Posts Tagged ‘The Music Lovers’

Blackpaint 547 – Knees, Neon, Ken and Viagra

May 28, 2016

green thing1

Green Thing, Blackpaint

28/5/16

Today’s blog is about exhibitions in the West End, two of which have just ended- but you can investigate the work further online.  I just didn’t get round to going soon enough…

Jenny Savile,  Gagosian

This exhibition finished today, I’m afraid, but the drawings on show were stunningly good, as can be seen from the example below – just look at those knees coming out at you.  They are huge, by the way (the drawings, not the knees; but then again, the knees are huge too, of course, because the drawing is).  They are executed with a variety of mark makers, charcoal, pastel, ink too, I think, and most are covered with Twombly-like scribbles in pastel (the drawing below is an exception).  What the purpose of the scribbling is, I’m not sure; I saw her interviewed on TV and she was talking about how children see and draw things, so maybe it’s something to do with that.  Whatever the reason, the drawings are so bold, sure and strong that the scribbles don’t detract from the basic structure – although to my eyes, they don’t enhance it either.

An essential little exhibition, then; unmissable, as they say.

jenny savile

 

Francois Morellet, Annely Juda, Dering Street W1

This one is on until 24th June.  Morellet is French and is now 90 years old.  He founded the GRAV group in the 60’s, which believed that (I quote from the leaflet) “the notion of the sole artist was outdated and which focused on the direct participation of the public.”  He uses materials like neon and sticky tape and his pieces are symmetrical, geometric and slightly off-kilter.  Take the piece below – you want to push the two pairs of rectangles so that they line up to make a big one and the heavy black lines form a cross.  Or at least, I do.

The pieces are neat, succinct, attractive in a passing way.  Nice contrast to the nearby Savile.. until today, of course.

francois

 

Michelle Dovey, The Colourful Sausage Trees, Gimpel Fils, Davies Street… until yesterday.

dovey,

Done it again, I’m afraid – visited it in the last week.  What you would have seen would have been a dozen? or so paintings like the one above, in bright colours, yellows, pinks, of her “sausage trees”.  they are quite small – 36*48 inches, that sort of size.  But now they’ve gone, planted out again.

 

The Music Lovers, Ken Russell, 1970

I’m on a Ken week at the moment, my appetite having been renewed by the fabulous series of TV films he made for Monitor and Omnibus, three of which have just come out on DVD.

The best of these was the one on Delius, “Song of Summer”, and I was delighted to see Max Adrian back as Rubinstein and Christopher Gable, Fenby in the Delius film, as Chiluvsky, Tchaikovsky’s male lover – that’s him on the right below, a far cry from his portrayal of Eric Fenby.  I didn’t recognise him until the credits rolled.  I thought Richard Chamberlain as Tchaikovsky was weak but Glenda Jackson as Nina riveting; beautiful, strong featured, able to transform to bleared, blasted and grotesque for the madhouse scenes.  There’s a lot of Jackson in Maxine Peake, I think.  Forgot to mention Maureen Pryor, Jelka in “Summer”, Nina’s procurator mother in “Music Lovers”

music-lovers

Elena, Zvyagintsev (2011)

This was on TV the other night; a murder story strangely unresolved at the end, it reminded me strongly of Chabrol.  I was very pleased with this insight, until I looked the film up on Wikipedia and found that same comparison.  Viagra as a murder weapon, though – that must be a first??

 

the ring

The Ring – don’t insert the video!!

A life painting that went wrong; the head was strange so I painted it out and put another one on – and got that malevolent Japanese girl from “The Ring”.  Head’s now right, though.

Blackpaint

28.05.16

 

Advertisements

Blackpaint 314

December 22, 2011

Sutherland

Laura Cumming in her review of the Sutherland show in Oxford (see Observer last Sunday) remarks on his adoption of  realism with the outbreak of WWII, or at least, the Blitz.  I remarked on this in Blackpaint 128, in relation to Bomberg, with his involvement in the First World War – it’s as if the sights of warfare call for a more realistic depiction, or some artists no longer feel that an experimental approach can do them proper justice.  Maybe this is understating it, in the case of Bomberg – according to Robert Hughes in his book on Auerbach, Bomberg was so traumatised by his time in the trenches that he shot himself in the foot, a capital offence at the time.

Irvin

I mentioned the Alice Correia essay I read in the Irvin book – she quotes Roger Hilton as follows: “Words and painting don’t go together.  The more words that are written about painting, the less people will see the painting.  Half the difficulty that people find in “understanding” painting is that they think they have to put it into words.”  The truth of this  is easily demonstrated – just think of the number of times you have gone to an exhibition and spent more time reading the labels and info on the walls than looking at the pictures.  A bit of context is OK, but a work, especially an abstract one, should speak through the image – otherwise, why bother?

Unfortunately, she spoils it for me on the previous page: “Why is it that that non-representational art draws so much negative attention? …The work of Jackson Pollock… still has the ability of infuriating viewers who feel they are being duped in some way….It could be because abstraction does not have any easy answers.  The question is not “what is it of?” but rather, “how does it make me feel?” ”  

Well, no.  Back to words again!  The “feelings” proposal negates Hilton’s comments entirely.  Pictures don’t need to represent feelings either.  She asserts that Irvin’s pictures are about hope, an easy conclusion to reach, since they are vibrant, bright colours and contain little black. But  he was in the RAF during WW2; some of them could easily represent burning German cities from a plane, with daisy-like bomb explosions (Plimsoll, Skipper and Brandenburg, for example).  Let the pictures speak for themselves.

Van Gogh

I’m sure I have remarked on this before, and that loads of others have also noticed it, but some of Vincent’s late paintings look as if he is painting  LSD experiences.  The blazing stars, of course, but also tree bark, meadow grasses, fields and hedgerows seem to swarm, somehow, or are outlined in light, in a way that I remember from long-ago “experiments” with hallucinogens.  Not to suggest that he was an early adopter; maybe a chemical imbalance made him see in that way.  Then again,  not all painters paint what they see – probably not even most.  Certainly not me, even in life drawing; I’m happy with anything that looks halfway OK, even if it’s nothing like what I see. 

The Music Lovers

Sample reviews,  from Wikipedia:

Dave Kehr of the Chicago Reader described the film as a “Ken Russell fantasia – musical biography as wet dream” and added, “[it] hangs together more successfully than his other similar efforts, thanks largely to a powerhouse performance by Glenda Jackson, one actress who can hold her own against Russell’s excess.”

TV Guide calls it “a spurious biography of a great composer that is so filled with wretched excesses that one hardly knows where to begin . . . all the attendant surrealistic touches director Ken Russell has added take this out of the realm of plausibility and into the depths of cheap gossip.”  Ken Russell must have been immensely proud of these, and other, worse, reviews.

My own realist efforts.

And latest, abstractified Figures in a (winter) landscape.  This was called “Life Drawing 1”, a couple of blogs ago.

Blackpaint

22/12/11

Blackpaint 312 – He Slapped the Paint on with his Bare Hands

December 13, 2011

De Kooning

“And just as he occasionally applied the paint to canvas with his bare hands, de Kooning’s sculptures reflect the physical investment in the creation of a work of art that was characteristic of …..Abstract Expressionism.” (Barbara Hess, de Kooning, Taschen 2007).  Occasionally?  I would have thought he did it a lot and often – I don’t see how you could get some of those marks with a brush or knife.  Nothing like getting a good fistful and slapping it onto the canvas – in a careful and thoroughly controlled movement , of course…

Soutine

One more quote from the same book, this time DK himself:  “I’ve always been crazy about Soutine – … Maybe it’s the lushness of the paint.  He builds up a surface that looks like a material, like a suvstance.  There’s a kind of transfiguration, a certain fleshiness in his work”.

He’s right, isn’t he?  And there is a certain resemblance in his (Soutine’s) distorted trees and villages to DK’s “style”  (although DK hated the word).

Gesamtkunstwerk at Saatchi

Just want to mention two more artists from this exhibition; the first is Ida Ekblad, a Norwegian who often works in Germany.  She has made several thick plaques of concrete or plaster, in which are embedded, or to which are stuck, various bits of pipe and metals, coloured fabric, general rubbish, some more organised than others, a wash of paint here and there…  I know, sounds like crap, but they really look great, especially from a distance.  When she paints, she turns in huge, dramatic Scando works, owing something to the school of Per Kirkeby.  Saw one of hers in Venice Bienniale, but forgot to mention it then.

Secondly, Thomas Helbig, whose work I both loved and hated.  He has two ghastly, lumpy sculptures entitled Vater and Jungfrau, that are sort of biomorphic – half bird,  half human, really ugly in a not interesting way.  His paintings, Maschine and Wilde Mit Spiegel, however, have a delicacy of touch and colour and a rather Richter-isch quality; maybe because the first looks a bit like a blurred jet plane, recalling Richter’s September painting.

There is a book  of Helbig’s work on sale in Saatchi’s, and in it are a number of very beautiful paintings, on lacquer, I think it said, that recall Chinese wall hangings. 

Finally, for now anyway, there is Stefan Kurten; highly detailed, one or two verging on super-realism, but others in a difficult to describe graphic style -overgrown  gardens, plants, balconies, interiors of deserted flats and modern concrete buildings.  Crowded with things, empty of people.  They look fantastic in repro, maybe better than in the “flesh”.  One of them, Ultramarine II, reminded me of Hopper’s Nighthawks in its general shape, with sculptures and paintings standing in for the people.

Life Drawings

This is the finished painting that I was doing to incorporate some of my lifers, and in which I was trying to purify my colours of ” mud” and get a  De Kooning cleanliness in the tangle.  Partial success, maybe.

Life Drawing I

Here are the pictures I used:

They’re all in there somewhere.

The Music Lovers

Halfway through this and enjoying it immensely, memories flooding back.  It’s like a boisterous brother to Death in Venice, the hostility between Tchaikovsky and Rubinstein (the Delius actor) echoing that between Von Aschenbach and Alfred –   Down the river, through the willows in canoes, everyone in white,shades of  Manet… fantastic.

Blackpaint

12/12/11