Posts Tagged ‘Saatchi Gallery’

Blackpaint 646 – Rembrandt, Richter, Caro, Saatchi

June 4, 2019

Rembrandt, Visions of the Self, Gagosian, ended 18th May

Sorry – missed the boat to recommend this one; but it was very good.  Just a bunch of self-portraits really, linked to or inspired by Rembrandt’s selfies.  A selection below, as always:


Untitled 2011 by Urs Fischer; Cast in wax.


Cindy Sherman, in disguise of course…

Baselitz – seems to be adjusting his dress…


Dora Maar – a searching gaze…

Others on display included Howard Hodgkin, Bacon, Jenny Savile and of course, Rembrandt himself.


Richter, Overpainted Photographs,  Gagosian Davies Street W1, on until 8th June

Only four days to go, well worth a look.  They’re not much more than postcard size, by the way.  Simple idea, but some great effects.





Caro, Seven Decades, Annely Juda, until 2nd July

Interesting to see some of Caro’s early pieces, from before his big conceptual breakthrough (connected metal components, displayed on the floor instead of some sort of platform).  The drawing on the wall below is of a bull, but reminds me of David Smith’s flat plane arrangements, like Hudson River Landscape of 1951.  The two small figures – Bernard Meadows, or maybe Elizabeth Frink (was she later or his contemporary?)



Touch of the Guillotine about this one…


Speaking Trumpet from the lower decks?


Navigational instruments?

Kaleidoscope, Saatchi Gallery, Kings Road, until 11th June

Another short time one, I’m afraid; several interesting and one really good young painter.

Pierre Carreau, AquaViva series

French artist, working in the Caribbean.  I’ve no idea if these photographic images are manipulated in any way, and if so, how – but the waves depicted seem somehow to be frozen, or solidified, or maybe coated in oil.  Maybe it’s the size of them, coupled with a high shutter speed.


Whitney Bedford

Appropriately nautical- sounding name, this American artist’s work, according to the Saatchi booklet, was created at the time of the Iraq war and they are “sort-of-salon paintings about empire and war in very pop colours”.  Can’t say I got the connection with war, but I did get the very pop colours.


Florence Hutchings


Florence Hutchings again

Great paintings; big, roughly textured, loosely collaged in places, big rich colours.  They’re sort of Braque-ish, I think.  I look forward to seeing more of her work.  Only 22, apparently, based in London.


Tillman Kaiser

Austrian, from Vienna.  Booklet says his paintings “echo a likeness to the art of stained glass windows” and he says he is interested in symmetries.  Some of his paintings represent patterns of swirling heads and reminded me strongly of works by Ellen Gallagher.


Saatchi, Gallery 8: “Arctic: New Frontier” by Yuri Kozyrev and Kadir Van Lohuizen

Kozyrev’s pictures are of Russian Arctic ports and the Nomadic people of the region; van Lohuizen’s are of Spitzberg Island in the Svalbard peninsula.  Some are breathtaking scenery; some rather depressing scenes of workers revving jet skis in great clouds of exhaust, or of giant, impressive pieces of plant in bright yellow against a blinding white background of snow and ice.

As always, one of mine to finish with:

Ocean of Storms







Blackpaint 623 – Ghosts, Outsiders, Vampires and the Steppenwolf

July 8, 2018

A Ghost Story dir. David Lowery, 2017

Clear reference to “Hallowe’en” here in Casey Affleck’s sheety outfit – and maybe also Guston’s Klansmen, but that’s probably pushing it too far.  it’s basically sentimental,  as all ghost stories are (even MR James), relying as they do on some sort of continued existence after death; there are, however, a couple of moments – the Indian attack on the homesteaders and its aftermath, for instance.  The score is metallic and whining, like a lathe or drill and tends to drive the listener to madness for the first, maybe, 15 minutes.

Steppenwolf and Nausea (and the Outsider)


I read these two books at roughly the same time, back at the start of the 70s; recently re-read them both and was surprised at how many similarities there were.  Hesse’s novel is from 1926 and Sartre’s 12 years later; both deal with alienation from “bourgeois” society, a disgust and rejection of common values and they share a sense of apartness; the protagonists are outsiders, looking with disgust at their fellow beings,  In the case of Roquentin, Sartre’s hero, the alienation takes the form of a psychological dis-ease, in which things and people lose any meaning and seem almost to congeal in some way.

Obviously, these are just the sort of themes that students would lap up; being an outsider, contempt for the common herd,  being misunderstood, being in some sense special; we loved all that Steppenwolf stuff:  “Magic Theatre Not for Everyone”- and in Nausea: “I had dinner at the Rendez-vous des Cheminots.   Since the patronne was there, I had to fuck her, but it was really out of politeness…”  Yeah!  That’s the sort of thing we Outsiders did, or would have, given the opportunity…

I wonder if these books are still much read by today’s students.

Saatchi Gallery – Known Unknowns, until August.

Sometimes at Saatchi, you get some real pleasures in amongst these lesser-known artists.  Four of my favourites below – Mona Osman’s vampirish cartoons, colourful cowboys et al from Danny Fox, texture in abundance from Daniel Crews-Chubb and mishaps with tables and legs from Stuart Middleton.  Actually, I think Fox and Crews-Chubb might not be part of “Known Unknowns” – not sure, but they’re there anyway.

Mona Osman


Mona Osman


Danny Fox


Daniel Crews-Chubb.   It’s a bit de Kooning Woman, isn’t it?


Stuart Middleton


Royal Academy Summer Show

I wasn’t that impressed with this year’s summer show and my reaction was only slightly influenced by being rejected yet again.  It all seemed a bit too much like Grayson Perry-type stuff; quirky, trendy, funny, gimmicky.  There’s a portrait of Nigel Farage, for example; but it’s not very good (but it’s not supposed to be, because it’s ironic…)  It  wears thin pretty quickly for me.

RA – 250 years of Summer Show

This, on the other hand, contains some brilliant paintings, Turner, Gainsborough, John Collier’s fabulous “The Prodigal Daughter” (photo was too dark), and this beautiful Sandra Blow and the Kitaj below that:

Sandra Blow


The Killer-Critic Assassinated by his Widower Even, RB Kitaj (1997)


Enough for now – my seasonally titled piece below (for overseas readers, we in the UK are undergoing something of a heatwave).

Let the Sizzle Begin..  (Collage)






Blackpaint 615 – London Art Fair, Saatchi and Angelopoulos

January 30, 2018

London Art Fair

This was a couple of weekends ago, but I thought I might put up some of my favourites:


Chloe Lamb

Great little corner of abstracts.  One of her big ones is a little Lanyon-ish (didn’t see any Lanyons this year) but the colours are very strong, I think.


Dorothy Mead

Terrific drawing by the Bomberg acolyte.  I actually prefer her stuff to the Master.


William Brooker

I put up a photo of a Brooker painting at the fair last year; it was a beautiful table assemblage in that precise Coldstream/Uglow style (see below).  This one of the nude in bed reminds me more  of Sickert, however.


Patrick Proctor

Huge, screen-like painting – actually, they ARE screens in the picture, aren’t they?  Great painter, often similar to Hockney.


Duncan Grant

Typical Grant piece, maybe a little conventional, but I like it.


Iconoclasts – Art Out of the Mainstream, Saatchi Gallery

The Ice Cream Seller, Danny Fox

That blue cheered me up on a cold, dismal morning in the week.

The Professor, Josh Faught

Faught does loose textile pieces hung with bits and pieces, joke cards, badges, a spilt coffee cup, most of which relates to the gay scene in the US.  They are colourful and funny and sad.  I love that spilt coffee disc, made out of resin; had to touch it when the attendant wasn’t attending..


Corvid, Kate MccGwire

The external skin of this giant intertwining black sausage is composed of crow feathers – hence the title.


Philip Pearlstein, Saatchi Gallery until 25th March

Eight of Pearlstein’s intricate, crowded pictures of pallid, pensive nude women, sort of interacting with various props, mostly by being draped around them.  Sometimes, the toys, animals, dinosaurs and duck lures seem to be eyeing them.

Models and Blimp (1991)

Apparently, they are done from life, although the angles and proportions sometimes suggest photographs.

Theo Angelopoulos

I’ve just completed viewing another box set of this fantastic director’s films.  They are often “stately paced” and solemn; sometimes he lectures you on history through the mouths of the characters; but they are operatic, visually arresting, the ever- present music is plaintive and beautiful.  The Greek and Balkan landscapes are rough and mountainous; it’s often snowing, raining, flooding.  Groups or pairs of weary individuals lug dusty suitcases along empty streets to deserted railway stations, drink in shabby, bare cafes; suited men and women in 40s dresses dance to guitar, sax and accordion jazz in bare dance halls or on promenades, until Fascists. or police, or soldiers show up and everyone scatters; occasional outbreaks of violence, hangings, rapes, shootings – and the slow unrolling of history.  Often, he uses major international actors; Marcello Mastroianni, Harvey Keitel, Irene Jacob, Bruno Ganz, William Dafoe.

Ulysses’ Gaze (1995)

A giant, disassembled statue of Lenin floats down a Greek (or Romanian?) river to a new home.


The Weeping Meadow (2004)

Carcases of slaughtered sheep festoon a tree outside the village big house, to signify the neighbours’ disgust at the occupants’ actions.


The Dust of Time (2009)

Prisoners of the gulag climb and descend an open stairway in a snowbound Soviet landscape.




Flame Landscapes




Blackpaint 577 – Saatchi Painters, Russian Painters, Russell and the Little People

December 4, 2016

Painters’ Painters, Saatchi Gallery

The only common denominator for these painters is the fact that they ARE painters – supposedly a rarity in this age of video and multi-media installation.  Actually, on reflection, there is another thing they have in common; the deadness of the painted surface.  None of them seem to glow; there is a liverish colour that many share in their backgrounds – as far as I can make out, it seems to be a mix of crimson, grey and maybe insipid cream, and/or mauve.  Where they are bright (as in Bjarne Melgaard, below), they are livid; still no glow.  The photographs actually glamourise the paintings a bit.

One other common factor – they’re all men.  But, to be fair, there are three women artists exhibiting individually in the upper galleries, and the last main exhibition was all women…



Ryan Mosley



Ryan Mosley



Bjarne Melgaard



Don’t know who did this one, but I love that right buttock…

The reason I made the adverse comments about colour is that I’ve twice visited the stupendous Rauschenberg exhibition at Tate Modern this week and the colours are rich and glowing.  The most staggering work – and there are many – is the Combine “Ace” (below), no photo of which comes anywhere near doing it justice.  Review next blog.


Robert Rauschenberg, Ace.  This pic doesn’t do it justice, it has to be seen in the flesh, so to speak.


Also at Saatchi…  Not part of “Painters Painting”, there are separate exhibitions in the upper galleries by Phoebe Unwin and Mequitta Ahuja.

Phoebe Unwin


I love this imprisoning criss-cross patterning.  Other works here by Unwin suggestive of Gerhard Richter’s faded photo style.


Mequitta Ahuja


I still think there is a hint of Ofili in these great action portraits (surely selfies) of a woman with a cast in one eye.


Bloomberg New Contemporaries, ICA

Several arresting works, including these two:

Janina Lange, Shooting Clouds (video)


Jamie Fitzpatrick, The King (wax sculpture)


Revolution – New Art for a New World (Margy Kinmonth, 2016) – ICA

Fascinating documentary made by Kinmonth based on research in the Russian archives and interviews with curators and descendants of the artists discussed. The usual suspects are there; Malevich, Kandinsky, Chagall, Rodchenko – but also lesser known artists, namely:

Filonov, Lentulov, Klutsis, Konchalovsky, Popova, Stepanova and Petrov-Vodkin.






The history is sort of GCSE level, but I guess Kinmonth wanted to get onto the art as soon as possible, so fair enough.  It’s sobering to remember the fate of some of these artists, in particular Klutsis and Meyerhold, the theatre director, both of whom were shot, after vicious beatings and torture in the case of Meyerhold.  Why? To wring out vital information about directing and screenprinting?


Dante’s Inferno, Ken Russell (1967)


Oliver Reed and co-smoulderer Gala Mitchell as (respectively) Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Jane Morris, in this fabulous Ken Russell film for the BBC, made in 1967.  According to Russell’s film editor, Michael Bradsell, Reed had three “settings” – Smoulder 1, 2 and 3.  Russell would simply call out the number he wanted and Reed would deliver the appropriate intensity of smouldering look.


Little People

A couple of my life paintings to finish, from my series “Little People” (actually, it’s the canvases that are little, not the people – but anyway…)


Faun’s Afternoon


Man Sitting Uncomfortably



Blackpaint 460 – Saatchi Abstracts, Auerbach at the Tate and Cotillard at the ICA

August 29, 2014

Saatchi Gallery – Pangaea: New Art from Latin America

Three striking painters in this exhibition:

Aboudia, from the Ivory Coast – graffiti style conglomerations with the usual features; smears, splatters, cartoon characters, slogans, livid colours.  I’ve a penchant for this sort of art, even though it’s hardly original (Rauschenberg through Basquiat) and the recent Saatchi exhibition “Body Language” had strikingly similar work from Eddie Martinez.


Antonio Molta Campos, from Brazil – My favourite; huge, vivid, curving jigsaws of paint, blue, black, pink, that appear to form into giant heads and torsos.  Lovely, clean lines forming a contrast with the street jumble of Aboudia…..


….and the scruffy, filthy assemblages of brown card and other scraps of the Columbian artist, Oscar Murillo.  He lists “dirt” among his materials and from his picture on the gallery wall, appears to be an elderly woman.



Saatchi Gallery – Abstract America Today 

The other Saatchi exhibition, in the top floor galleries; here. there are four painters whose work I liked:

Cullen Washington Jr. – big, black, white and brown paintings and assemblages with fluorescent bits of tape holding them together, or more probably, just stuck on.  These had an immediate impact, but faded somewhat after the first contact.


Paul Bloodgood – reminded me oddly of a tube map somehow; don’t know why.  Liked them, apart from that insipid cream colour…


Jackie Saccoccio – I liked the “net” of paint she cast over the surfaces…



And Keltie Ferris – blurred lower layers, sharp uppers, those blasting diagonals…


 Tate Britain – Frank Auerbach; the Lucian Freud Bequest


One room of Auerbach paintings and drawings, including some brilliant life drawings from his college days; striking cityscapes of Mornington Crescent and Primrose Hill in winter; and some staggering (running out of superlatives) portraits, notably three (at least) of “E.O.W.”  I thought I knew Auerbach’s work pretty well, but am about to reveal great ignorance.  When you look at these portraits close up, they are a mass of thick, intertwining worms of paint, rising in thickness from maybe half an inch at the perimeter to three inches maybe at the centre.  You are aware of a head, a sort of expressionist explosion of features, but nothing from which you could identify the sitter, beyond maybe a long head, or chin – if you knew what the sitter looked like.

But if you stand back 10 or 12 feet and look again, a surprisingly precise and identifiable image of the sitter’s face appears in the middle of the mass of worms, as if swimming to the surface.  Maybe everybody else knows this, or sees it straight away – revelation to me, though.

A beautiful exhibition, and free – as are the Saatchis, of course.

“Two Days, One Night” at the ICA

Dardenne Brothers film. featuring Marion Cotillard.  Apparently hard realism, set in dreary, half-built housing estates in Belgium, strongly resembling Britain.  She’s a factory worker, voted out of her job by her “mates” after being off with a nervous breakdown.  The boss, through the foreman,  has put it to the vote; do they want their bonuses or for her to be kept on?  Bonuses, apparently.  She has the weekend to go round to all their houses and try to get them to change their minds, in the re-vote the boss has conceded on the coming Monday.

It got five stars from Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian; easy to see why; theme and politics are right (the unspoken message is pro-union), beautifully acted, convincing – superficially, anyway.  I thought it was lacking in dramatic tension, however, in that you knew you were in for a dozen or so doorstep encounters right from the beginning.  She attempts suicide (not a spoiler this, since the opening certificate warns you that there is a suicide attempt), recovers, changes her mind, and gets back on the doorbells, within a couple of hours.

No reason why a film should have everything, but this could have easily been a TV play; no visual stimulation at all.  The same night, I saw Bigelow’s “Point Break” again on TV.  Ridiculous story and dialogue, cartoon acting, blatant steals from “The Friends of Eddie Coyle” and “Straight Time” but fantastic surfing and skydiving.  Supposing you transposed the directors…





Blackpaint, 29.08.14

Blackpaint 433 – Sex Toys, Flamingoes and a Robot Swede

February 6, 2014

Saatchi Gallery – Body Language

There seems to be a sort of house style to the paintings currently on display – huge; crudely drawn; harsh, raw, livid and/or fluorescent colours; acrylic or thinned-down oil, lacking surface sheen; shock-sexual images.  If this sounds bad, it’s not meant to; I like a lot of the works.

The names of the following painters occurred to me as I went round – Doig, Marlene Dumas, Sasnal/Tuymans, Rose Wylie and once, even Keith Vaughan.

Henry Taylor

Black American artist, raw, cartoonish, lively portraits and street life.  I liked “She Mixed” (below) and The Finger.

Saatchi Taylor

Eddie Martinez

Graffiti origins; his Last Supper below; which one is Jesus, which Judas?  It’s huge, by the way.

saatchi martinez

Chantal Joffe

I thought these were the best on show; mostly portraits, great flesh tones, deceptively slapdash but not when you look closely.  A wee bit Marlene Dumas, maybe..

saatchi joffe

Helen Verhoeven

saatchi verhoeven

Can’t really see it from this, but some of the nude figures are rather Keith Vaughan; what the hell is going on?  Why are those long pipe things going up the woman’s skirt and into the other one’s vagina?  And the nude on the far right, is that a blow-up doll she’s holding?  Maybe the others are blow-ups too, being inflated – I’m sure there’s a simple explanation…

There are several more painters and sculptors in this exhibition; more next blog.

Also at Saatchi, there is New Order II; British Art Today

The artists who impressed me most were

Dominic Beattie

saatchi beattie

Collages made out of overlapping layers of board or metal, not quite fitting exactly, in bright colours and patterns.  Small, but impressive from the other end of the gallery.  A treat for the eye, after all that roughly painted, huge, sexy, figurative stuff.

Mary Ramsden

saatchi ramsden

This doesn’t give you much idea – you need to see two or three together.  Large fields of flat, contrasting colour, reminding me a little of Gary Hume.

Kate Hawkins

saatchi Hawkins

You get the picture – surrealistic boxes with eye things or bow ties on tripods and ladders.  Amusing but…. more next time.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

Now he’ll never get to play Gordon Finch in the film of “Stoner”, when it gets made (see previous Blackpaint).  RIP.

The Great Beauty, Sorrentino

Obvious tribute to Fellini, it has Rome, the parties, the oddities, the conga dancing in a chain of fools; Tony Servillo taking the place of Mastroianni, with something of his weary charm, if not the looks.  I was waiting for the outrageously artificial – like the whale in Satyricon, the dead fish in Dolce Vita, the rhino and the ship with smoke blowing the wrong way – was that “And the Ship Sailed On”?  There was a giraffe, but it turned out to be real.  Then, near the end, the flock of flamingoes took off improbably into an improbable sky, and there it was. He (Sorrentino) likes to have scenes in which old men throw themselves about in hip disco dancing poses, like in “Il Divo”.  Great film.

The Bridge II

I thought Saga’s robotic recoil and wide- eyed stare whenever something puzzled her was just a bit too much like Data in Star Trek; also her stock phrase “I have analysed what you said…”.  Plot totally un-followable, too many characters, too SF.  Kim Bodnia as Martin great,  though.  How are they going to get him out of prison for the next series?


Work in Progress



Blackpaint 369 – Gaiety in Russia and the Master

November 29, 2012

Saatchi Gallery, Gaiety is the most outstanding feature of the Soviet Union: New Art from Russia

Given the contents of the exhibition, the title may be taken as ironic; there’s some desperate gallows humour, but certainly no gaiety.  The reference to the Soviet Union is puzzling; this art is all post-Soviet, though the title comes from a speech made by Stalin in the 30s.

The stuff on show is pretty varied, so the usual sprint through with short description;

Sergei Vasiliev – huge b and w photos of heavily tattoo’ed convicts, for the most part looking surprisingly unthuggish and even tender – they have their arms around each other’s shoulders in some pictures.

Yelena Popova – “drained” looking images of shapes on unbleached linen; curves, leaf/sickle shapes, with similar curved blade shapes of plywood set around the framed pictures, shapes rather Ofili -like, I thought.

Vikinti Nilin – “Neighbours” – photos of men and women perched on window sills and balconies of shabby, decaying flats, overhanging concrete or shrubbery 4 or 5 stories below.  Like potential suicides of course, but mostly with calm, thoughtful expressions, looking straight at the camera.  On the floor of the gallery, a flat black PVC ” jumped” jumper.

Nika Neelova – A huge, blackened timber platform festooned with rope coils, that could only suggest a scaffold (or maybe a drilling platform – but no; “Scaffold”‘ is in the title).  Also “Principle of Surrender”, another charred wood scaffold, this one hung with bell-clappers – surrendered tongues or voices, presumably…

Janis Avotins – Dark canvases, with small, indistinct, ghost-like figures – one of them in a setting of forms that are maddeningly indistinct; where is she? an office, or an Underground station, or a street…can’t quite make it out.

Anna Parkina – Rodchenko – like collages, several electric guitars in them as well as cut-out strings of words.  A box-shaped sculpture, roughly carpentered out of ply or balsa wood, entitled “Thick Steam above the Wing of a Sparrow”.  There is a lot of interlacing of wooden tendrils, presumably representing coiling steam, and presumably done with a fretsaw (I’m no DIY-er).

The three most memorable artists – although not necessarily the best – were

Gosha Ostretsov – “Sex in the City”; a backdrop of cartoon characters in a skyscraper setting, with some sort of implied narrative involving concealed test tubes – containing a virus? – spattered and dribbled with paint; in the foreground, black, stylised heads, apparently made from a resin or vulcanised rubber and, again, spattered and streaked with brilliant paints of many colours.

“Criminal Government” – a line of wooden cells, occupied by figures in bloodstained suits and shirts, one hanged, others with arms sawn off and dangling from the wooden walls.  The heads of these figures stylised like those in “Sex”.

Vasily Koshliakov – Huge, grey, black and white paintings of city scenes, with paint sliding down them like rain on a windscreen; the effect is akin to the “crumbling” sensation in the German cityscapes done by Gerhard Richter.  Also, a painting of the Paris Opera done on a composite surface of layered brown cardboard, like torn-up cardboard boxes, stuck together, which is probably what it is.  Grandiose baroque building on cheap rubbish support – inevitably recalls Kiefer.

Boris Mikhailov – 100’s of photos of Kharkov “derelicts”, showing scabby bottoms, untreated hernias, diseased penises, broken teeth, wasted bodies and lots more.. it’s not clear whether Mikhailov suggested these poses to them, or whether they chose to display themselves in these ways.  I discussed it with another visitor and we decided the photos were disgusting and exploitative – but the exhibition guide says the pictures comprise “one of the most frank documents of the human condition in times of desperation”.

More Russian artists, and the other Saatchi exhibition (Soviet era art from Moscow, 60s – 80s) next time.

The Master

Saw this Paul Thomas Anderson film last week – it’s about a cult leader ( based partly on L. Ron Hubbard) and a strange, obsessive, alcoholic drifter who latches on to him.  the cult leader is Philip Seymour Hoffman, the drifter Joaquin Phoenix – so you can see by the names that it’s an” important” film.  it reminded me of There Will be Blood, and sure enough, same director.  He clearly likes obsessive megalomaniacs – as a subject, of course. It  looked fantastic, especially the boat and desert scenes; it felt very long, however, especially when Dodd (Hoffman) sang “Slow Boat to China” to Quell (Phoenix) .Unaccompanied.  I have two questions – were all those women really naked when Dodd sang “I’ll go no more a-roving” and what did Quell do with the motorbike?