Posts Tagged ‘Shakespeare’

Blackpaint 530 – The Angels, the Superhighway and the Deer Hunter

January 31, 2016

London Art Fair, the Angel Islington

Finished last week, I’m afraid;  a great little “exhibition-within-the-exhibition” from the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings; my favourite was the “Winter Landscape” by Barns-Graham – tiny but good.

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Wilhelmina Barns-Graham

Other highlights below:

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Dorothy Mead 

A Bomberg disciple – but these are every bit as good as DB, in my view.

 

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Keith Vaughan

Very unusual Vaughan – touch of Bacon in the middle, possibly?

 

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Alan Davie

There were dozens of Davies (and Roger Hiltons and quite a few Hitchens); high quality ratio though, with his trademark symbols, lovely blues and yellows and rough surfaces.

Electronic Superhighway, Whitechapel Gallery

Private view of this on Thursday night; the usual roar and surge of the crowd to get to the free drinks before 7.00pm, after which time you have to pay.

The term was coined by Nam June Paik, whose exhibit was one of those – maybe the first one of those –  batteries of TVs, each showing a recurring series of visually explosive images too fast for you to grasp more than one at a time, with an accompaniment of cacophonous sound.  The theme of the exhibition is the effect of computers and the internet on art.  The theme was more evident in some pieces than others…

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Deathoknocko, Albert Oehlen

Combination of computerised inkjet and hand painting.

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Peter Sedgley

Light projection from 1970.

 

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Celia Hempton

These are screen-size paintings of images from the internet – some – ahem! – rather controversial, perhaps…

 

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Vera Molnar

Several printout works from 60s and 70s.

Rabelais and Joyce

As I get further into “Gargantua and Pantagruel”, the more I am struck by the similarities to “Finnegans Wake”.  The long list of books in the library of St. Victor with their ridiculous titles is only one small step back from Joyce, as are the encounters with the Limousin who speaks gibberish and Panurge,  who talks sense – but in a variety of languages, including Hebrew and Basque(!) that his interlocutors can’t understand.

I got quite excited about this “discovery”, wondering if there was a thesis knocking about on the subject in some European or US university – then I read the excellent translator’s introduction by JM Cohen.  There it all was, similarities of Rabelais and Joyce, written in 1954…..

However, I feel that there are sufficient grounds to advance another of my reincarnation propositions here (see previous Blackpaints, which prove that Shakespeare was the reincarnation of Michelangelo).  Both Rabelais (or Alcofribas Nasir, as he called himself – work it out) and Joyce did long lists; both spoke and used a variety of languages, some rather obscure, in their works; and both wrote passages – in Joyce’s case, hundreds of pages – of “nonsense”.  Case proven.

The Deer Hunter

I had one of those cinematic moments last night, when you’re in a noisy public place and suddenly everything goes sort of silent, or merges into an unspecific background drone and things go slow motion.  Could well be wrong, but I think it was “The Deer Hunter” – wedding scene maybe, Meryl Streep dancing and laughing – it’s a cliche, of course, probably used in loads of films by now.

Anyway, I was sitting in a packed and roaring Tooting pub, third pint of London Stout before me, celebrating my eldest son’s birthday and engagement.  I looked at the bar and there they were, the three brothers and their girlfriends, laughing and shouting to each other above the noise, eyes shining – and the Deer Hunter moment clocked in, inside my head, and lasted probably only a couple of seconds.  Then I was aware of it and it went.  First, I was happy and proud; then I had a moment of near dread; everything changes, it will never be like this again…

So those effects are cliches, melodramatic and worn out; but very effective, nonetheless.

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Exterminating Angel (work in prog)

Blackpaint

31/01/16

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Blackpaint 492 – The Three (or Four) D’s and Art House Sleaze

April 24, 2015

Sonia Delaunay, Tate Modern

delaunay black snake

A stunningly beautiful exhibition, cousin to the recent Matisse cut-outs and the Paul Klee show;  I was interested to see that the paintings got more vivid as she got older – in the earlier ones, the colours are more “muddied”, as can clearly be seen in the two examples below.  Another thing I liked was the rough edges, as if she’d cut out the shapes and stuck them on; gives the earlier works a pleasing wobbliness, somehow.  Like most – all? – artists, she has limits; there’s little texture or spontaneity and she recycles a number of devices: squares, triangles, circles, “S” shapes.  But then, that’s probably enough for one life-time, if you take the costume- and textile design, mosaic, tapestry and book/magazine covers into consideration…

Anyway, here are some things to look for:

  • Tchouiko (1907-8) – portrait; check out the droopy, Nosferatu fingers.
  • Binding of “der Sturm”, in the cabinet.
  • Young Finnish Girl – that blue (and red/pink).
  • Box (1913) – I’m sure that’s a painted button on the lid.
  • Bal Ballier, on mattress ticking – the women reminiscent of August Macke, I think.
  • The two on the end wall that are like knots, or skeins of coloured wiring.
  • The switch – or diversification – into fabric and costume design; hilarious film of lovely 20s and 30s models posturing and the huge, perpetually rolling fabric machine; dresses, ballet/theatre costume, fashion drawings and photos.
  • THEN – in the late 30s and 40s, back to painting.  I’m not sure if that corresponds with a real change, or if it’s just the effect of the way the exhibition is set out.  Vivid, sharper-edged paintings reminiscent of watch movements (see Rhythm Colour 1076, below)
  • The 1937 Paris exhibition room, with the huge, Gris-like murals of the propeller, the steam engine and the control panel.
  • “Coloured Rhythm 52” – my pick of the exhibition (can’t find a picture of it), along with “Black Snake”, just about the last painting in the show.

Great to see her separated out from Robert for once – as soon as I publish, I’m going to Google him to see if I can discern a clear difference between them; I seem to remember a shape or motif one used, but not the other.  Apart from Robert, the only other artists that popped into my mind going round this were El Lissitsky and Malevich – not that similar, but passing resemblances..

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1914

 

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Rhythm Colour 1939

As my regular reader will know, I am a connoisseur and originator of Fortean-type theories – see, for example, Blackpaint 217, in which I prove that Shakespeare was a reincarnation of Michelangelo.  I cannot be alone in wondering about the cosmic significance of  three great “D”s in modern painting, all on exhibition in London at the same time – Diebenkorn (RA), Dumas and Delaunay (TM).  Actually, it’s four, if you count the De Koonings that are part of the Jenny Savile– selected group at the RA.

Climates, Nuri Bilge Ceylan (2006)

Following on from last week’s “flawed male characters” feature, Ceylan himself appears in this with his wife, playing the sleazest, most self-regarding male lead I can think of in modern cinema; he hangs around hidden in a doorway, waiting for a target woman to come home alone, then lets her spot him – and of course, she lets him in and ends up rolling about underneath him on the carpet as he pulls her clothes off and… cut away.

His wife, a TV producer, leaves him – actually, she sticks her hands over his eyes while riding pillion on his scooter, causing him to crash, so she must have been desperate.  He pursues her to a remote location in a permanent blizzard, waylays her in the company bus, tells her he’s changed – he’s ready to marry her and “give” her kids, so she should pack up her job and report to his hotel for sex forthwith… And, yes, she’s there waiting for him, on the bed (still dressed, but not for long).

I won’t spoil the surprise ending; presumably, Ceylan would argue that the film critiques the sexism of the sophisticated Turkish male – but the women are shown as vamps or victims.  Great cinematography and locations, of course.

 

Down Dog

 

Down Dog.  I think this is my best for ages.

Blackpaint

24.04.15

Blackpaint 412 – Talent and Taste and the Darkling Plain

September 19, 2013

Jonathan Yeo at the National Portrait Gallery

Saw the Culture Show programme on Yeo last night and was suitably impressed by his technical skill.  a whole bunch of political, arty and acting celebs, instantly recognisable, in a surface spectrum from creamy smooth (Sienna Miller) to Freudian fractured – assemblies of small, variegated  planes (George W Bush).

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Only when reading Yeo’s Wikipedia entry, did I discover that the Bush “variegated planes” are actually images from porn magazines, a technique that Yeo has used several times.

I think I would say the same thing about Yeo as I said about Augustus John last blog; loads of talent, dubious taste.  By that, I don’t mean the use of porn images, or painting the pregnant Sienna Miller naked; more that they seem to flatter the subjects and include little tricks and flourishes – see the Nicole Kidman above.  Apart from Bush, maybe, I can’t imagine any of his subjects being dismayed or upset at the way they have been portrayed.  Have to go and see for myself now, at the NPG.

Paul Feiler

He died this summer, when I was abroad. so I missed the obits.  The last, I think, of the 50s and 60s St. Ives generation. I considered him for a while to be the greatest living British abstract painter.  Then I “discovered” Albert Irvin – and there’s Gillian Ayres of course – but he’s still up there, I think, in terms of “the greatest” – but no longer living…

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Paul Feiler

John Bellany

Another painter recently dead is Bellany.  As utterly unlike Feiler as you could imagine, his odd figures in awkward poses remind me, a little, sometimes, of Paula Rego – and RB Kitaj in his cartoon style, Unlike Rego, he often used harsh, garish colours.

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Well, not sure about Kitaj…  Apparently, his (Bellany’s) paintings got brighter and more optimistic in tone after his liver transplant.

Old Masters, Thomas Bernhard

I recently made a facetious remark about this great book, comparing the protracted rant that it mostly is, to John Cooper Clarke’s “Evidently Chickentown” – and concluding that Clarke’s poem(?) is the greater work.  About 60% of the way through, however, certain changes begin to occur in the Bernhard book and it takes on greater depths.

Consider the following, on the uses of art after bereavement: “None of those books or writings which I had collected in the course of my life …were ultimately any use, I had been left alone by my wife and all these books and writings were ridiculous.  We think we can cling to Shakespeare or to Kant, but that is a fallacy, Shakespeare and Kant and all the rest…..let us down at the very moment when we would so badly need them, Reger said…. everything which those so-called great and important figures have thought and moreover written leaves us cold…”  So, art is no help or cure for pain – echoes of “Dover Beach” and “The Green Linnet”.

We are soon back to ranting. however; and I am gratified to find that Reger, the protagonist, believes that every great work of art is mortally flawed (see Blackpaint 387, the theory of validating crapness) and that many artists, notably El Greco, can’t do hands.  According to Reger, “El Greco’s hands all look like dirty wet face flannels”…

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Tenby, Wall to Fort

Blackpaint

19.09.13

Blackpaint 375 – Sexual Politics and the Ozenfant Coincidence

January 7, 2013

Out of sync. this week, because of the annual review, so will do a short one today and another on Thursday to get back on track.

Contre Toi

DVD of French film featuring Kristin Scott Thomas as a doctor, abducted by a young man whose wife died following childbirth attended by KST.  She is held captive in a bricked up cellar room and treated brutally – knife at throat, denied water, pushed around and eventually punched in the eye, after he tries to force her to masturbate him (he soon desists).  Naturally – it’s a French film – she soon starts to feel affection for him; he’s lonely, like her, and of course, there’s Stockholm Syndrome…

She escapes, turns the tables on him, takes him to bed wearing a very fetching slip – her, not him – so the sex we have been expecting is the inevitable pay off.  But she then turns him in.  So, interesting sexual politics; abducted, threatened, assaulted – of course, she has to fall for him.  But it’s OK, because she got free and CHOSE (sort of) to do it – and she gets him put away.  It’s written and directed by a woman, Lola Doillon.

The Ozenfant Co-incidence

I got Alasdair Gray’s Lanark for Christmas; I’d just got to the bit where Lanark meets Dr. Ozenfant when I stopped reading for the day.  Minutes later, I was reading Jane Rye’s great book on Adrian Heath and happened to see, in the notes, a reference to “Apres le cubisme” by Amedee Ozenfant and someone else.  What are the chances? Coincidence, you say;  I wonder…  then again, Gray is an artist and might well have studied or come across the book…

This is only one example of mysterious cosmic forces that I have noted – see previous Blackpaints on “The Taylor Vincent Ad”, Blackpaint’s Law of Spurious Plausibility and my convincing argument that Shakespeare was the reincarnation of Michelangelo.

Adrian Heath

Before leaving the Heath book, I was intrigued to see that, whilst teaching at Cosham, he used an exercise in which he developed a sort of abstracted landscape out of a figure drawing.  It’s a pretty common exercise apparently, and I only mention it because I find that I’ve done more or less the same thing in most of my last dozen or so paintings – maybe even more.  He does it better though.

Commenting on Heath’s practice of making preparatory drawings or sketches for his paintings, Rye writes,”This practice was certainly at odds with the ideas of the American expressionists who regarded preliminary drawing as a decadent practice incompatible with true spontaneity” (p.141).  Well,  yes, you would have thought so – but Franz Kline and de Kooning both used sketches and indeed, DK imported whole images from previous paintings.  They LOOK spontaneous though…

OK, stopping now; more on Thursday.

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Blackpaint

7.1.13

Blackpaint 328 – Raw, Astonished Ranks

March 1, 2012

de Kooning

Interesting to read in the Retrospective book that DK had a problem doing hands; in his figurative pictures, they are either concealed in some way, or presented as stylised, jagged interlocks of fingers.  Doesn’t matter, of course – but it’s nice to find out that even the geniuses have their weaknesses.   Durer, for instance, couldn’t do rhinos.

Fellini

Which brings me yet again to “And the Ship Sails On”.  Hockney mentioned it to Andrew Marr in the film about his RA exhibition; he said that the film was about the difficulties of perception, I think, or something like that:  it makes sense, in view of the deliberate undermining of illusion in the film.  The rhino, as I said, is too big and obviously polythene; the smoke from the funnels of the battleship spreads out like a ridiculous Ascot hat and doesn’t disperse; the rolling sea across which Freddie Jones rows the rhino is clearly a glittering, artificial blue-green fabric – and at the end, the camera rolls back to reveal the whole film crew at work behind a monstrous rocking platform, bearing the “ship”.  Jones, incidentally, looks for an instant, during the ash scattering scene, exactly like Fellini’s wife – something about the wistful smile and sideways glance.

Poetry 

I suppose this is obvious, but I was struck this week by the way some lines stick hard in your head, whilst others immediately sink into nothingness, even though you try to recall them.  I was trying to learn Kipling’s “Edgehill” and the phrase “raw, astonished ranks” has stuck fast.  the rest I can retain for minutes only.  I would guess that’s the case with paintings too; you remember an aspect, a patch of colour, a gesture, whatever, and retain only an impression of the rest.  This is proved to me by the number of times I’ve described a picture in this blog, then looked at it again and found I’d got it badly wrong.

All’s Well that Ends Well

Just finished reading this again and found it for the most part a tiresome experience – as opposed to seeing it done, of course; there is one notable aspect of it though, and that is the character of Parolles, who, like Toby Belch, has similarities to Falstaff – with the possible exception of Bloom, the richest character in world literature.  Parolles is a boaster, a coward, and basically everything contemptible in Elizabethan society.  He is exposed and humiliated cruelly by his soldier “comrades” – but instead of endorsing his downfall, Shakespeare gives him an almost defiant speech in which he accepts his nature and affirms his right to be as any other:  “Captain I’ll be no more;  But I will eat and drink and sleep as soft As captains shall…There’s place and means for every man alive.”

Auerbach and de Kooning

Interesting that both these artists had a high regard for the work of Chaim Soutine, the flesh painter; I wonder if Freud – yes, in the Taschen Freud, it says that he admired Soutine’s paintings of dead animals and reproduces a 1919 Soutine painting of two pheasants, which is similar to Freud’s Dead Heron of 1945.  Not really the same thing, though; I was thinking of Freud’s later naked humans.

Robert Hughes

I’ve been dismissive of Hughes’ pompous attitude to some artists, but I must say, he writes beautifully about painting; in his Auerbach, he refers to “E.O.W” (Stella West) as being “carved from a block of butter-like substance” in one picture and of figures and things being stuck like flies in jam on Auerbach’s surfaces.

Hedda Sterne

The woman at the back – and the only woman – in the famous photo of the “irascibles” , including de Kooning, Pollock, Rothko, Still and others; a presence that, sadly, she appears to be famous for, rather than her excellent and varied paintings.  Died last April, another one I missed – must have been away.  Well worth a look on Google.

A couple of pictures from my life class, and a proper one below.  Any reader in vicinity of Dartford (Kent, UK) may care to drop in to the What if..Gallery over the next 10 days and see some of my pictures, along with those of Marion Jones and Chris Grice.

Blackpaint

1/3/12

Blackpaint 289

August 20, 2011

Guggenheim Bilbao – Painterly Abstraction

Great exhibition, based on Gug’s own collection, including Ab exes, colour fielders and even minimalist/post painterly abstractionists like Frank Stella – seems to bely the title, but maybe that room wasn’t part of the main show – doesn’t matter.

Asger Jorn

A beautiful Asger entitled “Green Ballet”; usual Jorn goblin faces and globular, floating things in a green sea.  Loads of brilliant colours and textures swirling around, that made me want to go straight home and paint.

Sam Francis

“Red and Black”,  cluster of red globules, rising into a Prussian blue, then black upper field.  Also “Shining Back”, that characteristic Francis indigo, violet blue with orange, sliding/dripping down the unbleached canvas.

Jack Twarkov

“Red Lode” – fiery coals of red piled at the base; rest looks like grey-black, but on closer inspection, it contains fields of dark blue and green.

Jose Guerrero

“Signs and Portents”; awful title, but striking picture – yellow, orange, blue with black dabs, swipes and dribbles.

Corneille

“Spell of the Island” – There was a painting in the Tate Britain by Gillian Ayres a while ago that resembled the parts of a full English breakfast spread out; this Corneille looks like a giant yellow pizza with the Ayres bits gathered round and on it like toppings and side dishes.  It’s very enjoyable.

Conrad Marca-Relli

Collages produced by overlapping cuts of shaped canvas – a strange, Diebenkorn – like effect.  Never heard of him before.

More from Guggenheim next time.

Pretention

A correspondent has taken me to task for calling “Last Year in Marienbad”  pretentious;  I think all art contains pretention – difficult to see how you can make anything worthwhile without overreaching sometimes, and doing something laughable/ludicrous/ridiculous.  Sometimes you get the sublime and the ridiculous in the same work.  This especially applies to film makers – I can think of bits of both in the work of Tarkovsky, Tarr, Pasolini…  Bunuel and Fellini, of course, are both sublime at all times.

Thomas Hardy

Some great scenes in “Return of the Native”;  two men gambling frenziedly by night on the open heath – by the light of glowworms!  A secret assignation, in which the agreed sign that the man has arrived is the throwing of a moth into a candle flame!  Can you imagine arriving on time to meet your lover and then having to chase moths around until you find one slow enough…

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Re-reading this for the first time since 1989, and I think there is clear evidence that Shakespeare lost interest and wanted to get on to the next play.  Proteus is about to rape Silvia (Valentine’s beloved) when he is prevented – but he says sorry to Valentine.  I’m paraphrasing here, as you might guess, but Valentine’s reaction boils down to; “Oh well, if you’re sorry, that’s OK – let’s be friends again and you can have her.”  Lots of phrases that foreshadow Romeo and Juliet.

 

Yes, the fingers are part of this work.

Blackpaint

19.08.11

Blackpaint 217

November 9, 2010

Michelangelo and Shakespeare

There is a growing body of evidence that Shakespeare was the re-incarnation of Michelangelo.  Consider the following facts:

  • Michelangelo died on 18th February 1564 and Shakespeare was born (possibly) on 23rd April 1564.  The two month gap was necessary to re-process the potentiality of the soul (Italian to English, painter/sculptor/architect to dramatist/poet).
  • Both men are broadly acknowledged to have been geniuses.
  • Both men were allegedly homosexual (disputed in Shakespeare’s case, but strong circumstantial evidence in the Sonnets).
  • Both were poets – although Shakespeare  was the better one, of course.
  • Both M. and S. were attacked by jealous rivals; Michelangelo by Aretino, Shakespeare by Greene.

There are some difficulties with the theory, however.  They are as follows:

  • M. was Italian, S. was English – as far as we know.  Not a great deal is known for sure about Shakespeare and he wrote a lot about Italy – Romeo and Juliet, Two Gentlemen, Merchant, Othello, etc.
  • Although both were poets, Shakespeare was not a visual artist,  as far as we know.  He could well have been good at drawing, but have chosen to concentrate on his plays.
  • The theory violates all known laws of physics and biology – but then, so do all mainstream religions.
  • The theory is quite plausible, but not overly so;  therefore it does not violate Blackpaint’s Law of Spurious Plausibility (see Blackpaint 165, July 11, 2010).

A couple of notes on Michelangelo’s Last Judgement:

The “breeches painter”, Daniele da Volterra,  painted 34 loincloths or strategically- placed bits of fabric on M’s nudes in the Last Judgement.

St. Catherine’s pose, leaning forward over her half-wheel, was described as “lascivious” by Gian Paolo Lomazzo.

There are two couples kissing at the top of the LJ;  again, M. was criticised by Lomazzo for this.  Actually, they look like males to me.

Spurious Similarities

1.  Lisa Yuskavage and John Curtin

The first does tousled, Marilyn -like young women in negligees; Curtin does strange, elongated, cartoonish women (and men) often in underwear and sometimes engaged in sex..

2.  Jose Toirac and Luc Tuymans

Both do hazy, smeary, touched-up B&W photo-style pictures of famous/notorious figures; Castro, Lumumba,  Bormann…

3.  Monique Prieto and Gary Hume

It’s the paint; bright household pastel shades.

George Shaw

Not like anyone I can think of – just wanted to mention him.  Dark, dull, damp, sinister sheds and fences and bungalows and ditches, all painted in Humbrol enamel paints; they look like places where bodies are discovered.

Quiz

Who painted the skating clergyman?  Too easy, really.

 

Blackpaint 9/11/10