Posts Tagged ‘Viv Albertine’

Blackpaint 526 – the Inevitable (yawn…) Review of the Year

December 31, 2015

Best Exhibitions

auerbach eow on bed

Auerbach, Tate Britain

pollock no14 1951

Pollock, Tate Liverpool

bacon figures in a landscape

Bacon, Sainsbury Centre

 

Torso 1928 Dame Barbara Hepworth 1903-1975 Presented by the executors of the artist's estate 1980 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T03128

 

Hepworth Exhibition, Tate Britain

 

goya mirth

Goya, Courtauld

dumas helene

Dumas, Tate Modern

diebenkorn seated woman

Diebenkorn, RA

sargent children

Singer Sargent, NPG

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Hoyland, Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery

Wreck 1963 by Peter Lanyon 1918-1964

Lanyon, Courtauld

 

Actually a fantastic year in London; all the shows and books and DVDs below have been reviewed in previous Blackpaints, so you can see a proper evaluation – sort of – if you’re interested…

  • abstract geometry following on from Malevich at the Whitechapel with Adventures of the Black Square;
  • Marlene Dumas’ haunting and unsettling portraits and masks and nudes at TM;
  • Barbara Hepworth at TB (rather worthy, but some lovely little torsos from her and her contemporaries – maybe I’ve been to St.Ives too many times);
  • beautiful, modulating colours and shapes from Sonia Delaunay at TM;
  • Singer Sargent at the National Portrait Gallery – one delight after another, throughout;
  • Goya drawings and etchings of witches, penitents, “lunatics” and other unfortunates at the Courtauld (missed the National Gallery Goya, I’m afraid);
  • Giacometti, NPG – good but not THAT good..
  • Alexander Calder, TM – also GBNTG.

But the best:

  • Diebenkorn at the RA;
  • Rubens at the same time, same venue;
  • Frank Auerbach at TB;
  • Marlene Dumas;
  • Bacon and the Masters at Sainsbury Centre, UEA;
  • Singer Sargent;
  • Lanyon at the Courtauld;
  • Pollock at Tate Liverpool;
  • John Hoyland at Hirst’s new gallery near Vauxhall.

 

Best Films

No contest here; Jodorowsky’s Dance of Reality.  Violence, murder, suicide, live burial, plague, the Golden Shower, torture, operatic singing, more masks, Stalinism and nazism – all in the best possible taste and with an uplifting message.  And some wonderful scenery.

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Abel Ferrara’s Pasolini.  William Dafoe is great in the role; the sex is startlingly spectacular; mix of fantasy and reality – and a soundtrack including Tony Jo White of Polk Salad Annie fame (ask your grandparents).

Disappointing, given the hype:

Carol – woman -on- woman love story.  Good acting, good period feel, otherwise conventional.

Star Wars; the Force Awakens – Good action film, with a bit of nostalgia.  Found my attention slipping now and then (as in Carol); realised (I knew, of course, but didn’t know it in my bones) that criticism on TV and in papers is just part of the publicity machine.  They’re all for sale, from the Guardian to the Sun and beyond.

And the worst:

German’s Hard to be a God.

It is as if he deliberately set out to make it impossible to understand, or even to watch; its all too close – you can’t get any perspective.

 

Best DVDs /TV

Wild Tales – portmanteau mayhem in Argentina.

All is Lost – Robert Redford, convincingly against the elements.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Jack Nicholson against Louise Fletcher.

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The Swimmer– Burt Lancaster swims home across Cheeverland.

 

Best Books Read – poetry first

Gil Scott-Heron -Then and Now.  The words are great, even without the music.   What’s the word?

John Cooper Clarke – Ten Years in an Open Necked Shirt.  Evidently Chicken Town and Beasley Street – no more to be said.

Ted Hughes- Collected Poetry.  As Alan Bennett says, he’s not strong on humour, but the imagery is gritty and muscular and totally original.  Who is stronger?  Hughes, evidently…

Gaudete – also by Hughes.  His verse novel about the vicar from hell who visits vigorously all the women of his parish to found his new religion – and the efforts of the shotgun-owning menfolk to curb his enthusiasm…

 

Non – Fiction

Clothes Clothes Clothes, Music Music Music, Boys Boys Boys –  Viv Albertine.  great book – I couldn’t put it down.  Awful title, impossible to remember the right order.

Just Kids –  Patti Smith about her and Robert Mapplethorpe.  Surprisingly restrained and almost Victorian prose at times.  By the way, lovely exhibition of Mapplethorpe, featuring photos and film of the young Patti at Kiasma, Helsinki.

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Fiction

Raymond Carver, Collected Stories – he just wipes everyone but Cheever off the map.

John Cheever, Collected Stories.  Torch Song, the Duchess, the Little Red Moving Van, The Country Husband, The Swimmer… no, Cheever’s the best.  Unless Carver is…

House of Leaves, Mark Danielewski – a sort of horror story, pretentious, experimental in form.

Shark, Will Self – pretentious and experimental in form and language.

Finders Keepers, Stephen King – the absolute master of plot and narrative drive; once you start any SK story you will finish it, unless you die first.

 

And the worst;

The Enormous Room, e e cummings – the archness of the language is unbelievable; a prison novel set in WWI, which is, so far,  a series of “comic” character sketches.  It’s driving me mad and I may give up on it.  The Penguin Modern Classic cover is a great Paul Klee, though…

 

And My Best of 2015

heaven only knows 2

Heaven Only Knows II

 

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A Pellet falls from Outer Space

Blackpaint

31.12.15

Happy New Year to all readers for whom it is New Year.

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Blackpaint 519 – Agnes, Auerbach, Ten and Patti Again

November 8, 2015

Master John, NPG

These fantastic paintings by “Master John” or from his workshop – whoever he was.  Not Holbein for sure, but brilliant. I think.

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Patti Smith, Just Kids

This is turning out to be a fascinating read; she completely confounds your expectations.  I thought she’d come across angry, tough, scathing – punk; not at all.  She’s sensitive, kindly, vulnerable, a bit pretentious, a bit awkward.  She knew everyone, remembers everything.  It’s a great companion and contrast to Viv Albertine’s book, which is also great in a different way.

Lines for Agnes, exhibition and discussion at Marylebone Church

Attended this last Saturday.  A small exhibition of small paintings with some perceived relationship to Agnes Martin; minimal but not minimalist, somewhat geometric, patterns or colour fields darkening at bottom…  One speaker mentioned the problem of taking too much out; erasing until you have nothing left.

It struck me that there are at least two completely opposite tendencies in abstract painting – or maybe just painting – with one going towards the erasure of everything, the other chucking in the kitchen sink.  One end is occupied by Agnes Martin, the other by, say, Appel or, if figurative, early Auerbach.  It’s a spectrum of course.  Won’t pursue this further, since it has already involved me in one heated argument.

Auerbach, Tate Britain

Since I’ve mentioned him,   I’ve been to the exhibition for the third – or is it fourth? – time today.  First, I noticed that the one with the red “worms” crawling across it; they look as if they are squeezed straight from the tube.  There’s a sort of broken shelf of paint built up under them, and it’s tempting to think that they would have simply fallen off without this shelf.  As for ” Building Site, Earls Court” (1953), I’ve realised what that black mass reminds me of – black olives, trodden into an oily mash.

“Ten”, SLWA, Gerald Moore Gallery, Eltham College, until 6th December

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Marion Jones

“SLWA” stands for South London Women Artists – although with a couple of possible exceptions, these are paintings by artists who happen to be women – no feminist themes as far as I could make out.  I have to declare an interest; the above very excellent painting is one of my partner’s.  There are other good works, but you’ll have to go along to see those.

Bergman, The Passion of Anna

Another highly fraught piece starring Max von Sydow and Liv Ullman; again, it’s set on an island.  Three out of four of the films in the Bergman box set I bought are set on an island – and I’ve got an idea some others of his are also island-bound.  I’ll investigate and speculate further on this – no doubt it’s well known and someone’s already done a thesis on it.

Haven’t completed any new paintings this week, so here are four of my recent life drawings – I think I’ve captured a good likeness….

 

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Blackpaint

8.11.15

Blackpaint 510 – Jodorowsky’s Dad, Albertine’s Trials, Captain Lee’s Toes

September 4, 2015

Dance of Reality, Alejandro Jodorowsky (2013) at the ICA

jodorowsky

A sort of fictional, magical realist biography of his father, set in a mining town in Chile.  Greek theatre – style masks on extras, his mother – huge breasts, low -cut dress – sings all her dialogue, opera style.  The film has a Technicolor feel; there are clowns, dwarves, rioting amputees (casualties from the mines); scenes of:

  • bullying and violence against a child (the Jodorowsky character);
  • forced sex between his parents;
  • mother urinating on father, to cure him of disease;
  • suicides by shooting and hanging;
  • mother and son, both naked, blacking each other up with shoe polish (don’t ask);
  • a live burial;
  • police attacking and beating amputee miners;
  • graphic torture scenes – hanging by the arms, electrical prongs attached to genitals.

All this and more, but the film was light, funny and – embarrassing term – uplifting at the end.  Obvious Fellini influence and similarities to Angelopoulos (departure on raft at the end).  The light is so different from the Greek films though; denser, thicker somehow.

The story is basically the trials of Jodo’s bullying, ultra-macho, Stalinist father; his “journey” from this authoritarianism to the acquisition of humanity and gentleness.  Brilliant film.

Little Pictures at Tate Britain

I thought I’d highlight some of the smaller paintings in the current display; the ones that glow at you across the galleries, overshadowed in many cases by huge narrative Victorian efforts.  No further comment required, I think.

tate b ludgate

Ludgate Circus, Jacques – Emile Blanche

 

tate b holman hunt

Cornfield at Ewell, Holman Hunt

tate b ford madox brown

The Hayfield, Ford Madox Brown

 

tate b3

Battersea Reach, Walter Greaves

 

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Top – Vollendam Holland, Elizabeth Forbes

Bottom – Mounts Bay, Norman Garstin

 

Captain Lee’s feet, Tate Britain

This very strange portrait – it always looks to me as if Lee is in one of those dreams where you’ve forgotten to put your trousers on – is actually a portrait of the whole man, not just his legs and feet.  But I happened to notice that the feet, or rather the toes, are rendered as if copied from a photograph.  They’re very long.  The feet, however. are small – too small, I think.

tate b2

Captain Lee, Geerhaerts

 

Imperial War Museum

Some “new” paintings at the museum; Ceri Richards, the great Leonard Rosoman, Ravilious; there’s a roomful of Peter Kennard’s collaged anti- missile missile posters and paintings. The most striking work, however, is Bruce McLean’s “Broadside”.  It’s the sinking of the Sheffield, I think – but I just like the colours, unreformed abstractionist that I am.

(c) Bruce McLean; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

 

Clothes Clothes Clothes, Music Music Music, Boys Boys Boys, by Viv Albertine

Last week, I was writing about “Hard to be A God”, the Russian film which is mostly shot in extreme close-up, making it difficult to get context.  Albertine’s book is similar in this respect; it’s episodic and written in present tense throughout, which must be hard to do, because you have to be thinking as you though then. So it often comes across as naive, portentous, and volatile- but it’s also really gripping.  I stormed through it and enjoyed it greatly.  She’s very candid, spends pages saying how shy and self-conscious and lacking in confidence she is – and then reveals things that you can’t imagine yourself doing.  Very brave and not ghosted, like lots of other music bios.  Halfway through a brutal attack by a lover, in which he has her on he knees, with her face pressed to the floor, she tells us she is wearing “a stripy blue-and -white sailor-style Sonia Rykiel cardigan with an appliqued red silk heart on it, knee-length red linen skirt cut on the bias…”; that’s devotion to fashion.

Two other reasons I liked it – Albertine featured in the brilliant Joanna Hogg’s last film “The Exhibition” and was great (as was Liam Gillick, who gets a bit of a rough ride in the book) – and she re-bought the Island sampler “Nice Enough to Eat” second hand – as did I, and very good it is too.

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Synapse Back

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Blackpaint 476 – Blackpaint’s Best and Worst Films 2014

December 31, 2014

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Best Films and DVDs

Exhibition,  Joanna Hogg

Both Viv Albertine and Liam Gillick are great in this third brilliant film by Joanna Hogg (the other two being Archipelago and Unrelated), this one focusing  on two practising artists living in a designer house somewhere in Kensington, I think.  It’s funny and touching; I love the pretentious and yet stilted way they talk to each other about art; self importance, coupled with inarticulacy – reminds me of my partner and I.

Leviathan, Paravel and Castaing – Taylor

This is the documentary about deep-sea fishing from an American trawler (?) in the North Atlantic; staggering shots from above and BELOW the water – no clearly audible dialogue, mostly at night; hypnotic.

Leviathan, Zvyagintsev

Russian Barents Sea coast; municipal gangsterism and corruption, allied to the Russian Orthodox church, prodigious vodka, cigarette and herring consumption, firearms, violence, pathos and whale skeletons.

The Travelling Players, Angelopoulos

Classic Greek film; a travelling theatre group steer a precarious journey through the years of WW2, the British intervention and the ensuing civil war.  Operatic; fantastic.

A Separation, Farhadi

Enthralling Iranian film, concerning an urban middle-class couple, their crumbling marriage and the daughter in the middle.  Sounds unpromising – watched it twice (on Film4).

Inside Llewyn Davis, Coens

The film inspired by Dave Van Ronk – very loosely – downbeat, very funny, surprisingly good “folk” music; the only problem for me was a cameo from John Goodman, doing one of his huge, threatening eccentrics, for no apparent reason.  My friends in the Pretentious Marxist Book Group thought it was crap because it didn’t explore the political dimension of the 60s US folk boom – fortunately, in my view.

The Great Beauty, Sorrentino

Saw it on DVD; features Tony Servillo, which puts it up there immediately; features old men dancing in an embarrassing manner, a frequent Sorrentino trope.  Obvious homage to Fellini and none the worse for that.

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Worst Films

Julia’s Eyes, Del Toro

Dialogue and situations seem OK in Spanish, but the subtitles demonstrate how ridiculous and cliched they are; the eyeball horror doesn’t carry it.

The Killer Inside Me, Winterbottom

This is actually a well- acted and directed film, but the violence perpetrated on the women in it is horrible and unwatchable.  The ending is ridiculous.

Two Days, One Night, the Dardennes

Not a terrible film (Marion Cotillard is great), but a disappointment and not the masterpiece that the Guardian and Observer critics sat.  The problem is that there is no story arc – you know she has to visit a bunch of her work mates over a weekend and try to persuade them to vote for her reinstatement instead of their bonuses.  Straight away, you are thinking – or rather, I was thinking – “one down, twelve more houses to go”.  It looked like a telly film too.  still, the politics were right on….

Mr. Turner, Mike Leigh

Again, not terrible by any means – but a disappointment.  Too Dickens-y, especially his estranged partner, who keeps popping up with her (and his) daughters, demanding quite reasonably, some support from the artist.  Famous artists et al introduce each other to each other, famous incidents come along like buses, as they tend to do in biopics.  It looks brilliant sometimes – the Temeraire boat trip, for instance – and Spall is great, but I think Leigh’s other historical film, “Topsy Turvy” is far better.

Happy New Year.

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Life Drawings

Blackpaint, 31.12.14