Posts Tagged ‘Richter’

Blackpaint 482 – Marlene, Noel, Numan and Nosferatu

February 15, 2015

Noel Gallagher in the Saturday Telegraph Magazine

Check out the cover (below right) without your glasses or your eyes narrowed – looks like an Auerbach, doesn’t it?  Photo by Nadav Kander.

auerbach gallagher gallagher telegraph

 

Marlene Dumas, The Image as Burden, Tate Modern

Where to start with this one?  Has to be the style, I think.  dark, crude, slippery brush sweeps,  apparent, but intentional clumsiness here and there, mask-like portraits, a photographic quality of “deadness” in the line and colour, and the occasional blurriness of the image – you can see similarities in Tuymans, Gerhard Richter, William Sasnal, Chantal Joffe, Tracy Emin’s drawings…  It’s become a sort of common style of drawing with paint or ink.  I  think her work at times strongly resembles Munch’s paintings, if the depressing colours were drained out of the latter.  Sounds as if I don’t like them, but I think most are brilliant.

It seems to me that, with many of her paintings, she reverses what Luc Tuymans and Richter have done:  they present the sinister (Tuyman’s Martin Bormann, Richter’s Uncle Otto) as banal – she presents the banal as sinister (the child with paint on hands, her self-portrait, the group “photo” of schoolgirls).  She paints from photos, not life, and you can see that sometimes in the way light reflects in the eyes.

dumas red

Almost like Larry Rivers, this one;

 

dumas self

Her “evil” self-portrait;

 

dumas child

 

 

For my money, the best pictures are in the room to the left, with the warning:

dumas shrimp

This one’s called “The Shrimp”, rather a shocking association somehow – but I love that staining technique.

dumas

A portrait from a surprising angle, that would be difficult to hold for a long time.

There are, of course, many works that deal with “darker” material (the porn stuff, Baader Meinhof, Bin Laden, dead people – i.e. corpses) but there is no coherent political line that I can make out; she has provided  a lot of commentary on the walls but it’s pretty inarticulate, like that of most artists.  I wondered if she’d had a negative reaction to her paintings of black people, apparently sexualised, or mask-like as they (the pictures) sometimes are; she is a white South African, after all – but apparently not.  Nothing in Wikipedia anyway.

A terrific exhibition; I’ll be going again, for sure.

Drawing Gallery, Courtauld

A room now dedicated to drawings from early Renaissance to relatively modern: a fabulous Rubens reclining nude, a Dutch windswept river bank, a Joshua Reynolds sketch of a dancing woman, and a Larry Rivers “map” sketch in ochre and green with tape on it.

rubens nude

Rubens

 

The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, Werner Herzog

Brilliant performance by Bruno S, especially the scene where he burns his hand in the candle flame and tears start out from his eyes with no other change in his facial expression.

Nosferatu, Herzog

This alternates between brilliance and bathos throughout.  Kinski, as Dracula, strongly resembles a bald Gary Numan; Renfield’s giggling is way over the top; Dracula carts a coffin through a graveyard to a mausoleum and flinches at a cross on the wall – having passed half a dozen crosses in the graveyard.  The soundtrack, with the alpine horn, is fantastic; Isabelle Adjani as Lucie is a beautiful pre-Raphaelite tragic heroine; the cinematography is great.  There’s a shot of a carriage crossing a causeway over a lake, with the horses and carriage reflected – same thing in “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid” and, I think, in “Night of the Hunter”.  The feast scene with the plague victims is straight out of Brueghel.

kinski numan

Numan and Kinski

I alternated bits of Nosferatu with Dawn of the Dead (George Romero 1975), which I’d also recorded; the shoot-outs in the mall livened things up and I was able to return, refreshed, to Dracula’s castle, from zombies back to vampires.  It struck me that Dawn would make a great double with the original John Carpenter “Assault on Precinct 13”.  I’m sure Dawn was shot on a tight budget – I saw the same check-shirted, long-haired zombie get blasted at least three times.

 

watercolour7

 

Sonia’s Back, Blackpaint 

Blue Slide

 

Blue Slide, Blackpaint

Feb. 15th 2015

 

 

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Blackpaint 435 – Hamilton, Richter, Baselitz, Andrex and the Phuncbot…

February 20, 2014

Richard Hamilton at Tate Modern

richard hamilton 2

Surprising how much ground he covered in his ideas and work.   It starts with shapes and forms from D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson; then those parchment-coloured, fragmented, “technical” drawings – car grids and headlights, electric toasters, commercial hairdriers, collages using plates of reflective silver material; a room based on Hamilton’s reconstructions of “Bride Stripped Bare”; blurred photographs, recalling (prefiguring?) Richter – anonymous blobs on crowded beaches, the Jagger-Fraser handcuffs picture, the Kent State victim, echoed in Richter’s Baader Meinhof pics; the flower pictures (Richter again); the political stuff – Treatment Room, with Thatcher holding forth (silently) on screen over bed (touch of Hirst here); Blair as a two gun cowboy, the Christ -like Dirty Protester in his cell, British soldier in Belfast street, Orange Order bowler hat man, maps showing expansion of Israeli occupied territory…

There are a couple of pictures containing Andrex toilet paper; not adverts, but semi-abstract paintings – and a trendy 60’s model girl, squatting fully dressed (paisley, I think) and taking a little curly shit on the floor – clearly where Martin Creed got the image; then there are the empty, mirrored hotel lobbies and stately naked models hoovering and hovering; the “Richard” (Ricard) parody logo that recalls Ed Ruscha’ s work; the electric toothbrush with denture plate attached and parody advert with Lorraine Chase- and, of course, “What is it that Makes Today’s Homes..” – this is so small that I missed it first time round and had to go back through to find it.

richard hamilton1

So, rich mix of ideas, startling originality, immaculate execution, with an underlying coldness and disengagement, even in the political work.

Philemon (Bible)

A short letter from Paul; but the interesting thing is that this letter, to Philemon, asking him to take back his former slave Onesimus, a runaway, demonstrates that slavery was not incompatible with Christianity – or, at least, with the Bible.  I suppose this should be obvious – nothing against slavery in the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount, for example – yet you tend to forget, because of the Christian influence in the anti-slavery movements in the 19th century.  I wonder if the other great religions condemn slavery explicitly?

Memphis Tennessee

I’ve been listening to this for 50 odd years – not continuously, of course – and have always wondered who “took the message and he wrote it on the wall”.  It sounds like “the phuncbot” to me.  So I finally looked it up on the net and it’s “My uncle”.  One version gives “Cos my uncle…”.  I’m still not convinced and prefer phuncbot.

The Travelling Players

travelling players

Theo Angelopoulos’ masterpiece; an ever dwindling, forlorn band of actors trudging and training through 20th century Greek history, putting on the same classic play in village halls, as war, murder, treachery and tragedy surround and wash over them.  It has that sort of tableau vivant style, interspersed with chunks of history spoken straight to camera by actors, like narrators in a play.  This sounds dreary, but isn’t; there is staggering mountain scenery, grotesque violence, partisan politics in both senses – and classical references, in that the players correspond to the tragedy of Agamemnon – Electra, Orestes etc.  And music – beautiful, haunting songs and American dance tunes.  Suitcases, shabby suits and coats, umbrellas, railway stations, mountain roads in the snow.  Long, but fantastic.

Baselitz, Richter, Penck at the British Museum

Powerful and dramatic woodcuts and drawings from Baselitz.   In 1967, he began to turn everything upside down; seated figures, eagles, trees, the lot.  The info on the wall explains that he was trying to empty the pictures of their figurative content, to abstractify them in some way. He succeeds sometimes, but mostly you think this is a seated man upside down; I wonder why.  Great, Seurat-like portrait woodcut from Penck and spirally, scribbly abstracts from Richter.

Burmese Days

I’ve been looking at Orwell’s writing on Forster and Passage to India; mainly favourable, as you would expect.  He does say that Forster’s characters sometimes die for no real reason – and that the Germans broadcast Passage in the war as anti-British propaganda.  This was not a criticism; rather, it showed how powerful Forster’s novel was as a critique of British imperialism in India.  I imagine they would have broadcast Burmese Days too, had Orwell been as distinguished a novelist as Forster at the time.  It’s much more vehement than the earlier novel.

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Flowerpot

Blackpaint

20.02.14

Blackpaint 340 – Dustmen, Chlorine and Gerhard’s Enormous Squeegee

May 3, 2012

Orchestra Rehearsal, Fellini

Is this film just reactionary?  Takes me back to my student days in the early 70s (chanting slogans, sitting in, exaggeration, graffiti, posters, charismatic, long-haired, moustachioed student leaders speechifying in apocalyptic terms, gazing into the socialist future with shining eyes, seeing themselves as Leon, or Che, or Makhno,  sitting in….  sorry, back to the film.

There are gibes at the unions’ demands on  demarcation and tea breaks and Fellini clearly identifies with the maestro, who is scorned and abused.  The old caretaker, however, reminisces to the audience about the good old days, in which the maestro’s word was law and the musicians would accept physical punishment for playing a bum note or coming in late – sounds like fascism to me and Fellini steers clear of wishing for that, I think.

At the height of the “anarchy”, a wrecking ball comes through the wall (representing what?  The philistinism of  contemporary culture?  Television?); it kills the harpist and the musicians “come to their senses” – like good pupils, they submit their individual wills to the maestro and proceed to make music together, sheltering in their common pursuit from the external enemy – but the maestro’s angry rebukes soon begin once more…

Paintings that Smell

Not literally, of course – Stanley Spencer’s “The Lovers” comes to mind first; the dustmen, worshipped by the housecoated women, the rubbish – old cabbage leaves, tea leaves, tea pots – the picture smells of Jeyes’ Fluid to me, disinfectant with decay underneath, and a suspicion of armpits.  Maybe it’s because I used to be a dustman for a short time, many years ago, before black plastic bins and bags.  The maggots and seafood restaurants were the worst – and that cold trickle of liquid down the back of your neck as you hoisted the tin bin onto your shoulder; what was it – rose water, maybe? Probably not.

Secondly, Hockney’s “Bigger Splash”; chlorine, of course.

De Kooning Retrospective, Thames and Hudson

Fabulous paintings, but something of a tedious text, which seems overconcerned with delving into the crowded abstracts and retrieving identifiable bits and pieces of images – door, ladder, mouth, teeth, penis, vagina, window, chair…  This approach soon palls and threatens to undermine the magic of works like Gansevoort Street, Easter Monday, Interchange and the rest.  Pictures are mouth-watering, though.

Tate Modern

That corner in the surrealism bit is where I go now – Appel yellow wooden plaque next to Motherwell’s Ulysses; swing right to Joan Mitchell’s huge grey painting and further right to the Dorothea Tanning…  BUT still missing my Franz Kline black bridgehead with the two Asger Jorns facing it; Proud, Timid One and Letter to my Son – I want them back as soon as Damien Hirst is over.

Gerhard Richter

I watched the new DVD on Richter last night and was fascinated to see him dragging his enormous wooden squeegee down and/or across the painted surfaces of his canvases, blending, covering or scraping off the pigment.  Several times when he did it, I thought “Great!  Now leave it!”  But he didn’t – he dragged it again and wiped the image out.  The film left me with the impression that it’s really difficult to paint with someone pointing a camera at you while you do it.  Richter said as much, politely; he talked about painting being a secret (private) activity.

That squeegee is a bit of a WMD, really; he uses a big brush to modify after it has passed over – but I would have thought he’d be moving on soon as regards technique, if he hasn’t already.

Work in progress (note Baselitz influence)

Blackpaint

2.05.12

Blackpaint 308

November 27, 2011

Dulwich Art Gallery – Painting Canada

Thomas Thomson et al – Thomson is by far the best of the Group of Seven exhibited here.  There are strong similarities to Hodler; pinks, gold, ochre. deep reds and orange of the woods against the clean, cold, blue washed skies.  There’s a Japanese feel about some.  A number of Thomson’s unobtrusive, small paintings, too small to really appreciate until I saw a beautiful one reproduced in the Observer last Sunday.

Thomson’s body was found in a lake, having fallen from his canoe – or maybe he was murdered and dumped?  A surmise chucked in by the organisers to spice it up a bit, I suppose.

As well as the lovely but not over-remarkable paintings of Thomson and his mates, there are those of Lawren Harris.  Unbelievably awful blancmanges of icy mountain peaks against folds of undifferentiated ice and snow.  These are so bad they have to be seen to be believed.

After Harris, a quick sprint round the usual treasures of Dulwich; the Gainsborough portraits, the Rubens sketches and a Canaletto of the Bucentaur by St,  Mark’s Square – Beautiful, but the paint is so thick.

Whitechapel Gallery – William Sasnal

Great free exhibition, several roomfuls; Richter comes first to mind, the photo paintings, blurred faces, the layered single colour plaques – oatmeal, grey.  Luc Tuymans, too, I think, in the drawing style.  Cartoon-ish, graphic outlines, the drained colours (greys, blacks, browns, greens).  Free use of trickle-down in the strong, straight, black lines of the big paintings of mountain, lake and buildings.  Several paintings which are abstractions of death photos by a Mexican photographer whose name escapes me;   an incinerated corpse, burnt by electrocution, a hanging man on a tree – although I could not make it out from the abstracted picture – it looks like a branching, undersea invertebrate or maybe a necklace arranged in a stiff pattern of beads.

Other pictures that I recall – Japanese girls, kneeling worshippers with distorted, blurred faces, a group of mountain hikers, portrait of Roy Orbison, a vanishing picture of Saturn,  a huge (three panel) pig farm with an Auschwitz feel to it, a re-rendering of that Seurat boy on the river bank, blanked -out portraits, a sinister, derelict ski jump… why sinister?  It’s the style.  The cartoonish draughtsmanship, the drained colours, the blurred faces, the oily black line, they all contribute to that quite common vibe of something nasty behind the mundane and commonplace.  Quotations from Sasnal on the wall information indicate that he takes himself and his art very seriously, so don’t expect any jokes.

Whitechapel – ROYGBIV 

Also free, another tranche of Government paintings, this time based on colour, hence the title “Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain”, a mnemonic for the colours of the rainbow.  A beautifully produced, free booklet to go with it, with every painting in the exhibition in miniature.  The standouts are:

Graham Sutherland’s” la Puce”, an etching and aquatint of  a flea in bed;

Callum Innes,” Exposed painting, Cadmium Red Deep”, red, cream and darker cream rectangles with a red bleed;

Robert Buhler’s “Twilight, Venice (II)”, a glowing dome in a violet evening light, reminiscent of the Melville bell tower in the last Whitechapel exhibition of Government paintings.

It’s only on until December 4th.

Bela Tarr

Watched a filmed interview with Tarr, in which he was asked why he overwhelmingly used “ugly” people in his films; shrugged, and replied “It’s my nation”.

A couple more life drawings and one proper abstract one, to finish:

Marco Polo

Blackpaint (Chris Lessware)

27/11/11

Blackpaint 183

August 27, 2010

Wolfgang Tillmans at the Serpentine

This artist seems to perplex some critics with his breadth of activity.  He seems to cover a lot of different techniques and subjects in his photographic work, to the extent that critics have wondered just what he considers to be art (see Laura Cumming, 27th June, in the Guardian): “Tillmans had no style but every style, no particular subject but everything around him”.  To be fair, Cumming is describing her reaction to him at the time of his Turner Prize award in 2000; now, her conclusion is that his art is about the processes and techniques  of photography.  If I have not misunderstood, that makes this show something like a glorified showreel.

To some degree, I think that’s right, but there are some striking images and several artists, painters and photographers, come to mind.

There are several huge photographs with a pink-cream base, which look like pinpricks of blood-red ink beginning to dissolve in liquid.  They could easily be Twomblys.  There is one even more massive, with indigo “ink”, in swirls that resemble comb strokes.  There are assemblages of glossy sheets, each in a different, bright colour, some folded and re-straightened – little Kleins?

Then, there are fuzzy black and white photos of a man working on  scaffolding; looks like photo-journalism, something out of Exposed at the Tate Modern, as if from a sequence.  Something is going to happen in the next frame.

 A couple of works have the scraped pattern appearance of Richters and  there is an enormous, glamorous portrait of female heptathletes at a  meet that immediately recalls Renike Dijkstra. 

The most memorable image is an unpretentious small photograph of a swimmer digging a splinter from his foot.  It’s a great shape – there’s something about the extended neck of the swimmer and his hunched figure and bent leg that recall a Figure at the base of a Crucifixion – the bleached colour photo of another swimmer apparently balancing on his right arm – or is he executing some sort of dive? – is marginally  less interesting.

There’s much more of note; flowers, parchment, electrical bits and pieces,  a cow tormented by flies, gardens, rockeries, drunks and scrapyards.  There is a desk display of magazine newspaper items relating to religious persecution of gays and women, genital mutilation and hangings in Iran. 

There is an aerial view of a huge industrial(?) complex or transport centre that I first took for a close up of a silicon chip.  On closer inspection, groups of tiny container lorries could be made out on roads and long ingots turned out to be sheds or hangars.  Big, square, empty areas give the impression of  flooded fields.  The inevitable comparison is with Gursky.

Very varied, then; painterly “art” photography, reportage, politics, portraits, huge, small, nature, industry….  No wonder he irritates critics – hard to get a “take” on, like, say, Gerhard Richter.

The Road to Mandalay

Blackpaint

27.08.10