Posts Tagged ‘St.Ives’

Blackpaint 287

July 22, 2011

Lucian Freud

What a staggering photograph by David Dawson in today’s Guardian, of Freud working, stripped to the waist, in 2005;  his torso looks to me exactly like one of his own (Freud’s) paintings.  By contrast, another crass assertion by Adrian Searle that, next to Freud, Hockney and Howard Hodgkin are “artistic pygmies”; fair enough to think that, but not without argument.  Searle merely asserts that Freud’s art “has authority” (presumably Hockney and Hodgkin lack that quality) and follows it up with anecdotes about his assertive (boorish, aggressive?) behaviour.  He once painted himself with a black eye after getting into a punch up with a taxi driver.

For my money, his best pictures were the portrait of a young Francis Bacon, the picture of Harry Diamond standing next to the aspidistra and the portrait, elongated and looking down, of Frank Auerbach.  Also, that great, porridge-y, self portrait, naked apart from the boots.

I’d have hoped for some comparison with Auerbach, too; seems logical as they are both painters of flesh and Grand Old Men.

St.Ives

The BBC4 film Art in Cornwall, fronted by James Fox, got another airing last night; it was 90 minutes long and good on Wallis, Nicolson, Hepworth, Wood, Gabo, Lanyon and Heron.  Not enough on Frost, nothing on Hilton, Blow, Mackenzie, Wynter…  Surely, it should have been two 90 minute programmes to get it all in.  Still, better than nothing…

Lanyon

The film was pretty good on Peter Lanyon, and sent me straight back to my books to look at him again.  The sweep and energy in the paintings, surf exploding, sunlight blinding, flight lines, roughness, scoring of rocks, concealed figures (Lost Mine and Porthleven), those fantastic murals at Liverpool and Birmingham universities…  Why isn’t he rated as highly as Freud and Bacon?  Too abstract for the figuratives, and too landscape-y for the abstractionists, I suppose.

Tarkovsky and Tarr

Both of these directors clearly have a thing about rain –  I’m watching Tarkovsky’s “Nostalgia” at the moment, and great, soaking deluges are pouring down, often shot through with dazzling light that separates out the individual falling drops.  Derelict brick and cement buildings are a favourite, with great holes in the roof that admit torrents.  Often, as with Tarr, dogs are wandering about, usually German Shepherds in Tarkovsky’s case.  The difference between the two is one of mood; Tarr’s deluges pour down on glum village streets or mud roads and shabby blocks of flats; Tarkovsky’s downpours in Nostalgia, Stalker and Mirror tend to be more – well, nostalgic in mood.

 

 

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Blackpaint

22/07/11

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 189

September 8, 2010

Michelangelo

Vasari points out that the figure of Jonah on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is actually leaning backwards, against the direction of the vault on which it is painted, giving the trompe l’oeil effect by means of foreshortening.  Amazing, when you consider the difficulty of painting quickly, onto wet plaster, big drop below from the rickety scaffolding, looking upwards, one hand stretched and working above his head, paint dripping back into his face and eyes.  This is how he sketched himself at work, not lying on his back as in the film.  How could he have done it, without checking it from a distance to make sure the proportions were right?  (imagine, do a leg, down the ladders to check, shit, too short – up again to change it quick before it dries – shit, too late). 

Presumably, he’d sketched it out on paper or linen (?) and pricked it, held against the curve of the vault – couldn’t have done it without pre-prepared sketches, surely.

The St.Ives Artists by Michael Bird, Lund Humphries 2008

Didn’t credit this great book properly the other day, when I repeated the Terry Frost pissing story (Barbara Hepworth rang a little bell when she wanted her labourers to make themselves scarce).  It’s full of other stories about this remarkable wild bunch – Lanyon punching other artists out, trying – allegedly –  to run down Sven Berlin in his car – but is also great on the movement, if it could be so called, in general and its links to the US Ab Exes and European Abstractionists and Tachistes.  My advice is to buy it immediately.  No, I am not Michael Bird, nor do I know him.

Fiona Rae and Ernst Wilhelm Nay 

Latest in “slightly like” series: actually, think I’ve compared FR to someone else before – anyway, check out her “Untitled (yellow with circles I)”; very like many Nays, in her use of sweeps and circles.  Hers look like 45 rpm singles, his are usually painted discs.  Superficial, and hardly worth a mention – but take a look at both on Google, if only to see how wrong I am; that will be worth it.

Black Prints by Blackpaint

Listening to The Welfare Line, by the Highwaymen;

“So pass around the bottle, boys, let’s talk about old times,

Night’s closing in, it’s cold as sin,

Here on the welfare line”.

Blackpaint 48

January 24, 2010

Abstract Expressionism

Following Friday night’s “automatic” painting session, tried it again last night; predictably, no success.  I remained very conscious of what I was trying to achieve throughout the night and the result was very disappointing.  A bluey-green, grey, white and very black mess of a picture, a sort of childlike imitation of what I got on Friday without the natural feel of it.  I’ll have to work on it in the normal way to try and make a fist of it.

Joycean Novels 

By chance, I’m reading three books at the moment which all claim influence from Joyce: Berlin Alexanderplatz by Doblin, Manhattan Transfer (which the blurb also compares to Berlin Alexanderplatz) by Dos Passos and At Swim-Two-Birds, by Flann O’Brien.  With the first two, so far, the influence seems manifest mostly in the use of portmanteau words and sections of newspapers, official reports and adverts.  O’Brien’s book is the closest to Joyce, the first 30 or so pages containing dialogue and prose style that could have come straight from the “Cyclops” and the “Oxen of the Sun” chapters of Ulysses. 

The Flann O’Brien is also the source of the best sentence I have read today: “Kelly then made a low noise and opened his mouth and covered the small man from shoulder to knee with a coating of unpleasant buff -coloured puke.”

Or I thought this the best, until reading the Observer, I found this, under the sub heading: “overweight Britons resort to liposuction”:  “During the same period the average amount of fat taken out (by liposuction) rose from 687ml in 2000 to 1.05  litres last year.  The 2000 litres of body fat removed in 2009 are the equivalent of what a typical chip shop uses in a year to fry its fish and chips.”

Surely, there’s an opportunity here for an enterprising conceptual artist to explore a new material, perhaps asking questions about body image, norms of beauty and so on.  Someone’s probably already done it.

Tate Britain

Went there this afternoon – some “new” sculpture in the main hall: Richard Deacon, a doughnut shaped bulb of pewter-like steel plates, squashed in, as if sat on by a giant; Rachel Whiteread, a set of what looked like concrete toasters, set up like dominoes; William Tucker, a long pipe twisted into improbable loops; Tony Cragg, a multi-shelved cabinet stocked with sand-blasted white bottles and vases; someone else’s long, thick rope, snaking through a chicane of tall, soft “traffic cones”.  In a side room, a giant rock which from a distance resembled honeycomb or Father Jack’s earwax – but, close up, turned out, (disappointingly) to be knitted wool.

St. Ives  

The Lanyons, Herons, Hiltons, Blow (only one- why?) looked as good as ever; when will the Tate have a big exhibition of St.Ives stuff, giving Sandra Blow and Barnes-Graham etc. their due?

Listening to “El Paso Blues” by Big Joe Williams;

“Didja get the letter I throwed in your backyard?

I’d a come home, baby, but your good man had me barred,

Oh babe, baby don’t you wanta go….”

Blackpaint

24.01.10