Posts Tagged ‘Van Eyck’

Blackpaint 672 – Bomberg, Deneuve and Angels’ Wings

May 28, 2020

Bomberg

Continuing from last blog on Roy Oxlade and Bomberg, I’ve now finished the Oxlade book “Art and Instinct” and I’m somewhat wiser, but by no means completely clear on Bomberg’s main message – or the “Approach”, as he called it (Bomberg tended to capitalise throughout his writings, most of which, in the Oxlade book at least, were unpublished notes).  Two things are clear – he was regarded as a guru by his students, who tended to make works which obviously reveal his influence (see Creffield and Dorothy Mead, for example) and he had an overwhelming sense of mission, to deliver art, and art teaching,  from the “errors” propounded by William Coldstream and others.  Coldstream was  imposing the LTS (learn to see) system on students, which was based on “accurate” observation, measurement, the rules of perspective and proportion developed during the Renaissance.  This precluded a freshness of approach, strapped students into a visual and practical straitjacket and prevented them from finding “the Spirit in the Mass”, to use Bomberg’s phrase.

What was, or is, the “Spirit in the Mass”?  Not sure.  There’s some religious or at least metaphysical stuff in there, obviously – but is it any more than “forget the rules, respond to the subject as you see fit, try to find the essentials, whatever they are, of the object which you are drawing or painting”?  I was surprised, when I looked into Bomberg’s work, to find how poerful and varied it is.  Some examples below.  I’ve left out the early, semi-abstract ones, “Mud Bath” and “Jiu Jutsu” as I’ve discussed them elsewhere.  Also I left out the Palestine paintings – “accurate”, but flat and boring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a few; I love the way he paints women and I was surprised at the erotic charge in some of the pictures.  And that mountainscape.  Check him out – there’s a great sequence on YouTube.

Coronavirus Updates

We in the UK have, for the last six or seven weeks, had the benefit if a daily update on the progress of the pandemic here, delivered mostly by the government minister of the day, flanked, at a proper distance, by a scientist or two.  Certain idiosyncracies of vocabulary and phraseology have developed over that time, repetitions that maybe have already been noted in the press – I wouldn’t know as I stopped buying papers weeks ago – they can carry the virus.

Of the politicians on offer, my favourite is Dominic Raab, because he resembles  Simon Cadell, who played Mr. Geoffrey in “Hi De Hi”.  Anyway – “Incredible”; everyone is working incredibly hard under incredibly difficult circs, doing an incredible job.  Related to this is ” the clock“, which again, everyone is working round“Granular”; I think Jonathan Van Tam, the scientist, introduced this one.  It’s to do with looking really closely at evidence, getting right down to the real nitty gritty to quote the old song – and coming up with a really close analysis – not smooth, but – well – grainy.

And phrases; the way they evaluate the questions put to them, especially those from the public; “I think that’s an incredibly good question” – Matt Hancock is the master of this – “I really do think that’s a really great question” –  then they proceed to avoid answering it, usually by “paying tribute” to “the incredible work” being done by health care workers, researchers, or whoever it might be.  This sounds snotty – I don’t mean it to be; I’ve less time for the arrogant journalists who think they are the real government.

 

Truffaut’s Films

The Last Metro, Deneuve and Depardieu both on fabulous form in Truffaut’s WW11 piece, about an actor/manager (Deneuve) trying to keep a theatre going in occupied Paris, while her Jewish playwright husband hides in the cellar from the Nazis.

 

The next best in the box set; Fanny Ardant this time, with Depardieu; she moves in next door, not knowing that D, her former lover,  lives there.  Smouldering, as Barry Norman probably said.

Angels’ Wings

Jan van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece (detail)

This picture appeared in the RA magazine, and my partner was intrigued by the wings.  They look as if they’re cut from a melon, she said – green on the outside and sort of fleshy glistening inside,  I looked at some other examples to see – as far as I can make out, they are a one=off.

 

Ghirlandaio, Coronation of the Virgin (detail)

Nice splash of red, yellow and blue here…

 

Fra Angelico, The Last Judgement (detail)

Beautifully marked – but no recognisable pattern..

 

 

Fra Angelico, The Annunciation (detail)

Butterfly wings, definitely.

 

Dieric Bouts, the Road to Paradise (detail)

Lovely blue ones – and presumably, holes cut into the robes.  Must be difficult to get on.

Raphael, The Archangel Michael (detail)

Hint of snakeskin here – look at that fore-edge.

 

To finish, a revamped painting of mine, which I noticed “after the fact” sort of bore a resemblance to the theme – but not to the quality, of course…

Angel Wings (formerly Lost in the Woods)

Blackpaint

29.5.20

Blackpaint 223

November 25, 2010

Bridget Riley at the National Gallery

This exhibition contains both Riley’s own works and those of artists she has herself chosen, presumably to illustrate her inspirations and connections with her paintings.  “Escape 3” is the first of her works on show.  It is a canvas of modulating grey and blue wavy horizontal lines.  When I looked at this in the gallery, it appeared to me that the top half was irregular in terms of the width of the lines and their spacing, whilst the lower half consisted of two areas which “tilted” towards the viewer like a hinged sandwich.

Later, I saw the exhibition reviewed on TV and it was obvious that this division was false; the undulating, horizontal lines are “crossed” by regularly- spaced “creases” running diagonally top to bottom.  Optical illusion, but I only “got” the proper illusion, as it were, when the TV distanced me from it.

Opposite is Mantegna’s “Introduction of the Cult of Cybele to Rome”.  Processions of celebrants going this way and that, very strong sculptural effect, almost 3D.  Riley says the painting has “an all – embracing rhythm with which he (Mantegna) builds horizontals and verticals”.  The connection is “the special nature of pictorial space” in his paintings.

The other paintings she has selected are Raphael’s “St.Catherine”, in which more rhythmic currents in the portrayal of robes, the wheel, the figure are present; and three small Seurat figures -in -landscape  sketches, which presumably resonate with her palette (as does the Raphael).

There are two huge paintings, one on linen, the other directly on the wall (executed by assistants), which are in pastelly blue, green, beige and orange and resemble  cut out and concertina’d paper decorations, leaning viewer’s left to right, and stretched across an area of wall.  “Arcadia”, on linen, was done in 2007, “Blue” this year, of course.  The rhythms are there, the colours echo the Seurats to a degree. 

 There is a whole wall covered with empty black circles, which intersect like Venn diagrams; a colourful, vertical stripes painting (like those Mod blazers from the 60’s – yes, I had one); and a shimmering, modulating – again- set of black through to white dots, set in a circular pattern.  The most striking work, I think, is “Red on Red”, a beautiful, flame-like image in red, pink, orange and Prussian blue.

So, at first glance, highly unlikely combination  of images, but possible to see what she is driving at.  I’m unable to swallow Andrew Graham – Dixon’s assertions that her work reflects her love of natural forms, however;  I think you can probably take ANY painter and set your terms wide enough to discover ANY influences, echoes, associations you like – or, at least, art journalists can.  Just chop and wave your hands, assert EMPHATICALLY and pause for dramatic effect before the last word.

Quiz; Who painted the tower at Neunen, over and over again (no, I mean paintings, not the actual tower)?

Blackpaint, unfinished yet.

25.11.10