Posts Tagged ‘Van Dyck’

Blackpaint 616 – Peevish Charles, Resentful Leavers and the Platypus

February 21, 2018

RA- Charles I Exhibition

Obviously the Holbeins and Van Dycks are the stars of this show – that Van Dyck family portrait with the kids and dog and baby  is noticeably informal, compared to earlier group portraits.  The hunting portrait of Charles, borrowed from the Louvre, is great; I think it’s the satin-clad elbow poking out at you.  On TV, some pundit said the horse in the picture “stole the show”; I say the elbow does.  The triple portrait of Charles on the poster captures a sort of querulous obstinacy; weak-eyed, peevish but with clear indications of an inflexible wilfulness.

Fantastic Mantegna series of the Roman Triumph; tapestries based on Raphael cartoons, especially The Miraculous Draft of Fishes; I’m not keen on that Titian of the man in furs with the big dog jumping up at him.

Leavers and Remainers  (Trauma, Requiem)

Maybe because I’ve just read David Goodhart’s The Road to Somewhere, I keep seeing the two sides in the Brexit vote represented in TV drama.  The John Sims character in “Trauma”, bitter, obsessive, smouldering with self-righteous anger at the doctor who failed to save the life of Sims’ son after he was stabbed.  He’s the Brexiter, of course, hating and pursuing Adrian Lester’s smooth, rich, elite surgeon.

There is also “Requiem”, with the Remainers being the young cellist and her devoted accompanist, the Brexiters being the hostile, defensive Welsh villagers, burning with resentment towards these invaders from London with their nosy questions.  More to both these series of course; probably just my obsession.

The Post, dir. Spielberg (2017)

Very old-fashioned Spielberg film – stirring music at strategic moments, Hanks and Streep doing the Right Thing in defiance of the US government, an admiring group of young women gazing up at Streep as she leaves the courtroom…   I did reflect, though, that the Washington Post’s publishing of the Pentagon Papers would never have happened in the UK, with the various restrictions on the media that can be brought into play here and, indeed, the willingness of the British media to cave in to the government.

Loveless, dir, Zvyagintsev (2017)

The poster said “mesmerising” and “riveting”; can be code for very, very slow…  But, happily, the film is both (mesmerising and riveting, that is).  After “Leviathan”, Zvyagintsev has shifted his focus from politics and the new gangster elites in Russia to the personal; furious, bitter fighting between his divorcing parents lead a Russian teenager to go missing in a forest near Moscow.  Much of the film concerns the campaign by a volunteer group to trace the youngster, setting about the search in a determined and disciplined way, going to considerable lengths to do what the police might be expected to do, or at least, attempt.

Brett Whiteley

I’ve been looking at Whiteley’s work again, and I have to say, he takes collage to stunning lengths; among the objects affixed to various works are the following: teeth, brain (actually a slice on a slide, by the looks of it in the photo), eggs, birds – and a platypus.

To Yirrawalla (1972)

 

Little Van Gogh

I’ve got some pictures with this group, which rents paintings out to offices, moving them around every few months.  Examples below – they’re all mine.

 

Blackpaint

21.2.18

 

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Blackpaint 346 – The Glamour of Desolation

June 14, 2012

Burtynsky again

Second visit and I realise that these fabulous photographs actually glamorise the processes of oil extraction, refinement and waste disposal – not sure if that was the artist’s intention.  The scenes of environmental dereliction, in the Azerbaijan oilfields and especially Chittagong, look great.  If I were in Bangladesh as a tourist, I’d want to go to Chittagong, see the hulks on the beaches with golden light pouring over and round them, and take pictures.  From across the room, the photographs reminded me of those classy riverscape paintings used to illustrate Penguin Classic editions of Dickens – “Our Mutual Friend”, maybe.

If they had been in black and white, they would have looked like Baltermans Soviet war shots; Stalingrad or Kursk…

And, inevitably, the salt flats shot recalls Brueghel…

Tree of Life (Malick)

Another second visit, and the Tarkovsky overtones immediately flooding in, especially “Mirror”; but a couple of Ray Bradbury moments I missed the first time, too – the clown who drops into the water tank (surely that’s Gacy’s clownface?) and the tall man in the wooden tunnel/corridor…  Probably me reading stuff in, rather than Malick.

A series of images at the end to play with; beach and sandbar, desert rocks, doorway in desert and water, that rock fissure from below again, the floating mask – and who are the two girls with the mother when she gives her son to god/eternity/universe…?

British Museum – The Horse

The Stubbs paintings; sometimes, there’s something strange or not right with his riders and horses, isn’t there?  The horses seem to me to be elongated somehow, can’t quite put my finger on it…  It must be a way of seeing, since he did all those anatomical drawings of horses (a copy of the book is in the exhibition).

Van Dyck

There is the most beautiful drawing of a horse in black chalk with white highlights on blue paper; the wall note says it’s probably a sketch for an equestrian portrait like the one of Charles I in the National Gallery – the one in which the horse’s neck is too long and/or the head too small.

Picasso, the Vollard Collection (print room of British Museum)

Seen these etchings already in Santiago de Compostella (see Blackpaint 288).  The beautiful curving line, freedom of depiction, the way he mixes spare line with dense forests of cross-hatching.  That head-knob nose, copied from – forgotten, somewhere Middle East or Med.,  that makes an appearance for several prints and then disappears.  Mostly elderly artist with nude model and statue; a series of Minotaurs, drinking at orgies, or creeping into young girls’ bedrooms – there are usually naked girls, vulnerably loitering or asleep, in the vicinity.  There is a series of five or six “rapes”, with great flurries of limbs and torsos, but difficult to make out.  Finally, there are several blind Minotaurs, being led here or there in a stiff-legged, Egyptian profile walk.  Some Rembrandt and Goya etchings are mixed in, where Picasso had borrowed a theme, or the subject matter/technique is similar.

Blackpaint

14th June 2012

Blackpaint 124

April 30, 2010

National Gallery

As well as visiting the Kobke (see last blog), also had a general look around the gallery.  I was with one of those friends who take a perverse pleasure in acting like Philistines; “What’s good about this one, then?  Why is that a great picture?” and so on.  I went on , not very convincingly, about structure and composition and movement and surface and was very soon boring myself and feeling a bit sick.  As always, when this sort of interrogation happens, I found myself agreeing with him; yes, it’s not a very good Rubens, yes the head is too big and looks stuck on (Titian, the Flight into Egypt) – and so on.  The Vendramin family portrait looks as if apprentices did the children;  King Charles’ horse in the Van Dyck is definitely wrong (neck too thick, head too small).  As for the Van Gogh sunflowers… no, stop – a bridge too far.  Although, actually, I was never a big fan of the sunflowers; one of those blind spots, I suppose.

Tate Modern

Nice, quiet little anteroom to the Pollock/Kline/Jorn gallery with sculptures by Victor Pasmore, Mary Martin and somebody Biedermayer.  They were highly coloured little shelves and geometric protrusions in wood, plastic or metal, mounted on a flat board.  Similar stuff in Tate Britain by Pasmore and Ben Nicolson.  In the same, or next room, work by Helio Oiticica – the work that Serota said he would have to save in the event of a fire, because it’s so rare.  It consists of squares and oblongs drawn or painted on brown cardboard sheets; the blurb compares them to Mondrians – except that each of these are the same colour and they are set at very small angles, as if jostling each other across the board.

There was some other Brazilian and Venezuelan work with it, surprisingly minimal and colourless – I suppose I expected stuff that was more lush, colourful, vivid; Franz Ackermann, say.

The Kiefer palm tree has gone and in its place, huge, hanging, red and orange sisal sculptures, like a great, soft Marsyas.  Done in the 60s by Magdalena Abakanowicz, a Polish sculptor (sorry, one of the world’s leading woman artists), she  calls them  “Abakans”.  I thought that these soft sculptures might disprove my Polish thesis (see Blackpaint 20 and 21 ), that critics tend to analyse all works by Polish artists in terms of references to Auschwitz, WW2 and/or the post-war Communist period – but I was wrong.  From various sites, I found that her work is “emotive”, “disturbing”, about “lasting anxiety”, about “the missing”, the “crowd” and the individual’s struggle – it “reflects the emotional heritage of her political environment”.  Not Auschwitz then, but not far off.

Parrot, by Blackpaint.

Listening to If IGet Lucky by Arthur Big Boy Crudup.

“If I get lucky mama. with my trainfare home (*2)

I’m goin’ back to Mississippi now, mama, where I belong”.