Posts Tagged ‘Robyn Denny’

Blackpaint 583 – Ignored Women, Mahler and Bloom, Soutine and Schwabacher

January 22, 2017

London Art Fair

Finishes today (Sunday) unfortunately; below, a selection of the best paintings on view:

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John Minton

Medieval quality to this, somehow..

 

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Graham Sutherland (of course) – that blue, with the orange…

 

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Robyn Denny three piece – before he went geometric/minimalist…

 

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Leigh Davis – just a fabulous little painting, touch of Lanyon, maybe?

 

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William Crozier – I love the dry, spiky roughness of his earlier work.  There was another one that I didn’t get a photo of, again with that fiery roughness; if you look at his images online, they are somehow gentler, more “at rest”; I guess they are later.

 

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A couple of Crozier watercolours, to illustrate what I mean by “at rest”.

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Audrey Grant

I love these rough portraits – there’s a bit of early Hockney there, and Nathan Oliviera and Manuel Neri (Bay Area, 60s ).

In addition to these were : a single flower in a vase against a grey/pink background by Euan Uglow; a beautiful yellow Craigie Aicheson; an Uglow-like dresser (cabinet, not person) by William Brooker;  a couple of unusual Ivon Hitchens – unusual, because they contained figures.  And the brilliant usual suspects, Allan Davie, Adrian Heath, Roger Hilton and a single Gillian Ayres, lozenge shaped and pink – or was it grey? – background.

Mahler, Ken Russell (1974)

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Robert Powell in the main role, strong resemblance to the real Mahler, judging by the photographs.  Great start; dream sequence of a blazing chalet, Georgina Hale (Alma Mahler) emerging, writhing, from a white cocoon on a rocky shore.  Some vigorously rendered Jewish stereotypes from the likes of Lee Montague, Miriam Karlin and John Bluthal as parents and family of the young Mahler – maybe a little too vigorous for today’s tastes – and Cosima Wagner (Antonia Ellis) , in a German helmet and black bondage bodice, in front of a giant sword, waving a whiplash and yelling commands at a timorous Mahler as he undergoes his conversion from Judaism to Christianity to further his career.  Are there swastikas?  I’m pretty sure there are, maybe carved in the rocks…no, just checked; there’s one on her backside.

I’m sure it happened exactly as Ken portrayed it.  Brings to mind the Nighttown scene in Ulysses, when the brothel madam Bella Cohen bullies the hapless Leopold Bloom, transformed as he is into one of Cohen’s girls…

The music, of course, is fantastic, although mainly, I think, from the first three symphonies, and Kindertotenlieder.

Soutine

At last, found a book on the weird and influential Chaim Soutine; it’s by Klaus H Carl and is published by Parkstone International.  The English is bizarre at times and Carl tends to regard the reader as a complete ignoramus – but the illustrations are great and it’s only a tenner (in Foyles).

Those bent faces and tables and pots, breakneck angles and steps in the landscapes, people walking leaning way over to one side – remind me of Sokurov’s “Mother and Son”.  And if you like texture, Soutine is your man.

Women AbExes

Another book, “Women of Abstract Expressionism”, Joan Marter (ed), Yale University Press 2016.  Based on a Denver exhibition, it documents a number of lesser-known, or ignored, women abexes, beyond Frankenthaler, Mitchell, Krasner, Hartigan and Elaine de Kooning.  I’ve mentioned Pat Passlof before; best of the rest as far as I’m concerned, are Perle Fine, Ethel Schwabacher, Deborah Remington and Mary Abbott.

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Ethel Schwabacher – Origins i, 1958

The American Scene – prints from Hopper to Pollock (Stephen Coppel, British Museum Press 2008)

The last book recommendation, this is being sold off cheaply at the British Museum, along with a number of other catalogues.  It has some fantastic stuff –  Grant Wood, James E Allen, Robert Gwathmey – well, they are mostly brilliant.  Also, they have the complete Kitaj prints for a fiver – or they did when I went.

One of mine to end with:

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Time and Place, No.7

Blackpaint

22/01/17

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Blackpaint 386 – Abstract and Figurative; Painting the Churches

March 21, 2013

Lanark

The Alasdair Gray trilogy; I’ve arrived at the part where Thaw (I’m assuming this is at least semi-autobiographical) paints a giant Genesis on the ceiling and altar wall of the church.  It’s an echo of Michelangelo’s Sistine ceiling and wall, of course, but without the 30 year gap – but it also closely recalls the sequence in Joyce Cary’s “The Horse’s Mouth”, with it’s appropriately Apocalyptic denouement.

The descriptions of the paintings in both books would seem to place both Thaw and Gulley Jimson in a stylistic line of British figurative painters including Stanley Spencer, the two Roberts (Colquhoun and MacBryde), Jock Mcfadyen, John Bellany, Peter Howson and Paula Rego; figurative but distorted, surrealistic..  Alasdair Gray too, of course, but not so much.. more illustrative.

Figurative and Abstract

The British figurative tradition of which the above list may be considered the extreme – left? – wing, is very strong and pervasive, having dominated movements in Britain through to street or Grafitti or Urban art whatever you like to call it.  Auerbach, Freud, Bacon, Uglow, Hockney, Blake, Doig, Shaw, Ofili, Dalwood..  OK, non-figurative; Riley, Davenport, McKeever, Ayres, Blow, Lanyon, Hilton, Heath, Feiler, Denny, Hodgkin – fair enough, just as many, if not more.. Hoyland, Wynter, Frost (Terry and Anthony), Turnbull…  What is it, then, that makes me think that abstraction is somehow not quite perceived as the British way?

Maybe it’s to do with exhibitions.  Recent big blockbusters for foreign abstractionists – Schwitters, Richter, Boetti.. when was the last big exhibition of  a British non-figurative painter?

Tate at yourpaintings

Carrying on with my trawl, there’s Albert Irvin‘s Empress (1982)

irvin empress

Sickert’s Ennui (1914) – just a fantastic image; and

Robin Denny’s Golem I (1957 – 8)

Robyn Denny; (c) Robyn Denny; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

 

There Will Be Blood

Glad to see this again on TV, a chance to compare Day Lewis’ Plainview with his Lincoln.  I preferred the Plainview with his John Huston voice, sudden bursts of violence and cruelty and the moustache – but you could see glimpses of Plainview in the Lincoln.

I’ve Been Loving You So Long

Far be it from me to criticize anything Kristen Scott Thomas is in – apart from the English Patient – but the ending is a cop-out.  She killed her kid as an act of mercy; he was dying from some horrible, painful disease.  At the trial, she refused to explain or defend herself and consequently, was regarded as some sort of monster.  Why resolve it like this?  Better to leave it unexplained.  Same with Festen – the father is eventually condemned for incest and rape; better if the family had continued to rally round him.  Same with The Hunt – the community re-absorbs the “molester” when he is proved innocent; better (and more true) if they’d continued to persecute him anyway.   There’s no redemption, except for celebs and politicians.  The worst cop-out was Ordet though; the religious obsessive actually manages to bring back the daughter-in-law from the dead!  What are we to make of that?

OK, here’s a couple of my pictures – not comparable to those above,I know, but it’s my blog…

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Blackpaint

21.03.13

Blackpaint 377 – The Chocolate Staircase and the Shinjuku Thief

January 17, 2013

Constable, Gainsborough, Turner and the Making of Landscape at the Royal Academy

Sounds impressive, but most of the pictures on show are etchings and other prints made from original paintings by the above.  I’m always amused to see the little figures in them – you couldn’t just do a landscape in England; it wasn’t a proper picture.  There had to be a kid with a cart and some cows, or maybe a mythological subject – a giant snake killing some chap by a stream, maybe, or some hero fighting a dragon.  I think it might have been Gainsborough who broke that taboo and did the first true “landskips”; have written about it in a previous blog.

Some really bizarre scenery on show – there are several etchings of cwms – is that right? – in Wales that appear to be surrounded by monolithic, flat faced slabs of rock, the likes of which I have never seen.  Plenty of thunderstorms, wild seas, rainbows, billowing cloud; a few beautiful, postcard-sized Constables tucked into corners.  And there are a few large paintings; dark and dramatic in the midst of all the black and white prints.

In the stairwell, an incongruous sight, but a very welcome one; a huge painting by Basil Beattie that looks like a melting, chocolate cream staircase on raw brown-green linen – a staircase in a stairwell.

basil beattie

Swinton and Scott Thomas

Watched films starring these two actresses in foreign films recently; Tilda Swinton in an Italian film, “I Am Love” (English title) and Scott Thomas in “Leaving”, a French film.  At times, I felt as if the two films were somehow bleeding into each other.  Both women married and comfortable/wealthy; Swinton falls for an Italian chef, Scott Thomas for a Spanish builder.  lots of torrid sex in idyllic, rural mountain surroundings; both leave their boring, bourgeois husbands for the exciting studs.  OK, the endings are rather different but the general situation and shape the same.  Continental art films – they can churn this stuff out endlessly.

Oshima

RIP. ” Ai No Corrida” I’ve got on video – yes! Video still working! – but will someone please bring out “Diary of a Shinjuku Thief” on DVD?  Can’t remember much about it from seeing it at UEA many years ago – except that I spent a rather sleepless night, tossing and turning, after seeing it.

Other films that need to be brought out on DVD as soon as possible (I’ve been looking for them for ages):  “The Damned”, directed by Visconti and “The Spider’s Stratagem”, Bertolucci, I think.

London Art Fair at the Angel

Went there today; a very mixed bag, but some beautiful paintings by Adrian Heath, Robyn Denny (especially), Paul Feiler. and two real beauties by Douglas Swan – that blue one with the yellow circle.

douglas swan

Also, however, some real clinkers – a terrible Keith Vaughan, an awful, and huge, Hoyland – red, green, yellow and crude – and Patrick Heron, especially one that looks as if he’s painted it over with white enamel.  It’s very heartening for a painter to see that the masters can knock out rubbish from time to time,too.

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Bloody Doors and Windows

Blackpaint

17.01.13