Posts Tagged ‘Victor Pasmore’

Blackpaint 564 – Tootles, Sickert, Etel and Breakfast

August 2, 2016

Painting with Light, Tate Britain

Great exhibition of photographs and paintings from photographs; again, much of TB’s collection recycled (Sargent kids with lanterns, Clausen turnip choppers, Rosetti women), but justified on the whole.  Standouts for me were Coburn’s photos of the river and Regents Canal, clearly influencing Whistler:

coburn1

coburn2

His portrait of the beautiful Elsie “Tootles” Thomas:

tootles thomas

Tiny, but fabulous…

And Jane Morris, the model for Rosetti’s “Proserpine”:

jane morris

Proserpine 1874 Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1828-1882 Presented by W. Graham Robertson 1940 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N05064

He’s glammed her up, hasn’t he?  Especially the lips…

Big exhibition, loads of interest, highly recommended.

Just off the main hall is a group of paintings from photographs by Walter Sickert.  This goes nicely with the main exhibition as regards subject matter; Sickert seems to have used a pink grounding and a lot of scraping.  One or two of these pictures are almost like Luc Tuymans or Gerhard Richter.

Claude Phillip Martin 1935 Walter Richard Sickert 1860-1942 Presented by Sir Alec Martin KBE through the Art Fund 1958 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T00223

 

 

Variation on Peggy 1934-5 Walter Richard Sickert 1860-1942 Bequeathed by Dame Peggy Ashcroft 1992 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T06601

 

Etel Adnan, Sackler Gallery

Over by the Serpentine, the third great exhibition, that of the Israeli artist, whose earlier paintings of the 60s and 70s are far superior to those more figurative and simplified that are more recent.  The early ones have great texture and colour and are strongly reminiscent of Nicholas de Stael and also Victor Pasmore (one or two):

adnan2

Corbyn/Manson

Last blog, I made a facetious remark about Jeremy often being surrounded in photos by adoring young women in long summer dresses – like Manson Family members, I “joked”;  Hadley Freeman in Saturday’s Guardian made a similar, but NOT facetious link, linking the apparent “cult of personality” to violence and anti-semitism in the Momentum camp.  That will teach me…

corbyn

Sorry, pathetically short blog this week; running out of steam in many ways.

 

all day breakfast

All Day Breakfast

Blackpaint

1/08/16

 

 

 

 

 

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Blackpaint 498 – Ice Cream at Tate Modern, Breasts at the RA

June 7, 2015

Agnes Martin (Tate Modern)

Happy Holiday 1999 Agnes Martin 1912-2004 ARTIST ROOMS  Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/AR00179

Happy Holiday

This is the new exhibition at Tate Modern – those familiar with Martin’s work will know what to expect: the palest “ice cream” pastels (Neapolitan) , vanishing into near invisibility, stripes, huge grids done in faint graphite with tiny squares, a roomful of a dozen white canvases, occasionally, background fields varied by tiny, pale, differently coloured blobs…  Her early work, influenced to a degree by other abstractionists, resembles Pasmore somewhat.  Strangely, her later work appears, to a dissenter like me, to have more going on – a coloured stripe through the centre, a blue square, two black triangles with the tops snipped off.  This seems the “wrong” way round, somehow.  Still, if you emptied out your pictures early on, I suppose you start putting things in again, if you live long enough.

Like Rothko’s Seagram pictures, this is art that I think requires a contemplative attitude in the viewer that I am unable to sustain.  I hope one day to be able to appreciate them more fully.

My Blake Calendar

Below is the picture for June.  It shows Oberon, Titania and Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  I find it enormously encouraging that even artists of William Blake’s taste and ability are capable of turning out crappy pictures occasionally.

Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing circa 1786 William Blake 1757-1827 Presented by Alfred A. de Pass in memory of his wife Ethel 1910 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N02686

National Portrait Gallery

I wrote about this beautiful little portrait of Hardy a few months ago.

hardy strang

 Thomas Hardy, William Strang

A little while later, I bought a 70s Penguin paperback of EM Forster’s “The Longest Journey”; on the cover was this picture, also by Strang, called “Bank Holiday”.

Bank Holiday 1912 William Strang 1859-1921 Presented by F. Howard through the National Loan Exhibitions Committee 1922 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N03036

I think it’s great – totally unlike the Hardy; for some reason, it makes me think of Norman Rockwell.

Forster and Woolf

While I’m on the subject of Forster and the above novel, I found it interesting that he, like Virginia Woolf (Lighthouse, Jacob’s Room, The Voyage Out), occasionally kills his characters off with quite brutal suddenness.  He does in this, anyway; I wonder if there was any influence, and if so, in which direction?

 Back to the NPG

Below are two more arresting paintings, both by John Collier.  The first is, of course, Charles Darwin; the second, the Labour and later, Liberal, politician, John Burns.  I suppose it’s partly the full square stance of both subjects and Burns’ hands on hips – defiance? frankness?  I have to say that Darwin’s picture reminds me faintly of an orang utan – in a good way – but I think that may be because it was parodied in a cartoon and I “see” the parody…

collier darwin

Darwin, John Collier 

by John Collier, oil on canvas, 1889

 

John Burns, John Collier

RA Summer Exhibition 

Proper review of this next week, but in the meantime, here is by far the best painting in the exhibition – the fact that Marion Jones is my partner has no bearing, obviously, on my opinion.

marion RA

 

Bars and Triangles, Marion Jones

Diebenkorn, RA

I made my third visit to the brilliant Diebenkorn exhibition after the RA Summer Show – I started seeing great little paintings within paintings in the earlier abstracts, Albuquerque and Urbana series; little sections that would make paintings in themselves.  I started to see slight parallels with some of Nicolas de Stael’s landscapes, especially “Sea Wall”.  But most startlingly, I saw breasts everywhere.  In “Albuquerque 57”  (below) for instance, there is a very clear sketch of a pair of breasts that I hadn’t noticed before.  After that, I saw them everywhere in these abstracts, mostly in the shape of the lobes.

diebenkorn berkeley 57

 

Just above the green and yellow rectangular shapes.

To finish, here is a minimalist work of mine, in homage to Agnes Martin:

Close of a long day

Close of a Long Day

Blackpaint

6.6.15

Blackpaint 490 – Geometrics in Fulham, History at the Hayward, Missile on the Verandah

April 12, 2015

Remembering Poetry

I’ve been reading the Four Quartets for the first time (why did Eliot call them that?  They’re each in five parts.  Is it that there are four of them and they go together to make a whole?  But then they would be one quartet, surely…).

Anyway, after reading them through a couple of times with the assistance of the notes of Hermann Servotte and then reading them again right through, I set out to write down what I remembered.  It went something like this:

The briar and the rose….brown edges of swimming pool….wounded surgeon….ruined millionaire…..dove…..Pentecostal fire…….frost and fire……”Yet being someone Other”……..broken king…….”Zero summer”…..blah, blah, blah….brown baked face…..jaws of sea……tin leaves……winter lightning….. You get the point; what you remember in the first instance is concrete images, plus a few memorable phrases (which might stick, like “zero summer”, because you’ve no idea what they mean).

I should say I loved the poems and thoroughly recommend them – I’m sure this TS Eliot will go far.

“From Centre”; Loud and Western building, 65 Broughton Road, London SW6, until 26th April

A pop-up exhibition of clean-cut, texture-free geometric abstract painting and sculpture.  The great venue, an old works of some sort, being converted into flats, I should think; very white, wooden staircases, lovely balcony and some great abstracts.

 

from centre 1

No.317, Fold, 2012 – Rana Begum 

Paint on powder-coated mild steel.

 

from centre 2

 Polymorph, 2013 – Natalie Dower

For some reason, I thought these were young artists; then I checked the biogs.  Natalie Dower is 84; others include Tess Jaray (b.1937), Trevor Sutton (b.1948), Peter Lowe (b.1938)… Begum (b.1977) is a mere child.  Some fantastic work from major artists, and free.  We paid a voluntary fiver for the excellent booklet.

“History is Now: 7 Artists Take on Britain (Hayward Gallery)

Actually, six different takes, since the Wilson sisters go together.  It’s really more like journalism or history with a lot of art objects, than an art exhibition.  There’s a Bristol Bloodhound surface-to-air missile on the verandah, for instance; where would you see something like that in an art exhibition?  Well, there were Fiona Banner’s planes in the Tate a couple of years ago…

The artists are Simon Fujiwara – a group of objects of significance to the artist, including a huge slice of coal, Meryl Streep’s Margaret Thatcher costume from a film, a Hockney Ipad enlargement;

The Wilsons – political conflicts, including Greenham Women, Northern Ireland, social and political movements – look out for Penelope Slinger’s surrealist feminist photos, Stuart Brisley’s cage of gloves (looks like it should be about Auschwitz – actually, each glove represents 66,000- odd unemployed) and the Pasmores;

stuart brisley

Stuart Brisley

Roger Hioorn – BSE/CJD and Scrapie; horrifying subject, mostly film and newspaper reports, with some rather tangential stuff, for example, a Lygia Clark sculpture that just happens to resemble a prion;

John Akomfrah – film, including Gilbert and George, Francis Bacon and Barbara Hepworth;

Hannah Starkey – photographs, notably Chris Killip, Bill Brandt, Martin Parr.

Richard Wentworth – great wartime, Festival of Britain, 50s and 60s stuff – Paul Nash, Paolozzi, Ben Nicholson, Tony Cragg, Eagle Annuals, early Penguins and Pelicans.

tony cragg

 Tony Cragg

Britain from the North

 

Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer)

OK, I understand she (Scarlett Johansson) is an alien lifeform, acquiring skins from unwary Scottish blokes; but who is the motorcyclist and how did the Tesco man escape, if only temporarily? and why did she have to kill the Czech man in the wetsuit?  Horrible attempted rape scene.

 

Painting

Getting nowhere except the Slough of Despond with my current effort – maybe I’ll chuck some bright paint on the canvas and ride my bike over it, and call it Aphrodite at the Waterhole…except Tony Hancock’s already used that (see “The Rebel” – essential viewing for artists).

work in prog 1

Work in progress???

Blackpaint

12.4.15

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 447 – Ken Clark’s pictures, Theory and Non-Theory, Capitalism, Fellini and Orwell

May 23, 2014

Kenneth Clark Collection at Tate Britain 

This is an astonishing exhibition; four and a bit big rooms of great art, most of it actually owned by Clark.  Some of the treasures on show listed or shown below:

pasmore clark 1

Victor Pasmore

A couple of portraits and nudes by Pasmore that are new to me, along with the more familiar river side pictures like Hammersmith and “Evening Star” in which, unlike the Turner of the same name I saw the other week at Margate, the star in question is readily visible.  The rear view nude on the bed (which I can’t find a picture of) looks like a fore-runner of Uglow.

sutherland clark1

Graham Sutherland, Sun rising between two Hills

A number of great Sutherlands, landscapes, foundries, Blitz damage, portraits (of Clark himself); also Pipers on similar themes, and Paul Nash – especially his magisterial “Battle of Britain” with it’s vapour trails making a great, plant-like shape in the sky above the Thames and the coast.

bell clark1

Graham Bell, Brunswick Square, 

A new one on me – love that violet blue.

Just too much to list really – Cezanne drawings. Coptic tapestry figures from the 5th – 7th century AD, a Lippo Lippi Moses striking the rock, a couple of Nolans, one horrible the other fantastic, a couple of great Seurats, a Samuel Palmer, Cornfield by Moonlight and Evening Star (again), Henry Moore in the shelters and the mines, oh, a couple of Leonardo drawings…  It’s amazing that one man could have amassed all this in the 20th century.

Theory

I attended a symposium at UCL a couple of weeks ago, on “Real Abstraction”.  A series of distinguished academics, who discussed matters like materiality in very abstruse terms, assuming familiarity with the terms on the part of the audience (many of whom looked as if they were up to speed on the topic).  All the speakers, I think, mentioned Adorno; Capital also made an appearance in every presentation.  It was soon clear to me that the real subject was how abstraction in art could be accommodated by Marxist theory of the Frankfurt school – for the first speaker anyway.  We listened to six of the speakers and none of them made any attempt to define what “Real Abstraction” was. We listened quietly, applauded politely and visited Habitat in the lunch hour, buying a nice glass flask for £8.00.

More Theory

My painting has always taken account of “theory” – Foucault, Barthes, Derrida, Baudrillard, Deleuze – I suppose it’s obvious from the content.  At my book group the other day, I discovered from one of the academics that there are “theory” and “non-theory” people in the universities; the latter would be traditionalists, liberals or conservatives, using analytical processes not determined (although perhaps informed) by the writings of the above and their followers.  Glad I’m not one – now I can add Adorno to the list too.

Orwell, Eileen and 1984

Perhaps the ultimate non-theory person; I was interested to read in the great Crick biography that Orwell’s wife Eileen worked for the Ministry of Food during the war, persuading the people to eat whatever vegetables were currently plentiful – one month, she might be stressing the health benefits of potatoes; the following month, there may be a shortage, and she would switch to pointing out how fattening potatoes were.  Crick suggests plausibly this filtered into Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Fellini, The Ship Sails on

Watched this again and was freshly impressed by the performance of Freddie Jones  as the reporter-narrator, who ends up in the rowing boat with the rhino (you have to get the DVD and watch it, too complicated to explain) and Barbara Jeffords as the suppressed operatic diva.  Fantastic.

 

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For Derrida

Blackpaint

23.05.14

Blackpaint 394 – Lizards and Fossils and Christopher in Cordoba

May 16, 2013

Ellen Gallagher at  Tate Modern

This got a rather sniffy review from Laura Cumming in the Observer; she found Gallagher’s frequent use of cut outs of thick African lips and “googly” eyes repetitive.  Not like loads of other artists then, who rarely repeat a trick.  There’s a lot of social and political content to her work, as you may guess from the foregoing, but I was most impressed not by the meaning but by the look of it.

She has several works made up of the lips and eyes on a parchment-like support, thick lined paper I think, and from a slight distance they look like walls of tiny bricks – reminded me of Rachel Whiteread drawings.

Others, huge canvases or linens, looked like Victor Pasmores – one plain canvas with a lizard shape writhing on it; another, with several black or inky blocks off-centre.

There were the series of yellow “wigs” on magazine ads, the faces with eyes cut out and the huge black paintings, coated with rubber.  The last room had the delicate “botanical” drawings and the embossed “fossils”, made, presumably, by pressing the image and sometimes shaving tiny leaves of the paper up with a sharp blade.  The best ones were the “Pasmores” – I ignored the deeper meanings and looked at them as if they were abstracts.  Go see it and read the booklet for the politics.

gallagher

Saloua Raouda Choucair at Tate Modern

Lebanese woman, now in her 90s, went to Paris and studied with Leger.  First thing is that the paintings are very small, maybe 18″*24″, that sort of order.  They are very colourful, semi-or completely abstract, many consisting of interlocking, or overlapping, or fitting geometric shapes.  One beautiful, singing, blue one looks very much like a Helion – th influence of Leger and of Picasso is evident in the figures.

The sculptures are mainly interlocking ceramic or polished wood structures; again, quite small; I think some are maquettes.  There are several structures made from thin wires on frames that are just like pieces by Moholy-Nagy and Gabo – since neither of these artists are mentioned anywhere in the written material on the exhibition, I have to assume that she arrived at them independently.

So – a great double at the TM; the Gallagher has much more content but the Choucair makes fewer demands on the intellect.  mind you, you could do what I did and just wander round looking; then read up later.

choucair

Seville and Cordoba

Just back after four days in blinding sunlight and 30 Cent heat – well, hot for us English.  Went to see the Zurbarans in Seville and I was surprised that they were rather mundane compared to the ones in the British Museum.  the art that impressed me most was a fabulous Madonna and child (or rather,  little man) in the Alcazar there.  I don’t think it was Spanish however – looked early Italian to me.

In the cathedral at Cordoba – the one with the hundreds of receding Islamic arches in red and white – there was a huge, dark Saint Christopher painting, half-concealed by a column, that could have been Gulliver, or maybe that picture on the cover of the Pelican edition of Hobbes’ Leviathan.  Plus the usual super realist crucifixions, still rendered in wood for modern catholic churches, I was surprised (a bit) to find.

At one point, I surveyed the cathedral from a central point and I’m convinced that the entire tourist population, apart from me, was taking one photograph after another, to be looked at later.  One old man in the museum just trudged from one painting to the next, snapping it and then getting a shot of the label.  he never looked at anything except through the camera.

In the Mood for Love

Wong Kar Wei.  saw this on TV the other night, and I loved it, without knowing quite why – maybe that violin theme, the rain, the scabby walls, the tension of unexpressed yearning, the stylish smoking – but no, it had to be the dresses and the coiffure.  she just spent the whole film swaying up and down narrow stairs, streets and corridors in those tight, high collared dresses.  Very watchable, considering no sex – overt, anyway.

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Threshold

Blackpaint

16.5.13

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”.