Posts Tagged ‘Radcal Figures’

Blackpaint 664 – It’s Figurative Week, here at the blog

February 17, 2020

British Baroque: Power and Illusion, at Tate Britain until 19th April

Fantastic exhibition, despite Jonathan Jones in the Guardian.  It covers the years 1660 – 1714, the reigns of Charles II, James II, William and Mary and Queen Anne. Below is the centre piece of the first room, by Verrio; great explosion of figures fanning out from the upper centre figure of Charles II.  We’ve seen plenty of Rubens and Van Dyck in recent years, so although they sort of haunt, from an earlier era, this show of largely lesser mortals, their absence is definitely not fatal.

 

Antonio Verrio, “The Sea Triumph of Charles II”, 1674

 

This is the Earl of Rochester; I take it that the monkey is a comment on the nature of his poetry – but maybe he really had one, or the artist did; “No really, my Lord, the monkey will look wonderful in the picture…”

 

This picture carries a warning about the “demeaning” depiction of the black youngsters cavorting around the central character.  Stunning blue robe though …

 

I think this is the Duke of Monmouth, presumably channeling John the Baptist – or Bo Peep.

 

You get the impression at this show – or at least I did – that these artists are really interested in the dresses and fabrics, and how they drape and fold; the subjects, their faces, are secondary (a lot of these court beauties look pretty similar anyway).  Once or twice, I thought the artist could have done the dress and setting and left a hole for the face.  This silver silk or satin, shiny as Bacofoil, for instance.

Illusion

Trompe l’oeil plays a big part in this show, as it was very fashionable in the period.  Some examples below:

 

Hang on – isn’t that last Monday’s Guardian at the top?

 

This stand up, cut out figure could be placed in a dark  corridor or even the corner of a guest’s room in your mansion; what a laugh that would be when you suddenly caught sight of it…

 

The bottom half of the door is the real thing; the top half with the fiddle and no light streaks on the inlets (or whatever you call them) is a painting.  Maybe that’s obvious – a friend had to point it out to me.

 

Various parrots, a peacock, pheasants, a jay, a lapwing, turtle dove and a couple I can’t identify, all together as you would see them in the wild…

 

We’ve left “Illusion” now and are back in the world of beautiful (?) children and the dressing up box.

 

This is Matthew Prior, the writer, painted by Godfrey Kneller, and distinguished in this show by the lack of a resplendent wig – the only male, apart from children and servants, without one, I think.

 

Peter Lely, Anne Hyde, Duchess of York, 1661

That’s the lady in the painting, not the foreground.  Again, look at the sumptious rendition of the dress; colours recall Titian and Veronese, I think.  More of these fantastic swagger portraits next blog.

 

Radical Figures – Painting in the New Millennium,  at the Whitechapel Gallery, until 10th May

To quote from the booklet, “…ten artists who represent the body….to tell compelling stories and explore vital social concerns.  Largely avoiding the conventions of realism, they ….explore timely subjects, including gender and sexuality, society and politics, race and body image.”

 

Daniel Richter, Asger, Bill and Mark

That is, Asger Jorn, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko.

 

Daniel Richter – Tarifa

About as close as this exhibition gets to a straightforward visual depiction of a single event.  The black sky and midnight sea, I think, are rather overwhelming…

 

Michael Armitage

I love the washy green and pinks; saw a lot of his stuff in Venice last year, like hand-painted film posters, somehow.  These paintings are quite different.

 

Christina Quarles

The entwined bodies, flattened field (“pressing against the confines of the canvas”, to quote the booklet again) and smooth, graphic style remind me somewhat of the Australian artist Brett Whiteley, although the exploration of “female, black and queer identity” was not Whiteley’s aim…

 

Ryan Mosley

I think this must be Teaching Snakes to be Snakes – I must get into the habit of photographing the titles, like all the other bloggers you see in galleries…

 

 

Tschabalala Self

Love those brick wall legs, that brick wall torso.

 

Nicole Eisenman, Progress Real and Imagined (detail)

This is from the second panel of a diptych, “a creation story or apocalypse unfolding in an Arctic landscape”; the booklet mentions Bosch and Brueghel; I must say I thought first of Bosch because of the multiplicity of outlandish events rather than the great detail which the booklet cites – but now I’m thinking Mexican muralists, Rivera above all.  Intentions completely different, of course.

And some of mine to end with..

Bent

 

Man of Sorrows

 

Armpit

Blackpaint

17th February 2020