Posts Tagged ‘Van Der Goes’

Blackpaint 147

June 7, 2010

O2 advert

I see in the above advert “Nobbling the broadband niggles”, there is a double lizard thing – one creature with two bodies, I think, which rears up; to me, it looks like the serpent in Hugo Van der Goes’  “Temptation” (the painting in which the snake, or lizard rather, has a woman’s features).  Interesting where ad persons get their inspiration.

Taschen Michelangelo

Revealing close-ups of the Sistine ceiling in this; they show the roughness of the faces and limbs, which look so perfect from a distance.  This sounds wrong, somehow; the roughness is partly a function of the size of the close-ups and probably of the speed which the process of painting in wet plaster demanded.  Bold, accurate strokes, determination and masterly control is what they demonstrate, and the roughness enhances the power and beauty of the images, which to me, in photographs at least,  sometimes look a little too perfect – almost like transfers on  a blue background.

The photo of the seated statue of Moses reminded me of the story of his horns (Michelangelo’s, as well as other artists’ depictions of Moses show him with little horns, like a sheep or a devil).  It’s due to an early mistranslation in the bible, by Jerome – rays of light shining from his face when he came back from talking to God on Mount Sinai, bringing the new tablets,  were translated as horns, apparently.

Figurative painting

Unable to learn my lesson, I have entered again for the Threadneedle prize, which requires artists to produce representations of things which exist in the real, physical world, as opposed to the imagination and vision of the artist.  Leaving aside all the quibbles and queries and niggles that arise from such a stipulation, it’s a real grind.  Your brushstrokes and colours and shapes have to correspond to a reasonable representation of something recognisable as a “thing” – you can’t just let go and make interesting marks on the canvas or whatever.  OK, so you select your image – how are you going to paint it?  photo realism (too long, too hard, boring, unattainable), impressionistic (done to death by many better painters), pseudo-cubist (ditto)…..

I tried to do a page from a catalogue, all glossy and adverty, but I couldn’t do it properly, so I decided to be ironic and do it with big patches of chemical corrosion obscuring parts of it; big black/brown/ochre/green blotches of paint, water poured on and left to settle in puddles, thin black rim to scabrous patches, like acid eating at edges..  I was even making up the rationale in my head; “Lately, I’ve become interested in the idea of change, corruption and degeneration, the process of physical decay on a biological and chemical level, the undermining of the surface gloss…”, and so on, in artspeak.

In the end, I gave up and went with a painting of crumbling flats in dogshit colours and a half-competent charcoal life drawing.  Then, after handing them in, stuck in traffic in the City for 2 hours with the sun beating down and bastards in the inner and outer lanes cutting in, as a result of the closure of the Blackwall Tunnel.  On the late news, the engineer in charge hoped that the closure hadn’t caused any undue disruption.

Listening to “What Made Milwaukee Famous” by Jerry Lee Lewis.

“It’s late, and she is waiting, and I know I should go home,

But every time I start to leave, they play another song;

Then someone buys another round, and when the drinks are free,

What made Milwaukee famous has made a fool out of me.”



Blackpaint 140

May 25, 2010

National Gallery of Scotland (cont.)

Not an immediately exciting title, I would guess, unless you are a Scots patriot – however, I have saved a couple of really controversial observations for this bit of the review.   Here’s the first;


Titian’s work is of variable quality.  There is the Diana and Actaeon that was recently “saved for the nation” at a cost much was it?  Great composition, the way he reels back with arm across face – but close up, the brushwork is, well, scrubby and scrappy – or “increasingly broken and impressionistic” as the Companion puts it.  and there’s something wrong with Diana’s head, isn’t there?  It’s too small and in the wrong position.  the Diana and Callisto, closely  resembling the Actaeon in composition, contains no such difficulties – but, somehow, the first one seems the greater picture. 

The Three Ages of Man contains a heap of fat and unappealing babies and an extremely serious young girl, peering into the face of a much older, Byronic (and near naked) man, whilst fingering a flute-type instrument in a distinctly phallic position.

The Virgin and Child with John the Baptist features a similar character as J the B, and the virgin wears a blue  and rose dress, the folds of which are brilliantly depicted in white – but somehow dominate the picture, making the rest look underpainted.  And the right arm of Venus, just risen from the sea, squeezing water  from her hair – too fat.  Colours staggering, however, in all pictures.


The Madonna of the Yarnwinder, recently  stolen and recovered, is on display – and again, I have to say, it’s not up to other Leonardos; the faces of both the mother and child seem odd, elongated noses, blurry features..


No childish criticism of these three “luminous” pictures, except that Joseph in the tondo seems overly coiffured;   I love the squirming Jesus in the Virgin and Child.  Mary’s eyes don’t engage with the child’s, but seem rather to stare thoughtfully past him to the floor – it seems to me I’ve noticed this lack of engagement in other V and C’s; is it some sort of convention?

Other fantastic stuff

Beautiful, silky surfaced Rubens; a religious allegorical painting by Holbein; Stoning of St Stephen by Elsheimer, with the young man poised to fling  the big stone at the back of the kneeling martyr’s skull; the Van Der Goes Trinity Altarpiece, the legends of St.Nicholas by Gerard David…

The Impressionists

Cezanne’s The Big Trees, with its geometric, blue and brown tunnel, next to Van Gogh’s Olive Trees, with its short, diagonal brush strokes and coiling trunks and limbs, the two pictures echoing and bouncing off each other; unusual, vibrant Gauguins, Jacob wrestling the angel against burning red and the whites of the women’s headgear and the dusky pink of the ground and short, downward “tiles” of foliage in Martinique Landscape – and the Degas portrait of Diego Martelli, arms folded, on the table a spread of yellow, white and blue sketchbooks and papers that could make an abstract painting in themselves.


John Singer Sargent’s Lady Agnew, looking directly and intensely at you, the way that white silk dress is painted with those loose brush strokes..

And much more.  I’m going back to see it all again, as soon as I can.

Cold Blue Jug by Blackpaint