Posts Tagged ‘Phyllida Barlow’

Blackpaint 642 – Monk, Barlow, Nudes and Fellini

April 4, 2019

William Monk, “A Fool through the Clouds”, The Pace Gallery

This is only on until 10th April, so visit soon if you like his works.  Three examples below – they are big, by the way.

 

 

 

Phyllida Barlow, Royal Academy until 23rd June

As at the Tate some years back, and at the Venice Biennale 2017, giant structures in stone, wood, fibre glass, canvas and metal, filling the white galleries and presenting beautiful prospects through the archways.  As can be seen, they recall skeletal structures, perhaps poking up through mud on river banks or sea shores; great precarious boulders or metal chunks, balanced on spindly supports and draped with canvas swatches.  I don’t know who to compare her works to – maybe Keifer in terms of size (but not portent)…  No-one else, really.

 

Great view through doorway.

 

I wouldn’t stray beneath those structures at the back…

 

They were squashed flat 10 seconds later…

 

The Renaissance Nude, Royal Academy, Sackler Gallery 

As you would expect, there are some fabulous treasures on display here; nothing, however, to justify the rather overheated review Adrian Searle gave it in the Guardian a few weeks back.  Far from arousing lusty thoughts, I was constantly struck by how odd some of the nude body shapes and features were, Cranach for instance, but also Durer, and others.  Many of the artists seem to have a better grasp of the muscular male physique.  I particularly liked this mysterious little picture in a vitrine with several others in a series; it’s by Giovanni Bellini, I think – what’s he doing?  Coming out of his shell is the obvious answer.  Probably has some alchemical significance – maybe??

 

 

The Ship Sails On, Federico Fellini, 1981

Fellini will be turning up regularly in this blog over the next few weeks, as I’ve just been watching virtually his entire output on DVD.  Three to go – “Clowns” (on You tube, but in Italian with Portuguese subs), “Intravista” and Voice of the Moon” (his last film, can’t find it on DVD).

Anyway, “Ship” is the one about the voyage to dispose of the ashes of a star opera singer (Helen Suzmann) in 1914.  The guests are an assortment of singers, academics, royalty and hangers-on, and there is a sort of narrator in the form of Freddie Jones, a journalist who breaks the fourth wall constantly to address us (as he is doing in the still above).  What I particularly noticed this time round was how closely Jones’ facial expressions resemble those of Giulieta Masina, Fellini’s muse and wife.  Raised eyebrows, sudden perplexed frowns, that mouth pulled firmly down at the sides, expressing an undermining skepticism: a sort of facial shrug.  Barbara Jeffords is great too, as a rival diva.  The fabulously artificial seascapes too, with the static plumes of black smoke from the funnels.  At the end, Fellini pans back (is that the right expression?) to show the crew working the “sea” surface in the studio.

No new paintings, so these are the ones I sold in the exhibition last week:

Bad Old Science

Good New Science

Ballet

Disunity of the Spheres

I certainly can’t be accused of pretentious titles…

Blackpaint

4th April 2019

 

 

 

 

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Blackpaint 501- Dress Like Hepworth, Swear like Swearengen

June 28, 2015

Barbara Hepworth; Sculpture for a Modern World. Tate Britain 

The first thing to say about this is how small it feels.  There are seven areas shown in the map of the exhibition, but it actually feels like about four rooms.  In the first, there are a number of small works by her contemporaries as well as Hepworth ; John Skeaping, Epstein, Gaudier – Brzeska, Eric Gill, some of which are as good or better than hers.  I love the larger pair of doves by Epstein, with their deadpan expressions and pointed bills; then there’s the yellow cats, Skeaping I think, and Gill’s “Eve”.  There are also a number of beautifully smooth eggs and cylinders, assemblages of spheres and cuboids that cry out to be felt – which is, no doubt, why they are under glass.

 

Doves 1914-15 Sir Jacob Epstein 1880-1959 Purchased 1973 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T01820

Epstein’s Doves

There is a room which is dominated by the paintings of Ben Nicholson, a succession of dreary Picasso-like black heads – maybe I’ve seen too much Nicholson of late – and those works of Hepworth’s that are strung with wires, like the ones by Naum Gabo (and I think Henry Moore did some too – did they all have the same idea at the same time?).

Then, there are the interlocking segments of burnished wood, like so many pieces of classy furniture from the 50s; you wouldn’t be surprised to find the nutty wood cocooning a radio or radiogram.  A couple of breeze block walls  with greening metal pieces hidden round corners, as if reproducing the effect of the pieces in her garden at St Ives.

The exhibition ends rather suddenly – it took us about 40 minutes to go round the lot.

Sculpture with Colour (Deep Blue and Red) 1940 Dame Barbara Hepworth 1903-1975 Presented by the executors of the artist's estate 1980 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T03133

Sculpture with Colour (Deep Blue and Red) Hepworth

There are a number of purchasing opportunities, prints, scarves, pottery and a range of Hepworth-inspired clothing: a duffle jacket and a sort of canvas/linen shirt for sculpting in, so you can dress like her as you hack at the marble in your back garden, cigarette in mouth, drink on the table.

RA Summer Show (again)

A few more names and works to look out for:

Phyllida Barlow – a sculpture actually made of wood, that looks like rough old square-cut concrete conduit chunks stuck together; looks great in the context of more refined pieces, shying away from it in horror.

John Carter – brightly coloured plaques with small window-like notches cut into them; like walls of some North African fortress.

Phillip King – two small, colourful abstract drawings, in the corner next to his sculptural assemblage (I think the lop-sided window shape with the neon would make a good piece on its own, separated from the rest of the dreck he has attached it to; it would be like an early Martial Raysse).

 

Guston at Timothy Taylor Gallery

guston tt

Near the taxi-polluted Berkeley Square (the nightingale would have died choking), a prime collection of Gustons, ranging from unfamiliar free line drawings, through the big pink, red, green black and grey abstracts – only one, I think – to the cartoons.  Yes, I know they are more profound and painterly, not really cartoons but ironic appropriations of the form, look at the way he uses paint, and so on… but they still look like cartoons to me and he was a big fan (obviously) of the stupendous Robert Crumb.

There is a Nixon Phlebitis and a picture in which he lays out his motifs – bloodshot eyeballs, lit fags, various detritus – as if preparing to stick them into a picture.

The paint actually is worth a mention; it’s oily and thick and greasy in places, looking still wet and viscous – and dirty.  Lovely.

Deadwood, the box set

Saving the last episode for tomorrow night.  They could never make this series now, could they?  I think it was made 2005 – 6.  Non-stop obscene language, constant racial epithets – there’s a character called the Nigger General –  casual sex and sexual violence, heroic drinking, drug use, throat cutting, eye gouging…  I’ve enjoyed every episode immensely and the music over the end credits is stunning – Bukka White, Memphis Slim,  Keb Mo’.  Ian McShane as Al Swearengen certainly laid Lovejoy to rest.

Three of mine to finish-

 

amanda in red and black

Amanda in Black and Red

sonia blurred

Sonia, Blurred (the model was pissed when I did this one)

red and blue canals1

Seagulls over Sorrento

Blackpaint

28.06.15

 

Blackpaint 442 – Barlow’s Faulty Towers, That Ad, Adrian and George

April 15, 2014

Phyllida Barlow; “Dock” at Tate Britain

There seems to be a lot of destruction about at Tate Britain lately; “Ruin Lust”, the present exhibition, for example, and the recent one on iconoclasm, ranging from Reformation church smashing to the Suffragettes, the IRA and Action artists.

barlow1

At first sight, Barlow’s work seems to fit in with this; as you come into the hall, the first thing you see is a collapsed heap of planks, beams and general rubble which looks as if it has just crashed to the ground.  In fact, the work seems to me to consist of 7 or 8 “units”, one of which is the collapsed heap; the others are:

  • a tower of beams from which a giant cardboard (?) roll or drum hangs;
  • another tower, topped by a bulging, squirming mass of ropes, stuffed bin bags, trunking and debris, threatening to topple over;
  • a sort of pyramidal  structure of interlocking, wooden or metal bench-like forms, one face of which is covered with painted panels in Guston colours (these panels face you through the arch from Caro’s red metal sculpture and are really effective from this view – try it);

barlow2

  • a tubular tower, a sort of Trajan’s Column of cardboard rolls, stuck together with brightly coloured crime-scene tape (shades of Isa Gensken);
  • another big erection of beams from which are suspended a number of huge boxes or trunks, great holes smashed in them, round the mouths of which, a polystyrene foam bubbles;
  • hanging from the ceiling, a strange, white, branching, basket-like structure a bit like Sarah Lucas’s stuffed sculptures or maybe a giant representation of a cell structure, like something that might hang above the escalator in the Science Museum.  Hanging from this, I think, three giant, unvarnished, wooden shield shapes.  I find these, the basket and the shields, to be a false note, not fitting with the rest of the installation.

So at second sight, not about destruction at all; more about things in flux, a process of becoming rather than being “complete” like the other works in the gallery.

I wondered about how she built it; she’s in her 70s, after all.  Obviously there was a team and machinery, but you somehow think things on this scale require a young, vigorous, ambitious, (reckless?) mind.  Did she do drawings?  Maybe it was more general idea and materials and then standing watching, shouting instructions: sort of “Bit more to left – hold it there, that’s good…. Now, tumble those ropes out a bit more…”   And how are these things commissioned?  does Tate have a list of artists it goes to, or do the artists approach the galleries with ideas?  This would apply to the Turbine Hall at TM too, of course.

Next time, “Ruin Lust” and the fantastic Richard Deacon exhibition.

Doreen Lawrence in the M&S advert

I think the presence of Baroness Lawrence in the M&S advert is problematic.  The company benefits from the association with someone like her, who has justly acquired a sort of proto-Mandela status, beyond criticism; there’s probably no payment involved, or she will be donating the money to a worthy cause – still, M&S is in the business of flogging clothes and will get increased profits, I expect.  Is it no different from Olympians advertising banks, or the Royals granting charters to private firms?  as far as I can see, there has been no criticism in the press of the ad, so maybe I’m out of step.  Those people who want the Baroness to stand as Labour candidate for Mayor of London will be wanting some of the same magic; someone beyond criticism to carry the flag.  What a coup that would be.

Sue Townsend

townsend

Adrian Mole is one of the great comic characters of English literature, alongside Pooter, another noted diarist; I was surprised, however, to come across, in Sunday’s Observer, an extract from Townsend’s book “Mr.Bevan’s Dream”, about trying to get an emergency benefit payment.  What surprised me was how gripping it was, how angry it made me and yet how fair and even-handed were her comments.  Who did it remind me of?  Ah yes, Orwell – and unlike George –  no criticism intended – Townsend wasn’t down there on a visit.

 Orwell, the Musical

orwell

Just been reading that Orwell’s newly published “Road to Wigan Pier” was delivered to him in the trenches where he was fighting with the Trotskyist POUM militia in the Spanish Civil War; surely it’s time somebody wrote “Orwell, the Musical” – Eton, Burma, the Hanging, Shooting an Elephant, dish-washing in Paris, tramping in London and the hopfields of Kent, Wigan Pier, fighting, wounded and fleeing for his life in Spain, the war commentaries and diary, Animal Farm, Jura, nearly drowning in the whirlpool, Nineteen Eighty-Four- must be enough here for loads of great stage-sets and les Mis-type anthems.  Come on, Lloyd-Webber and Cameron Mackintosh!

??????????

 Heaven Only Knows

Blackpaint

15.04.14