Posts Tagged ‘Rosemary Trockel’

Blackpaint 393 – Skewed Nipples and Zambian Spacemen

May 12, 2013

Souzou – Japanese Outsider Art at the Wellcome

This is a great exhibition.  Lots of surface covering, obsessive repetition, writhing fleshiness (shades of Kusama and even R. Crumb, in the skewed nipples); hairy embroidery, ceramic figurines of dragons and heroes that turned out, on close inspection, to be made of paper and cellotape; sinister, fleshy, soft dolls in family groups – why sinister?  By association, I suppose, all those horror films – and enormous, imaginary cityscapes, taking up several walls.  But it’s good to look at, not just therapy; go and see if possible.

Rebecca Ward at the Ronchini Gallery in Dering Street

Linens with warp or weft cut away in diagonals, or at margins, or halves, leaving “ghosts” on the remaining threads.  Some were like finer versions of the Trockel textiles at the Serpentine Gallery.

Patterning is done with dyes or acrylics, varying from monochrome “cloud” marks to colourful – the best one is called “The Heretic” and reminds me of a miniature Sam Francis.  Also chevron patterns, and some distressed with holes and rips, and rumpled, creased surfaces.  Some boxes, like filing boxes, painted with bright devices – not so keen on them.  They are mostly quite small works, 40 * 30 in, that sort of size.

rebecca ward

The Heretic

Deutsche Borse Prize at the Photographers Gallery

Good double to do with the Ward, since it’s just down from Oxford Circus, in Ramillies Street.  I thought there was something sneery about Cristina de Middel’s set of works, the Afronauts, based on the Zambian Space Programme of the early 60s – apparently they were working on a catapult launch.  OK, I’m going to stop right now and check to see if any of this is true.

Back now, and yes, there was really a Zambian space prog.  The trouble is that de Middel mixes up fact with fiction in her presentation, which makes for some good and funny images, but seems a bit like taking the piss to me.  Fair enough, no reason to spare them just because it’s an African country and I’m sure her intentions are good…

Also Misha Henner’s pictures of prostitutes by the side of the road, in Italy, I think; mostly standing by lush green fields under concrete bridges, or in lay-bys.

And Chris Killip’s black and white pictures of fishermen and street life in the North East in the 80s; great photo of the huge ship bordering the terraced houses at Swan Hunter on Tyneside.  Also the one of the lad in his big boots, sitting cradling his head, on the brick wall.

Madame Bovary

The Chabrol version, with Isabelle Huppert.  Much more conventional than the Sukorov version “Protect and Save”, Chabrol’s film nevertheless spares none of the gruesome details, especially when it comes to Hippolyte’s “operation” and subsequent gangrene.  Sukorov’s film has the merchant as a much more demonic character, however, dressing up in his Chinese outfits, and of course, Sukorov’s Bovary is fiercely intense.  There’s a lot more explicit sex in fields and trains in the Russian one as well, all absolutely necessary to the story and not at all gratuitous (not that that would be a problem, particularly).

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Blackpaint

Figure Drawing

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Figure Drawing 2

Blackpaint

12.05.13

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Blackpaint 389 – The Squirrel and the Orang Utan in Art

April 11, 2013

Titian’s Actaeon Surprising Diana in the Bath – this week’s example of Validating Crapness

It’s a fantastic painting; composition, colour, movement, drama. all that and the rest.  However, there’s something wrong with Diana’s head – it’s too small and it looks as though there should be another one in the proper position atop the neck immediately behind it.  It’s VC rather than just crapness because it forms a sort of fossil shell-shaped point of focus in the painting – it draws my eye immediately every time I look at it.

titian vc

Holbein’s Lady with a Squirrel

By way of contrast, this (for me) is in the running for the superlative portrait of all time – but her right hand is wrong, it’s too fat.  The wrongness adds nothing to the picture, unlike Diana’s little head.

holbein

Fischli and Weiss

Two stones on top of one another – actually, I think that might be what it’s called – outside the Serpentine Gallery.  Despite its simplicity, I find it amusing and appealing.  From one angle, it looks to me like Snoopy from Peanuts.

Trockel

Forgot to mention the AbEx “paintings” of Tilda, the orang utan, in Trockel’s Serpentine exhibition; I liked them.  Also the disembodied black female legs, one left and one right, but different sizes (different exhibits, too).  Shades of surrealist fetishists and Bunuel.

Films this week –

Medea (Pasolini); Callas superb, odd headgear as always with P., strange Turkish rock formations, like white kilns in ranks.  The scenes like a series of tableaux almost, with little regard for connecting fore and aft, so familiarity with story helpful.  Great, nevertheless.

Confidence (Istvan Szabo); wartime Budapest, a young wife whose husband is arrested has to be hidden by the underground.  She has to move in with and pretend to be the wife of an activist who is also being hunted.  They respect each other’s privacy at first but the inevitable happens.  Predictable, but moving and erotic too.  Dreamlike shots of rain-slick cobbled streets and massive granite-grey buildings, almost empty of people…

The History of Violence (Cronenberg); the Guardian said this was “taut and brutal”- I knew it involved gangsters victimising an apparently ordinary American family, so I checked on Wikipedia to make sure the wife wasn’t raped.  I don’t like the way women are raped in films to justify an orgy of revenge violence (Straw Dogs said it all, 40 years ago).  Looked OK, so we watched it – but she WAS raped, by the husband.  That is, she gave in and enjoyed it, on the stairs, after putting up a token resistance.  I find this offensive, but for some reason,  Ken Russell’s Roman soldiers raping nuns don’t bother me.

Milo O’Shea 

Died earlier this month.  For me, he was the perfect Leopold Bloom, in Joseph Strick’s Ulysses, which critics always describe as flawed or unsatisfactory.  Like Anthony Quayle’s Falstaff for the BBC’s Henry IV in the 80s, he defined the part.  OK, Welles’ Falstaff in Chimes at Midnight was also iconic, but Quayle “inhabited” the part, as critics now like to say about Daniel Day Lewis in everything.

Bach and Brahms

I was intrigued, when listening to the 8th variation of Brahms’ Anthony Chorale (or Variations on a Theme by Haydn – which it apparently isn’t) to find it was almost the same in essence to Bach’s Matthew Passion, part 75: “Make thee clean my heart from sin”.  So what? Nothing, just noticed it.

The Funeral 

The woman who divided the British people more starkly than any other is being given a Princess Di -style send off by the Establishment, as if she somehow stands above politics.  Cameron, Osborne and the rest are giving two fingers to the plebs – no change there, then.

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Work in progress

Blackpaint

11.04.13

 

Blackpaint 388 – Zizek, Trockel, Callan and Mona

April 4, 2013

Zizek, YODD

Year of Living Dangerously (2011).  So full of ideas and observations, crackling and fizzing, mostly undeveloped, unexplained, dropped for something else, that it’s impossible to critique a chapter, let alone the whole book.  For instance:  “capitalism without capitalists” – only managers on super salaries and bonuses now, running businesses owned by banks run by managers on super salaries, like a big beehive with honey but no queen… that’s a book’s -worth of theory, needing development and explication – but no, move on. Bit of invective maybe, those who disagree are morons…

I like his analysis of The Wire; how the McNultys and Freamons and the rest help to prop up the system by going outside the rules, making it seem that capitalism can deliver some justice (except it can’t, because they fail).  This reminded me of “Callan”, a British TV series in the 60’s.  Callan, played superbly by Edward Woodward, was a tough, indignant little man who lived in a dingy London bedsit; when the British state needed a dirty undercover job done, a Russian spy assassinated maybe, Callan got a call and a brown envelope.  If something went wrong, he would be on his own; the state would deny knowledge.  He bristled with morality, of course; his public school controllers were all about expediency and hypocrisy.

Not the same, I know; The Wire crew operate without sanction, Callan was a (secret) secret servant of the state.  Powerful idea, though; I assumed for years  that every democratic state has a Callan or two, to do those jobs which “need to be done”, but which can’t be acknowledged.  I don’t think I’m alone in this; the Hilda Murrell case comes to mind and the conspiracy theories about Dr Kelly’s suicide.  Some people seem to be convinced these were murders, although if so, they were highly incompetent and to no credible purpose.

Rosemary Trockel at the Serpentine Gallery

  • Starts with dozens of little pictures, collages, photos, drawings, some like Marlene Dumas a little; the young German pop fan, Emin-like drawing of a man kneeling and puking in a toilet, adverts…
  • Wall hangings made from coloured strands of wool, vertical or horizontal, some threadbare, some perfect, with bright, jazzy colours on black..
  • Ceramic plaques, like great splats or badges of quartz or fool’s gold, or shiny, glazed china spladged against the wall..
  • Glass cases with tableaux and assemblages – a flat photographic girl bending up at the front end, as if reading, while a baby sleeps in a cot, with a fat black fly on its face (baby not cot);  a furry tendriled sac behind baby’s head inflate and deflates like breathing…
  • and lots more.

trockel

It made me think of Beuys – the fabric and the cases, I suppose.  I felt constipated during and after, which I feel was a reaction to the air of clutter and stuffiness – but constipated in a good way.

Theory of Validating Crapness – the Mona Lisa

Here goes with the first VC (see last blog):

It’s the white line coming from the region of her left ear.  Seems to be a rock shelf, but doesn’t correspond to anything on left side of head.  Nevertheless, it  adds something…I think – although now, it’s beginning to irritate me.  Is it damage and restoration, maybe?

mona lisa

The Secret in Their Eyes

Brilliant Argentinian film, set in present day and in 1974, during the Dirty War; palpable “chemistry” between the two –  mature leads.  The surprise ending echoes a Nabokov short story called “Russian Spoken Here”.  Despite the melodrama and the unashamedly romantic core, a real pleasure.

Little Dorrit

Dickens really knows how to end a book; I was dreading another ten chapters or so, to tie up some of the loose ends (I think they were loose – I couldn’t quite grasp the details of the financial arrangements), but I needn’t have worried.  Dickens was obviously bored too, so he made the house fall down and bury the villain.  Job done – marry the hero and heroine to each other and on with the next page turner…  The thing is, you can never tell how much more there is to go, if you’re reading a Collected Works on a Kindle; I started on 57% and finished, 30+ chapters later, on 60%!

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Memento Park

Blackpaint

04.04.13