Posts Tagged ‘Pollock’

Blackpaint 228

December 8, 2010

Turner Prize

Won by Susan Philipsz, the sound artist, who had a recording of herself singing “Lowlands” installed under three bridges on the Clyde.  It was re-installed in the Tate Britain without the bridges, which some critics felt detracted from the work – difficult to see how to get round that one.  Anyway, she won and had apparently been the favourite throughout.  As I’ve said before, readers should listen to the Ann Briggs version, or Martin Carthy’s, if they can find it. 

A piece in the Guardian by Adrian Searle praised Philipsz’ work in the following terms: “Her current Artangel project, Surround Me, insinuates itself down alleys and courtyards in the City of London…. singing melancholy works by John Dowland… I have stood in shadowy old courtyards and between gleaming office blocks, weeping as I listen.”  Please, Mr. Searle, pull yourself together; we British don’t cry and we certainly don’t “weep”.

Having said that, I occasionally get the odd prickle in the corner of an eye when listening to the Matthew Passion or the Mass in B minor – and even in the presence of great paintings; Lavender Mist, Palisades, Berkeley series, most things by Joan Mitchell…

Martin Rowson

Has, well – deservedly, won the Low Prize for political cartoonists – despite the fact that you need to be really seriously up to speed on politics to get everything going on in his cartoons.  He has, however, failed to produce an arse- sucking drawing since I requested the same some time back (in a TV interview, he said that he had toned down such a cartoon at the request of an editor who was hungover and feeling sick).

Surely, the time for a double arse-licking cartoon has arrived, with the Assange affair: British magistrate licks Swedish prosecutor, who in turn licks Obama – or maybe Clinton…  Steve Bell has obliged today, with Uncle Sam fucking an ostrich; nice to see vulgarity standards falling – or rising – with BBC radio presenters saying “cunt” on air at every opportunity.

Quiz

Who did a painting of a massive Gordon’s Gin advert above a branch of Woolworths (that is, the advert was above Woolworths in the painting..)?

Blackpaint

08.12.10

Blackpaint 204

October 10, 2010

Open House

Finished now.  Didn’t sell many, but enough to fool me into thinking it’s worth continuing for a few more months.  Lots of people remarked on how many paintings there were (see Blackpaint 202).  Always a surprise to see which ones sell, or are admired – invariably old ones.  One I was about to paint over was praised by several people, to my complete incomprehension.  Nice but disquieting – stuff I’m doing now is totally different, but you can’t go back.

Ai Weiwei

Great to see him getting so much coverage in the papers; that must be embarrassing for the Chinese government, along with the Nobel Peace Prize going to Liu Xiaobo.

Jiro Yoshihara

Grey paint appearing as thick as putty, with a black slash slicing diagonally upwards at a shallow angle from low left to middle right.  Above it on left, a black patch from which the paint dribbles down like thin black blood, and  between the two blacks, a scrawled and scrubbed black and white cloud, extending to the right edge and top right corner of the canvas.  This is “Painting” (wonder what he called all the others). 

Doesn’t sound like much, but it’s an arresting image that shows how much can be got into a limited palette.  There’s an inverted “V” sign in white that has been painted over the stern of the black diagonal by a drying brush being dragged lightly over the surface of the canvas.  I thought of Lanyon when I saw it; the texture reminds me of brushmarks on “Wreck” in the Tate Modern.  I said “stern” because now I can’t help but see the black stroke as a rowing boat.  The black patch above the stern is now a jellyfish,  its tendrils suspended vertically in the grey “ocean”.

All this, despite having spent two weekends maintaining to visitors that my paintings are non-figurative and not intended to look like anything in the “Real” world and that to see them as pregnant women or jungle landscapes or whatever was erroneous, etc., etc….  Can be entertaining though – I have one that I think looks like a hooded judge in a white gown, or a Klansman sitting in judgement;  one visitor said it was a still life, another saw a big 50’s style fridge.

Anyway, Yoshihara a founder of the Gutai group (1954) that apparently influenced Pollock.  I’m going to look up more of his stuff.

Painters whose works have a spurious, superficial mutual resemblance, No. 10

Wols and Georges Mathieu.  The latter, of course, used to do those spontaneous performance paintings.  They both like spiky, insect-like tangles or knots in black or white, streaking out from a  central point like track of atoms in a ..what are they called, those machines that smash atoms and record the track of the fragments?  Add to that brilliant colours, splotched and scratched and muddied (more so in  Wols’ case) and you have the resemblance.  I like Wols best.

This is the one I was going to paint over.

Blackpaint

10.10.10

Blackpaint 196

September 21, 2010

Pushed fortime today, but I’ve been in the Tate Modern again, to see the “Chromatic Constructs” or whatever they are called.  Thought it was new, but realised when I got there it was Mary Martin etc., seen it before.  So.. to visit Jorn, Pollock and friends again.

Judit Riegl

“Guano”.  Canvas placed on floor underneath other paintings in progress – creating ripples on surface, which she painted over to create a slate-like consistency.  looks like a lithograph.  Took her 7 years.

Jorn

Looks dirty and dull close up, but clean and vivid from across room, cf. Appel at St.Ives and so many others.

Pollock

Jazz dance?  Seemed dead and trite, like 50’s wallpaper.  I think it’s those dodgy, Disney style black dancers, disguised as loops along the canvas.

Kline

Always powerful.  I don’t what he called it or said what it was, or was not – it’s always a bridge to me, black iron over misty white marshes.

Joan Mitchell 

The one on show in the Tate is quite an early one, relatively restrained, but its beautifully constructed and complex, even if her fantastic colour sense is reined in.

Viera de Silva

Not a good one; too tame and tricksy, not enough wild surface.

Some new books – new to me, anyway.  A beautiful Cecily Brown, weighing in at £40.00; full of de Kooning -like colours and brushwork, barely concealing obscene goings -on – and many with no concealment at all.

There is a Fiona Rae, £28.00 I believe, in which her palette appears to have become much brighter, rather like Ofili.

Finally, a Hans Hoffman with a whole lot of rather unpleasant green pictures, from around 1960 – it just shows that even a painter of his brilliance can turn out some dull stuff. 

Painting

I’ve started to mix a bit of white spirit in with the oil now and then, so that I can get areas of relatively uniform staining onto the canvas; now, not everything has to be slabbed on in thick oil slicks and then dragged into smooth, shiny tiles of paint, usually with white glimmering through in patches – still like that effect, though now there is some textural contrast.  I realise that all this is elementary, but it’s still new to me.

And so, it begins..

David Mitchell, as Cyrano de Bergerac, said this to camera in a Mitchell and Webb sketch the other week and it popped up last night in “The Year of Living Dangerously”; is this its original source?

 

Spider’s song by Blackpaint

Listening to “North to Alaska”, Dwight Yoakam out of Johnnie Horton;

“Where the river is winding, big nuggets they’re finding,

North! To Alaska,

We’re going north, the rush is on!”

Blackpaint 178

August 21, 2010

Joan Mitchell

Yes, she’s on in Edinburgh til October 3rd, and there’s no way I’m going to miss this, even though it’s just a few paintings – seven ,I think, and some pastel drawings.  Got a glimpse of three on the Culture Show, presented by  Alastair Sooke in a Sinatra hat with Coltrane in the background (I think – my ears need syringeing).  He mentioned some really important things;  for instance, she swore a lot and was alcoholic – unusual for an Abstract Expressionist.  He pretty much got the main things right, though, mentioning Monet and lyricism and colour, contrasting with the black, depressive, explosive stuff.

I think that Mitchell was one of the most distinctive, expressive and inspiring of a miraculous bunch and is up at the top with de Kooning, Pollock and Hoffman.  Sick of hearing how she was younger, second wave, not as innovative, etc., etc.  Look  at the pictures in Jane Livingstone’s book; they’ll make you gasp and sometimes even move the sensitive to tears (probably only when drunk at 2.00am, however).

I was interested in Sooke’s account – if he wrote it himself; maybe he was just reading the words –  of the dark, “depressive” stuff and the light, “lyrical” stuff, in terms of how long it takes a painter to complete.  if you are responding to moods and you start something doomy, what happens if you cheer up half way through?  And vice versa?

The answer must be that you respond to the needs of the painting – this idea that Ab Exes just painted their moods is surely bollocks.  I understood that depression stops you from working, so the “dark” paintings must be “recalled in tranquility” or whatever the quotation is.  All art is fiction, unless it’s about itself.

Sidney Nolan and Arthur Boyd

Since seeing that great Arthur Boyd painting in the Tate I’ve been looking at stuff by these two; the Ned Kellys, lost explorers, scapegoats, sunsets…  I was going to call it surreal, but I’ve got an idea that their paintings are a lot more “real” – maybe Australia really looks, or looked, like that…  The only other Australian painter that I’ve seen work by is Fred Williams, who did those fantastic landscapes and top shots that were in  the Tate Modern a couple of years ago.  Bit of an Australian Lanyon – or the other way round.  I’ll be looking at other Australian artists in blogs to come. 

Saw the Francis Alys at Tate Modern today – will write about it tomorrow.

Listening to Kris Kristofferson at Cambridge, doing “Me and Bobbie McGhee” – and of course, Bobbie  is a girl!  Obvious really, but only just realised – I knew Kris wrote it, and even saw him perform it to a totally unappreciative audience (he was booed) at the Isle of Wight.  Joni told us off, said it was nothing like Woodstock…

“Busted flat in Baton Rouge, waitin’ for a train,

Feelin’ near as faded as my jeans…”  

Janis did it better, but Kris wrote it.

Blackpaint

21.08.10

Blackpaint 96

March 27, 2010

Having a major failure of the imagination today – not unusual for me – so I have decided to resort to the adolescent device of listing my ten best…  So, today, my

Ten Best Abstract Expressionist Paintings

1.  De Kooning, Palisade (1957)

2.  Joan Mitchell, Mooring (1971)

3.  Hans Hoffman, Phantasia (1944)

4.  Jackson Pollock, Lavender Mist no.1, 1940 (1940!)

5.  Franz Kline, Scranton (1960)

6.  Helen Frankenthaler, Autumn Farm (1959)

7.  Hans Hoffman, Pompeii (1959)

8.  de Kooning, Untitled (Summer in Springs) (1962) – look at that yellow!

9.  Joan Mitchell, Salut Sally (1970)

10.  Jackson Pollock, Autumn Rhythm Number 30, 1950 (1950)

Sorry – you’ll have to look them all up to see if I chose right.  Next in series will be my ten best St.Ives paintings, but will save that for when I have nothing of interest to say; possibly tomorrow.

Bacon

In the Telegraph review today, there was a photograph of George Dyer sitting in his underpants and next to it, Bacon’s painting of John Edwards in exactly the same pose.  Bacon simply transposed the head of his later partner onto the body of Dyer, for the painting.  That requires some high level of artistic detachment, I think.

Listening to Elgar’s Cockaigne, Cello Concerto, Violin Concerto and Falstaff – probably a reaction to my unpatriotic remarks about Paul Nash in Blackpaint 94.

Blackpaint 27.03.10

Blackpaint 68

February 14, 2010

Arshile Gorky

So, after reviewing the (Sewell) review, I’ve now seen the show.  There are 12 rooms, so I’ll take them one by one.  Room 1, I made no notes, but remember an imitation of a Cezanne still life. 

Room 2 showed how AG had “abstracted” a Picasso-like portrait of “Woman with a Palette” several times over the years. 

Room 3 displayes some fine drawings, obviously influenced by Picasso. 

Room 4 continues this with a number of paintings which are Picasso imitations, using a lot of white. 

In room 5, still unoriginal, I have made the following notes: “awful colours; fluffy whites; putty effect of painted background.  Drawings, however, are delicate and subtle.”

In room 6, the influence of Miro is very apparent – although the first painting recognisable as a Gorky appears, dated 1943, with the characteristic leaf/butterfly/biomorph shapes, circled and linked by the thin black lines.

Then, oddly,  Room 7 takes you back in time; portraits of AG with mother, and sister and friends.  The portrait of AG with his mother has been reproduced in all the reviews of the show, I think – and I don’t understand the interest.  They would have been of huge significance to Gorky himself, of course, and should be in the show – but why here, half way round?

Room 8, smallish drawings, from a distance look like people grouped on ice or by a lake, with pastel “washes” of colour.

Room 9, and “Waterfall”, and at last the famous Gorky.  There are several waterfalls, in fact, one of them named; the notes I have made are; “thin paint, sometimes running.  Pirate 1 resembles a Graham Sutherland!”

Room 10, Landscape.  I’ve noted two; “From a high place – looks like a picnic!” and “Apple Orchard”, with an orange background that is a blend of yellow, reds and greens close up.  The thin black lines are much in evidence and the shapes are reminiscent of Matta, Masson maybe – some of them also remind me of the late de Koonings, the same deadness and emptiness, but only sometimes.

Room 11, “Betrothals”, the bad luck room – the fire and the cancer.  What I noted was that there are three versions of “Betrothal” and in each, the figures are identical (although the colours are different).  This seems to be his way of working; compose in a sketch and develop by trying out different colours.  So again, a painter whose work can appear spontaneous and who is associated with a movement which prizes and promotes spontaneity, turns out to work in a formal, considered and wholly traditional way.

The final room is called “the Limit”, the title of one of the paintings.  The other bad luck room; the car crash and the suicide.  Again, there are four studies of a work called “Agony”, although this time the final version contains some changes.  One, the Black Monk(?), called Last Painting – the equivalent of Van Gogh’s crows over the cornfield, maybe; the “suicide” painting.

So, some beautiful works and a lot of mediocre ones.  It strikes me that his importance was perhaps more as an influence on de Kooning, Pollock and the others, rather than as a painter himself.  His thin paint surfaces are never as rich and interesting as de K, Pollock or Joan Mitchell; sometimes you get “dead areas”.  He brings to mind Matta and sometimes Kandinsky, with his little entities fluttering around.  But I think the historical significance justifies the exhibition.

Was Sewell right?  Yes, about the drawing – it is very skilful and does sometimes resemble etching.  Yes, about the Picasso and Miro imitation.  And yes, about his significance to the Ab Exes (although they acknowledged that themselves).  I think he is wrong in his assertion that Gorky was ignorantly copying others  and did not know what he was doing – he may not be a de Kooning or a Pollock but he has an instantly recognisable style, from 1943 onwards.  And for a painter who “abdicates formal responsibility”, he spends a lot of time doing drafts and sketches of his major works before producing the final version.  I felt a little cheated by this, as by Kline and Hartung before – I like my AbExes to give birth in a trance-like creative frenzy, improvising and composing as they go; I don’t want them doing formal sketches first!

Blackpaint

14.02.10

Blackpaint 64

February 10, 2010

Films about Art

I’ve not been to any galleries or read any arty stuff today, so I thought I’d go through my top ten arty films.  Here goes:

Love is the Devil, by John Maybury  about Francis Bacon.  Derek Jacobi as Bacon,   Daniel Craig as George Dyer, everyone in it brilliant, Miss Belcher, Henrietta Moraes, Farson, Deakin, the Colony.

Andrei Rublev, by Tarkovsky.  I’ve written about this at length in Blackpaint 43.  incomprehensible without a plot summary from Wikipedia, but staggering images and haunting theme (cliche, but it is).

La Belle Noiseuse, by Jacques Rivette.  lots of tiresome French angst, but Michel Piccoli always good and Emmanuelle Beart excellent as the woman who poses nude for him to complete his long-unfinished masterpiece.  They don’t take a fornication break, which was a surprise to me, the film being French.  This was a disappointment, but there is an attraction in the long drawing and painting sequences, in which the hands shown are those of Bernard Dufour, a well-known French artist.  Best art on film in fiction (I hadn’t forgotten the Pollock film by Namuth and the one on Matisse).

The Rebel, by Robert Day. Starring Tony Hancock, of course, inspired piss- take, including the unforgettably stupendous “Aphrodite at the Water Hole”.  See it at once.

Christie Malry’s Own Double-Entry, by Paul Tickell.  This version of a BS Johnson novel never got released because it had terrorist scenes and happened to coincide with 9/11.  Great visuals and soundtrack and cut aways to artists in Renaissance period (for some reason I forget – but glorious visuals).  Gratuitous sex and violence, fortunately.

Pollock, by Ed Harris and starring same.  Drunken, brawling, sensitive,  bombastic, promiscuous, selfish – all the things that an Abstract Expressionist  should be proficient at – he also pisses in Betty Guggenheim’s fireplace.  Some stuff about painting too.

Lust for Life, by Vincente Minelli.  Much derided, but I like it – you have too make allowances for the 50s cliches.  The paintings are quite good (well, staggering, of course).  And Kirk Douglas does look like him, doesn’t he? 

Frida, by Julie Taymor.  Selma Hayek as Kahlo,  Albert Molina as Diego, great story, great paintings (no,. let’s be honest, I hate them – but the film is a good biopic).

A Bucket of Blood, by Roger Corman.  A talentless waiter who wants to be a sculptor starts murdering people and smothering their bodies in wax or clay,  or something.  He’s immediately successful of course, but one day, at his exhibition, it’s rather warm…   Asks serious questions about the creative experience and what constitutes a work of art.

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Peter Webber.  Don’t really like this film- bit worthy I thought, too much hype.  I remember some stuff about mixing colours…  Has to go in though, because I only had nine without it.

Listening to Parchment Farm by Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, live at the Flamingo:

“I’m puttin’ that cotton in a ‘leven foot sack (*2)

Well I’m puttin that cotton in a ‘leven foot sack, with a 12 guage shotgun at my back…”

Tomorrow, arty books (fiction).

Blackpaint

10.02.10

Blackpaint 49

January 25, 2010

My Abstract Expressionist binge

Exhausted and feeling sick today, after efforts of last two nights – plus that crash when you think you’ve done something passably good and the scales suddenly fall from your eyes.  I fiddled with AbEx no.2 this morning, to see if I could give it some structure, but not happy with it.  As Pollock said, “..the painting has a life of its own.  I try to let it come through.  It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess.  otherwise there is pure harmony, an easy give and take, and the painting comes out well”.

That’s absolutely right – everything that Pollock says about the act of painting is very clear and straight; he reminds me of Bacon in that respect.  Anyway, I decided I’d fly the results, whether they were crap or just mediocre, so this is it.

Francis Alys

This artist is my current hero and this is why (extract from 100 Contemporary Artists, Taschen) : “In 1997, Francis Alys pushed a large block of ice through the streets of Mexico City until it was reduced to a puddle of meltwater.  This…illustrated the futility of the sculptural endeavour…but its very absurdity guaranteed its continued existence through word of mouth anecdote” – which I suppose is sort of what I’m doing now.

Can’t write more tonight, but since most visitors to this blog come for Michelangelo, here he is-

MICHELANGELO.

Blackpaint

25.01.10

Blackpaint 46

January 22, 2010

Life Drawing

My class today, and as usual quick poses – 1 minute, 2 minute and so on up to 6.  Then small sketches of pose and a long drawing – 90 mins.  As usual, I reached a point where I started to mess up, so stopped and started a new one.  Ended up with two reasonable, but not spectacular drawings that stayed at the school for future critiquing, and I brought the quick poses home (see below).

I started life drawing because, if I’m honest, I think it’s “proper”, in some way.  It’s craft.  If you can do life drawing, you’re somehow entitled to do abstract stuff.  Total bollocks of course, but it echoes Robert Hughes’ assertions about Basquiat and Schnabel in particular, and US art schools in the 80s in general, that they had turned out a generation at least who couldn’t draw properly – and that, somehow, that meant they couldn’t do “proper” abstract art.  This notion has recently popped up in William Boyd’s article on Rothko in the Guardian (see Blackpaint 13); he extends it to Rothko, Pollock and Kline. 

Anyway, having started it, it has become a pleasure in itself, sort of separate from the stuff I paint and exhibit – but it has probably rubbed off, maybe in the use of charcoal or the sort of forms which emerge (that word again) in my canvases – although, to be sure, not the latest ones.

Listening to Mahler’s 5th, the “Death in Venice” bit, where Aschenbach has found an excuse not to leave Venice and is heading joyfully back to his hotel in a gondola.

Blackpaint

22.01.10

Blackpaint 42

January 18, 2010

Royal Academy Exhibition

I thought I’d have a crack at this, this year, never having tried before.  I didn’t realise they had themes – this years is as follows:

” Raw”

Selectors “wish  to ‘cut to the chase’ and take a look behind the exterior of the pristine; to address the properties of the materials and the working finger prints left in pursuit of curiosity. Raw can be stark, natural, unrefined, honest, bleak, tender and new.”  They want ” candour beyond disguise”.

Well, I should have no problem with “stark, natural, unrefined” and “bleak” – “tender and new” might be a bit of a stretch though – and as for honest… 

It got me thinking about which artists’ work might fit these descriptors.  I would have said Franz Kline; his stuff is certainly stark, and some might say bleak – but then it turns out to have been highly considered and prepared, so you couldn’t call it unrefined.  Other “gestural” painters – Wols, Mitchell, Pollock – sometimes have the appearance, at first sight, of rawness or spontaneous improvisation; but a few minutes consideration are enough to reveal the care, planning, and controlled delicacy of most of their work. 

The painters I would choose are Karel Appel, Dubuffet and (some, but by no means all) Asger Jorn.  Some of Dubuffet’s stuff appears quite literally scraped raw – for instance, the one in Tate Modern where you pick out the figures – and that goes also for the two Jorns, “Proud Timid One” with its scraped surface, and the other one with the little globular people looking out at you.  Virtually all of Appel’s fabulous paintings are great swirls of thickly applied, fresh, blinding colour.  Giacometti drawings are another example, I suppose, in the sense that they are worked and reworked and built up, and of course, Auerbach.

There is a problem here of course, in the sense that these artists produce “raw” work in appearance – the “fingerprints” are left in, the properties of the materials are exploited – but you couldn’t really call their work raw in any other sense.  Auerbach’s, famously,  is very “cooked”, gone over and over again, erased and redone umpteen times.  Again, we see that an “unrefined” appearance is often very deceptive – and these terms that seem so straightforward at first, are quite problematic.

Listening to Frank Sinatra with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, doing “Begin the Beguine”;

“So don’t let them begin the Beguine, don’t let them play;

Let the spark that was once a fire remain an ember…”

Hard, raw swing with brash, blaring brass and a hard -edged, yearning, perfect vocal.

Blackpaint

18.o1.10