Posts Tagged ‘Reg Butler’

Blackpaint 431- Coalhouse Walker and the Shithouse Wall

January 23, 2014

More from London Art Fair

Three more delights from the above show at the Angel:

Peter Kinley

art fair kinley

Bruce McLean

art fair bruce McLean

Reg Butler

art fair butler

Generally speaking, a great fair this year for abstract work of the 50s and 60s, but some current delights too, in the form of prints by Albert Irvin and Anthony Frost et al.

The Bay Area Painters by Thomas Williams

The bay in the title is San Francisco Bay.  Finally bought this book after lusting and pawing over it in Foyles for weeks; I was freshly astounded by the acrimony engendered by the decision of David Park, then Bischoff, then Diebenkorn to “go figurative”.  they were accused of cowardice, apostasy and treachery by Hassel Smith, Clifford Still and others. It sort of mirrors the “Judas” cries when Dylan went electric, or the earlier mutual contempt of the “mouldy fig” trad jazz fans and the be-boppers.  Perhaps an indication of the depth of feeling was that Park not only renounced abstraction, but deposited all his abstract work at the local dump.

I also find it fascinating and amusing that the critics Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg thought Abstract Expressionism the correct form for Marxists – the prevailing form of “Marxist” art in the Soviet Union being Socialist Realism, about as far from AbEx, and indeed, from the figuration of Park and Bischoff (and de Kooning, who was getting anti-figuration flak for his “Woman” series) as it is possible to imagine.

I love the machismo of these painters, both abstract and figurative; the greatest compliment paid by Douglas MacAgy, the Principal, to a student was “You paint with your cock”!  Clifford Still, on receiving praise for a canvas, would describe it as OK “to wipe his my ass on”; Hassel Smith said he wanted people to say of his paintings, “I wouldn’t hang that on my shithouse wall”.  I like this comment so much that I am putting a series of Shithouse Wall paintings – mine, not Smith’s – on Twitter.

Heaven’s Gate DVD

This is the Michael Cimino cut, the one which is supposed to be a masterpiece, NOT the hatchet job that was the original release.  there are, however, some real problems.  The sound is terrible; Kris Kristofferson swallows his words after speaking them into his beard.  The script alternates between mumbled, earnest exchanges and collective shouting and screaming, often in – Polish? Latvian?  Isabelle Huppert seems strangely unmoved by the slaughter of her girls in the brothel; granted she has just been raped and the rapists killed in front of her by Kristofferson – but you’d think she would show some dismay at the girls’ murders.

Ragtime, EL Doctorow

I watched them filming this in New York in 1980, but never saw the finished film (James Cagney’s last film, I think).  Got it for Christmas and enjoying it greatly.  It’s a mix of real historical characters and fictional ones – Coalhouse Walker Jr., the ragtime pianist and revolutionary, is fictional but Jim Europe’s band, in which he plays, was real.  I looked up Coalhouse to see if he was real; it reminded me of looking up the vignettes in My Winnipeg a few weeks ago.

Finally, look for more Shithouse Wall pictures on Twitter.

No new paintings this month, so here’s an old one.

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Atlantic Bar

Blackpaint

23.01.14

Blackpaint 425 – Dreams, Mary Poppins and Chicken Sex

December 12, 2013

Tate Britain – Five Painters (again)

On second viewing, I saw something I’d missed, or hadn’t fully got, in Simon Ling’s paintings – the dream-like quality.  There’s a particular light, or maybe dullness, in the colours, as if it’s always late afternoon, gloomy, cloudy or actually more than that; sort of drained of light.  Don’t know what the lighting is like in your dreams, but the Ling quality certainly matches mine.

simon ling

I also liked the Storey monolith drawings more this time; not the paintings, but the ones on baking paper.  Definitely something Rachel Whiteread about them.

As for Lucy McKenzie, still can’t understand how she does her trompe l’oeil stuff, but neither can I see haw it relates to Fascism, as suggested in the leaflet, apart from the Lempicka-like figures and the Art Deco interiors… maybe something to do with facades, artificiality, make-believe; Fascisms are surely based on fantasy, after all.

“Stressed” photos by Henderson (forgot his first name), elsewhere in the gallery; one of a boy on bike, wobbly at edges, and one of a man striding across a road, apparently several feet off the ground.  Also, that fantastic photo by Don McCullin of the tramp, which has the quality, somehow, of a sunflower.

Sculptures in niches on stairway: one by Michael Sandle, “Drummer”, a life-size black robot-like figure which I was sure was a Philip King, until I saw the plaque; a William Turnbull, “Idol 2”, like a flatfish with a single large foot, as if fused; and Reg Butler’s brilliant grasshopper/mantis armed with a spear, which is actually called “Woman”, I believe.  Great, memorable image.

reg butler

 

Padre Padrone

I saw this film, directed by the Taviani brothers, many years ago; recently got it on DVD.  What I remembered, apart from the general brutality of the father in the Sardinian shepherd family, was  the boy learning to “hear” in the rural silence; particularly the rustling of the distant trees and the sound of the stream.

What I had forgotten was the scene in which a boy climbed on a box in order to sexually abuse an unfortunate donkey and several of his friends did the same (although not needing boxes) with chickens…  The father, on seeing this disturbing scene from the top of a hill, spurred his donkey on, not to rush down and put a stop to the abuse, but to pay an urgent visit to his wife…

Mrs. Dalloway

I’m finding this book rather less experimental than Jacob’s Room, or perhaps it’s because it is less episodic than that novel, staying with a particular character that little bit longer.  My partner was re-reading it, but stopped in annoyance, saying it reminded her of Mary Poppins (the film I think, not the book).  I was surprised, but I see what she means: the scenes in Regent’s Park, nannies with kids, an aeroplane sky writing, gentlemen with nothing to do sauntering around, observing – you could slot Dick Van Dyke in without great difficulty.  No animal abuse so far.

A Young Doctor’s Notebook (Sky Arts)

This has been going from strength to strength each week; Radcliffe and Hamm are an inspired combination.  Can’t think of any other series like it, off hand.

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Dark Glacier

Blackpaint

12.12.13