Posts Tagged ‘Sigmar Polke’

Blackpaint 569 – Vikings, Toby and Wifredo Lam

September 23, 2016

Oslo –  Astrup Fearnley Museum

Why was Blackpaint in Norway?  For the Oslo Marathon, of course.  Since you ask, it was hot, hilly like Helsinki last year and there are roadworks everywhere.  At one point, the route went over a cinder track through a huge building site and into and round a container park – and then back again for another interesting visit, later in the run.

Anyway, the Astrup Fearnley is a private museum on the quayside. very swish area, big sports cars around; two floors of stuff, downstairs Hirst’s bisected cow and calf under glass – made me think of Skip James’ Little Cow and Calf Blues – an Emin tapestry with words, a Rachel Whiteread, a blue Malcolm Morley poster painting, a great, smeary grey Christopher Wool, a Kitaj and a couple of Helen Martins and a Sibony as a reminder of the Venice Biennale.

Upstairs,  80’s German Expressionists, as below:

 

kippenberger

Martin Kippenberger – Sick Egg Boy

 

sigmar-polke

Sigmar Polke – 3 Apparitions.  These are huge, whole wall size.  There are others by Lupertz, Eichendorff and especially Kiefer – a shelf of huge, grey leaden “books” and one of those lead plaques with little girl’s dress and shoes embedded.

 

mystery1

Knut Rose – I Kulturlandskap

 

mystery2

Bjorn Carlsen – Suicide.

Locals, I guess, from the names; I just like the colours, really.  The Carlsen strikes me as a cross between Matisse and Kitaj’s cartoon style.   Great modern building, an hour’s visit to see the lot.

Toby Young 

For some reason, a large number of (male) Oslo residents strongly resemble the Tory “free school” activist; not, perhaps, the stereotype which springs to mind when we think of the Norse Sagas…

young

Young

viking

Viking

 

Wifredo Lam, the EY Exhibition, Tate Modern

Yes, I always thought it was Wilfredo – and so it should have been, but it was misspelt when his birth was registered, it appears.

lam

I found the Lam to be a disappointment.  Very strong Picasso influence, especially Minotaur and Guernica; very colourless – where colour used to any extent, sort of all colours, as if random and pastel-y; almost an anthroposophical look, in loose, slanting strokes.  Overwhelmingly black, white, beige; spiky (like Sutherland), fork tines, wheels, swords, knives, ploughshares, small round heads/faces, physical discombobulation.  Lots of ritual figures, Santoria, Yoruba.  It livened up for me a bit when he stayed with Jorn at Albissola – I liked “The Brush” – totally uncharacteristic, spatters all over it.  A setof smaller framed works, on paper I think, figures in which recall Bruegel and Bosch.

In the first room, a couple of peasant portraits and a self portrait show what a fabulous draughstman he was.  So, influences and resemblances: Picasso overwhelmingly, Sutherland, Picabia maybe, Bruegel, Jorn…

yellow one 2

Yellow Runner

I know, it’s an old one.

Blackpaint

23.9.16

Advertisements

Blackpaint 468 – Widerberg’s Spacemen, Kirchner’s Women, Vampires and Incest

November 8, 2014

Frans Widerberg at Kings Place

Paintings that show elongated, naked humanoids with big feet, sometimes on horseback, in a circle holding hands, under the stars and heavenly lights; it’s a sort of world of aliens, faintly reminiscent of the Bowie spaceman in “the Man who Fell to Earth” (although I imagine Widerberg’s came first).  The palette is pretty much as shown below – primary, crude, a flat, poisonous yellow and violet blue the main colours.  The execution of the figures is also rough and intentionally (?) crude.

The blurb describes him as one of the most important Norwegian figurative painters since Munch – I can’t stand the colours and the spacemen, but then I hate Munch’s pictures too.  Maybe one or two might be OK, like a Kirkeby or Polke, as part of a bigger work, with a big dollop of irony (somehow, though, I don’t think Widerberg’s pictures have anything to do with irony); but dozens of them…

 

widerberg

Kirchner

I’ve said it before, but I think Kirchner’s long, elegant, insect-like women are beautiful.  I was reading the Hagens’ “What Great Paintings Say” (Taschen)  on Kirchner’s “Potsdamer Platz” and was intrigued to discover the reason for their sedate and dignified appearance: there was an ordinance in force in Berlin that prohibited prostitutes from displaying any untoward behaviour.  They could parade legally, provided they did it with decorum; presumably, the clients had to make the first move.

kirchner - berlin street scene

 

Ian McEwan – The Cement Garden and First Love, Last Rites 

Having read most of his recent books, I’ve got round to the earliest; a very different McEwan from the one who creates the middle-class professional characters of “Saturday” or “The Children Act”.  I was actually thinking  he might have trouble getting them published, if he were an unknown today.  Graphic – but not erotic –  scenes of incest and sexual abuse of a young girl by an older sibling in “Homegrown” (Last Rites)  might not make it into print, unless they were in a misery memoir.

Then I read about the attacks in the right-wing US media on Lena Dunham, for her description of examining her little sister’s vagina (as a child) and finding pebbles there.  It’s obviously supposed to be funny, but the critics call it sexual child abuse.  I wonder what they would make of McEwan’s early fiction.

Andrew Graham – Dixon’s The Art of Gothic, BBC4

AGD did Dracula this week; his thesis was that the vampire was a metaphor for burgeoning capitalism, sucking the blood of the workers of the world.  He quoted from Marx, describing capitalism in that way – but was unable to come up with a similar quotation from Bram Stoker, which might have helped his case.  He did link Stoker with the Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland, so Count Dracula in Transylvania, feeding parasitically on his peasant tenants, could be seen as kin to Anglo-Irish landlords – but I think this analysis is basically spurious.  AGD didn’t mention Dracula’s predilection for invading the bedrooms of young women and feasting on their blood – no, it’s not about sex, it’s about capitalism.  Not convinced.

Painting

Haven’t got a new painting to show, so a couple of life studies to go on with.

??????????

 

 

 

 

??????????

 Sonia with a Big Ball 1 & 2

Blackpaint

8.11.14

Blackpaint 466 – Sigmar’s Laundry, Egon’s frogs, Will’s Erection

October 26, 2014

Sigmar Polke at Tate Modern;

Some small paintings and collages, but a lot of huge ones.  Generally, dull but intense colours; sounds like a contradiction, but what I mean is that the colours are deep but they don’t glow – they’re deadened, somehow and many are on browning paper or newsprint.  Deep blues, reds and greens, several deep dark violet/indigo paintings that change as you move in relation to them (Chris Ofili maybe saw them).  The dots are there, as you can see below, often splotchy and uneven, intentionally so, of course.

sigmar polke 1

Several of the collages are composed of pretty tame cut-outs from old soft porn magazines and there are a couple of big “sex” paintings – two women wringing out a huge, towel – like, limp penis and another of a man giving rear action to a face- down woman in a laundry room.

There is  a room of Auschwitz/Berlin Wall watchtowers against banal, wallpaper backgrounds; this one against a flock of geese.

 

sigmar polke 2

There is a big print-like painting with a horned devil, amongst many other things; and some Richter-y  “Nazi family” type photoprints with the dots – and the old resin covered pictures… and much more.  Somehow, not as playful as previous Polke shows I remember…

Schiele at the Courtauld

William Boyd was right about the quality of these drawings and paintings.  They are all pretty small, mostly A2 or less, I think.   However, they are staggeringly assured, varied in execution and full of little presentational devices like the white border around the picture below and the strange positions of the figures on the page.  Some of them lie forming an inner frame to the picture, or are tucked in a corner, or have feet or head cut off by the edge of the page.  You get the impression that he drew fast and aggressively, making no errors (bet that’s wrong).  The first couple, of a young girl and a small child look like Marlene Dumas without the blurring.  The child is podgy – but there’s not much podge around in the rest of the exhibition.  The males, particularly, are stick-thin and flayed, with thick bristles on their legs and around their penises – they brought to my mind frogs, pinned out on a dissection table.  the legs look sort of crunchy…

Euan Uglow and maybe Jenny Savile were the other artists that occurred to me, from the purple, brown and green colours used on the torsos and limbs; like maps, sometimes.  Fabulous, strange, explicit drawings – I wonder what he would have gone on to do if he hadn’t been killed by the flu epidemic.

schiele2.

Also at the Courtauld – 

In the Medieval Room, a predella by Borghese di Piero, one of which see below; glowing reds, orange and carmine maybe – I’m hopeless on colours – used in a strange representation of the trial of Sts. Julitta and Quiricus.  Up there with Duccio, we think.

 

borghese

 

Shark, Will Self 

I’m starting to like the challenge; Self has just brought Ulysses in, in the form of an erection he characterises as stately, plump Buck Mulligan (not his own erection, by the way, but one of his character’s).  You don’t get that in Proust – or not so far (10% now).

 

 

010

 

Target for Tonight

Blackpaint

26.10.14

Blackpaint 345 – Doc, Ray, Sigmar, Bela, Fred and Ginger

June 7, 2012

Two heroes gone this week –

Doc Watson

Listen to “Stack O’ Lee” and Alabama Bound”  on  “Ballads from Deep Gap”, with his son Merle accompanying him – country guitar playing beyond adequate description..

And…

Ray Bradbury

I’ve blogged about him before (see Blackpaints 41, 149, 170 ) and recently re-read seven of his short story books – I wrote down four, then counted them up; Silver Locusts, Small Assassin [Dark Carnival}, October Country, Illustrated Man, Golden Apples of the Sun, Dandelion Wine, Day it Rained Forever.  Easy to see his influence on Stephen King, which is a good thing – but then there’s the 1920s whimsical nostalgia; straw hats, striped blazers, bonnets, park bandstands, sarsaparilla, shades of Dick Van Dyke.  This can be wearing but it’s interspersed with real creepiness, malice and horror.  The Small Assassin for example, an intelligent, malign baby that murders its mother; the undertaker who abuses his clients in the mortuary and eventually gets his comeuppance; the Catacombs.  Best of all, I like “the Lake” from “The October Country” – an air of real melancholy.  I think it might be his earliest published story.

And back to art.

Sigmar Polke

Polke is an artist about whom I have written very little; the reason, I think, is that his work is so diverse, it’s difficult to get a handle on it.  If, for instance, you take four Polke pictures from Taschen’s “Contemporary Art” (1990), you find them completely different from each other.  “The Computer Moves In”, paint or ink sprayed on a photographic print (?) of someone seated at a computer station, on a pixelled background; “Camp 82”, a barbed-wire Auschwitz corridor between concrete fence posts and spot lights, under a baleful, dirty, grey/orange sky; and “Alice” – white outline drawing of Alice and the hookah-smoking caterpillar on his mushroom, on a background of white spots and green “football” wallpaper.  They are all from the early 80’s; “Socks”, from 1962, is a painting in varnish of three long brown socks laid out as if for display- it looks just like a Wayne Thiebaud.

The text makes great play of his light sense of irony and this lightness is maybe another thing that distinguishes him from other German artists of the period…

Picasso 

At the Tate Britain show of P’s influences on British artists, there were one or two startling, early Impressionist-style paintings that were impossible to recognise as Picassos.  The Rotterdam Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum apparently has another.  It is called “Woman at the Table Outside a Cafe”, from 1901.  A woman in a beautiful grey-green dress, in a cape and enormous white feather hat; red lips, challenging expression, slightly caricature-ish.  Apparently, she is an “old prostitute”, according to the catalogue.  The picture suggests Lautrec, or maybe Van Dongen (love that name).

Richard Pare

The sweeping “S” shape of the balustrade in the “Chekist Housing Scheme” stairwell, photographed in Moscow by Pare in 1999 and shown in the RA’s recent “Building the Revolution” show.  It’s exactly the sort of thing Fred and Ginger might have danced down in “Top Hat” or “Swing Time”. 

The Turin Horse

It’s all there; the relentless weather (wind this time), the pitch-dark, painterly interiors, the textures, the repetition, the dressing and undressing, the small actions performed in their entirety, no editing – the hot potatoes, eaten with burnt fingers, lips and mouths (cutlery not needed in Tarrland), the drinking of Palinka…  But then there is the beauty and sharpness of the images.  When the girl wrestles the well cover off, I was waiting for the Japanese girl to emerge…  The photographer is called Fred Keleman; he should get a mention – and of course, there is Vig, who writes and performs(?) the necessarily relentless accordion theme.  I don’t really care what it all means – it’s mesmerising.. but best in small doses.

Blackpaint

7/05/12

Blackpaint 153

June 17, 2010

Sigmar Polke

Obit in the Guardian.  Like Gerhard Richter, in the sense that his work was so diverse it’s hard to get a handle on it all.  I remember an exhibition at the Hayward, I think, maybe five(?) years ago; he was using lots of hard resins that gave his work a mirror effect.  There was one of a Taliban or Al Quaida horseman like a cartoon.  I’ll have to look into him more closely, now that he’s dead (seems to go like that to me, that an artist acquires status by dying).

Rude Britannia

The exhibition, and watching the BBC4 programmes, brought to mind an interview I saw recently, of Martin Rowson.  I’d thought of him (along with Scarfe and Steadman, but maybe even more than these two) as the natural heir of Rowlandson – the similar name seemed fitting too.  Of all modern cartoonists, he seemed to be the one willing to go the farthest, in terms of public figures up to their necks in shit, or tongues up backsides.

I was surprised, then, when he said (I think) that the Danish cartoons of Allah shouldn’t have been published, or should have been censored, on the grounds that they were an attack on the weak in a society by the strong.  He then said that, later, when the furore and the murder(s) and the deaths of rioters had occurred, the cartoons SHOULD have been published then, because the events had caused the pendulum to swing the other way.  I hope I’ve got this right; quite a complex position.

I was intrigued to hear a cartoonist like Rowson speak in favour of censorship of material which attacks religion, on the grounds that the attack constitutes an attack on the adherents, and the adherents are vulnerable.  Is he equating the Danish cartoons with, say, anti-semitic cartoons in 30’s Germany?  I was also surprised to hear that he’d toned down a cartoon at the request of an editor – he’d moved a politician’s – Blair’s, I think – he’d moved  the tongue a little  further away from a backside (Bush’s no doubt).  So – savage, but not  so savage.

Pontormo

Saw Andrew Graham – Dixon last night, on Vasari.  He spent some time on Pontormo. and showed two huge paintings by the same, on the spot in some church in Italy (wasn’t paying that much attention, I’m afraid).  I sat up at this, however, because they didn’t look anything like the Pontormos that I’ve seen in the National Gallery.  If I remember rightly, they made up a series of paintings relating to Joseph at the court of Pharaoah – the dreams, the execution of the butler and freeing of the baker – or was it the other way round? 

Anyway, what I remember mostly was the colours; a rich pinkish red, grey and rich pale blue were dominant.  The colour in the paintings that AGD was talking about looked completely different.  I wonder if its to do with the cleaning process; the NG cleaned up all its early paintings about ten years ago, I think.

Michelangelo

AGD said that M. was the first artist to portray God (the Judeo-Christian version), in the Sistine Chapel.  Not according to Wikipedia, which gives a number of forerunners to Mich in this respect.  See tomorrow.

Headroom

Blackpaint

17.06.10