Posts Tagged ‘Terry Frost’

Blackpaint 415 – Sandra Blow and the Pavilions at Venice

October 5, 2013

Sandra Blow at Kings Place

Went to see the Long Notes, great Irish/Scots folk group, at Kings Place last night and was delighted to find an exhibition of Blow’s work had opened the same day.  The earliest painting was from 1959, when she was part of the St.Ives set, and the latest from 2006, the year she died.  There are a number of huge canvases that are painted in acrylics and collaged with strips of tape, sacking and canvas patches; rich earth and water hues, ridges of rough texture, chevrons and ingots of high colour piercing through, a little reminiscent of Terry Frost – and of Burri (a partner) and Tapies.

The highlights of this group are:

Breakwater

Blow1

Glad Ocean (1989)

blow2

Brilliant Corner (1993 – detail)

blow3

There are also some beautiful prints, brightly coloured, wobbly geometrics.  A fantastic exhibition, and we only saw part of it – the gallery was closed, we only saw the stairwells and balconies.

Venice Biennale – the Pavilions

I think four are worth a mention; first, the British one (of course), featuring Jeremy Deller.  You get a free cup of tea and mini prints of the two big pictures on display, which you stamp out yourself with a rubber stamp.  The pictures, covering a wall each, are of a giant harrier, grabbing and lifting a Range Rover in its talons, and an angry, giant William Morris, standing in the ocean and thrusting a cruise ship, bows downward, into the water.  The first refers to an incident when a harrier was shot on a royal estate, the second, I think, to the ships of the wealthy that blight Venice and other Med resorts.  Additionally, there is some very satisfying film of Range Rovers being pulped, to the strains of Bowie’s “the Man who Sold the World”, played  by a steel band.  It’s one of the few pavilions which have a truly national feel to it; the Danish one, for example, is a fantasy about African migrants, lost in a facsimile of Paris, actually built in China.

Next, Belgium; “Cripplewood”.  In a dark chamber, a giant wooden and wax entity, fabric like bandages at the joints of limbs, twisted, arthritic bundles of twigs and branches – a little like Kiefer’s supine trees, or a huge, beached whale – made me think of Bela Tarr’s “Werkmeister Harmonies”… or even the Elephant Man.

The most sinister pavilion show was that of Indonesia.  There were life-size shadow puppets, a Paul McCarthy – style assemblage of a man with a TV head and a flower-covered figure rolling a bamboo roller “raft” – baffling – but then…

A dark, church-like space with desks on which enormous white books lie open, the whole surrounded by pictures of rough forest/jungle, charred, like the woodwork..

AND – a group of officers, ex-presidents apparently, seated around a table, a uniformed woman standing as if presiding.  One figure lies face down, apparently dead, another gestures towards a third with a knife, as if inviting him to kill himself with it.  Their faces appear bashed in – “distorted”, according to the guide book.  The commentary in the guide book has no mention of politics; instead, it goes on about Shakti, a religious principle which, it says. governed the creation of the works…

Finally, there is the Romanian pavilion – which is empty; EXCEPT for a group of (I think) eight young dancers, four men, four women.  They announce, with great solemnity, the title of a Biennale prize work from years gone by and then proceed to mime its content.  Sounds mildly amusing but is actually very funny, because of the limitations, as much as anything.

Enough Venice now.

The 70s, presented by Dominic Sandbrook

Odious presenter, explaining with relish how working people in the early 70s caused their own hardships by buying things on HP, wanting houses and cars and holidays that they should have known were not for them, but for the people who could afford to buy them outright.  I don’t remember the people I knew running to the shops waving Access cards.  I hate hearing glib generalisations presented with certainty, by smug academics who were (maybe) at school at the relevant time.

??????????

Pellet

Blackpaint

5.10.13

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Blackpaint 341 – Ballet Girls, Donkeys and Buckets

May 10, 2012

Charcoal and pencil

The first is great to use, the second a chore.  I’ve acquired a cheap book of Degas’ drawings, mostly ballet girls, and have been copying them; the legs are the most difficult – feet always pointing in some improbable direction.  That, and getting them to look like the young girls they are – mine keep coming out too old, somehow.  They haven’t got that slight dumpiness or sturdiness that Degas’ girls have got.  That line of his is just great.  Also, the two servants with the laundry baskets and the ones that are grooming the horse (or horses, it transpired, as I was drawing – the head belonged to a second horse looking over, NOT to the first horse looking back – if you see what I mean).

Can’t somehow get the same buzz from pencil – too laborious, can’t just smear the dust with my thumb to get shading like I can with the charc, got to draw parallel lines.

St.  Ives since the Fifties

A cheapo catalogue of a 2006 exhibition at the Katharine House Gallery in Marlborough I got in Campbell’s, that bookshop opposite Tate Modern.  I mention it because there is some great stuff in it from St Ives people I didn’t know of; chief of these is Rachael Kantaris, two lovely etchings and an acrylic by her, touch of Hilton in that black line through the fleecy white.  Then, Tony Shiels who was born in 1938 but is new to me; three gouache and watercolour, very reminiscent of Lanyon (senior), best being “St.Ives Sea Head” from 1960.  Also some stunning Terry Frost Lorca illustrations – and loads more.

Kantaris

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen at Rotterdam

Also from Campbell’s, only two quid, a catalogue of this museum, to which I’m heading at the first opportunity – assuming it’s still open, as there’s no date in the catalogue as far as I can see – can’t be bothered to read the text.  Anyway, some stunning stuff in it, the chief being Karel Appel, “Farmer with a Donkey and Bucket”, from 1950.  It’s a painted stable door – with a bucket hanging on the bottom. 

Appel

Then, there’s Asger Jorn, “The Town of Ivory Towers” from 1955 – dark green and dried-blood red, deeply scored and looking rather like a stained glass window; can’t find a picture on Google.

Then, de Kooning – “The Cliff of the Palisade with Hudson River, Weehawken, New Jersey, 1963” – which actually looks like a figure study in white and brown, on an ochre and blue background.  There’s a great Dali self-portrait in pencil and black ink on paper – heavy sketched like a Jim Dine or Kitaj life drawing, like no other Dali I’ve ever seen.  Three great van Dongens, including “A Finger on her Cheek” – don’t know why I like him so much, apart from the name.  Maybe it’s the crudity of the colours and the energy of the line….

One other painting to mention, “The Earring, 1893”, by George Hendrik Breitner – never heard of him before.  beautiful long, straight flower vase of a woman looking in a mirror, Whistler maybe, Japan definitely. bit Klimt, but just a bit… 

Breitner

1900, Bertolucci

I saw this way back in the 70s when it first came out, and I was dismayed to see it again and find that it’s dubbed (presumably because most of the big male stars – Lancaster, de Niro, Donald Sutherland, Stering Hayden – are American.  This gives it a terrible spaghetti western sound – probably would be great with subtitles.  It also has two, perhaps three, of the most dislikeable child actors, doing all that rite of passage stuff – comparing willies. masturbating in the fields, wrestling and slagging each other off – haven’t seen the second DVD yet, but no doubt they compete for the same girl…

Can this really be the Bertolucci who coaxed such subtle and understated performances from Brando and Schneider in “Last Tango”?

Blackpaint

Figure Drawing 6

Blackpaint 332 – Ken, Katrine and Five Abstract Painters

March 23, 2012

Tonino Guerra

Obit today in the Guardian, the above was the co-screen writer for Tarkovsky’s Nostalgia (the one with the self-immolation at the end); Antonioni’s l’Aventurra (the one with Monica Vitti, in which the girl Anna goes missing from the island); and Fellini’s Amarcord (the one with the fog, and the motorbike races, and the uncle who climbs the tree and throws stones at everyone) – but also those neo-realist(?) films of Rosa; Giuliano, Illustrious Corpses..  a major passing.

BFI Documentary Section

On the South Bank, by Waterloo Bridge, is the BFI and you can walk into the above section and sit at a screen and watch anything they have for free, no membership or bother.  I walked in today and found they have all Ken Russell’s BBC stuff, Elgar, Delius, etc.  I watched “Scottish Painters”. his 10 minute prog on Colquhoun and MacBryde; loads of great paintings on show, MacBryde’s still lifes and Colquhoun’s eerie, stone-faced women in shawls with Picasso hands..  Then, his 16 minute feature on the guitar, with Davey Graham doing “Cry Me A River” on a bombsite – looked about 16.  Leave it for a week before you visit – I want to see all the Kens first (Devils now out on DVD; got it today).

Those Who Kill (ITV3)

Why have there been no reviews in the broadsheets of this Danish serial killer series?  After all, Troels from the Killing is in it; Rie popped up last night, as the wife of the psychopath.. Presume it’s because it’s ITV3, not BBC4.   No woollen jumpers, it’s true, but Katrine, the damaged heroine, has established a sort of uniform of her own.  they are pretty much a disaster as police; there have been four episodes, I think; she was kidnapped and tortured in one, taken hostage in a prison and nearly raped in the next, had a week’s rest while Thomas, her sidekick, went undercover and was beaten up and came close to being killed – and in the last one, she had a brief, vigorous affair with the psychopath of the week – and, yes, was nearly murdered.  I love those ballet-like bits when they go into dark, derelict buildings, holding their pistols out before them in a double handed grip, then spin round, dart round corners, etc.  Unmissable – unless, of course, you missed it.  Repeated Saturday night.

Back to Painting..

Thought I could do five great abstract paintings today, so here goes…

Joan Mitchell, Evenings on 73rd Street

Headwind, Peter Lanyon

Berkeley no.38, Richard Diebenkorn

Terry Frost, Red, black and white

Interchange, Willem de Kooning

Nothing really to say about the above pictures – except that I think they are all staggeringly brilliant.  my own pathetic effort below:

My New Colours

Blackpaint

23/3/12

Blackpaint 213

October 30, 2010

National Gallery

I had to go up to see Clive Head’s pictures, currently getting record crowds.  They are hyper real, like huge photographs – a tube exit at Victoria, street scenes in Kensington, I think – one, a coffee shop, shows Bouji’s night club in the background.  Fantastic job; you have to get pretty close to see they are paintings, not photographs.  I thought they had been done from photos – the angles look photographic – but according to the blurb, does loads of drawings, takes loads of photos and draws freehand from a combination of photos, so they are more than just a photographic repro in paint.

I looked very closely for some time, and couldn’t distinguish any way in which they differed from such a repro, however; at first, I thought it was the depth of focus, but this can be achieved by photographic means and the store signs do blur in the distance, sure enough.

I checked out the Raphaels, of course, and noticed the tight, pursed little mouths that most of his women have, for example the Mond Crucifixion (love the sun and moon); but also the two Madonnas, the Pinks and the Garvagh.  His men don’t have the mouth thing – pope Julius has a sour, pulled in straight line of an old man’s mouth.

I’d forgotten about the two beautiful, highly-coloured, little predella paintings, of the Procession to Calvary and the Sermon on the Mount; the first looks like something from the Canterbury Tales, somehow (apart from Christ, of course).  There’s a great tension in it, created by Christ pulling back under the weight of the cross and the man leaning forward, dragging on the rope.

Cranach the Elder

That naked Venus, ignoring the complaining Cupid; she’s got a clean, lean body like a modern-day teenage model.

Garofalo

My notes appear to read “fungus on maple”, but I now realise it’s “fingers on nipple”.  It’s that picture of the two couples and the man on the right is caressing the woman’s nipple; move the children on quickly.  In the background, a lizard descends the tree behind them and further back, a goat is trying to mount a bank – presumably a comment on the foreground action.

Veronese 

“Unfaithfulness” – one of the great back and shoulders in art; reminded of that Gauguin drawing, something about pigs (see recent blog on Gauguin).

Michelangelo

There are two Ms, both unfinished – the Entombment and the Manchester Madonna.  Neither of them bear much resemblance to the Sistine stuff; the faces and poses are very different, although the muscularity of the bodies under their silky clothes is characteristic.

Diebenkorn and Terry Frost

I was surprised to find similar figures appearing in the works of these two – particularly chevrons.  Frost liked heraldic devices, Diebenkorn playing cards.

Bloody Wakefield by Blackpaint

30.10.10

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 100

March 31, 2010

100 glorious years – sorry, blogs

I have reached my centenary (actually, this is 101; first one was not numbered but titled, modestly, “I am Blackpaint”).  By way of celebration, I am going to give you my ten best St. Ives pictures, long awaited since Blackpaint 96.

1.  Fly Away, Peter Lanyon 1961.

2.  Moon Quay, Terry Frost 1950.

3.  Soaring Flight, Peter Lanyon 1960.

4.  Untitled 1968, Roger Hilton (the one that looks like an obese tapir with a long snout on orange, green and white).

5.  Alfred Wallis, Night Fishing, 1935 (a ship sails vertically down a bend in river in profile).

6.  Fourteen discs July 20th 1963, Patrick Heron – 1963, of course.

7.  That lime green/yellow one in the Tate Britain, Patrick Heron.

8.  That one by Sandra Blow with sand mixed into the paint, in the same room of Tate B.

9.  Red Black and White, Terry Frost 1956.

10.  Skara Brae, William Scott 1959. 

Soaring Flight

Moon Quay

Actually, there are loads more – Sandra Blows, Hiltons (wish he’d given them all names), John Wells, McKenzie….  Still, can always revisit.

Royal Academy

Put my two in yesterday; they were tiny, compared with the canvases other painters were lugging in from white vans illegally parked in Burlington Gardens.  still, size isn’t everything…

Here’s an old one of mine:

Blackpaint

31.03.10