Posts Tagged ‘Rembrandt’

Blackpaint 542 – The Milk Jug, the Swan and the Devil’s Arse

April 23, 2016

Rijksmuseum

vermeer milkjug

Distant view over the heads of dozens of Dutch school students of the fabulous milk jug Vermeer and a number of Rembrandts, notably the turbaned self portrait and the young self portrait with the wiry hair and round eyes – and of course, the Night Watch, guns at the ready, about to accidentally shoot each other if not careful.  Also the Jewish Wedding and several others – fabulous, if you can get near them.

 

Rembrandt turban

From these galleries, only the huge swan taking off straight at you grabbed my attention.

swan

Jan Asselijn

There was a great exhibition of Breitners, however (see Blackpaint 341), picture after picture of Geesje Kwak, androgynous figure in a series of lush kimonos and in the nude.  He was clearly seriously obsessed.

breitner kimono

breitner nude

Little like Uglow, this one, I think.

In the 1100 – 1600 bit, there were these two highlights:

gerini

Altarpiece by Gerini – the reds and orange with that gold.

terracotta girl

Terracotta Girl – could be the BVM but no halo – maybe a saint,  couldn’t find a label so I don’t know.

And, tucked away upstairs, some lovely Appels, this one in particular:

Appel rijks

Stadelijk Museum

Stunning discovery for me – two favourite de Koonings and a huge, trickled – down Asger Jorn all in the same room:

asger jorn

Asger Jorn – didn’t get the title; something about swan’s wings beating, I think (that swan again…)

 

dk rosy

Rosy Fingered Dawn at Louse Point, de Kooning

dk north

North Atlantic Light, de Kooning

 

 

beanery

The Beanery, Ed Keinholz

The notice over the bar warns “Fagots” to keep out; all the customers (slumped over tables, propped up at the bar) have clock heads; a soundtrack of “Macnamara’s Band” with a hubbub of voices plays on a loop (Keinholz recorded it at the bar).  It’s funny, grubby and creepy and you queue to go in one at a time, admitted by a solemn museum guard.

The Canterbury Tales, dir. Pasolini (1972)

Cruder, but to my mind, every bit as good as Pasolini’s “Decameron”.  Several well-known British character actors in there – Hugh Griffiths as a lecherous old Sir January to Josephine Chaplin’s beautiful and – to put it mildly – disengaged May; Robin Askwith, in a break from the “Confessions” series, screwing away upstairs in a brothel and emerging to piss liberally over the amused clientele below.  In one scene, there as many naked women as there are on the cover of the celebrated Jimi Hendrix LP.  Pasolini smiling thinly to himself as Chaucer, recording the stories ( the one where the friars emerge from the Devil’s arse in Hell is perhaps the best).  And a great soundtrack mainly from Topic Records, especially Frank McPeak’s “The Auld Piper” from the “Jack of All Trades ” LP.

devils arse

Devil’s Arse with emerging friar – actually, maybe it’s a demon’s arse , because the Devil is played by the great, menacing Pasolini actor Franco Citti and he is showing the new arrival around Hell.

Also making a brief appearance at the start of the film is the wrestler Adrian Street, familiar from Jeremy Deller’s work.

Next time, CoBrA in Amstelveen and Delacroix at the National Gallery.

wip1

Work in Progress – St. George, of course (who else could it be, today?  Shakespeare, I suppose…)

Blackpaint

23.04.16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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 505 – Francis, Rembr’ndt and the Chimp’nzees

August 2, 2015

Bacon and the Masters, Norwich (UEA)

Afraid this exhibition is now finished – I got to see it in its last week – so its a bit redundant now to review it.  However, I’m rather redundant myself, so here’s a few words.  First, I have to take issue with Jonathan Jones’ assessment in the Guardian; he thought the “Masters” (Matisse, Rembrandt, Velasquez, Van Gogh, Bernini et al), whose works Bacon used as  templates or providers of inspiration, actually made Bacon’s efforts look rather “silly”. His previous admiration for the British painter evaporated in the presence of the Masters.

There is no doubt that the Rembrandts are striking and the terracotta Bernini torsos staggeringly powerful, even though small; my feeling is, however, that Bacon’s work stands up well and does justice to those whose works he used – or rather, the photographs of them, since he famously avoided seeing the originals.

Take the paintings below, for instance; the powerful, sinister “Figures in a Landscape” (1956):

bacon figures in a landscape

 

or the portrait (1957) of Peter Lacey, Bacon’s sadistic “true love”, who did the painter quite serious injury in lovemaking (I don’t know if Bacon returned the compliment – I suspect not); I think the portrait suggests one of the Furies about to descend…

bacon lacey

or this great sketch or half-started work on linen from 1981, one of the three large sketches that begin the exhibition:

bacon three figures 1981

 

Here’s one of the Berninis for comparison:

bernini

The only Bacon that I felt was not up to par was a sketch of the Screaming Pope.  it suggested a Steve Bell to me…

Look closely at any Bacon and you will see how thinly and carefully he paints, with a stroke that is often very dry.  The portraits are painstaking and the famous distortion does not obscure the likeness in most cases; it’s dissection and reassembly, not butchery, not by a long way.

Afterwards, using one of the luxurious WCs in the Sainsbury building, I saw myself in the mirror which takes up the whole rear wall. Slightly crouched, toilet paper in hand, trousers around lower legs, furtive expression… a rather typical Bacon scenario, to match those in the gallery…

Watching an Arena DVD on Bacon, I was struck again by his odd pronunciation of Rembrandt – it was “Rembr’ndt”.  A while later he did it again with “chimp’nzee”.  I thought it was unique – then I watched a DVD on Auerbach and he said “Rembr’ndt” too.

John Golding, UEA

golding2

Up the stairs from the Bacon exhibition was this large show of paintings from Golding, a major British abstract artist, somewhat akin to Hoyland, I think, as a sort of counterweight to the great figurative master on the ground floor.  Here are three works, all large, from different periods.  This show may still be on – worth a trip to Norwich, if it is.

 

golding3

 

golding6

The Double Life of Veronique, Kieslowski

This film was on TV last week.  I can’t make my mind up about Kieslowski’s work – sometimes, as here, it strikes me as sentimental and soft focus, a little bit “Truly, Madly, Deeply”; she falls in love with a handsome puppeteer, for god’s sake.  Then again, he did “A Short Film about Killing”, with the long murder and the hanging scene….

Two old pictures that I have overpainted somewhat, to finish:

jungle

The Road to Mandalay

 

10th May 1941

 

10th May 1941

Blackpaint,

2.08.15

Blackpaint 487 – Diebens and Rubenkorn at the RA and Willem and Frank too

March 23, 2015

Richard Diebenkorn at the RA

Died and gone to heaven – well, very impressed anyway.  I think he’s my number 4, after Joan Mitchell, de Kooning and Peter Lanyon.  Some say he’s too easy; nice landscape-y images, pleasing, limpid palette… it’s a matter of taste, of course, but I went round and round, marvelling at one picture after another, and I’ll be going again, for sure.  Anyway, these are my highlights:

diebenkorn berkeley 57

Berkeley#57 

The busiest canvas, I think; can’t stop turning to look at it wherever you are in the gallery.  It all works better than in the photo above – colours are much richer.

 

diebenkorn seated woman

 

Seated Woman (on board) 

There’s something delectable about his drawings and paintings of women – they are sometimes rough, pentimenti showing, with a sort of intentional “clumsiness” as Jane Livingstone suggests in her book.  he likes striped tops and skirts (and no clothes at all, too).

diebenkorn day at the race

 

A Day at the Race 

The split screen effect; you can see it too, in “Interior View of Buildings”, in which the strip of buildings itself acts as a sort of divider.  It’s the Urbana series in which he uses this effect, I believe.  Like window frames sometimes.

The Cigar Box Tops

Tiny, perfect versions of the huge ones.

Still lifes

I love the knife in a glass – that putty colour.  And the Ashtray and Doors; looks to me like he’s painted over an old canvas, or board – the striations.

The figures

I’ve talked about the women – drinking coffee, reading the newspaper – there are a few men around, including one little one (picture, that is) that looks like Picasso – him, not one of his paintings.  They remind me a lot of David Park, a Bay Area painter.

diebenkorn ocean park 79

 

Ocean Park #79 

The best, I think, of the Ocean Park series – like your in an ornate, slightly shabby indoor swimming pool, with the light pouring through a huge skylight.  Takes me back to Deep End again (the Skolimowski film with Jane Asher that I’ve been watching in 30 minute chunks, because the script and acting are so clunky).

If I could, I would put in every picture in this exhibition.

Rubens and his Legacy (RA)

This got a blistering review in the Guardian from Jonathan Jones. I think; not enough big paintings, he said; too many sketches, too much padding, loads of pictures by artists who aren’t Rubens, and in which the “legacy” is spurious.  There’s a lot in what he says, but it’s still a great exhibition, in the sense of containing loads of pictures that are fantastic to look at.

 

rubens lion hunt

 Tiger, Lion and Leopard Hunt

This is the poster boy of the exhibition and deservedly so – just look at it; it’s all happening, just as it would have happened in real life!  One bloke is forcing open a lion’s jaws with his hands, while a tiger’s getting stuck into green man’s shoulder; and the other tiger has cubs in her mouth…  Enough sarcasm, it’s a staggering composition and swirl of colours.  I saw it at the top of the escalator at Tooting Bec tube station (poster, not the original) when I didn’t have my glasses on, and it looks fantastic as an abstract.

There are several other lion hunts by other greats, notably Rembrandt and a great lion hunt sketch by Rubens himself – they couldn’t have known those lion hunt reliefs from Nineveh, was it, or Nimrud…

Other Rubens highlights are:

rubens charles 1 with guard

 

James I uniting England and Scotland 

This sketch, from Birmingham Art Gallery, I’ve included because of the guard’s incredibly muscular left leg, not really well reproduced here, but massively impressive in the flesh, so to speak… reminds me of the left leg of the grey horse in the previous picture.  I like the angle of view in these ceiling sketches.

The Abdication of Persephone

Luminous little painting, fabulous but couldn’t find a repro…

Among the other painters represented, it’s worth mentioning the Kokoschka cartoon, in which Queen Victoria sits astride a shark, feeding it seamen (I quote the caption on the wall).  Presumably its based on a Rubens painting.  There’s a great Bocklin, “Battle on the Bridge”, shades of those Degas boys riding bareback in that famous picture.  Also works by Picasso, Reynolds, Lawrence, Cezanne, Delacroix, Gericault – and in a related exhibition curated by Jenny Savile, three de Koonings, including a juicy one from 1977, in which the paint swipes are so thick that the paint has stretched and puckered into tiny holes as it dried.  There’s also one of those red/orange/pink panel size women from 1971, and a collage from earlier.  AND two colourful Auerbach portraits, brilliant obviously, and a fabulous Bacon nude, George Dyer, by the look of it.  Savile herself has a big monochrome painting,  a bit like a Kiefer, and Cicely Brown has a DK – ish picture that’s not up to her best.  I’d pay to go and see this sub-exhibition alone.

The Fall of the Obese

There is a whole room full of Falls and in Rubens’ case, the sinners going to damnation all seem to be overweight.  But then of course, so do most humans in Rubens’ works, particularly the women; I mention the wife of Captain Pugwash again, in this connection…

Anyway, too much to say for one blog, so continued next week, along with all three new exhibitions at Tate Britain.

These are the counter rhythms2

These are the Counter Rhythms (WIP)

Blackpaint

22.03.15

 

 

Blackpaint 445 – Ashmolean again, and Joanna Hogg’s Exhibition

May 8, 2014

Ashmolean Permanent Collection

As promised, a selection from the above:

di lorenzo

di Lorenzo – “St Nicholas of Bari banishing a storm”

Check out the mermaid in that pea green sea – and the C shaped boat.

uccello ashmolean

Ucello – “The Hunt in the Forest”

Cartoon – like, reds on dark green; flying hounds – like a Russian folk tale illustration.

michelangelo ashmolean

Michelangelo (possibly) – “Holy Family with John the Baptist”

The bloke on the left looks like an M, but not sure about the others…

master of bielefeld altar

Master of the Bielefeld Altar – “Christ Before Pilate”

Strange, Bosch-like figures…

daisy linda ward

Daisy Linda Ward – “Still Life with Matchbox” (or similar title)

This beautiful little assemblage on a pristine tablecloth is the exception in a roomful of full-blown blooms, fruit and lobsters, overwhelmingly Dutch, on black “varnished” backgrounds.  They like beer in steins, crabs and lobsters, flies and crickets and butterflies, lemons with peel hanging in ribbons, shrimps, areas of rot on fruit..  there’s that bundle of asparagus, by Coote, that was on the TV prog on still lifes…

rembrandt ashmolean

 Rembrandt, of course – portrait of Catrina Hoogsaet

Nearly missed this one; it’s huge, but behind the stairs as you come into the room.  Also, a fantastic Manet, a woman in white on a balcony, I think she’s Berthe Morisot.  It looks unfinished and all the better for it, in a way.

martineau ashmolean

Martineau – “A Poor Actress’s Christmas Dinner”

She’s staring across the bedclothes at a Christmas pud.  Lovely drawing, in that highlighted, half-completed style.

inchbold

Inchbold – “Study in March”

A piercing, cold, blue sky; an almost photo -realist, Victorian painting.  Reminds me of Glasgow Boys.

sickert ashmolean

Walter Sickert – “Gaiete Montparnasse”

A theatre balcony from below right; unusual angle – maybe Degas or Toulouse Lautrec might have done similar? Some other great Sickerts; a rough-ish “Ennui” and “Pierrots”, both second versions of the ones at the Tate Britain, and a “Self-Portrait with Bust of Tom Sayers”, another good painting.

Also a balustrade by Singer Sargent, a cockatoo by William Nicholson, Samuel Palmer meadows, Boudin beaches and great Dutch interiors with pipes and armour.  There’s loads more, so go and see it.

Exhibition, Joanna Hogg (ICA)

hogg exhibition

As I said in last blog, this film is claustrophobic compared to “Unrelated” and “Archipelago”;  it’s just the two characters, artists, in their Bauhaus-y, but rather tacky and ramshackle private house, “somewhere near South Ken”, I read – somewhere.  The sliding doors rumble, the lift is rackety, the boiler needs attention; they work in different sections of the house and communicate on intercom.  Outside, emergency sirens wail, people shout and argue, cars with thumping sound systems roar past, female Eastern European voices issue instructions repeatedly and stridently into mobile phones…

I mentioned the several instances of female masturbation, undertaken (or attempted) lying back on a stool, then in bed, using sheer materials, oil massaged into breasts, high heels worn in bed – sometimes I was unclear at first whether Viv Albertine’s characters WAS masturbating – maybe she was practising a piece of conceptual art… she binds herself with tape for some pieces.

There are great shots of the spiral staircase (reminded me of those Soviet buildings photographed by Richard Pare – see previous Blackpaint) and the interior and balconies of the building, especially reflection shots, through and on top of the venetian blinds, “crazing” on glass – colours are a sort of dark but garish, livid German 80’s Expressionist, Kippenburger, say.

The film has been compared to Haneke’s “Hidden”, but it has no narrative thrust like Haneke’s; there is a suggestion that Something Bad has happened; Gillick occasionally appears to have depressive fits or fugues; once, I thought Albertine was agorophobic, then realised she’d been out several times… maybe she’d been raped?  But no, too crass, too “narrative”.  At some point, she ditches the jeans, starts wearing shiny dresses, suddenly looking “sexy”; this, on reflection, coincides with the successful completion of the sale of the house and the resumption of sex with Gillick – previously, she’d declined to participate actively.

Anyway, I’m seeing it again tomorrow, so may have more to say then.

Escape From Alcatraz

Made in 1979, Clint Eastwood as Frank Morris; I saw it when it came out, forgot how brilliant it was, discovered it again in TV last week; not a single wasted second.  I hope the real Morris, and the Anglin brothers, made it; Morris would be 89 now – hope he’s alive and happy somewhere.

 

 

 

 

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Plesiosaur

Blackpaint

9.05.14 

Blackpaint 428 – Light, Frozen Horses, Murder in England

January 3, 2014

Sources of Light (cont.)

I was pursuing Morton Feldman’s schema last week, in which he says that the light in Rembrandt’s pictures is “without source”, Caravaggio’s “raking light”, etc.  Here’s another couple of examples:

caravaggio st paul

Caravaggio, St.Paul

Light from above and front right?

night watch

Rembrandt, Night Watch

Light from the front?  I can’t really see any real difference in the approach to lighting of these two artists.   Feldman might mean that there is no obvious source of light in the picture, window or candle, say – but its the same for Caravaggio surely….

Amy Sillman – One Lump or Two

My partner got this fantastic book for Christmas; I’ve written about her once before, but then I think I’d only seen a couple of her paintings.  She reminds me a bit of Brett Whiteley or Albert Oehlen, in that she often mixes up figurative with abstract; her drawing line is a little like Whiteley’s, too and hence like Roger Hilton.  But the colours are very distinctive – the reds, oranges and greens.,

My favourite paintings in the book are Birdwatcher (below) and A long Drawing, again reminiscent of Whiteley.

amy sillman birdwatcher

Birdwatcher

So, I strongly recommend that you buy this book – my partner tells me the text is not great; that thing where critics can’t resist telling you what pictures they can see in abstracts – but the pictures make up for it.

My Winnipeg

Guy Maddin’s 2007 fantasy biography of his snowbound, sleepwalking hometown, where in 1942, fake German soldiers invaded the town to promote the sale of (Allied) war bonds – true – and racehorses escaped from a stable fire to plunge into a local river and be instantly frozen, with their heads and necks poking up through the ice – legend.

winnipeg

Sightseers

On TV over Christmas, Ben Wheatley’s uncomfortable comedy murder spree around the blue john mines and the pencil museum.  A while through it, I realised it was a sort of twisted (per)version of Mike Leigh’s “Nuts in May” – in this version however, the self-righteous countryside guardians are brained or run over by Wheatley’s even more self-righteous anti-hero.  He also kills litter louts, though.  Seen three of his now; A Field in England, Sightseers and Kill List – all worth watching, if you like the English countryside as a backdrop to quite serious, nasty violence with a touch of paganism.

One more film – an old one, Chabrol’s Les Noces Rouges (1973)

Michel Piccoli and Stephane Audran as the lovers who murder her husband in a Postman Always Rings Twice burning car set-up.  As soon as these two come on screen, it conjures Bunuel, of course; Discreet Charm and Belle de Jour, and is the better for it.  Not really obvious why they murder the husband, since he is willing to ignore their affair in exchange for Piccoli’s collusion in some mildly dodgy land deal; maybe Audran couldn’t accept her husband’s acquiescence.  seems psychologically plausible, anyway.

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In The Studio

Cap Frehel

Cap Frehel – an old one, but no new ones painted yet

Blackpaint

2.01.13

Blackpaint 427 – Sources of Light, Crime and Punishment

December 26, 2013

Light Sources in Painting

Still reading Morton Feldman’s articles in “Give My Regards to Eighth Street”,  which are full of interesting assertions (backed by no evidence whatsoever) about painting and music.  As a composer, he can claim to be an expert; he knew many of the Abstract Expressionists, spent time with them at the Cedar Tavern, so can claim expertise there, too.  Here is what he says about light in painting; I haven’t investigated fully – see if you agree:

“Light from nature

raking light: Caravaggio, Vermeer

overhead light: Watteau, Courbet, Pissarro

refracted light: Monet

intellectualised light: Seurat

Pictorial light, not from nature

constructed light: Giotto, Mantegna, Picasso, de Chirico

invented light: Piero della Francesca, Rothko

non modulated light: Mondrian, Pollock

light without source: Rembrandt”

I reproduce some paintings by these artists; you can check the light.

caravag1

 

Caravaggio – raking light?  Yes, from left.

verm2

 

Vermeer – right again.  That is – from the left.

courbet1

 

Courbet – above?

rem1

 

Rembrandt – light without source?

I’ll look at some more next blog.

Team Nigella

After writing about Citizen Kane last week, I remembered that Kane (Hearst) was proud of making the news, not just reporting it.  A number of lesser examples of the same have been provided by the leftish press recently – no doubt the right-wing press do it all the time, but I don’t read them.  The Guardian and the Observer tend to be self-righteous about distortion, so these are the examples I offer:

David Cameron did not say he was on “Team Nigella” – he agreed with a reporter who used the term.  Little thing maybe, but I think it’s different.

He did not announce that it was “Mission Accomplished” for British troops in Afghanistan; the phrase was suggested by a reporter, and he agreed to it in a strictly limited definition (preparing the Afghan army to defend the country from the Taliban).  What else would he say?   “I’m bringing them home, job not done, leaving the Afghans in the lurch”?

An Observer headline stated that the Bulgarian PM had “issued a fierce” condemnation of the government’s attitude towards EU immigration; in fact, the paper was referring to remarks he had made in the course of an “exclusive” interview with the paper (presumably at the request of the Observer).  That’s not what I would call “issuing”.

The Desolation of Smaug

Serious signs of padding in this latest 3 hour stretch of a trilogy sort of based on Tolkein’s children’s book; brilliant battle scenes, great Orcs and the introduction of an Elf woman-warrior called Tauriel, who isn’t a real character – that is, she’s made up by the film writers, not Tolkein.  I was impressed by the dragon, until the final close-up of its face, when I got a flash of the original “Night of the Demon”, a film I love, but one in which the demon is not wholly convincing.  Left the cinema with my 3D specs on again, as in Gravity.

Dekalog

From the ridiculous to the – not sublime, but serious anyway.  Watched Dekalog 5, which is actually Kieslowsky’s “A Short Film about Killing”; only an hour long, I think, but it lingers.  A youth in 80s Poland strangles and beats a taxi driver to death in a protracted sequence, is condemned to death and hanged on screen.  The hanging takes place in the execution shed, there is a drop of only a couple of feet, a tray has been placed at the bottom of the pit to catch urine; the hangman’s assistant shouts and yells repeatedly in the seconds before the lever is pulled, presumably to confuse and distract the victim.  The taxi driver is portrayed as sleazy; he propositions a young girl.  He avoids picking up customers he doesn’t fancy taking; if he’d done his job properly, he wouldn’t have picked up the murderer…

Homeland

And another hanging.  I must admit I was surprised, shocked even, when Brody was hanged on a crane in Tehran.  Even though the execution was public, I was expecting some ruse by which he survived and escaped – such is the conditioning of TV.

 

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On the Way to Somewhere

Blackpaint

Boxing Day, 26th December 2013.

Blackpaint 405 – Rembrandt’s Mother, Mating Slugs and Shipwrecks

July 20, 2013

Top of The Lake

Holly Hunter as GJ shaping up already to be the most irritating act on TV, with Peter Mullan’s as the character you would most like to see blasted with a shotgun.  Is rural New Zealand really like this?  Those two from “Flight of the Conchords” seemed harmless enough.

Bought with Love BBC4

Prog about early private collections in England.  Many astonishing paintings, but the one that stuck in my mind’s eye was the portrait of Rembrandt’s mother at Wilton House; the old woman’s face seems to be coming out of the picture towards you, while the papers she is reading stay below within the bounds of the canvas.

rembrandts mother

OK, that effect not so obvious here, but on the telly….

Uzak

It means “distance”.  2002 film by Nuri Bilge Ceylan of “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia”.  Ravishing shots of Istanbul in snowstorm, especially scenes in the docks that remind one of “Red Desert” somehow.  There is a whole ship tipped over on its  side; the cranes and containers under the snow inevitably recall Brueghel, and therefore Tarkovsky – obvious tribute here, I think the video which Mahmut watches is “Stalker”; that is, until he swaps it for a porn film…  You can hear owls hooting in the night streets of Istanbul, apparently.  And I’m only halfway through…

Roberto Zabetta at the Ronchini Gallery in Dering Street

Huge, black and grey, swirling, sliding paint on canvas – “rhythmic spurts of paint and expressive brush strokes”…  like half a Rauschenberg, without the graphics.

Lun Tuchnowski at Annely Juda (next door to Ronchini) 

Fantasy metal helmets, like Lord of the Rings props, one like a Mickey Mouse Club hat, another with hedgehog spikes;  dangling, entwined, metal tubes and coils, like giant slugs mating; a wall full of giant, pouting bronze lips; a huge, plastic or fibre glass coloured wheel and bobbin, like space  escape capsule and marker buoy.

Also at Annely Juda, the Russian Club present Wonderland (?) 

Not sure exactly what this is all about – they’re not Russians; but there is a very striking video of an artist nursing his bare right leg – I think its his right – as if it were a baby.  After watching for a few moments, you do get the illusion that it is actually detached…

Bernard Jacobson Gallery, Cork Street – Robert Motherwell collages

Big, rather simple collages, usually consisting of one or two stuck-on paper components, a magazine or ticket, say, with coloured and striped background.  Reminded me somewhat of the Kitaj collages at the British Museum prints and drawing room.  Very different to the Schwitters collages, which usually consist of far more disparate elements assembled in a pictorial way – not sure that makes sense, I just mean the Motherwells are bigger and more simple.

Daughters of Mars, Thomas Kenneally

The early parts of this book about Australian nurses in WWI are riveting; Gallipoli, the sinking of the Archimedes… second half. however, while still readable, beginning to remind me of those prestige costume dramas you get on Sunday on BBC; Birdsong, maybe, or the Paradise.  Kenneally, interviewed at Hay Festival, did say one interesting thing, though; that authors (I think he meant male ones) write about sex far more than they actually get it – wonder if that applied to Salter, in his younger days of course.. he is 87 now..but then again, you never know.

 

??????????

 

Blackpaint

20.07.13

Blackpaint 295

September 19, 2011

Degas

Laura Cumming, reviewing the new show at the RA, says that Degas is more Michelangelo than Leonardo – what does she mean by this?  Maybe that Leo was more concerned with physical accuracy, the exact position and function of muscles, bones and flesh than Michelangelo; M was more ready to distort, exaggerate, generalise, to enhance the presentation of physical effort, posture. dramatic action… that seems fair enough comment.  She says that Degas seems to somehow project himself (spiritually, mentally) into the bodies of his ballet girls, to partake in their physical being in some way; that seems to me to be fanciful.  Surely it’s what anyone drawing a figure does, sort of, isn’t it?

Edward Lucie – Smith

I’m getting a lot out of his “Art Movements since 1945” (see previous blogs); he makes the connection between Kurt Schwitters and his Merzbauten and people like George Segal and Ed Kienholz, who produced environmental artworks in the 50s and 60s – that is, works that you walk through and round.  I’d thought of him as someone who produced beautiful little collages of wood, cloth etc.

Jasper Johns

Looking at those works of his from the 60s in which he “quotes” from art history – notably the Isenheim Altarpiece (Grunewald) in “Perilous Night”, but also Leonardo, Picasso and others.  These are quotes however, rather than the “re-imaginings” of earlier works by Picasso himself (Manet, Delacroix, Velasquez) or Auerbach (Rembrandt et al).  I suppose the most recent of this school would be Dexter Dalwood – he quotes like Johns, rather than doing his own versions.

As for Johns, the works which are my favourites are the big canvases with attachments like brooms, and collaged bits, those bolts of colour, red, yellow, orange, often on a blue background; the grey curtains of thinned paint soaking down into the fabric (see  “According to What” 1964), the stencilled lettering….

Bruegel

In “The Fight Between Carnival and Lent”, according to the Taschen book by the Hagens, the fat Lord of Carnival astride the barrel represents Protestantism, while Catholicism is personified by the lean, haggard, hungry figure with a beehive on his head (no explanation of the beehive offered!).  This is a novel presentation; Prots – or rather, the Puritan variety – are more usually lean, stern killjoys, the Catholics happy to feast and keep Christmas.  I suppose this is an English, or more precisely, Shakespeareian representation.

Willem de Kooning

I’ve never seen a contrast more clear and tragic than that between his paintings of 1983 onwards, as Alzheimer’s or whatever variant it was, took hold, and those from before.  The later ones are cleanly painted snakey loops of pastel colour on empty canvas, tangled but spaced out, textureless.  Go back to 66/67, say, “Two Figures in a Landscape” or “The Visit” – splotches, streaks, swathes, bleeds and trickles, pink, green, yellow, white, blue-black, scratched, scored and worked like Appel but much more subtle somehow; rich, swarming texture… fantastic.

Larry Rivers

I love the loose way he paints figures and faces – reminds me of Jim Dine or even more, Kitaj’ s figure drawings.  See “Parts of the Body; French Anatomy Lesson”.

Far From the Madding Crowd

Reading this, it strikes me that the old film was perfectly cast.  I can’t imagine any actors better than Stamp, Christie, Bates and Peter Finch in their respective roles as Troy, Bathsheba, Gabriel and Farmer Boldwood.  And of course, Dave Swarbrick as the fiddler at the post-harvest piss up…

Blackpaint

19/09/11

Blackpaint 145

June 1, 2010

Things you have learnt on Blackpaint since November 2009

  1. Michelangelo doesn’t do trees
  2. Romans and Greeks both did landscapes
  3. Egyptians and Romans did still lifes
  4. Raphael’s nudes are well covered; Michelangelo’s and Leonardo’s are “ripped”
  5. Some staggeringly good renaissance painters (and Rembrandt) do limbs and hands too big
  6. Some staggeringly good Post-Impressionists have done some really awful paintings
  7. Some cultures (notably Ife) happily mix abstract/stylised and naturalistic features in same sculpture/picture 
  8. There were lots of Dutch working class abstract artists in the post ww2 years
  9. Paul Feiler is the great unsung St.Ives artist
  10. So is Sandra Blow.

Artists between whom there are resemblances no.3 (I think)

Chris Ofili and Wangechi Mutu.  Check out especially  her heads entitled “the histology of the different classes of uterine tumours” (no kidding).

Listening to Honky Tonk Man by Johnny Horton.

“I’m a honky tonk man, and I can’t seem to stop,

I like to give the girls a whirl to the music of an old juke box;

And when the money’s all gone, I’m on the telephone,

Crying Oh,oh Mama, can your daddy come home?” 

Blackpaint

01.06.10