Posts Tagged ‘Stuart Brisley’

Blackpaint 490 – Geometrics in Fulham, History at the Hayward, Missile on the Verandah

April 12, 2015

Remembering Poetry

I’ve been reading the Four Quartets for the first time (why did Eliot call them that?  They’re each in five parts.  Is it that there are four of them and they go together to make a whole?  But then they would be one quartet, surely…).

Anyway, after reading them through a couple of times with the assistance of the notes of Hermann Servotte and then reading them again right through, I set out to write down what I remembered.  It went something like this:

The briar and the rose….brown edges of swimming pool….wounded surgeon….ruined millionaire…..dove…..Pentecostal fire…….frost and fire……”Yet being someone Other”……..broken king…….”Zero summer”…..blah, blah, blah….brown baked face…..jaws of sea……tin leaves……winter lightning….. You get the point; what you remember in the first instance is concrete images, plus a few memorable phrases (which might stick, like “zero summer”, because you’ve no idea what they mean).

I should say I loved the poems and thoroughly recommend them – I’m sure this TS Eliot will go far.

“From Centre”; Loud and Western building, 65 Broughton Road, London SW6, until 26th April

A pop-up exhibition of clean-cut, texture-free geometric abstract painting and sculpture.  The great venue, an old works of some sort, being converted into flats, I should think; very white, wooden staircases, lovely balcony and some great abstracts.

 

from centre 1

No.317, Fold, 2012 – Rana Begum 

Paint on powder-coated mild steel.

 

from centre 2

 Polymorph, 2013 – Natalie Dower

For some reason, I thought these were young artists; then I checked the biogs.  Natalie Dower is 84; others include Tess Jaray (b.1937), Trevor Sutton (b.1948), Peter Lowe (b.1938)… Begum (b.1977) is a mere child.  Some fantastic work from major artists, and free.  We paid a voluntary fiver for the excellent booklet.

“History is Now: 7 Artists Take on Britain (Hayward Gallery)

Actually, six different takes, since the Wilson sisters go together.  It’s really more like journalism or history with a lot of art objects, than an art exhibition.  There’s a Bristol Bloodhound surface-to-air missile on the verandah, for instance; where would you see something like that in an art exhibition?  Well, there were Fiona Banner’s planes in the Tate a couple of years ago…

The artists are Simon Fujiwara – a group of objects of significance to the artist, including a huge slice of coal, Meryl Streep’s Margaret Thatcher costume from a film, a Hockney Ipad enlargement;

The Wilsons – political conflicts, including Greenham Women, Northern Ireland, social and political movements – look out for Penelope Slinger’s surrealist feminist photos, Stuart Brisley’s cage of gloves (looks like it should be about Auschwitz – actually, each glove represents 66,000- odd unemployed) and the Pasmores;

stuart brisley

Stuart Brisley

Roger Hioorn – BSE/CJD and Scrapie; horrifying subject, mostly film and newspaper reports, with some rather tangential stuff, for example, a Lygia Clark sculpture that just happens to resemble a prion;

John Akomfrah – film, including Gilbert and George, Francis Bacon and Barbara Hepworth;

Hannah Starkey – photographs, notably Chris Killip, Bill Brandt, Martin Parr.

Richard Wentworth – great wartime, Festival of Britain, 50s and 60s stuff – Paul Nash, Paolozzi, Ben Nicholson, Tony Cragg, Eagle Annuals, early Penguins and Pelicans.

tony cragg

 Tony Cragg

Britain from the North

 

Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer)

OK, I understand she (Scarlett Johansson) is an alien lifeform, acquiring skins from unwary Scottish blokes; but who is the motorcyclist and how did the Tesco man escape, if only temporarily? and why did she have to kill the Czech man in the wetsuit?  Horrible attempted rape scene.

 

Painting

Getting nowhere except the Slough of Despond with my current effort – maybe I’ll chuck some bright paint on the canvas and ride my bike over it, and call it Aphrodite at the Waterhole…except Tony Hancock’s already used that (see “The Rebel” – essential viewing for artists).

work in prog 1

Work in progress???

Blackpaint

12.4.15

 

 

 

 

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Blackpaint 376 – Naked Wallowing and a Brown Smudge

January 10, 2013

A Bigger Splash at Tate Modern

Second review of this exhibition, which I only got half-way round the first time.  I wrote then about Yves Klein orchestrating his women body-printing on paper and the film of Jackson Pollock painting “Summertime”.  Niki de Saint Phalle, looking beautiful as she fires a rifle at her white plaster dummy to release dribbles of brilliant paint; Pinot Gallizio’s loom with the long random print spooling out; photos of Shiraga preparing to bombard his huge canvas with paint bombs and the thickly plastered, surprisingly effective result of one of his missions; the “shocking” photos of Herman Nitsch, Otto Muhl and their associates in the Viennese Actionists, wallowing naked in animal blood, fake(?) ordure, slithery piles of – organic matter; Stuart Brisley, doing something similar but in a more acrobatic fashion against the wall and floor in the corner of a house or studio (the result looking quite good – like to have seen it for real).

Then the women and drag artists who transform their faces and bodies and adopt personas:  Valli Export ,Cindy Sherman and others, mugging at the camera, painted and disguised to exhibit themselves as art objects.  Thus far, I made it last time.

The second half of the exhibition is about the creation of environments and performances within these.  The most striking exhibit is the Cocteau bedroom, a sort of sky-blue, dreamlike room, created by Marc Camille Chaimowicz, and fitted out with paintings and objects that Cocteau might have liked(!) – Vuillard, Duncan Grant, but also a Warhol electric chair print.  Very camp but probably right for Cocteau.  In the same vein, Karen Kilimnik’s “Swan Lake”; a bedroom, dressing table bathed in electric, mauve-ish light, objets again, recording of Swan Lake on a loop and, for some reason, an overpowering musty pong around this exhibit; part of the exhibition or left by some other visitor?

There are more such exhibits from Joan Jonas, Guy de Cointet and others.

It felt to me like two different exhibitions stuck together – the action stuff at the beginning and the theatrical rooms and sets in the second bit – with, maybe, the self-transforming crew providing a bridge between the two.  Hockney’s inclusion initially mystified me; not only “inclusion” really, given the title of the exhibition!  The explanation in the little free booklet you get is that “Hockney’s paintings – hung in homes and galleries – act in the film (Jack Hazan’s documentary “a Bigger Splash”) as a provisional stage set.  They create an environment that seems to encourage the self-consciously flamboyant behaviour of the artist and his associates…”.  I’m not convinced by this, but it’s a rich exhibition, lots of interesting spectacle and there is enough content for several visits; pity it’s not free.

Jonathan Jones and Titian

A startlingly upbeat and assertive report in the Guardian on Tuesday from the above critic, about a portrait of one Girolamo Fracastoro, which the National Gallery has owned for years, but has just decided  is definitely a Titian, and not just an “attributed to”.  Nicholas Penny, the director of the NG, has no doubt it is a Titian – neither does Jones, it appears.  If it is a Titian, it means the NG now has “the finest collection of Titians in the world”.  Jones refers to discoveries in the restoration lab about “the canvas and  technique” which “blaze the name of Titian”.  The only detail of these discoveries that Jones describes relates to the fur collar: “we are feasting our eyes on a flecked mist of white, gold, brown and black, a virtuoso, nearly abstract(?) performance which has all the magic of Titian.  With joyous freedom and a casual command of fluffy gossamer colours, the master sensualist has recreated the richness of a lynx fur on Fracastoro’s shoulders”.  After this flight, reminiscent of Daily Telegraph advertising, Jones has this bathetic quote from Penny: “The great thing about the lynx is that it has got this brown smudge as well as black and white”.

I was at an exhibition just about a year ago, at the National Gallery, which was entitled “Fakes”.  It highlighted works that had been wrongly attributed, cut up and stitched together or were outright  fakes and quoted surprising estimates of the number of errors and fakes undetected in galleries and museums worldwide.  Big change in outlook at the National Gallery, then, and Jonathan Jones obviously approves.

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Blackpaint

10/01/13

Blackpaint 293

September 8, 2011

Michael Craig-Martin’s Oak Tree

I’ve seen this at the Tate Britain many times, of course, but I read the interview extract on the wall for the first time yesterday – it reminded me of a Peter Cook interview.  The oak tree appears to you and I to be a glass of water, set on a shelf high up the wall.  According to MCM, it became an oak tree when he chose to exhibit it as such.  It is not a symbol or a metaphor – it is an oak tree, currently in the form of a glass of water.  It will cease to be an oak tree, if and when MCM decides that it is no longer one.  He isn’t asked what will happen when he dies; will it remain an oak tree (although appearing to be a glass of water) or will it revert?  What if a careless attendant were to spill it and refill the “glass” with water?  Would he know?

Don McCullin

There is a roomful of B&W photographs by McCullin, at the moment; landscapes, rural and industrial, tramps and drinkers in the East End in 1969, GIs and East German police in 60s Berlin.  The landscapes are almost too beautiful, in the sense of composition – a shot along a water-filled ditch, thorn trees lining it, black against an awesome sky; snow-covered fields under a winter sky, on Hadrian’s Wall – the ditch a bit Bela Tarr.  A woman wheels a pram across the shot, slag heaps and chimneys in the distance, soot or coal dust covering everything; despite the open-air setting and the distance, I found this and the other industrial shots oddly “enclosed”, almost claustrophobic – reminded me of that Baltermans photograph of distraught Russian women, finding the bodies of their murdered men on the Russian steppe.

But the tramp photos are the most remarkable; they are covered with dirt, stunned and staring, almost roasted by the open air and hard living.  Two of the faces have to be seen to be believed; they look Shakespeareian.

Dismembered Bodies

I think the room is called this, or something like it.  At Bilbao Guggenheim this summer, a lot of sculptures – Kiki Smith, Robert Gober – could have fit in here.  There is a video by Bonnie Camplin and Paulina Orlowska that I watched several times through; it was a series of cut-outs of two women, dancing to jumpy music and I became hooked on the bit where the black floor seemed to be sucked up into the bottom of the one on the left.  Other artists – John Slezacker’s cut – ups and a wooden piece by Enrico David that looked like cut – outs of the Beatles with dowelling penises thrusting horizontally out.  Also, something that looked like a tall, roughly-made, cardboard guillotine.

Stuart Brisley

A series of photos of a long ago happening in which Brisley lay on the cement ground in a park and revolved, drawing with chalk as he did so.  Then he repeated the action with white paint, then black paint until his body in the photo resembled an oil-drenched corpse, partly dismembered…   Then he jumped in a lake.

Chelsea MA Show

Striking videos by Adam Frank Walker in the film theatre; the first, called “Flat Screen-Hackney” I think, was filmed during the recent riots.  There were striking close-ups of participants, fronting up to the police, taunting them, chucking rocks, carrying off a flat screen.  Film jerky, episodic, occasionally washed out in a blaze of yellow or red.  If he filmed it himself, he must have been at risk – maybe it was a compilation from TV or internet?  Second was “Everyday fucking art” (or maybe “Accidental art”); a snarling, smoking man yelling out of the screen in a Notts or Derbyshire accent, in answer to unprovoking questions from the unseen filmmaker,  Finally, another angry man, apparently a flatmate, threatening to “rip your fucking head off if you do that with the camera again” – or similar words.  I went to Walker’s website to read up on him but I couldn’t understand most of it.

Not nice, but effective – like rappers snarling and poking fingers out of a TV screen at you. The films make you feel first uncomfortable then angry, so that you want to punch back.  Any still from any of the films would be powerful; I thought they linked up with the McCullin tramp photos, especially the everyday artist.

 

Blackpaint

8.09.11

Blackpaint 232

December 20, 2010

Paul Morley

“Novelists are having a hard time, because reality is writing its own fiction”, said Paul Morley on Newsnight Review.  In the usual melee, no-one commented or asked him what he meant (presumably something like truth is stranger than fiction).

Tate Britain, again

It seems to be in a state of flux at the moment; a couple of totally empty rooms and I’m not sure if that Vaughan/Bacon/Auerbach room is even still there.  Some interesting stuff up, though:

  • Gary Hume – a grasshopper thing in enamel paint on a panel, turquoise and chocolate.
  • Bill Woodrow – an assemblage entitled “Car door, Ironing Board and Twin Tub, with North American Indian Head Dress”.  Which is exactly what it is.
  • Peter Kennard – cartoons and Pluto Press book covers.   Bunches of US and Russian missiles clenched together; The Haywain with mounted missiles, Cruise I think;  a miner with an X ray image of his chest superimposed on real chest;  Thatcher as Queen Victoria.
  • Conrad Atkinson – photos of the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the 70s and 80s, wall paintings, posters, street scenes.
  • Stuart Brisley – 70s photographs of Brisley, seated in a squalid, derelict room in semi-darkness, a record of a 17 hour installation concerned with the stripping of identity.
  • Keith Piper, “Go West Young Man” – slavery, lynching, racial phobia, fear and loathing in heavy black posters.
  • Linder – female images with paper being peeled like skin from the face of model.
  • Judy Clarke – photographic close up images of skin on feet and hands.

Interesting to see some overtly political stuff up on the walls again.

Russian Ark

Sokurov, 2002.  A film set in the St. Petersburg Hermitage, in which time is fluid (more than usual, I mean).  A French diplomat, flamboyant and rather irritating, progresses from room to room, observing and sometimes partaking in the scenes he encounters, conversing occasionally with an unseen observer.  He doesn’t know what’s happening, but takes it all in his stride.  He passes through 17th century, Napoleonic and 20th century periods, balls, soldiers, courtiers, Tsars (Peter and Catherine)..

The unique aspect of the film is that the whole thing was shot in one take.  Single takes seem to be an obsession with film makers, a bit like “modern” painters’ obsession with flatness of surface; I’m thinking of Welles’ “Touch of Evil”, for example.  Whenever it’s on, there is always an admiring reference to the long, single-take opening sequence.  I found the single take rather oppressive at first, as if you were being pulled along by the nose – became hypnotic after a while.

Interesting to me that idea of collapsing time or passing freely back and forth through centuries;  I’ve come across it several times lately; in Bunuel’s “The Milky Way”, where a couple of dodgy “pilgrims” follow the route to Santiago de Compostella and in “The Canterbury Tale” (1941) by Powell and Pressburger.  It starts with a medieval hunting party; the knight flies his falcon, which turns into a Hurricane in the sky.  The pilot turns out to be the knight, of course.

Going back to “Russian Ark”, certain styles of acting are perhaps acceptable in France and Russia, where mime and circus are still popular – in Britain, the social realism of the kitchen sink era purged  more flamboyant theatricality.

Frank Auerbach

Watched a DVD on him, made in 2001.  I’d always thought of him as a dirty brown plasterer, like Kossoff out of Sickert – in fact, a lot of his paintings are done in blazing yellows, blues and greens, with great crimson worms crawling across them in thick oils – the Phaidon Art Book says “like peanut butter”.  Fantastic, jagged stuff, both the portraits and cityscapes; he does the best building sites.

Blackpaint

20.12.10

Blackpaint 210

October 23, 2010

Blackpaint is indisposed at the moment so cannot write very much.

Raphael v. Michelangelo

Returning to this idea from last blog, that I got from Matthew Collings on TV, that you can compare the two and decide which is better; at first I thought it was ridiculous.  After all, sometimes you prefer one thing to another, other times it’s reversed.  Then I thought that you do this with ordinary stuff all the time; why not with the top end?  they may be incredible but that doesn’t mean they’re perfect (maybe perfection is a fault – but no semantics today).

So, the obvious things:  Raphael’s colours are more intense, glowing, subtle – I think first of the rich red to browns, the blue, of course, like Perugino’s but somehow less sharp, and the deep green in the seated Pope.  Michelangelo’s colours are also subtle, apart perhaps from the blue  background to the Last Judgement, but only the Doni Tondo comes anywhere near Raphael for colour.

But the figures – Raphael’s are mostly static.  They sit on  thrones, converse with measured arm gestures, gaze reverently skywards, balance fat-cheeked holy babies on their knees (the babies sometimes reach for a flower, gently).  They are, mostly, clothed.  Revealed flesh is  thick – sinews and bones are well- covered (apart from Michelangelo’s knee, mentioned in last blog).  His compositions are stately.

Michelangelo’s figures are not static; they writhe, twist, gesture violently, flex and display muscles, tear at their hair and generally act up in a Mannerist – manner.  They are frequently naked, often entwined with others or with phallic objects (see the Column of Flagellation in the Last Judgement).  they are sculpted into or out of the “space” of the background.  The compositions are usually in motion, always idiosyncratic (see those young men posturing in the background of the Doni Tondo).

So – Raphael is the better painter, Michelangelo draws better.  I love them both, but Mick for choice!

Stuart Brisley

There’s a new painting by the above in the St.Ives room at the Tate Britain; it’s rather like a Tapies, a black, shallowly- cratered surface with a greeny-grey, sparkling texture like mica in the craters and cracks.  Is “shallowly” a proper word?  Proper blog next time, when my head stops pounding.

Rufus 2 by Blackpaint

23.10.10