies

January 19, 2018

Hauser and Wirth – Monica Sosnowska (until 10 Feb, 2018)

Polish artist, heavy duty sculptures made from metal and stone/concrete.  One, an L shaped girder, bent as if by a giant hand, with a neat fold; a white cylinder of metal, cut and rolled out – it took me a while to realise how it had been done – and a large concrete mushroom, studded with wrought metal rods.  See photos below.

 

H and W – Jakub Julian Ziolkowski; “Ian Moon” (until 10 Feb, 2018)

Round the corner at the other H and W gallery, Ziolkowsky’s crowded cartoon images, reminiscent of Raqib Shaw (if not as accomplished), forming large. colourful, writhing masses on the walls.  Like Shaw’s work, a multiplicity of sexual organs are very present; you don’t have to look hard to find them.

There are also a number of painted pots in a similar style. rather like large chamber pots.  “Ian Moon” is Ziolkowsky’s alter ego, I believe.

 

 

Photographers’ Gallery – Wim Wender’s Polaroids; Instant Stories (until 11 Feb, 2018)

Annoyingly small (well, they ARE polaroids), hundreds of images, mainly of America, many relating to his films.  I particularly remember a couple of twilight skyscraper – scapes, New York I think, with spear-like negative spaces in deep blue and a series of shots taken from planes.  Dennis Hopper in a cowboy hat is in there too.

 

Photographers’ Gallery – 4 Saints in 3 Acts – A Snapshot of the American Avant-Garde (until 11 Feb, 2018)

Photos of the all-black cast of Four Saints in Three Acts, a modernist opera, libretto by the (white) Gertrude Stein, music by the (white) Virgil Thomson.  Opened on Broadway in 1934.   Predictably, the usual exoticism is present, as can be seen from the pictures below; faint shades of Josephine Baker.  That’s not to disparage the intentions of the Stein and Thomson, or the quality of the music, neither of which are known to me.  In typical old white male style, I forgot to take note of the names of the black cast leaders, thinking the names would be in the info on the leaflet – they’re not.  For the record, they are: Edward Matthews (St. Ignatius); Beatrice Robinson-Wayne (St. Theresa 1); Bruce Howard (St. Theresa 2); Embry Bonner (St. Chavez).  This was the first time that Christian saints were portrayed by Afro-Americans in the USA.

Photos by Lee Miller and Carl Van Vechten are included in the exhibition.

Peaky Blinders DVD

I avoided watching this when it came out; I didn’t think the trailers looked like Birmingham in the 20s – more like Deadwood, with the smoke and the mud and the Chinese quarter.  I thought the accents were dodgy, especially Sam Neill’s Protestant Northern Irishman; I disliked the modern rock theme by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds; didn’t fit with the period.  And I find Cillian Murphy’s pale-eyed, sinister/appealing stare annoying.  And the detachable collars and big, floppy cloth caps with razor blade accessories.  As well as Deadwood, I thought of Les Miserables and even Game of Thrones.

I was given the first three series  on DVD for Christmas, however, and having watched the first, I now think it’s brilliant – as long as you forget Birmingham, the 20s and history.  The violence is operatic, the stories tight, the acting full-blooded, you could say; it’s in a world of its own.  Game of Thrones, even.

I haven’t done much painting over Christmas and New Year, so three so-so lifers to finish with:

Dominic 1,2 and 3

Blackpaint

19.1.18

 

Blackpaint 605 – Naked in the Woods, Slaughter in the Deserts

September 4, 2017

Playground Structure  (Blain Southern Gallery, Hanover Square W1. until 16th September)

Nice exhibition of abstract painters – and one photographer, Jeff Wall – with little to connect them, beyond the fact that they all use a form of grid structure and play around with it, subverting it in various ways.  The exception is again Wall, whose large photograph is of a climbing frame in a suburban park.  For me, the most interesting is Joan Snyder, two of whose works are below.  BS have a great catalogue of Snyder’s stuff, but it’s for display only and I haven’t yet found a copy for sale.  Ed Moses is here too – two of his masking tape pieces, a watercolour and an ink and graphite drawing on paper.

New Squares, Joan Snyder 2015

 

Snyder, Untitled, 1969

 

Gregory Crewdson, Cathedral of the Pines, Photographers Gallery until 8th October

Crewdson photographic scenarios that resemble film stills; you are often looking for a narrative – what’s going on here, why is there a police car parked under the trees, what are these two women doing, waiting outside a hut in the forest?  Often, the question is, why are they half naked or clad only in a dirty slip, gazing into a mirror or out of a window?  The pensive down -dressing is one motif here; others are forest, thick snow, brown wooden interiors, an air of decaying melancholy and sometimes menace.  They resemble film stills, but also rather flat, super-realist paintings.  For comparison, the painter George Shaw occurred to me; also Sally Mann. and maybe a touch of David Lynch…    Worth a visit.

I think this one is titled “Haircut”.

 

BP Portrait Prize, NPG

Interesting this year to see some of the influences in this year’s Turtle Burners’ prize (as well as the astounding technical skill on display, as always):  I saw obvious and several evidence of Lucian Freud, one Stanley Spencer, one Bomberg and one Elisabeth Peyton.  I admired greatly the prize-winning little portrait below.

Gabi, by Henry Christian – Slain

 

Fahrelnissa Zeid, Tate Modern until 8th Ocober

This is on in the new bit of the TM, second level.  She was a Turkish woman, “born into an elite Ottoman family”,  married an Iraqi prince, who was ambassador to Germany, as well as sometime regent of his country.  She was mainly active from the 40s through to the 60s, following abstract styles as shown below, before, oddly,  returning to portraiture.  Who else has done this?  I suppose Malevich (political pressure played a part there though) – maybe Bomberg and Guston too, although not to portraiture really – abstract to figurative, though.  Having mentioned Bomberg,  I thought there was a passing, superficial resemblance in the splintered, multicoloured patterns to Bomberg’s pre -WW1 pictures “Jiu- Jitsu” and “the Baths”.

 

 

 

 

Other new Tate Stuff

Some new work that has shown up in the regular galleries since my last visit:

“Disparates – A little night music”

This drawing by Peter de Francia has obvious echoes of Beckmann’s “Night” and Grosz’s work in general – maybe a touch of Rego too?

 

An assembly by Germaine Richier – echoes of Wifredo Lam.

 

Il Topo (Alexander Jodorowsky, 1970)

 

I’ve finally got hold of this cult movie, championed by John Lennon and kept off the screens for years by Allen Klein.  It’s in a box set with “Fando y Lis” and “The Holy Mountain” and, inexplicably, separate CDs of the musical scores;  padding really.

“Topo” is a quest picture, set in the Mexican  (?) deserts, a lone, black leather-clad gunman with his young (naked) son behind him on the horse.  He soon dumps and apparently forgets him and picks up a couple of beautiful women – one he rescues from a murderous bandit “general”, the other just appears – and embarks on a mission to find several other top gun hands and kill them.  Bloody massacres, throat cutting, castration, whipping, amputees, dwarfs, lynchings and at the end, a suicide obviously inspired by the monks in Vietnam.  But it’s not all fun – there’s a spiritual dimension too.

Aware, as I occasionally am, that criticism is more than just listing possible influences and resemblances, I nevertheless feel compelled to do so – so here goes:

Bunuel, especially Simon of the Desert:  Pasolini (Oedipus Rex, Matthew and the surprisingly sweet soundtrack – music plays a big part in Paso’s films, unlike those of the deaf Bunuel); spaghetti westerns, of course; The Wild Bunch; Toshiro Mifune in Sanjuro etc.; Freaks.  And Fellini, Jodorowsky’s acknowledged maestro. ” Fando” and “Holy Mountain” I’ll deal with next time.

 

Storm Front

Blackpaint

4/09/17

Blackpaint 538 – Saul Leiter, the Easter Rising, Pasolini and Friedrich..er

March 25, 2016

Saul Leiter, Photographers Gallery

I can’t praise this exhibition too highly – I’ve been twice in two days and wanted to download every image.  It’s singular, in that the colour photos are even better than the B&W ones; how often does that happen in street photography?  He does figures seen through condensation on windows, odd cropping, red umbrellas (lots of red, yellow and black), hats, snow, ads, car windows – all the usual props, but they’re somehow better.  See below:

 

saul foot

Like a Cheever story, somehow..

 

saul canopy 2

Is that William Burroughs?

 

saul black man

He must have scouted the signs out and waited for the man in the hat and cigarette to walk into the frame..

 

saul postmen

US Mail, coming through the snow..could be by Norman Rockwell.

In addition to the street photos, there are his great fashion pictures, pictures of the beautiful (and beautifully named) Soames Bantry – watch the video of Leiter talking about her and his art, He cites Eugene E Smith and Cartier Bresson as influences and some of their pictures are included in the video.  Finally, there are his gouaches on thin paper, brightly coloured, some abstract, some little portraits and nude photos coloured in, as it were.  It’s terrific and free before 12 0’clock.

The Easter Rising

Also in the Photographers Gallery is a collection of  photos relating to the Dublin rising against British rule in April 1916 – the events leading to it and following it.  It’s a bit more than the usual formal pictures of Pearse, Connelly and the other martyrs that I remember from museums in Irish towns – the desperate crew below are purportedly the “Cairo Gang” , British military intelligence officers, who were all murdered by the IRA on 21st November 1920.  On the same Bloody Sunday, the British “Black and Tan” auxiliaries opened fire on the crowd at Croke Park stadium, killing twelve spectators, as a reprisal.

There are also photos of two of the Invincibles, who carried out the Phoenix Park murders; shades of Skin the Goat, the Invincible (it’s rumoured) who runs the cabmen’s shelter in “Ulysses”, where Bloom takes Stephen after the NightTown episode.  And plenty more – hunger strikers, countryside evictions, street ambush, Countess Markievicz posing with a revolver…

 

cairo gang

The Cairo Gang – or perhaps not.

Wikipedia says that the photo more probably shows the Igoe Gang, RIC undercover agents, who succeeded the ill-fated British agents.

Friedrich Vordemberge – Gildewart ( Annely Juda Fine Art, Dering Street W1)

Yes I know, I can’t get the name into my head either – and the exhibition’s finished now anyway.  But the paintings and collages are great.  He was a member of de Stijl and the pictures remind me a little of Malevich, a little of Van Doesburg and one or two are like Prunella Clough.  Oh, and maybe a touch of Oiticica.  Little lopsided squares and wedges of colour, thin lines like spills tipped out on grey or blue or yellow.

fred

 

fred2

Here’s my partner, putting her image into a picture in a homage to the techniques of Saul Leiter, no doubt.

Pasolini

I’ve recently watched the DVDs of the Decameron and Oedipus Rex and, as well as Silvana Mangano and the brilliant thug Franco Citti, I noticed that Pasolini himself appeared in both, as the painter in Decameron and in Oedipus.  I’ll be checking on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew over Easter, to see if he shows in that too.

franco citti

Franco Citti (Oedipus)

Pier-Paolo-Pasolini

Pasolini as Giotto

And my latest painting:

St.Jerome 2

Jerome

Blackpaint

24.3.16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 381- Cutting Edge Stuff

February 14, 2013

Photographers Gallery

Fittingly, with Schwitters on at the Tate Britain, the Photographers Gallery has three exhibitions on, all of which involve collage.

First, there is Laura Letinsky.  Large, pastel-tinged photos of halved fruits, cakes and pastries, spoons and forks, cut out and reassembled on large, thick sheets of knife-edged paper.  The effect, from a distance, is rather like those early drawings by Richard Hamilton, of household goods and machines on cream paper.

laura letinsky

Next, Geraldo de Barros.  A Brazilian art photographer, de Barros’ work, all in black and white, varies from shots of alleyways and doorways in sharp contrast of shadow and light, swarthy – textured walls, crumbling in decay – is “swarthy” the right word?  It has the right sound, like running your hand over rough plaster – to simple monochrome planes, crossed by what looks like masking tape, to make striking minimalist images.

de barros

This minimalist strand falls into the somewhat surprising Brazilian tradition of artists like Oiticica, making art from cardboard boxes, crates and other detritus.  Why surprising?  I suppose because it’s Brazilian – think jungle, sunlight, colour, effusion, exuberance, all that stereotypical stuff.  Beatriz Milhazes, maybe, does the sort of art I would expect from Brazil; effusive, exuberant, blinding colours – not cardboard boxes, black and white minimalism.. but she’s not in this exhibition.

milhazes

Milhazes

Finally, at the PG, there is a floor of other photographic collagists, one of whom is Anna Parkina, also showing recently at the Saatchi Russian exhibition.  I liked Parkina’s work, and the marine – themed collection spread out on the floor.  Had my fill of collage for a while now…

Pacific Standard Time; Los Angeles Art 1945 – 1980

Great Tate book, got it at TM in a sale recently.  It’s got stuff on the artists featured in “The Cool School” film; but I haven’t got to that yet.  I was interested in the row at Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1947; the director, James Byrnes, put on a show of local moderns, AbExes and others and the museum was picketed by hundreds of excluded “traditionalist” artists from the area.

Later, Byrnes was allowed to buy a small Pollock for the museum – on condition that he didn’t show it!  He ignored this condition, and was forced to resign, after refusing to sign a McCarthyite loyalty oath. Another artist, Rex Brandt, was investigated after someone discerned a hammer and sickle device on the sail of a yacht in his picture “First Lift of the Sea”.  Interesting to read about this identification of abstract and “modern” artists with communism, given the later connections made between the Abstract Expressionists and the CIA.

Holy Motors

I can see why the fuss; it’s wild, stylish, fast-moving, and with the feel of anarchy of something like Themroc (without the politics).  Leos Carax comes across as annoying, greying, punky git, which is fitting, of course.  I’d thought that the beautiful Modernist building where we first see Oscar was the Corbusier Villa Savoye; wrong, it turns out to be the Villa Paul Poiret, by Robert Mallet – Smith (1925).  Have a look at it online – the Corbusier as well.

The other building featured is the derelict Samaritaine store, where “Oscar” and Kylie meet.  And that cemetery – is it Pere Lachaise?

No doubt it’s full of film references; the only one I got was Les Yeux Sans Visage, when Edith Skob puts the mask on.  She starred in “Visage”, so it’s not much of a spot.  I  think I recognise Oscar’s wife from a recent documentary.

La Belle et la Bete

I’m watching Cocteau’s version of the story, in which the influence of Max Ernst seems clear to me – the Beast strongly resembles the massive, feathered, owl-or hawk-headed striding figures from his Surrealist paintings and collages.  So there we are, collages again; full circle.

??????????

 

The Lake District

Blackpaint

14.02.13

Blackpaint 157

June 22, 2010

Sally Mann – the Family and the land

As promised yesterday,  the show at the Photographers’ Gallery.  There is an excellent review by Sean O’ Hagan in the Observer which is no doubt online, but make sure you read mine as well.

It’s in four parts; two parts are pictures of her children, one is of Southern landscape and the last of corpses in a Tennessee forensic research “body farm”.  All the pictures are B &W, all taken on an antique camera and on some, imperfections in the developing process have been left in. 

The downstairs area contains huge close-up pictures of the children’s faces.  They were taken, like all the pictures, on a large antique box affair which was fixed in position above a table or board on which the children lay, looking upwards.  The faces fill the picture; no head outline.  The edges are ragged, torn and the paper has bubbled here and there.  The children are called, Virginia, Emmett and Jessie – the last is a girl, I was surprised to find, since her features are sharp, wild and boyish in these pictures.  In one of the pictures, the heavily freckled child’s eyes are closed, lids and lips appearing slightly darkened and swollen and the effect, for me, is of a death mask.  I was surprised to hear Mann say in the film that the faces, to her, seem full of life and hope.  They (apart from the death mask) could equally be seen to express resentment, aggression or fear, I think.

Upstairs, there are another dozen or so pictures, of the kids playing and posing in the Virginia woodlands and riversides.  They are formally beautiful, evoke Victorian images and have a sinister edge to them.  More often than not, the kids are naked and have knowing, even arrogant or challenging expressions.  In Perfect Tomato, a nude ballet dancer does steps on a picnic table.  Jessie at 9 is about to dive, naked, from a rock.  Approach of Alligator has the youngest girl “asleep” while a toy alligator appears to have emerged from the creek in the background. 

There are two images, however, which are most disturbing.  The first, entitled The Terrible Picture, shows the youngest girl looking as if she is hanging from a tree.  The second, entitled Candy Cigarette, shows the two girls, dressed for once, in casual poses, the older one staring at the camera,  a cigarette poised in her fingers.  The younger, hands on hips, has her back to the camera, watching her brother in the distance, blurred, up a ladder it appears.

The combination of the pose, the expression and (especially) the cigarette sends a dubious message, I think.  Maybe it’s my corrupted mind and no doubt others will see only a couple of lovely kids pretending to be adults.  I find it edgy, anyway. 

The question to me about these pics (and to the American teacher, lecturing the big party of teenage students while I was there) was how much has Mann posed the kids and how much is the result of  the kids posing themselves?

Deep South is southern countryside – Spanish moss, mist, rivers, decaying trees, gates, columns, those fantastic swamp trees tha tent out at the bottom.  Civil War echoes, death,  decay….

What Remains is – well, the remains.  A gaping, parchment-covered skull, frizz of hair, shiny, satin/oilskin rumpled shoulder and chest skin.  Next, a fleshy, bulging stomach and breast, not far gone; a man’s(?) body, on face, big ulcer things on limbs and trunk, like the woman Torrance hugs in “the Shining”; a close up decayed face, wispy hair,  remarkable orange-peel shoulder; lastly, head, neck and trunk of a man  face down, cork-like skin, deep cracks or wounds like stab wounds?  No chance here of anyone recognising a relative (See last blog).

The family pictures were by far the most interesting and disturbing – that seems to be the adjective of choice (see O’Hagan).  Great exhibition, free too; beautiful images that you won’t forget in a  hurry.  Haunted by death and decay; in the film, she referred to “the sanctification of the land by the presence of death.”

Blackpaint

22.06.10

Blackpaint 43

January 19, 2010

Andrei Rublev

Watching, in half hour chunks, this fantastic but incomprehensible film by Tarkovsky.  It seems to consist of stunning but unrelated scenes, unfolding at his famous “stately pace”; the hot-air balloon thing, the horse rolling on its back in slow motion, the annoying buffoon and childlike villagers, the soldiers, Kirill killing his dog…  So far, I’ve been reminded of that Breughel painting “the Triumph of Death”, because of the way that Andrei and Kirill, and the soldiers on their horses appear so tall and gaunt in their cloaks – and the horses, huge but with no fat on their flanks.  When I look at the painting though, no monks, no soldiers – gaunt horses, but ridden or driven by skeletons.

There is also the river scene, in which the riders appear on the skyline across the river, riding slowly.  Also in “Night of the Hunter” and, I think, in “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid”.  I wonder who did it first; Laughton’s film is by far the earliest of these three, but I bet Eisenstein or some other Russian did it.  Does anyone know?

Solaris

As to Tarkovsky’s “stately pace”, I remember years ago, 68 or 69, watching his “Solaris” at the ICA, in a cinema empty except for myself and a couple of friends – the cleaners came in and started brushing and clanking about during a particularly slow, quiet bit.  Presumably, they thought the film was over.

Photographers Gallery

First visit since it moved from Newport Street to Ramillies Street, opposite HMV in Oxford Street.  Downstairs was an installation by Sara Remo, “Movable Planes”.  A projection showing a wardrobe stuffed to bursting with women’s clothes.  After a minute or two, some fell out. 

On the wall opposite, two “diptychs”; a clean, uncluttered bathroom and same populated with soaps, shampoos, et al; and a clean, uncluttered kitchen work surface and same populated with jars, packets, bottles et al.

Upstairs, colour photos by Jim Goldberg; “Open See”.  Bangladesh, Pakistan, Senegal, Congo; portraits, poverty, sickness, massacre accounts, horrific bullet scars.  Also Ukraine (b&w, I think), Albanians in Greece.  Small portraits of victims of exploitation, prostitution, forced labour, with faces scratched out and their stories written on them.

Painting   

I’m trying something new; every time I walk past my current painting I have to make a mark – no longer than five minutes on it, then I have to go away.

Listening to Lake Michigan Blues by Yank Rachell;

“I went down to Lake Michigan, see my babe on the other side (*2)

I wanted to see my baby but it was so deep and wide”.

Watching Andrei Rublev for another two half hour chunks.  Went to Wikipedia and looked up plot – it was a flashback! Now, I understand.