Posts Tagged ‘Varda Caivano’

Blackpaint 370 – Abstraction under the Soviets, New Contemporaries Over Here

December 6, 2012

Breaking the Ice: Moscow Art 1960 – 80s

This is on upstairs at the Saatchi and consists of three sorts of work, loosely speaking;  abstract (expressionist and constructivist, I suppose you could call it), surrealist and Pop Art.  The abstract works are somewhat derivative, but the wonder is they were done at all.  What would have been the rewards for producing this sort of work in that period?  Where could you show it?  There would have been suppression, destruction of the work, persecution, maybe imprisonment.  Maybe you could do them secretly, invite a few friends round to see, sell a few or give them to friends…  At the Venice Biennale last year, I saw photographs of brave abstractionists from this period who displayed their work collectively in the open air, sometimes in the snow, as art shows/demonstrations.  Inevitably, they would be broken up and the works destroyed, often with violence from the police.  I’m afraid I didn’t pay close enough attention to this exhibition, being tired after the big show downstairs (reviewed in last blog).  I’ll be going again to put that right.

Bloomberg New Contemporaries at the ICA

This turned out to be a great show and I thoroughly recommend it.  There were a number of paintings that really caught my attention but again, didn’t make a note of the names; when I go again, I’ll amend this blog to put it right.  In the meantime – small, dark-coloured, triangular paintings with dribbles, reminding me of Bram van Velde (motifs) and Varda Caivano (colours, especially that acid green/blue).  Also like Van Velde, two black on white canvases with a rectangles divided by crossing diagonals; sort of kite shapes.  Darkish watercolour blooms on brown, unbleached linen.  A video loop called “Going for a Stroll”, which showed a series of beautiful Japanese(?) women in stylish clothes, doing just that, on white stone bridges, in parks, by water, ornate surroundings.  What caught my attention here was one sequence in which the woman appeared to be bleached out by mist or maybe pixel degeneration in the film – made her look like a Sasnal or Richter picture animated.  A lovely, juicy painting, like a combination of Twombly and Christopher Wool – squiggly loops, dark red on grey – but what’s in the background?  Looks like a dark building…  On a TV in the middle of the gallery, a woman life model, trying out poses against a background of blue and yellow.

Upstairs, a big cinematic  video titled “Improvisation” – basically, an athletic male dancer carrying out a series of increasingly fast and complex African dance steps – real pleasure to watch.

The Beaches of Agnes

Agnes Varda’s great autobiographical film, a combination of history, surrealism, and playful reconstruction of her life in films and notably, her life with Jacques Demy; another real pleasure.

Blackpaint Exhibition

This weekend, 11.00am – 6.00pm, Saturday and Sunday, at Studio Blackpaint, 84 Ribblesdale Road, London SW16 (near-ish Tooting Bec tube).  Come and see the paintings featured in this blog and buy, if you wish.  Overseas visitors especially welcome – do I hear the planes heading in from USA, Australia, Brazil, Reunion, Ukraine, Vatican City…?

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Saints Heads

Blackpaint 

6.12.12

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Blackpaint 255

February 27, 2011

British Art Show 7 (cont.)

Christian Marclay – Clever, funny exhibit; film clips featuring clocks, watches, people saying what the time is – corresponding to real time. Just ponder for a moment the amount of research required to assemble 24 hours worth of such footage.  I wondered if he maybe used stock footage of clocks to cut away to, but if so, it’s done seamlessly. I recognised two films in the 10 minutes we watched – “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and “3 Days of the Condor”.  Sometimes the segues were amusing – if that was not accidental, then it’s one more thing that he must have edited for and therefore an even more staggering achievement.

To what purpose, though?  It put me in mind of that Fischli and Weiss exhibit at the Tate Modern – in the basement now, no doubt – where all the bits and pieces were artificial, sculpted out of polyurethane or something to look absolutely real – when you could have got the real things and assembled them with no effort at all.  The point is the huge pointlessness; vast effort to raise a small smile.  Quite profound really; read Ecclesiastes.

Sohei Nishino has made a panorama of London by taking 10,000 photographs, selecting 4,000 and cutting and pasting them together, thereby getting a crude, reconstructed version.  Sort of the opposite to F and W; making something new and imperfect to contrast with the usual panorama.  Can’t help feeling that the expenditure of effort puts this somehow in the Marclay – F and W field,though.

George Shaw – Huge versions of his sinister and depressing (I use the words admiringly) Humbrol shedscapes.  One, a bulldozed tract of pulverised dirt pent up by metal caging, another of a dark, deserted recreation ground; you get that sinking stomach feeling looking at them.

Wolfgang Tillmans – Another beautiful, huge, inkjet picture, the spidery threads of pigment opening like some sea anemone; unfortunately, it’s emerald green.  Can’t stand the colour.  Also, glazed cabinets displaying magazine pages, articles, cheesy adverts,  plastic surgery, facial mutilation, material on sexism… Bit like clearing up Bacon’s studio floor and bunging the stuff in glass cases.

Cullinan Richards – Occupying the stairwell, newspapers with tarry black slash markings,  picture in rough white of a horse and rider at full vertical gallop up the central shaft; I loved this, first I thought a little like Baselitz, but this morning, found another rough white horse, tilted at an odd angle – this one in the Per Kirkeby catalogue.

Milena Dragicevic – Distorted and surrealised (I know it isn’t a proper word, but it should be) women’s faces, one for example with huge, red, letter box lips.  Echoes of Marlene Dumas.

Sarah Lucas – Hans Bellmer-ish sculptures made from stockings or tights stuffed like sausages, looped and knotted in swollen, intestinal bundles; organised in rather obscene ballet on top of pedestals.  Clever and striking but unlikeable, as if that matters.

Alasdair Gray – the Lanark author; clean, meticulous, pastel coloured drawings of family, domestic life…

Vaida Caivano – Four abstract oils, small, dun colours, thin and threadbare, drily painted.  Not as rich as the ones in the Victoria Miro Gallery, unfortunately.  Unusually for this exhibition, they were all “Untitled”.

Apart from the Marclay, we didn’t watch any of the video installations – the heavy black curtaining was mildly disgusting, as was the chemical smell in the theatres.

Few more exhibits tomorrow, plus a review of Bela Tarr’s “Man from London” – Bela Tarr, Tarkovsky’s less compromising brother director…

Exterminating Angel

Sorry – old picture; camera batteries exhausted.  New one tomorrow.

Blackpaint

26.02.11

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February 6, 2011

Don’t Look Now

Another example of the Odessa Steps Scream in slow motion, after Bacon, of course, but preceding Eraserhead (see Blackpaint 219); Donald Sutherland, lifting his drowned daughter’s body from the river.

Roeg is great with glass and liquid too – the embryo-shaped bloodstain spreading around the photographic slide, the glasses and water or white wine, splashing and crashing onto the tiles when Julie Christie collapses…

Actually, while typing this, another example of the Odessa Scream occurs to me – the animal roar of the “possessed” on detecting a “normal” person in the 1978 “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” – that was Donald Sutherland too.

Two abstract painters this Saturday –

Varda Caivano; Voice at Victoria Miro

Nine quite small pictures, the biggest 36* 44″ approx., all oil on canvas, one each with charcoal, pastel and ink markings.  Totally abstract, very thin paint, small areas of bare canvas here and there, for instance along upper margin; trickle downs, scrapes, busy, crowded surfaces.  Sombre colours, mostly; one a glowing red/orange, one an acidy green, two black, grey-blue, cloudy switches and swags (these two the best).  They are all called – “Untitled”.  Strangely, a couple reminded me of that Kokoschka of the woman and the swan, was it?  Alma Mahler, anyway.  It was the swirly, grey-blue surface.  And one, definitely, of Per Kirkeby (the acid green one).  In fact, I would have guessed she was Scandinavian, not Argentinian thereby proving myself foolish in expecting artists to meet some spurious national stereotype .

Victoria Morton at Sadie Coles

Some of Morton’s pictures much bigger, 98*66 in approx.  the big paintings, for example “Figurene” and “Soft Eater, Hard Eater” a tangle of bright colours and pulsating, yellow-white blobs, with a suggestion of cityscape at night about them.  One, “Wah Wah” I think, much darker, almost like one of Ofili’s recent paintings; dry, matt, thin finish.  Reminders then, of Ofili and Doig in the technique and even Hodgkin (the spots and the bright orange frame on one of the smaller ones).

Various other assemblages:  two low, hinged, painted wooden panels like a screen for dwarfs; a smeary, sketchy watercolour on paper entitled “Children” ; a couple of lovely oil sketches in a far-too-big frame; “Ballet Costume”, a black stand with a crown of painted tissue ribbons billowing from the top.

In the Guardian review of this show, “SS” writes of Morgan’s work being “Lush with thick, expressive swabs and light dashes of brightly hued pigment…”; Well, I got the “light dashes” and the “swarming, pointillist dots” s/he writes of elsewhere – but I must have a very different idea of “thick, expressive swabs”.

The notes accompanying Morton’s show are impenetrable.  The notes on Caivano are merely pretentious and very hard work.  Enough moaning, though; two excellent free exhibitions of  abstract painters, to be snapped up by those who love these things.

Listening to “Midnight Shift”, by Buddy Holly-

“Well, if you see old Annie, better give her a lift;

Annie’s been workin’ on the midnight shift.”

Sorry, old image – run out of paint.

Blackpaint

06.02.11

Blackpaint 247

January 30, 2011

Gabriel Orozco at the Tate Modern

One of the main exhibits at this show is a stone(? actually plasticene, the booklet says) ball that Orozco rolled around Monterrey, and then New York – an act reminiscent of Francis Alys and his melting block of ice (Blackpaint 180).  Different point, of course; ball was to pick up impressions, not to disappear in a demonstration/celebration of futility.  Close though, trundling objects round the streets.  The connection goes further;  Mexico City is where Alys lived.  Who had the idea first, I wonder.

The booklet that goes with the exhibition, like the Alys, is great; pretty much everything listed with a brief explanation.  The trouble is, you end up having everything explained to you and you don’t think about what you see.  Martin Creed is right – you should go round, look at it all without reading anything (unless there are words on the art itself) and then, maybe, read the booklet and the wall plaques and labels.  Then again, see the stuff above about the plasticene ball; wouldn’t have known that, without the booklet. 

So, what’s in the exhibition?

Some lovely small oil works on paper – blotty, a bit Nogueira, bit Tillmans..

The squashed-in Citroen (actually middle chopped out and resealed).

Four bikes, screwed together in improbable ways to make a sculpture.

Lots of – too many – photos of two yellow motor bikes, like little friends, parked in different locations.

Inner tubes inflated to huge balls.

A whole room of shredded tyre fragments, laid out, alligned on the floor.  Kieferish.

“Lintels” – shreds like flags, strung on wires across the room, assembled from the fluff collected in industrial cleaning machines.  When this, according to the booklet, was first exhibited in NY in November 2001, “the ash-coloured lint took on a poignant significance”.  I thought of Beuys – a bit.

A billiard table with no pockets, and a red ball suspended and swinging in an arc across.  Children were playing , trying to get the red ball as it swung.

“Samurai tree” paintings, on wooden blocks; highly coloured spheres and half spheres, connected like some table construction game.

The chequered skull, of course.

Ripples in lines of print on long, Chinese scrolls that turn out to be tiny numbers assembled from phone books.  A huge amount of fiddly work – symptomatic, really.

I felt that, with some exceptions, the show consisted of knick-knacks; contrivances to make you smile wryly, or exclaim gently, like something in Covent Garden on a Sunday afternoon.  The skull is beautiful – skulls are – and so is the way the chessboard pattern is stretched in the eye sockets, for instance, like netting – but none of it really says much to me, unlike the Francis Alys.  I would compare it to Anish Kapoor’s show at the Guggenheim – high quality fun objects, to make you smile, but not laugh or frown.  I couldn’t see a dark side to it at all (the September 11th suggestion in the booklet didn’t persuade me).   

all that said, the small oils were beautiful and there were two intriguing photographs; “Plastic Bag with Water”, I think, Prunella Clough – type image, and “Simon’s Island” – I can’t make out if it is an egg in close-up or someone’s – presumably Simon’s – globular belly, rising from the bath water.

Varda Caivano

Argentinian abstract painter, looks more my sort of thing; at the Victoria Miro Gallery to 12th March.

Blackpaint

30.01.11