Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Lucas’

Blackpaint 517 – Venice Preserv’d

October 30, 2015

It’s preserved in brine.  No-one lives there, except for shopkeepers, hoteliers and gondoliers maybe; the average resident’s age is over 50.  Anyway, this is the pavilions blog.

Giardini (the Pavilions)

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Kerry James Marshall

This magnificent “mirror” picture is one of 5 or 6 both abstract and figurative pictures in the main pavilion, which houses individual artists, rather than national projects.

The British Pavilion

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Sarah Lucas

 

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Sarah Lucas

The British and Russian pavilions form, for me, the opposing poles of the national exhibitions; the Lucas sculptures are joyfully obscene and the great yellow phallus wags like a middle finger before the Gran Bretagna sign (see above).  Inside, a number of sculptures rest on piles of spam tins or plunge headlong into toilets with cigarettes poking out of their bumholes and vaginas.  Lacking in subtlety and pathos perhaps – but no denying the popularity with the punters.  Everybody was laughing and snapping away uproariously; four mature German women obviously very intellectually stimulated…

Romanian Pavilion

I loved the Romanian show again this year, because it contains some real paintings – and good ones at that.  I thought at first glance they were abstract, but was sharply informed by my two companions that they were not; “There’s a hand – and there’s a man in that one”.  True, but the thick paint, applied in swipes by a knife maybe, and the vivid colours make them look abstract.  They are collectively called “Darwin’s Room”, so there is a conceptual basis – but I liked the paintings too much to bother with that.  They remind me of Bosch, or Brueghel, or even the Matthias Grunewald.

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Adrian Ghenie

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Adrian Ghenie

Russian Pavilion

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Irina Nakhova has put together a rather oddly matched group of exhibits; the above is a hologram(?) of a pilot’s face peering anxiously out of a giant oxygen mask; amusing and memorable but… on the other hand, there is a very moving display of film and photographs on the lower floor, constantly playing through “windows”; unsmiling soldiers in uniform, sometimes with guns, scratchy old film of Russian people going about their lives, photos of victims of the NKVD, shot at a rifle range, people whose faces are scrawled over with a pen like the Rodchenko photos.  At one point, the walls appear to be closing in.  The faces, at an angle, look like stained glass windows.

To finish, two more Bellini paintings from the Accademia:  Note the similarity in the position of the dead Christ in the Pieta to that of the baby in the Virgin and Child.

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Giovanni Bellini

 

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Mirror Portrait

Blackpaint

30.10.15

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Blackpaint 442 – Barlow’s Faulty Towers, That Ad, Adrian and George

April 15, 2014

Phyllida Barlow; “Dock” at Tate Britain

There seems to be a lot of destruction about at Tate Britain lately; “Ruin Lust”, the present exhibition, for example, and the recent one on iconoclasm, ranging from Reformation church smashing to the Suffragettes, the IRA and Action artists.

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At first sight, Barlow’s work seems to fit in with this; as you come into the hall, the first thing you see is a collapsed heap of planks, beams and general rubble which looks as if it has just crashed to the ground.  In fact, the work seems to me to consist of 7 or 8 “units”, one of which is the collapsed heap; the others are:

  • a tower of beams from which a giant cardboard (?) roll or drum hangs;
  • another tower, topped by a bulging, squirming mass of ropes, stuffed bin bags, trunking and debris, threatening to topple over;
  • a sort of pyramidal  structure of interlocking, wooden or metal bench-like forms, one face of which is covered with painted panels in Guston colours (these panels face you through the arch from Caro’s red metal sculpture and are really effective from this view – try it);

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  • a tubular tower, a sort of Trajan’s Column of cardboard rolls, stuck together with brightly coloured crime-scene tape (shades of Isa Gensken);
  • another big erection of beams from which are suspended a number of huge boxes or trunks, great holes smashed in them, round the mouths of which, a polystyrene foam bubbles;
  • hanging from the ceiling, a strange, white, branching, basket-like structure a bit like Sarah Lucas’s stuffed sculptures or maybe a giant representation of a cell structure, like something that might hang above the escalator in the Science Museum.  Hanging from this, I think, three giant, unvarnished, wooden shield shapes.  I find these, the basket and the shields, to be a false note, not fitting with the rest of the installation.

So at second sight, not about destruction at all; more about things in flux, a process of becoming rather than being “complete” like the other works in the gallery.

I wondered about how she built it; she’s in her 70s, after all.  Obviously there was a team and machinery, but you somehow think things on this scale require a young, vigorous, ambitious, (reckless?) mind.  Did she do drawings?  Maybe it was more general idea and materials and then standing watching, shouting instructions: sort of “Bit more to left – hold it there, that’s good…. Now, tumble those ropes out a bit more…”   And how are these things commissioned?  does Tate have a list of artists it goes to, or do the artists approach the galleries with ideas?  This would apply to the Turbine Hall at TM too, of course.

Next time, “Ruin Lust” and the fantastic Richard Deacon exhibition.

Doreen Lawrence in the M&S advert

I think the presence of Baroness Lawrence in the M&S advert is problematic.  The company benefits from the association with someone like her, who has justly acquired a sort of proto-Mandela status, beyond criticism; there’s probably no payment involved, or she will be donating the money to a worthy cause – still, M&S is in the business of flogging clothes and will get increased profits, I expect.  Is it no different from Olympians advertising banks, or the Royals granting charters to private firms?  as far as I can see, there has been no criticism in the press of the ad, so maybe I’m out of step.  Those people who want the Baroness to stand as Labour candidate for Mayor of London will be wanting some of the same magic; someone beyond criticism to carry the flag.  What a coup that would be.

Sue Townsend

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Adrian Mole is one of the great comic characters of English literature, alongside Pooter, another noted diarist; I was surprised, however, to come across, in Sunday’s Observer, an extract from Townsend’s book “Mr.Bevan’s Dream”, about trying to get an emergency benefit payment.  What surprised me was how gripping it was, how angry it made me and yet how fair and even-handed were her comments.  Who did it remind me of?  Ah yes, Orwell – and unlike George –  no criticism intended – Townsend wasn’t down there on a visit.

 Orwell, the Musical

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Just been reading that Orwell’s newly published “Road to Wigan Pier” was delivered to him in the trenches where he was fighting with the Trotskyist POUM militia in the Spanish Civil War; surely it’s time somebody wrote “Orwell, the Musical” – Eton, Burma, the Hanging, Shooting an Elephant, dish-washing in Paris, tramping in London and the hopfields of Kent, Wigan Pier, fighting, wounded and fleeing for his life in Spain, the war commentaries and diary, Animal Farm, Jura, nearly drowning in the whirlpool, Nineteen Eighty-Four- must be enough here for loads of great stage-sets and les Mis-type anthems.  Come on, Lloyd-Webber and Cameron Mackintosh!

??????????

 Heaven Only Knows

Blackpaint

15.04.14

Blackpaint 347 – Bowling, Nicholson, Chelsea and Quinn

June 21, 2012

Tate Britain

Some “new” stuff, worth a look:

Howard Hodgkin, deep resonant green and white, more clear-cut than his usual brushwork.

Catherine Yass video, replacing the Wallinger’s airport hall; this one, of a tightrope walker, startng the transit between two tower blocks in Glasgow, the Red Road site, I think.  He gets about halfway, and then retreats backwards, the winds being too strong.  Sweating palms and clenched sphincter job, for me anyway.  Not sure what the Yass output was; most of it was taken from tightrope walker’s helmet camera.  Wallinger’s was in slo-mo, with added music – don’t think there was music for this one and normal speed…

As part of the Patrick Keiller exhibit, that striking Gursky photograph of the winding black and white roadways, entitled “Bahrain” (very similar to Burtynsky‘s work at the Photographer’s Gallery, technically anyway).

Karla Black, a whole room’s worth of exhibit, huge,long, loose, crumply roll of – wallpaper? with flattened “plates” of pastel powder, each of different colour, poured and compacted along its length.

Next door, fleshy, beige-grey, snail-like coils on individual stands, by Sarah Lucas; a huge, emerald green Tillmans photograph, with the black inky threads trailing and swirling like hair under water; and a couple of Calum Innes works, one blue and yellow game of two halves, the other, black or dark, with Clyfford Still-like “tears” running down.

Elsewhere, a lovely geometric abstract with a rough, yellow/green surface by Winifred Nicholson, called “moonlight and Lamplight” from 1937.

The most striking thing for me there at the moment is the roomful of Frank Bowling’s poured acrylic paintings; blistering, bright colours, reminiscent of John Hoyland (indeed, several of Bowling’s paintings on net are very like Hoyland’s – or vice versa).

Chelsea Degree Show

Opposite the Tate, some seriously good work on show, and the catalogue only £2; there is a white room complex on the ground floor that is particularly good; square arches giving a series of partial views through.  Two big paintings in Popart style, one yellow with bathing suits hanging on a line, the other sort of lilac or mulberry pinky, motif like a frame, I think.  In next space, through an arch, patches of fabric stuck onto canvases in such a way that they overlap the walls.  Through another arch, a sort of campsite scenario set up, with a little camp stove with an orange paper(?) flame twisting and “burning”.  Individually, not so impressive maybe, but seen as a collective piece spreading over the several white spaces, very pleasing.

Also, a number of wall plaques, I suppose you could call them, composed of slatches of pigment of Bram Bogart thickness, with fragments of paper, card or fabric “splatted” onto them, as if stamped into the vivid and various paints with a rubber sole. 

La Strada

Watched this again, and found  Giuletta Masina’s Chaplinesque mugging very irritating.  The relentless comic pathos, determined brutishness of Anthony Quinn and the circus background disguise the harsh essentials of the story – sister dead, sold to a thug for 10.000 lire, beaten, raped (?), humiliated, the murder of the acrobat – it’s not a comedy.  Anthony Quinn is the anti- George Clooney.. or Cary Grant, to get the era right.  Interesting to see the influence of the film; that religious procession was in the Godfather II, surely, and maybe Le Quattro Volte.

Blackpaint

21.06.12

Blackpaint 255

February 27, 2011

British Art Show 7 (cont.)

Christian Marclay – Clever, funny exhibit; film clips featuring clocks, watches, people saying what the time is – corresponding to real time. Just ponder for a moment the amount of research required to assemble 24 hours worth of such footage.  I wondered if he maybe used stock footage of clocks to cut away to, but if so, it’s done seamlessly. I recognised two films in the 10 minutes we watched – “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and “3 Days of the Condor”.  Sometimes the segues were amusing – if that was not accidental, then it’s one more thing that he must have edited for and therefore an even more staggering achievement.

To what purpose, though?  It put me in mind of that Fischli and Weiss exhibit at the Tate Modern – in the basement now, no doubt – where all the bits and pieces were artificial, sculpted out of polyurethane or something to look absolutely real – when you could have got the real things and assembled them with no effort at all.  The point is the huge pointlessness; vast effort to raise a small smile.  Quite profound really; read Ecclesiastes.

Sohei Nishino has made a panorama of London by taking 10,000 photographs, selecting 4,000 and cutting and pasting them together, thereby getting a crude, reconstructed version.  Sort of the opposite to F and W; making something new and imperfect to contrast with the usual panorama.  Can’t help feeling that the expenditure of effort puts this somehow in the Marclay – F and W field,though.

George Shaw – Huge versions of his sinister and depressing (I use the words admiringly) Humbrol shedscapes.  One, a bulldozed tract of pulverised dirt pent up by metal caging, another of a dark, deserted recreation ground; you get that sinking stomach feeling looking at them.

Wolfgang Tillmans – Another beautiful, huge, inkjet picture, the spidery threads of pigment opening like some sea anemone; unfortunately, it’s emerald green.  Can’t stand the colour.  Also, glazed cabinets displaying magazine pages, articles, cheesy adverts,  plastic surgery, facial mutilation, material on sexism… Bit like clearing up Bacon’s studio floor and bunging the stuff in glass cases.

Cullinan Richards – Occupying the stairwell, newspapers with tarry black slash markings,  picture in rough white of a horse and rider at full vertical gallop up the central shaft; I loved this, first I thought a little like Baselitz, but this morning, found another rough white horse, tilted at an odd angle – this one in the Per Kirkeby catalogue.

Milena Dragicevic – Distorted and surrealised (I know it isn’t a proper word, but it should be) women’s faces, one for example with huge, red, letter box lips.  Echoes of Marlene Dumas.

Sarah Lucas – Hans Bellmer-ish sculptures made from stockings or tights stuffed like sausages, looped and knotted in swollen, intestinal bundles; organised in rather obscene ballet on top of pedestals.  Clever and striking but unlikeable, as if that matters.

Alasdair Gray – the Lanark author; clean, meticulous, pastel coloured drawings of family, domestic life…

Vaida Caivano – Four abstract oils, small, dun colours, thin and threadbare, drily painted.  Not as rich as the ones in the Victoria Miro Gallery, unfortunately.  Unusually for this exhibition, they were all “Untitled”.

Apart from the Marclay, we didn’t watch any of the video installations – the heavy black curtaining was mildly disgusting, as was the chemical smell in the theatres.

Few more exhibits tomorrow, plus a review of Bela Tarr’s “Man from London” – Bela Tarr, Tarkovsky’s less compromising brother director…

Exterminating Angel

Sorry – old picture; camera batteries exhausted.  New one tomorrow.

Blackpaint

26.02.11