Posts Tagged ‘Picasso’

Blackpaint 630 – The Frenchman, the Sea Monster and the Swinging Light-Bulb

November 20, 2018

Edward Burne-Jones, Tate Britain

That glowing orange – red dress curving in its folds to the left is quite something….

….as is the fabulous female back in Perseus and Andromeda but spoilt, I think by the casual model-ish, stance, that makes her look a bit too pretty somehow; better if she’d been in water up to the thighs maybe.

 

Andromeda looks quite unconcerned as Perseus takes on the dragon, as if she doesn’t care who the victor will be.

Lots of well- muscled male buttocks on display in this huge exhibition of huge paintings; a little reminiscent of the recent Queer Art show, especially Duncan Grant’s swimmers.  Also, funny how these mythical maidens and warriors always carry Nazi associations for me – Wagner, Rhine maidens and all that, of course, but I think Ken Russell is also responsible.

Wonderfully skilled painter, great compositions, range of talents (tapestries, for instance)

Callan

My Christmas gift was box sets, in B&W initially, then colour, of the surviving episodes of this great series from the 60s.  It has the most haunting theme tune, played as a light bulb swings before the troubled eyes of Callan and then shatters as a bullet strikes it.

Callan left, Meres background

Callan is an ex-soldier and convict, brilliantly played by Edward Woodward, who is, reluctantly, employed by the Section, a very secret (illegal?) state security organisation, led by a series of toffs, each one codenamed “Hunter”.  “Hunters” are short-lived; there have been four so far, in the 12 episodes I’ve watched –  two of them killed, one by Callan himself.  The body count is high, male and female and the range of murderous agents Callan has had to take on is wide and interesting: old and new Nazis, KGB of course, Czechs, East Germans, OAS veterans (Algerian war) -even a British mercenary officer.  Callan operates in a constant state of barely controlled rage at his public school bosses and fellow agents.

My memory of the series was at fault in one very important aspect: I remembered Callan as a sort of semi-detached assassin, who was allotted a target, paid and was then on his own, especially if caught.  Actually, he is on the payroll and in fact, is the moral centre of the series; the others, especially Meres (Anthony Valentine) and Cross (Patrick Mower) are odious posh boys, lacking anything by way of a conscience.

One aspect of the series, peculiarly, reminded me of modern TV – Callan’s thoughts, like those of Mitchell and Webb in “Peep Show”, are often revealed in voice-over, as he searches a flat or lies in wait.

Faces in the Crowd,  2005, Whitechapel Gallery

Eduard Manet, Masked Ball at the Opera (detail)

I recently acquired the catalogue (above) for this terrific exhibition that I visited at the time but had completely forgotten.  It consisted of paintings, photographs and posters, including work by Manet, Picasso, Beckmann, Magritte, Kirchner, Sander, Walker Evans, Bomberg, Warhol, Bacon, Sickert, Giacometti…. and a hundred more.

Two fascinating facts I have learned from the catalogue: male harlequins are popularly supposed to be able to breastfeed – and Picasso apparently included harlequin figures in some of his sketches for “Guernica”.

Tony Joe White 

RIP.  See him on “Country Rock at the BBC”, tearing up “Polk Salad Annie” with a burning cigarette stuck on the end of one of his guitar strings; “Polk Salad Annie – the ‘gators got your Grannie (chomp, chomp)”…

Tony Joe also wrote “A Rainy Night in Georgia”; enough for one lifetime.  Honey-dripping voice, shit-eating grin.

 

The Frenchman

Blackpaint

20.11.18

 

 

 

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Blackpaint 621 – Abstract All the Way, Today – apart from Two Deers and Picasso

June 9, 2018

The Shape of Light, Tate Modern

An exhibition which explores the way abstract painting and abstract photography have interacted since, I guess, the teens and twenties of the last century up to today.  Consequently, it’s both huge and incomplete.  Some examples below:

 

 

 

 

I didn’t note who the painters and photographers were, but the usual suspects were there – Van Duisberg, Moholy-Nagy, Arp, Kandinsky, Brassai, Man Ray and so on.  I liked Siskind’s scratched brickwork and blistered paint and the views from the top of buildings down stairways of Moholy-Nagy.

Later sections with work by Bridget Riley et al.  Lots of rooms, lots of work and my usual problem with numerous monochrome abstract photos – the skidding eye…

 

Ed Kienholz, America My Hometown, at Blain/Southern (Hanover Square) until 14th July

Like Rauschenburg, sometimes, without the paint swatches mostly, and with a rougher sense of humour.  The exhibition “traces Kienholz’s formative years (1954 – 1967)” says the sheet.

The Little Eagle Rock Incident (1958)

 

The Nativity (1961)

A Gift for a Baby (1962)

The American Way, II (1960)

Kienholz, once resident in the back of the legendary Ferus Gallery, and an associate of Walter Hopps (read Hopps’ memoir as an antidote to the usual art BS), drove a pick up truck with “Expert” blazoned on the side, got his material from scrapyards, made scandalous tableaux (“Hoerengracht” for instance) and was buried – when dead, of course –  in his car.  Fabulous stuff.  See also the film “The Cool School”, about Kienholz, Hoppe, Irving Blum and the Ferus Gallery.

Downstairs at Blain/Southern is Erika Nissinen, a Finnish artist whose work is not easily describable, but is grotesque, funny and requires a visit.

Transcendental Accidents (The Aalto Natives) 2017-18

 

Surface Work – Women Artists at Victoria Miro Mayfair until 16th June – so hurry.

The sheet describes this as an “international, cross-generational exhibition” which is “a celebration of women artists who have shaped and transformed…..the language and definition of abstract painting.”  Others on show include Krasner, Hedda Sterne, Agnes Martin, Lygia Clark. Prunella Clough and loads more.  The Frankenthaler and the Thomas are not typical – there is Constructivist, minimalist, and geometric pieces too.

Helen Frankenthaler – Winter Figure with Black Overhead (1959)

Alma Thomas – Untitled (1961)

Picasso 1932, Tate Modern – yet again + stages of Guernica

I’ve been again, and I thought it might be worth mentioning that there is only one of the 1932 paintings, as far as I can see – or maybe one and a half – in which the central image is not defined by a heavy black or dark line.  No doubt this is because he wanted to establish the image ASAP, fix it so to speak, and get on with the next image looming up in his brain – who knows?  Anyway, it’s this one:

Sorry, rather fuzzy image.

I’ve just been looking at “Dora Maar, with and without Picasso” by Mary Ann Caws (Thames and Hudson, 2000).  In it is a series of photos of the stages of “Guernica”.  I was interested to see that Picasso originally had a long, muscular, worker-victim’s arm with clenched fist, thrusting straight up, slightly left of centre, where the screaming horse’s head is now.  The horse is arguably the most memorable feature of the painting, so he made the right decision.  With the fist, the painting would have been corny propaganda, like those awful peace things he did in the 50’s, with flute-playing rustics wandering about.  It’s still propaganda, but great.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer, dir. Yorgos Lanthimos (2017)

More epater les bourgeois, like The Square – but horrible.  It contains a sequence in which Colin Farrell, blindfolded, spins with a rifle in the midst of his bound and gagged family, and fires randomly…

The set-up of the plot strangely echoes that of the recent ITV serial “Trauma”, with Adrian Lester as a surgeon who is harried by the father of a youth he has operated on, but who died in surgery.  The father discovers the surgeon had been drinking.  In this film, the pursuer is son not father, but in other respects, oddly similar.  Supposedly “venomously funny”, according to the Telegraph.

 

Ghost Geese fly West

Blackpaint

09.06.18

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 620 – Signorelli, Picasso and the Ape in the Museum

May 26, 2018

National Gallery

A new Signorelli, someone up a ladder, probably related to a Crucifixion.  This one’s good, but I have to say, I wasn’t keen on his other big ones – a visit of the Magi and a Circumcision.  The first has one of the worst baby Jesuses I’ve ever seen (and I’ve listed several in previous blogs).  I think Signorelli is much better doing his murals of writhing, fighting demons in his cartoon-like style, like those in Orvieto, for instance.

 

Yes, it’s definitely a baby…

That’s more like it, Luca…

In addition to Signorelli, we were looking at the painting by “Follower of Georgione” and the one by G himself and it struck me that the texture and detail involved reminded me a little of Richard Dadd’s “Fairy Feller’s Masterstroke”.  Fanciful, I know, but then I got another blast of Dadd from the Altdorfer – I think it was the legs of the man on the right…

Follower of Giorgione

Altdorfer

Finally,the big Perugino and the Mond Crucifixion by Raphael, the one with the sun and moon with faces: surely both P and R were using the same model for Mary?

The Square, dir. Ruben Ostlund (2017)

From the director of Force Majeure, this repeats the motif of a smug, liberal, bourgeois male who commits a disgraceful act.  In FM, it was running away from an avalanche, leaving his family; in this film, the guilty man posts accusing letters through all the doors in a block of flats, knowing that his stolen phone and the thieves are in one – but which one?  It has unfortunate consequences for a young boy in one apartment.

The erring male is an art museum director and the scene above is a performance staged at the museum by an actor who imitates an ape.  Of course, he goes too far and begins an assault on a female guest that looks as if it will turn into rape if uninterrupted.  Eventually, one of the suited guests tries to pull him off and the others  join in, punching and kicking.  Funny, and reminiscent of Bunuel, Festen, and maybe Airplane, a little.  Not sure what point, if any, was being made here, however.  Those Swedes, though – they do love to “epater les bourgeois”, don’t they?

More Picasso

As promised last time, some more pictures from the Picasso Year 1932 exhibition at Tate Modern.  Some of them are in hideous frames, so I’ve cropped them out.

Inflatable ladies playing at beachball.

 

One of an impressive Crucifixion series, recalling both Grunewald and Goya’s Disasters of War.

 

This looks like a beautiful flower from across the gallery; pretty good close up too, except that the breasts resemble the eyes of a frightened ghost…

 

Bit of a horror image – her face looks like a stylised Otto Dix trench corpse…

 

Unusual for Picasso (that sounds odd in itself), in that there are no hard lines around the various components of the image.  Great little painting.

 

Continental Drift

Blackpaint

26.5.18

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 619 – Milne, Picasso and Truffaut

May 14, 2018

A long gap since I posted last, due to events as Harold MacMillan put it.  More regular from now on, I hope.

Dulwich Picture Gallery – David Milne

Another Canadian artist at Dulwich.  I’m afraid this exhibition finished last week, but I thought it was worth mentioning.  Milne used a limited palette of four or five colours in most of his paintings, but the effectiveness is not diminished, as you can see.  For my money, the best ones were those where figures are set within the surroundings in such a way as they sink into them.  Look closely at the painting below; it’s a seated woman reading, with a cat on her lap.

Picasso 1932 – Tate Modern

I’ve been twice so far.  It’s staggering, if only for the volume and range of work completed in the year.  If you look at the dates of the works, it appears that he was completing a painting or sculpture a day – this is because he dated the work on the day he decide it was finished.  Sometimes, he probably took a few days to finish!

As far as the pictures go, it’s clear that he was generally uninterested in surface or texture; he gets the image down on canvas and moves on to the realisation of his next idea.  There will be a series of variations on a theme (for example The Rescue, in the final room, in which we see several images of a woman saved from drowning).  Most of the images are stunning; in a few, you feel that he is pushing it – perhaps even taking the piss (can’t think of a more delicate way of phrasing it).

Strangely for a big prestige exhibition like this. you can take photos freely – I’ve got more than I can be bothered to post in this blog, so I’ll put a few more up next time.

 

 

Unusually, a bit of texture in this one, around the face…

 

Taking the piss here just a little?

 

I know this picture well, but unbelievably, hadn’t noticed the resemblance to an octopus.  The exhibition helpfully has a film of the – cephalopod, is it? – next to the painting, so you can hardly miss it.

 

Now, a series of tiny octopuses apparently contained in tins, like sardines.

More on Picasso next blog, which will be soon.

Francois Truffaut (DVDs, boxed set of eight)

I’d always thought of Truffaut as a little bit – soft really; bit slushy.  I think it is the hangover of “quirkiness” from the unwatchable “Jules et Jim”, Jeanne Moreau in a “quirky” cap set at a jaunty angle, dressed as a man (she’s got a pencilled-in moustache  for some reason, I think), running across a bridge, pursued adoringly by the two men in her life.  It’s in the box, but I can’t bring myself to watch it.

The other films. however, were a really pleasant surprise, particularly the three mentioned below.  In “Anne and Muriel”, the triangle is reversed; two sisters to one man – but not at the same time.  Or even within the same time frame.

Anne and Muriel

The Last Metro (1980)

Again, two men, one woman – eventually.  And yes, within the same time frame.  Stars the ice queen Catherine Deneuve, displaying emotion with the merest movement of an eyebrow, the pursing of the lips..

The Woman Next Door

Depardieu again, this time with Fanny Ardant.  The best film in the set, I think, as well as the darkest (even though The Last Metro is set in WW2 occupied France).

 

Crouching Pink

Blackpaint 

14.5.18

 

 

Blackpaint 597 – Striders and Chariots and Modern Art in Madrid

May 22, 2017

Giacometti at Tate Modern

Well I know he’s great and the creator of unmistakeable, iconic figures that define stillness and movement and contain both humour and pathos – but he is a little repetitive.  You say that the repetition is a mark  of his obsessive drive to attain the unattainable,  a heroic, almost tragic striving for perfection…but he is a little same-y.  Maybe I’ve seen too much Giacometti (NPG a while back, Sainsbury Centre in Norwich more recently); but this is a big exhibition with lots of rooms.  Maybe it’s the breathless hero-worship he seems to inspire in the women art lovers of my generation, that I suspect has as much to do with the brooding, rugged, Italian peasant features as the art.

Anyway, the good things:

  • The dancing, or falling figure on the posters.

  • The Chariot figure on wheels.
  • The flint axe-head sculptures, cut off below the shoulders, several of which, to me, seem to resemble the Duke of Edinburgh, Her Majesty the Queen,  Princess Margaret and Charles de Gaulle.

  • The pictures on board or canvas that he has blackened so that they resemble sheets of lead, from which the even darker features of his sitters loom; a change from his usual ochre, orange, grey and black, with thin, ink-like lines.
  • The outsize figures, including the strider in the last room (a ringer for Prince Phillip, if he’d had his hands behind his back); a welcome change from the usual size.  It’s a good exhibition, essential probably, so don’t be put off by my jaded comments.

 

Reina Sofia Museum (of 20th Century Art), Madrid

I’ve just spent four days in Madrid, three of them in art museums, so pretty much enough for three blogs.  The first of these we entered at 4.00pm, “fresh” off the plane – and emerged at closing time, 9.00pm, hungry and dehydrated.  Not because we couldn’t find the exit, but because there was so much excellent art to see.  I’m just going to put up our photos with, here and there, my perceptive and witty comments to add to your visual enjoyment.

Schwitters

Behind glass, so my partner’s form can be made out in the centre, taking the photo and enhancing the quality of the artwork.

Ortiz

Lovely little cubist picture.

Oscar Dominguez

He of Decalcomania fame – lots of Dominguez in this museum.

 

Another Dominguez – The Thrower.

It’s rather hard to make out, but it’s a legless, headless and handless black torso, with a thick shard of glass chopping into it at the top.  Compare these two little assemblages as Surrealist images with the Dali painting below:

Dali, The Invisible Man

It seems to me that the Dominguez pieces express in each case a clear idea, or at most a couple of ideas, succinctly, rather as Magritte does.  They are surrealistic, that is to say contradictory or paradoxical (to be “properly” Surrealist, I think they should also be dreamlike – not sure they are); but they also have clarity.  That, I think, is not the case with the Dali, despite the facility of depiction and the multiple images detract from the painting.   Then again, I don’t like Dali – but then, I’m not that keen on Magritte either, so moving on –

Picasso – no comment necessary.

Picasso again – just to point out the roughness (or texture, or painterliness) of the grey, orange and red areas in the lower picture; unusual, I think, in Picasso’s work and  the better for it – not that the untextured stuff isn’t stupendous…

 

Angeles Santos, The Gathering (1929)

There were several paintings by Santos and another painter, whose name escapes me, f.rom the 20s and 30s, in this style – I include them because they remind me rather strongly of Paula Rego’s work (although I much prefer Rego’s execution).

And then, a roomful of CoBrA stuff, to my surprise:

 

Corneille – I like the yellow with the red line.

Appel, Figures

And then,  rooms of abstract expressionism, Tachisme and pop Art:

Yves Klein, his version of Nike

Tapies, Blue with four Red Bars.  Does what it says on the can.

 

Guerrero – It’s a (huge) matchbook with a few missing.

There’s a lot more to see (Bruce Connor, Bay Area and LA artist, and the making of “Guernica” – both special exhibitions, so NO PHOTO, por favor!) so you’ll need to go to Madrid forthwith.  Next time, the Prado.

Here are a couple of mine:

Seated Back, pastel blue

 

Seated Front, pastel green

Blackpaint

21/05/17

 

Blackpaint 589 – Pablo, Vanessa, JP and John

March 7, 2017

Picasso Musee, Barcelona

Mainly early paintings and drawings.  His dad was a drawing professor, apparently.  Early stuff amazing for a youngster; the head in the drawing below the only error I could see, apart from dodgy legs on a bearded man on the end wall.  Several drawings very like Toulouse Lautrec.

 

picasso-life

Academic Study, done when he was around 14 – gratifying to see a slight error in positioning of the head….

1901 was a decisive year; three memorable pictures – the “Margot” below, the red dwarf girl and the still life (also below).

 

picasso-still-life

Still Life – like a Cezanne, but with each article “floating” separately on the table top.

 

picasso-woman

Portrait (Margot) – there’s that characteristic positioning of the head to one side.

Another favourite – Portrait of Madame Canals (1904)

Then, 1917, and lots of black cubist playing card pictures,; a gored horse, bowels falling out – “Guernica” of course, but bony quality, forerunner of the skulls and those bone people on the beach.

Then, 1931; the Marie-Berthe portrait, in which her nose comes direct from the forehead, like a stuck-on gourd.

A roomful of versions and sketches of “Las Meninas”, a roomful of “Columbines”, doves in a window overlooking a bay.  The doves are just circles with smaller circles and dashes at one end, for the head and beak.

Vanessa Bell, Dulwich Picture Gallery

Some really impressive paintings in this exhibition, showing her every bit as strong as Duncan Grant.  There is a group of portraits in the first or second room, including the Iris Tree and self portrait below, that I thought was particularly brilliant.  But the still lifes, landscapes and abstracts are also great.  Highly recommended.

 

Iris Tree, 1915

 

Still Life on Corner of Mantelpiece, 1914

 

Oranges and Lemons, 1914

 

Self Portrait, 1915

The Ginger Man, JP Donleavy

Got a second hand copy of this, which I read about fifty years ago when it was really popular.  Donleavy is also the author of A Fairy Tale of New York, the title of which the Pogues borrowed for their single with Kirsty McColl.   It was a book about drunken, ne’er- do-well Irish American students, carousing in Dublin.  If you read it, you will remember the toilet bowl emptying through the floor/ceiling when the chain is pulled and the drunken parade through Dublin in the kangaroo suit.  Stylistically, it’s an attempt at something like Bloom’s sections in Ulysses, stream of consciousness, verbless phrases, even the vocab and settings (Laestrigonians, Gerty MacDowell etc.).

What came as a very nasty surprise was this, on page 29; the “hero” is rowing with his wife, who has just slapped his face:  “Sebastian up off the table.  He drove his fist into Marion’s face.  She fell backward against the cupboard.  Dishes crashing to the floor…..Took the child’s pillow from under its head and pressed it hard on the screaming mouth.”  His wife manages to save the child and Sebastian hits the streets to drink away his worries.  Next time his wife appears in the novel, she succumbs very willingly to his sexual prowess; the punch and the attempted murder are forgotten – but she is still angry about his language, laziness et al.

The point of this is that neither I nor my partner remembered the violence; we both thought of it as one of those cult books and films  about anarchistic, comical drunks and druggies you read when you are a young rebel;  Sort of a post- WW2 “Withnail and I”.  I checked the net – no mention of the violence, but I did discover it had been selected as one of the 100 best novels of the 20th century by the Modern Library.  Reviewers, such as Jay McInerney, refer to Dangerfield’s rogue-ish charm.

Lone Star (1996)/Matewan (1987), John Sayles

Saw Lone Star on TV a few days ago; the presence of Kris Kristofferson and Matthew McConaughey AND Chris Cooper in the same film should be enough to guarantee it – and yes, it’s got racial tension,  violence, some tame sex, a mystery body, murders and McConaughey doing that cold, flat stare from behind a revolver.  But somehow, it’s irritating, to me at least.  It checks too many boxes in terms of the competing interests and “issues” of the various groups, whites, Latinos, blacks, Native Americans.  And the nice people win in the end.  Matewan, set amongst West virginia coal miners and also starring Cooper, has a cathartic shoot-out (necessary in this sort of film) and the good people win here too – but only temporarily;  The old evil capitalism re-asserts itself at the end.  More violent, more pessimistic, more better.

I find myself wondering how “Deadwood” would have turned out with Sayles as director…

 

Little Lake Shore

Blackpaint

7/3/17

Blackpaint 558 – Bourgeois at Bilbao, Warhol, de Kooning and Twombly too

June 13, 2016

The Black is Back (from my hols in Euroland)

Sorry to the thousands of you who asked desperately what happened to last week’s posting – I can’t yet manage to post properly from a Kindle.

Below, my winning entry for the Putney Art School Life Drawing prize, 2016; certificate and £25 voucher, since you ask.  Soon (19th June) to be on show in Putney Exchange exhibition, opposite Waitrose, if you’re in the area…

crabman

The two pictures below are my failed entries for this year’s Royal Academy Summer Exhibition; they will also be on show at the “Salon Des Refuses”, SPACE, 129-131 Mare Street Hackney E8 3RH 23rd – 26th June; come along and buy them and possibly even meet the artist.

 

dirty protest2

Dirty Protest, Blackpaint

 

heaven only knows 2

Heaven Only Knows, Blackpaint

 

Louise Bourgeois at the Guggenheim, Bilbao

Back to real art now – as always in summer, I braved the nightmare drive along the Scalextrics road “system” round Bilbao, with teeth clenched and Johnny Winter loud on the CD player, in order to visit my favourite art museum.  There were about four large rooms devoted to LB’s sculptures, paintings and assemblages, including the following:

 

Bourgeois 1

  • Caged, bandaged, bundle hanger (above); maybe influence on Sarah Lucas?
  • Caged spiral staircase with hanging balls (below); reminded me of a Paul Nash painting.

 

bourgeois 2

  • Lots of miniature stairways, chairs, little doors in little walls…
  • Lots of transmogrifications, human heads becoming or emerging from things (one very Dali-esque hanging head)…
  • Lots of full-size rooms – confessionals, cells, bedrooms – made out of old, scarred doors, varnished partitions, old window frames, cracked glass.
  • Surrealist paintings, reminiscent of Picabia and oddly, David Shrigley (that cartoon style);
  • Her late paintings, anatomical, guts and plumbing on show, a little Dumas maybe, with Emin-like captions or statements: “I know where I’m going”, etc.
  • And of course, spiders and biomorphic genitalia things…

Impressive to see the range of her influence, but not surprising.

Masterpieces Room

Big works by Klein, Rauschenberg, Styll, Rothko, Motherwell – and my two favourites below:

 

nine-discourses-on-commodus-1963

Nine Discourses on Commodus, Cy Twombly

Love those blood and brain- like splatters…

 

villa borghese

Villa Borghese, by Willem de Kooning

Love those muddy brush sweeps.

Shadows, Andy Warhol

A roomful (see below) of 102 screenprints by the master of repetition; as far as I could make out, only three variations were NOT repeated; those in ochre, grey and yellow.

 

warhol shadows

School of Paris, 1900 – 1945

Three things worth highlighting here:

  • A Picasso ball or concert, shades of Munch, or Toulouse Lautrec, or in our time, Michael Andrews – pale women, ball gowns, slashes of lipstick, a silver carafe, conventional perspective… done in 1900.

Pablo Picasso

  • A huge, particoloured, reclining nude by Frantisek Kupka; not that great maybe, but striking and new to me.

kupka

  • A lovely Matisse portrait on a greyish green background of a woman in a ruffled blouse.
  • A sculpted head by Duchamp-Villon, Marcel’s brother, that was reminiscent of Bacon’s portraits, especially that one of Isobel Rawsthorne, with the curving slash down the face.

Otherwise, Delaunay Eiffel Towers, Chagall floaters and fliers, grey Braques, Legers, Gris..; the usual, fabulous stuff.

The Disappearance, BBC4

poisson

Binge-watched four episodes of this the night I got back, until 3.00am; it’s very like the first “Killing”; the focus on the parents, the inevitably flawed father, the mother who goes all emotionally frozen in grief and seeks release in an extra-marital sexual encounter – but gets too drunk to go through with it; the focused, introverted detective Molina (a man in this one) who has a difficult daughter… and so on.

The ridiculous coincidence in this one is that it is the detective’s daughter, out of the whole population of Lyon, who discovers the body of the girl her father is searching for.

Next blog; Mary Heilmann at the Whitechapel.

Blackpaint

June 13th 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 536 – Newbolt, Soutine, the Leopard and the Greek

March 14, 2016

Thomas Newbolt at Kings Place

Thomas-Newbolt---Figure-IV-,-2015_248w

 

A series of solitary young women,  lost look in their eyes (or asleep as above), in glamorous dresses,  perched on a sofa; and small portraits of women’s faces, some cropped to show only some features.  The paint is thickly sliced on with a palette knife and is thickly textured in an almost Auerbachian manner.  I think there are one or two male heads out of twenty(?) or so.  My friend suggested a resemblance to the portraits of Soutine, which seemed to me exactly right.  I enjoyed the paintings greatly, even though several were obscured by the screens of a corporate event that was taking place.

Soutine

Having mentioned this great and influential artist – Bacon and de Kooning, among several others, were influenced by him – I’ll put up some of his works; wild. expressionist townscapes, the portraits that Newbolt’s paintings faintly resemble and a side of beef, if I can find one:

soutine 2

soutine selfie

Soutine self-portrait

soutine1

That path looks like a salamander holding a pine tree…

 

beef

Mm – Tasty!

 

soutine skate

Here’s a Soutine Ray, to compare with Ensor’s Skate

Why is there no Taschen of Soutine, or any reasonably cheap book of his paintings?  A question I have asked before in this blog; but, despite its wide readership and undoubted influence, no reply has yet been forthcoming.

The Leopard, Visconti (1963)

the leopard 1

Burt Lancaster’s superb performance as the Sicilian prince, facing up to social and political change, his own mortality and that of his caste and values.  The operatic battle scenes, the insufferable nephew Tancredi (played by Alain Delon), the sweaty, shifty, worldly priest (Romano Valli – later, the fussy hotelier in Visconti’s “Death in Venice”, and brilliant in that too) – but above all, the ball  and that waltz with Lancaster and Claudia Cardinale, prefiguring, perhaps, the ball scene in Sokurov’s “Russian Ark”.

leopard 2

Well, no, not above all; there is a scene after the dance in which the ailing prince, looking for somewhere to rest, comes upon a huge room filled with the used chamber pots of the ball guests…

The Renaissance Unchained (BBC4)

I liked this series, especially Waldemar Januszczak’s exploration of Van Eyck and other so-called “Flemish Primitives” such as Memling, which showed up the absurdity of such a term for these brilliant draftsmen of fiendish detail with their clear, cold, deep colours.  I thought he had something when he referred to Michelangelo’s “Opal Fruit colours” in the Sistine Chapel (not the blues and browns though!); I’d also never noticed before the similarity between El Greco’s naked, elongated bodies in “the Opening of the Fifth Seal” and those of Picasso’s “Demoiselles d’Avignon”.  Apparently, this has been known since the 80s.  Here’s the El Greco, but I can’t find a decent photo of the Picasso, oddly.  Still, it’s a well enough known image…

fifth seal

I used to think El Greco’s paintings were OK, but sort of stuffy and boring in a dark, heavy, religious, Spanish way (despite coming from Crete); now I like them – but not that shimmery thing he has, see above.  No doubt, next week, I’ll think different.  A couple of life drawing exercises and an old painting of mine to finish:

 

cropping 1

Cropping 1

 

cropping 2

Cropping 2

 

green fuse

Green Fuse

Blackpaint

14.3.16

 

Blackpaint 525 – Tight Rope, Frenzy and Sex in Gothenberg

December 20, 2015

Tight Rope, White Cube Gallery, Bermondsey Street

This is a great exhibition; it has to do with artists who walk the line between figurative and abstract, I think (I haven’t read the book that goes with it yet – £20.00) – whatever, it has some lovely pictures from the likes of Guston, Bacon, Freud, Baselitz, Matisse, Duchamp et al.   It has one of the worst Picassos I’ve ever seen ( horrible, evil yellow with scrawls) and a terrific Tracey Emin figure on white over two or three panels.  My favourites below, starting with the great Bay Area painter David Park:

david park

Untitled (Portrait of Tom Jefferson), 1957

 

plessen

Magnus Plessen, Untitled, 2015

Plessen seems to have used tape which he has pulled off to get the straight lines.

 

armitage

Michael Armitage, Conservationists, 2015

 

Here’s the Emin –

tracey

Tracey Emin, I think of you all the time

 

– and here’s the Picasso –

picasso mustache

Picasso, Man with a Mustache, 1970

Despite the Picasso, there are loads of excellent pictures here.  Even the ones I didn’t like – Dana Schulz’ retina-burners, for example – made me want to go home and paint immediately; those chunky but slippery brush sweeps, I imagine.

Also on show there are Gilbert and George’s “Fuck You” posters (that’s probably not their proper title, but gives an idea of the content).  Should detain you for a minute or so, long enough to read them all.

 

John Berger on Rembrandt and Goya

I’m reading Berger’s “Portraits – John Berger on Artists” and I find him insufferably precious at times – “It is remarkable how, for those who suffer a desire for art, so much does begin and end in it” (the National Gallery).  He also tends to make confident assertions about doubtful things.  There are examples throughout, but here’s one: “Goya lived and observed through something near enough to total war to know that night is security and that it is the dawn that one fears”; is that really right?  It fits his argument..

However, his comments on Rembrandt’s late self-portraits are interesting; he suggests that R. painted himself from memory, rather than using mirrors – thus avoiding the theatricality that Berger says always creeps in when artists do mirror SPs.  Have a look at the Courbet SP “The Desperate Man” to see what he means.

courbet

OK, it’s an extreme example.  Berger also suggests that Goya painted “the Naked Maja” from imagination – he simply did the clothed Maja without the clothes.  In evidence, he offers the breasts; falling unnaturally to the sides as they had done when she was dressed.  That’s what Berger says, anyway.

Frenzy

Hitchcock’s murder film on TV the other night; the cast was staggering, straight off the Shakespearian stage of the 70s – Jon Finch, Anna Massey, Billie Whitelaw, Clive Swift, Barry Foster et al.  The lewd conversation between barristers and the pub landlady about rape comes as quite a shock to contemporary ears and there is a very nasty rape sequence later.  Great bit in the back of the potato lorry, however.

Star Wars – film critics

They’ve all abandoned their critical faculties; not worth listening to (as I write, Mark Kermode is on TV, shouting and waving his arms about).

Casanova

Fellini, Donald Sutherland in the title role, having sex with a mechanical life-sized doll in Gothenburg, a debauched Dudley Sutton playing a harmonium halfway up a wall…  Now, that’s what I call a film.

 

dirty protest2

I’ve finally finished a picture – here it is; it’s called

Dirty Protest

Blackpaint

19.12.15

Blackpaint 491- Witches, Flawed Males and Barry Island

April 20, 2015

History is Now , Hayward Gallery (cont.)

Went back for my second view – you get two visits for the price of one, because there are several films to watch, too long for one trip.  Great photos in the Hannah Starkey section, including the Hurn one below; look at the depth of field.  Also, the Penelope Slinger film on the back wall is worth a good look, if only to work out why it’s more than outdated but agreeable soft porn.

david hurn

David Hurn, Barry Island

Of the films playing on the TV sets, the most interesting was the selection of excerpts of Jeff Keens films.  The high speed succession of images, gone before you have a chance to register them, the roughly drawn surrounds, collaging, burning photos, wax figures that melt instantly, comics, adverts, newsreel(!) – all familiar techniques and almost quaint now.  Took me back to the Venice Biennale 2013, where there was a similar, but huge, film playing in one of the pavilions (see Blackpaint, October 2013).

There was also the Stephen Dwoskin film of Bill Brandt images: Francis Bacon on Hampstead Heath with the lamppost, the silhouette of the cow on the hillside over the valley, the urn on the balustrade… and another great back for my collection (see several previous Blackpaints).

 

bill brandt

 Bill Brandt

 

Goya drawings and etchings, Courtauld Gallery

There are a few etchings – the one below, “Ridiculous Folly”, is the best; many more done with brush and ink – “Mirth”, second below – and some lithographs.  They mostly consist of his witch drawings, although some concern madness. vanity and old age in particular.

There is no doubting the genius of these little pictures; they border on caricature, but you get the feeling that he hasn’t exaggerated features that much – just put the women in nightmares and “funny” situations.  And they are nearly all women; I can only think of one male character, in restraints,  representing Madness.

I found them brilliant, but cruel and often sneering – he was obviously not keen on old women.  Furthermore, I couldn’t see the point of them; they are described as his private works, done for his own purposes, not for publicatioon.  Most artists would stick to sketches to amuse themselves or practise technique.

 

goya1

 

goya mirth

One other character in the Goya drawings was Celestina, who was apparently a stock figure in Spanish literature, an old procuress; reminded me of the famous Blue Period Picasso, “Celestine”, and provides an excuse to reproduce it.

picasso la Celestine

 

Flawed Male Characters

As are all male characters, of course; but recent re-watching brought to mind the three below in particular:

The ratty, porn-watching, intellectually snobbish poseur Mahmut (Muzaffer Ozdemir) in Ceylan’s “Uzak”;

his country cousin, the inarticulate, unsophisticated, lumpish, lonely Yusuf (Mehmet Emin Toprak) in the same film; “Have a sailor’s cigarette…”

uzak1

uzak2

 

And in Michael Handke’s “Hidden”, Daniel Autueil’s TV interviewer who has committed a secret act of betrayal at the age of six and whose wife, Juliette Binoche, regards him with a blaze of righteous contempt and accusation throughout, whilst backing him up dutifully to the denouement.  Three great male cinema heroes for the current age…

Three lifies to finish, Vanessa on the Couch 1,2 and 3.

 

vanessa couch1

 

vanessa couch2

 

vanessa couch3

 

Blackpaint

20.04.15