Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Bernhard’

Blackpaint 412 – Talent and Taste and the Darkling Plain

September 19, 2013

Jonathan Yeo at the National Portrait Gallery

Saw the Culture Show programme on Yeo last night and was suitably impressed by his technical skill.  a whole bunch of political, arty and acting celebs, instantly recognisable, in a surface spectrum from creamy smooth (Sienna Miller) to Freudian fractured – assemblies of small, variegated  planes (George W Bush).

yeo1

yeo2

Only when reading Yeo’s Wikipedia entry, did I discover that the Bush “variegated planes” are actually images from porn magazines, a technique that Yeo has used several times.

I think I would say the same thing about Yeo as I said about Augustus John last blog; loads of talent, dubious taste.  By that, I don’t mean the use of porn images, or painting the pregnant Sienna Miller naked; more that they seem to flatter the subjects and include little tricks and flourishes – see the Nicole Kidman above.  Apart from Bush, maybe, I can’t imagine any of his subjects being dismayed or upset at the way they have been portrayed.  Have to go and see for myself now, at the NPG.

Paul Feiler

He died this summer, when I was abroad. so I missed the obits.  The last, I think, of the 50s and 60s St. Ives generation. I considered him for a while to be the greatest living British abstract painter.  Then I “discovered” Albert Irvin – and there’s Gillian Ayres of course – but he’s still up there, I think, in terms of “the greatest” – but no longer living…

feiler

Paul Feiler

John Bellany

Another painter recently dead is Bellany.  As utterly unlike Feiler as you could imagine, his odd figures in awkward poses remind me, a little, sometimes, of Paula Rego – and RB Kitaj in his cartoon style, Unlike Rego, he often used harsh, garish colours.

Bellany1

bellany 2

Well, not sure about Kitaj…  Apparently, his (Bellany’s) paintings got brighter and more optimistic in tone after his liver transplant.

Old Masters, Thomas Bernhard

I recently made a facetious remark about this great book, comparing the protracted rant that it mostly is, to John Cooper Clarke’s “Evidently Chickentown” – and concluding that Clarke’s poem(?) is the greater work.  About 60% of the way through, however, certain changes begin to occur in the Bernhard book and it takes on greater depths.

Consider the following, on the uses of art after bereavement: “None of those books or writings which I had collected in the course of my life …were ultimately any use, I had been left alone by my wife and all these books and writings were ridiculous.  We think we can cling to Shakespeare or to Kant, but that is a fallacy, Shakespeare and Kant and all the rest…..let us down at the very moment when we would so badly need them, Reger said…. everything which those so-called great and important figures have thought and moreover written leaves us cold…”  So, art is no help or cure for pain – echoes of “Dover Beach” and “The Green Linnet”.

We are soon back to ranting. however; and I am gratified to find that Reger, the protagonist, believes that every great work of art is mortally flawed (see Blackpaint 387, the theory of validating crapness) and that many artists, notably El Greco, can’t do hands.  According to Reger, “El Greco’s hands all look like dirty wet face flannels”…

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Tenby, Wall to Fort

Blackpaint

19.09.13

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Blackpaint 411 – Decorum Returns; Iron Man, Sky Walks and Erasure

September 13, 2013

Ray Howard Jones

I’m in Tenby, Pembrokeshire to support my son in the Iron Man Wales Triathlon.  At the local museum, an exhibition of this artist, who turns out to be a woman.

ray howard jones

Rather like a less washed out Paul Nash, maybe.  I mean “washed out” in a good way, of course.  Also in this great little museum, a David Jones,  A couple of John Pipers and some lovely Gwen and Augustus Johns – and Winifred, the other sister, of whom I had no knowledge.  Augustus and Gwen both draw beautifully. of course; but Gwen is the one with taste.  I love those melancholic portraits.

Marx Reichlich

Recently, re-visited the Courtauld in the Strand; there was a portrait by the above in there, as good as a Holbein.  He was Austrian, 1460 – 1520,  and his work is in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna – I wonder if Thomas Bernhard’s character Reger gets round to dismissing him as “kitsch” in “Old Masters”?

(c) The Courtauld Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

It’s fantastic isn’t it?  I think it’s called “Woman with Lily-of-the-Valley”.

Archipelago

I was on about this last week; Joanna Hogg’s masterpiece, set on Tresco in the Scilly Isles.  The cast is a mix of pros and amateurs – the painter Christopher Baker is just that, a painter not an actor – and that seems to have worked brilliantly in making the dialogue sound authentic; but the pro members, most notably Lydia Leonard as the passive-aggressive, uptight daughter are also great.

The most noticeable trope of the cinematography is the use of long framing shots, through windows, doorways, courtyards and particularly on a bend in the staircase, by the newel post.  when I say “long” though – there’s long and there’s Bela Tarr, so maybe these are medium long.  Some great shots – a beautiful, grey/blue granite cave, a laughing herm (I think that’s the term) in the tropical gardens.  I was gratified to hear on the voiceover extra that Hogg was influenced by Hammershoi interiors.

Man on Wire

It’s easy to see how Petit’s personality could overwhelm certain individuals and compel them to assist in his escapades; he seems rather like a dizzying drop himself – draws and repels.  What I found mystifying is how much relevant film footage was around from the planning stages of the WTC walk and the earlier stunts on Notre Dame and Sydney Harbour Bridge; it was as if it had been shot with a view to making “Man on Wire” about 35 years later.  And then, to have no moving footage of the actual walk…

Or rather, walks – he did it eight times, back and forth.

Butcher’s Crossing and Augustus

Reading both of these novels by John Williams, of “Stoner” fame.  They’re OK – Butcher’s Crossing is about a C19th buffalo hunt, Augustus an epistolatory novel about Augustus Caesar – but nothing whatever, so far as I can see, makes them identifiable as the work of Williams.  I can’t think of any other author whose work is so diverse.

Erasures

I did a couple of life classes recently; the results were depressingly poor.  Turned them into something that looked a bit more classy by smearing and rubbing out the duff bits and getting stuck in with oil pastels on the other bits.  Some results below.

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Here’s a more conventional one to finish with – except it’s unfinished…

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Blackpaint

Work in Progress

13.09.13

Blackpaint 408 – Bilbao; Picasso’s Leeks, Urs Fischer’s Tongue

August 22, 2013

 Guggenheim Bilbao

If you’re in northern Spain, brave the giant Scalextrix set around Bilbao and visit Gehry’s Guggenheim.  Even if the exhibitions are bad – not often – the building is always worth another visit.

At the moment, there is an exhibition about France in WW2.  It’s a little contrived, cobbled together, and actually runs from 1938 (surrealists, Spanish war aftermath) to 1947.  It includes pictures and cartoons by several artists (Charlotte Saloman, Felix Nussbaum) who died in Auschwitz and other camps; art done in hiding or on the run; art done in exile;  “official” art, i.e. acceptable to Vichy and/or the Germans (including Dufy with a giant blue panorama, like a Festival of Britain poster, and a Villon, rather like a Colquhoun/MacBryde figure); there is even a Picasso room, with some great studio photos by Brassai and one terrific painting in watery blue, “Studio with skull and Leeks”.

picasso skull and leeks

Most of the art, as always in wartime, was realist, symbolist or tragic/heroic – crucifixions, barbed wire, agonised, objectified suffering, calls to arms, etc.  Cartoons and collages  along Grosz and Heartfield lines from Joseph Steib; for some reason, a stupendous nude in the bath from Bonnard that I last saw a couple of years ago in the Pompidou, surely – that one with the walls that look like Klimt.

bonnard bath

Also a couple of beautiful, colourful abstracts from Sophie Tauber-Arp, “Etudes from the Earthy Food” (?)

After the obscenity of war, a floor of plain obscenity.  Three or four large Paul McCarthys, “The Spinning Dwarf”; black cartoon charcoal or paint mouse, claggy smears and sprays of paint here and there, pages of porno mags torn out and stuck on upside-down.  I suffered a rather painful neck spasm as a result.

Urs Fischer’s Tongue, poking through a ragged hole in the wall – not her real tongue, that is, but a synthetic one that emerges suddenly when you approach the hole – it darts through and licks at you.

Two R Crumb strips in his – er, uncompromising style, Boswell’s Diary and Making Love to a Strong Girl – no racial stereotypes this time, but plenty to offend those who wish to be offended.

R Crumb strong girl

Finally, there is Riotous Baroque, which I’ll do next week.

Thomas Bernhard, Old Masters

Reading this protracted, repetitive rant against artists, philosophers, musicians with an Austrian connection – I think it’s supposed to be ironic – I was suddenly reminded of John Cooper Clarke’s “Evidently Chickentown”, although the latter is a far superior piece of art, I think.  Watching the hour long programme celebrating his poetry, I was bowled over by “Beasley Street” – bits of it were  almost like those Auden poems that copy the form of nursery rhymes.

Top of the Lake

Great TV serial. marred by two factors; Holly Hunter’s laughable and highly irritating guru “GJ” (or maybe GeeJay) and the cop out regarding the relationship of Robin and Jonno – are they really brother and sister? No – Jonno’s mother had an affair as well.  That’s all right then.  All the white men, apart from Jonno, were violent and potential rapists, all the women deeply damaged by men.

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Blackpaint

22.08.13