Posts Tagged ‘Willem de Kooning’

Blackpaint 598 – Madrid, Salamanca, Bermondsey

June 3, 2017

Thyssen -Bornemisza Museum, Madrid

Staggeringly beautiful medieval pieces, some below: it has to be said, however, that the Old Masters took some time to perfect the portrayal of a baby – I don’t mean the little adult Christs that sometimes perch on Mary’s knee, but the real babies – like those portrayed below.

 

Yes, it’s definitely a baby…

 

Simone Martini, St.Peter – looking guilty; maybe about the denial of Christ?

Now, a series of three very dodgy Christ babies…

Piero di Cosimo

 

Dodgy Jesus 2 – Jacob Jordaens

 

Dodgy Jesus 3 – Lucas Cranach the elder.  He’s enjoying the grapes, but she doesn’t look too happy…

Carpaccio – some interesting birdlife…

Great Bellini, with that characteristic model again, on the left – she’s usually the Madonna…

Henry Manguin, The Prints (1905).  He’s new to me – another great back for my collection.

 

Michael Andrews, Portrait of Tim Behrens

 

Willem de Kooning – could easily fit in the Last Judgement murals in Salamanca Cathedral (see below) – if it was a bit faded…

 

Salamanca Old Cathedral

Stuck onto the “new” one (started in 16th century); the old one is 12th – 14th century.  We found it by falling down the steps from the new cathedral.

St. Christopher, with Christ on his shoulder – but who are the others under his belt?  There’s another like this in the Prado, taken from a cathedral wall in Segovia, I think (how do they do that?  Taking a mural on stone and transferring it to canvas?); the one in the Prado has the belt people and also has fishes swimming round Christopher’s legs.  The wall paintings in the cathedral need no commentary, for the most part:

I love the sun and moon, looking down on Christ from left and right…

Just look at that half dome painting.

Salamanca is the most beautiful city; storks nesting on the church tower, peregrine falcons circling in the spotlights from the old Jesuit college roof, thousands of swifts screaming as they tear around in raiding parties above the streets, honey-coloured stone…

White Cube Gallery, Bermondsey

Jurgen Partenheimer, “Lichtschwarm” – until 18th June.

Great paintings, a couple of examples below.

 

Rather like Oiticica, maybe.

 

Memento Park

Blackpaint

02.06.17

 

 

Blackpaint 558 – Bourgeois at Bilbao, Warhol, de Kooning and Twombly too

June 13, 2016

The Black is Back (from my hols in Euroland)

Sorry to the thousands of you who asked desperately what happened to last week’s posting – I can’t yet manage to post properly from a Kindle.

Below, my winning entry for the Putney Art School Life Drawing prize, 2016; certificate and £25 voucher, since you ask.  Soon (19th June) to be on show in Putney Exchange exhibition, opposite Waitrose, if you’re in the area…

crabman

The two pictures below are my failed entries for this year’s Royal Academy Summer Exhibition; they will also be on show at the “Salon Des Refuses”, SPACE, 129-131 Mare Street Hackney E8 3RH 23rd – 26th June; come along and buy them and possibly even meet the artist.

 

dirty protest2

Dirty Protest, Blackpaint

 

heaven only knows 2

Heaven Only Knows, Blackpaint

 

Louise Bourgeois at the Guggenheim, Bilbao

Back to real art now – as always in summer, I braved the nightmare drive along the Scalextrics road “system” round Bilbao, with teeth clenched and Johnny Winter loud on the CD player, in order to visit my favourite art museum.  There were about four large rooms devoted to LB’s sculptures, paintings and assemblages, including the following:

 

Bourgeois 1

  • Caged, bandaged, bundle hanger (above); maybe influence on Sarah Lucas?
  • Caged spiral staircase with hanging balls (below); reminded me of a Paul Nash painting.

 

bourgeois 2

  • Lots of miniature stairways, chairs, little doors in little walls…
  • Lots of transmogrifications, human heads becoming or emerging from things (one very Dali-esque hanging head)…
  • Lots of full-size rooms – confessionals, cells, bedrooms – made out of old, scarred doors, varnished partitions, old window frames, cracked glass.
  • Surrealist paintings, reminiscent of Picabia and oddly, David Shrigley (that cartoon style);
  • Her late paintings, anatomical, guts and plumbing on show, a little Dumas maybe, with Emin-like captions or statements: “I know where I’m going”, etc.
  • And of course, spiders and biomorphic genitalia things…

Impressive to see the range of her influence, but not surprising.

Masterpieces Room

Big works by Klein, Rauschenberg, Styll, Rothko, Motherwell – and my two favourites below:

 

nine-discourses-on-commodus-1963

Nine Discourses on Commodus, Cy Twombly

Love those blood and brain- like splatters…

 

villa borghese

Villa Borghese, by Willem de Kooning

Love those muddy brush sweeps.

Shadows, Andy Warhol

A roomful (see below) of 102 screenprints by the master of repetition; as far as I could make out, only three variations were NOT repeated; those in ochre, grey and yellow.

 

warhol shadows

School of Paris, 1900 – 1945

Three things worth highlighting here:

  • A Picasso ball or concert, shades of Munch, or Toulouse Lautrec, or in our time, Michael Andrews – pale women, ball gowns, slashes of lipstick, a silver carafe, conventional perspective… done in 1900.

Pablo Picasso

  • A huge, particoloured, reclining nude by Frantisek Kupka; not that great maybe, but striking and new to me.

kupka

  • A lovely Matisse portrait on a greyish green background of a woman in a ruffled blouse.
  • A sculpted head by Duchamp-Villon, Marcel’s brother, that was reminiscent of Bacon’s portraits, especially that one of Isobel Rawsthorne, with the curving slash down the face.

Otherwise, Delaunay Eiffel Towers, Chagall floaters and fliers, grey Braques, Legers, Gris..; the usual, fabulous stuff.

The Disappearance, BBC4

poisson

Binge-watched four episodes of this the night I got back, until 3.00am; it’s very like the first “Killing”; the focus on the parents, the inevitably flawed father, the mother who goes all emotionally frozen in grief and seeks release in an extra-marital sexual encounter – but gets too drunk to go through with it; the focused, introverted detective Molina (a man in this one) who has a difficult daughter… and so on.

The ridiculous coincidence in this one is that it is the detective’s daughter, out of the whole population of Lyon, who discovers the body of the girl her father is searching for.

Next blog; Mary Heilmann at the Whitechapel.

Blackpaint

June 13th 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 542 – The Milk Jug, the Swan and the Devil’s Arse

April 23, 2016

Rijksmuseum

vermeer milkjug

Distant view over the heads of dozens of Dutch school students of the fabulous milk jug Vermeer and a number of Rembrandts, notably the turbaned self portrait and the young self portrait with the wiry hair and round eyes – and of course, the Night Watch, guns at the ready, about to accidentally shoot each other if not careful.  Also the Jewish Wedding and several others – fabulous, if you can get near them.

 

Rembrandt turban

From these galleries, only the huge swan taking off straight at you grabbed my attention.

swan

Jan Asselijn

There was a great exhibition of Breitners, however (see Blackpaint 341), picture after picture of Geesje Kwak, androgynous figure in a series of lush kimonos and in the nude.  He was clearly seriously obsessed.

breitner kimono

breitner nude

Little like Uglow, this one, I think.

In the 1100 – 1600 bit, there were these two highlights:

gerini

Altarpiece by Gerini – the reds and orange with that gold.

terracotta girl

Terracotta Girl – could be the BVM but no halo – maybe a saint,  couldn’t find a label so I don’t know.

And, tucked away upstairs, some lovely Appels, this one in particular:

Appel rijks

Stadelijk Museum

Stunning discovery for me – two favourite de Koonings and a huge, trickled – down Asger Jorn all in the same room:

asger jorn

Asger Jorn – didn’t get the title; something about swan’s wings beating, I think (that swan again…)

 

dk rosy

Rosy Fingered Dawn at Louse Point, de Kooning

dk north

North Atlantic Light, de Kooning

 

 

beanery

The Beanery, Ed Keinholz

The notice over the bar warns “Fagots” to keep out; all the customers (slumped over tables, propped up at the bar) have clock heads; a soundtrack of “Macnamara’s Band” with a hubbub of voices plays on a loop (Keinholz recorded it at the bar).  It’s funny, grubby and creepy and you queue to go in one at a time, admitted by a solemn museum guard.

The Canterbury Tales, dir. Pasolini (1972)

Cruder, but to my mind, every bit as good as Pasolini’s “Decameron”.  Several well-known British character actors in there – Hugh Griffiths as a lecherous old Sir January to Josephine Chaplin’s beautiful and – to put it mildly – disengaged May; Robin Askwith, in a break from the “Confessions” series, screwing away upstairs in a brothel and emerging to piss liberally over the amused clientele below.  In one scene, there as many naked women as there are on the cover of the celebrated Jimi Hendrix LP.  Pasolini smiling thinly to himself as Chaucer, recording the stories ( the one where the friars emerge from the Devil’s arse in Hell is perhaps the best).  And a great soundtrack mainly from Topic Records, especially Frank McPeak’s “The Auld Piper” from the “Jack of All Trades ” LP.

devils arse

Devil’s Arse with emerging friar – actually, maybe it’s a demon’s arse , because the Devil is played by the great, menacing Pasolini actor Franco Citti and he is showing the new arrival around Hell.

Also making a brief appearance at the start of the film is the wrestler Adrian Street, familiar from Jeremy Deller’s work.

Next time, CoBrA in Amstelveen and Delacroix at the National Gallery.

wip1

Work in Progress – St. George, of course (who else could it be, today?  Shakespeare, I suppose…)

Blackpaint

23.04.16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 531- Loker, Blacklock and Taking No Prisoners

February 8, 2016

John Loker, Flowers Gallery, W1

Sorry to say I missed the boat on this one; the exhibition ended on Saturday.  Nevertheless, I thought the paintings were spectacular and deserved an airing on these pages.  They are acrylic and it looks to me as if he has used some sort of multi-pronged marker or scraper to interlayer thin lines of different colours across the surface of some; in one painting, the colour mix, seen from the side, appears to be floating above the canvas.  they are big, by the way; 200*215 cm, that sort of size.

loker1

Space is a Dangerous Country – RE-entry, 2014

 

loker2

Space is a Dangerous Country – Columbia/Disaster, 2015

No doubt about the nature of the content, then – which brings me to the next artist:

 

George Blacklock, “Colour and Abstraction” (Crowood Press, 2015)

blacklock

Ancestral Voices V

I went to his book launch last week at Chelsea College of Art, where he is the current dean, I think.  He was an engaging speaker – it was one of those set-ups where he was “in conversation” with another lecturer, followed by questions from the floor.  One piece of very sound advice to artists; don’t be modest with other artists (or prospective buyers), spending time telling them what you don’t like about your own pictures – you’ll put them off.  Tell them what’s good, instead.  Sounds obvious and probably only necessary to say to British artists; I know I’ve done it and so has my partner.

Anyway, from both the book and the talk, it’s clear that Blacklock isn’t really an abstract artist at all, though he looks like one at first glance.  His images are abstracted from real world images – Michelangelo’s Pietas, a banjo player, the US flag – and in that sense, are representational.  He is a big fan of de Kooning, using DK’s famous “slipping glimpser” phrase as the title of a joint exhibition with Gary Oldman in Mexico.  Many of de Kooning’s works are representational -though “abstracted” – the Women of course, but also the light on the water ones, Villa Borghese and so on.

Although he said he didn’t want the book to be a “How to”, that’s pretty much how it’s turned out, with sections on perspective, Fibonacci series, Golden Section, materials etc. and exercises for the aspiring abstract painter. Well worth the twelve quid, though, for Blacklock’s own terrific works.

The Return, Zvyagintsev (2003)

After an unexplained 12 year absence, a father (Konstantin Lavronenko) turns up again in the lives of his wife and two children, receives the ministrations of the unquestioning woman and administers family life with terse instructions.  He takes the two boys off on a “fishing trip” to a deserted island, suppressing any dissent with instant, sweeping, casually delivered executive action.  Where has he been, what is he seeking on the island?  That’s for him to know – the boys must simply obey and learn.

As in “The Banishment” (2007), which also features Lavronenko, Zvyagintsev seems concerned with Russian masculinity, especially how men behave with their wives and children.  Russia comes across as the most ingrained patriarchal society, even as, with “The Banishment”, the story is borrowed from the USA.  So, Zvyagintsev does tortured and torturing fathers and husbands, Tarkovsky does crazed or slightly touched seers (Stalker and The Sacrifice) and Sokurov does – something else.  I’ll come back to him.

Sicario (2015) dir. Denis Villeneuve

Unrelentingly grim and violent; US v the Mexican drug cartels; hanging, beheaded bodies, casual shooting throughout, Del Toro “doing what has to be done”, Emily Blunt being ridiculously obstructive with her prissy legal scruples – towards the end, I thought I was watching “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia”.  Not seen it?  Far superior – Warren Oates and Sam Peckinpah, a difficult to beat combination.

Exterminating Angels

angel1

Angel I

 

angel2

Angel 2

 

angel3

Angel 3 (WIP)

Blackpaint

8/02/16

Blackpaint 515 – The Thicker the Better, Chaps.

October 19, 2015

Auerbach at Tate Britain

There are three fantastic modern painters of wildly different types on in London at the moment – John Hoyland at Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery, Peter Lanyon at the Courtauld and Frank Auerbach at Tate Britain.  I did Hoyland last week; now for Auerbach (the only one still living and, very much, still painting).

Below are two of my favourite paint “cakes”; the earlier paintings are REALLY thick, the paint in semi-detached curls in some cases.  The paint is built up almost into reliefs or sculptures on the canvas.  “Earls Court Road, Winter” (1953)  is brown, black, grey and almost green, a scabby mass of wrinkled oil like a chunk of mud excavated from the site and hung in the gallery.  The paint gets progressively thinner as the years pass, but it’s always oily, slippery, layered and brushed through other colours, picking them up on the way.

auerbach eow on bed

EOW Nude on Bed (1959)

auerbach eow half length

EOW Half-Length Nude (1958)

The heads and portraits are pretty much all fabulous; some of the cityscapes, parks and buildings less so.  I found myself thinking the sacrilegious thought about the picture below: “I could have done that when I was 11”; and then three or four more times, with others, “Mornington Crescent Looking South” (1996) and “The House” (2011), for instance.  The point is, I didn’t and Auerbach did, although not at 11.  Auerbach invites this sort of random, outlaw thought by stating (on the wall, at the start)  that he wants us to consider each picture as a thing in itself, not an example of how he was painting in a given decade.

auerbach vincent terrace

Interior Vincent Terrace (1982 – 4)

As always with Auerbach exhibitions, we were plagued with those who stand for minutes, an inch away from the surface, sometimes delivering lectures to their girlfriends – it’s always men, I’m sorry to say – and blocking everyone else’s access to that picture.  It’s stupid of course, because the portraits mostly resolve into quite startlingly sharp images from about 12 feet away.  Up close, they are a mass of intricate, indecipherable whorls.  Sometimes, they are better like that, though.

I’ve lots more to say on this exhibition, but I’m going for the third time tomorrow, so I’ll save it for next time.

Lanyon, the “Glider”  Paintings, Courtauld Gallery

lanyon solo flight

Solo Flight

I reckon about 20 pieces of work in this exhibition, staggeringly beautiful images; blue curtains of rain or mist, vortexes, cloud, coastline, reproduced in his gestural swipes and sweeps, scrapings, splatters, dribbles and pools – no, oceans – of deep green/blue.  He’s painting the invisible air currents a lot of the time.  There are also several of his assemblages. incorporating thick bits of broken blue glass, scrawled with black paint.

lanyon cross country

Cross Country

It was startling, then, to see two paintings,”Near Cloud” and “North East”,  both from 1964 (the year of his death, after a glider crash) which were “emptied out”, like late de Koonings.  They were flat, untextured, thinly painted, almost diagrammatic.  What happened there?

Sluice Art Fair, by the Oxo Tower

Lots of little art works, some very classy; photographic prints, collages, tiny drawings on blocks – but at gasp-inducing prices.  For example, a small square with some very attractive gestural lines and patterns sketched on it, by Kark Bielik, was priced at £800.00!  Clearly, the labour theory of value not operating in the art world at any level (obvious, I suppose).

One of those riveting and irritating films in which disparate images are flung before your eyes for less than a second before they are thrust out (images, not eyes) by another.  Your mind is always processing them in retrospect.  A lot of war images – there go some Russian attackers! Now it’s a mine going off! – in this one; I think we saw the prototype of this sort of film montage at the Biennale a couple of years ago, by Stan VanDerBeek  (Blackpaint 414).   This one’s by Laura Pawela.

Gargantua and Pantagruel and Finnegans Wake

No doubt someone has done a thesis on it, but reading these simultaneously – well, a bit of one after a bit of the other, as it were – I was struck again by the lists.  They both, Rabelais and Joyce, like a lovely long list of silly names, or disgusting objects, or what have you.  By long, I mean pages in Joyce’s case.  Sometimes funny – often irritating.

 

buff tit 2

Buff Tit,

Blackpaint

19.10.15

 

Blackpaint 511 – Pollock, Fury and One-Note Plinky

September 14, 2015

Jackson Pollock, Blind Spots (Tate Liverpool)

This is a great little exhibition – about fifty pictures? – mostly from 1951 – 55, when his best stuff was supposed to have been done and decline set in.  There are a few drip paintings from 1947-9, by way of context; staggering delicacy and intricacy in the twining of the coloured skeins, rendering laughable the comment in the Telegraph Review section that there is “more to Pollock than flinging paint violently onto canvas”, as if that is what he had ever done.

The large drip painting, although beautiful, does remind you (or me, anyway)of a Formica table top from the fifties.  It’s the size, shape and the continuation of the pattern on the edges (because he did them on unprimed canvas on the floor and stretched them on supports afterwards).

Some favourites below:

pollock no 8 1952  

No.8, 1952

This one strongly reminiscent of Asger Jorn – I’m thinking “Letter to my Son” (Tate Modern).  It’s the little heads swimming about.

pollock no14 1951

No.14, 1951

Is that a chameleon, stepping through the undergrowth? Probably not…

 

Pollock no 12 1952

No.12, 1952

The big colourful one that Frank O’ Hara called a great “gigolo of a picture”.

As well as Jorn, you can see Picasso here and there.  There are a couple of sets of prints, which I think  conflict a little with Pollock’s spontaneous ethic; not just a driven genius then, a bit of business acumen there.  A bit like De Kooning, deciding to “harvest” the newspaper sheets he placed on his paintings in the 60s, to keep the paint from drying too quickly; shift them a little to smear the image and you have a “Monoprint” that can be signed and sold, instead of chucked away.

Constellations, Tate Liverpool

The paintings in this collection are arranged in “constellations”, which ignore chronology and geography and bounce off each other in some not always apparent fashion.  Fine, if you know plenty already but not helpful if you want a more art-historical approach.  I realise this sounds like the eternally carping Jonathan Jones, but in this respect, he has a point.  Some highlights below:

gaudier brjeska

Henri Gaudier Brjeska

 

dieter roth

Dieter Roth – I think it goes this way round.

 

bonnard window

Pierre Bonnard

pistoletto

Michelangelo Pistoletto

What’s she feeling for there?  Rather like my partner’s side of the bed.

Billy Fury

billy fury

Superb statue, by Tom Murphy,  of the great singer on the Albert Dock; the stance and the profile are perfect – I missed that lop-sided sneer/smile he used to do, though.  “So near, yet so far away”..

Carver and Kidman 

A very tenuous connection – rather like Constellations – here: I’d just been reading the Raymond Carver story about the boy who is run over on his birthday and slips into a coma, when Nicole appeared on TV in a film called “Rabbit Hole” – in which her son has been run over, chasing his dog across a road.  The film is actually about his parents “coming to terms” and it employs that awful, universal, plink-plunk sequence of slow, single piano notes to signify melancholy – I think I’ve actually heard it in news bulletins, behind “special reports” by journalists “on the spot”.  Thank goodness for the likes of Carver and Cheever and Wolff ; you couldn’t do one-note plinky behind films of their stories (I can think of three, “the Swimmer”, “Short Cuts” and “Jindabyne”).

Jodorowsky, Santa Sangre

Mexico, circus, clowns, knife-throwers, women wrestlers, ecstatic religion… arms chopped off, throats cut, murder by throwing knife and samurai sword, acid flung on genitals…the funeral of an elephant, the resurrection of a host of murdered “brides”…and it manages to be sentimental too, with an accompaniment of emotive Mexican song.  Possibly some one-note plinky, even.

sidelined WIP

Work in “Progress”

Blackpaint

14.12.15

 

 

 

Blackpaint 503 – UrbanArtBrixton, Neglected AbExes (who happen to be women)

July 10, 2015

Urban Art in the street 

I’m exhibiting in the street in Brixton tomorrow and Sunday with a few other select artists – about 200, I think – between 10.00am and 6.00pm; come and see.

geometry1

Geometry 1 

Evert Lundquist

Swedish Expressionist painter 1904 – 1990.  Someone told me about this painter, who reminds me a little of Munch (can’t stand Munch, but I like this painter for some reason) and sometimes, a little of Van Gogh:

lundquist1

 

lundquist2

lundquist3

Grace Hartigan

Why no book on this great American painter?  She’s as good as Frankenthaler – but maybe not so innovative –

and not far behind the sublime Joan Mitchell, in my opinion.

hartigan1

hartigan2

Pat Passlof

Another interesting AbEx, a pupil of, and obviously influenced by de Kooning – but with a twist of her own:

passlof1

 

passlof2

And just for comparison, here’s a Joan Mitchell:

mitchell - george went swimming

Stunning, eh?  Anyway, desperately trying to sort stuff out for Brixton tomorrow, so will post now.  Few words, lots of pictures for once.

Megiddo

Megiddo

Blackpaint

10.07.15

 

Blackpaint 485 – Question Time, Comedy in Auschwitz and Late de Kooning

March 8, 2015

 

fred and ginger swing time

Question Time (BBC1)

I try to avoid watching this as it makes me shout at the TV – Thursday night, through sheer idleness, I sat through it (couldn’t be bothered to pick up the remote) and, sure enough, was forced to comment, despite my fatigue.  It was from Glasgow and the audience was full of Scots Nats and Tories (?).  Taking their lead from the Scots Nat MSP on the panel, the questioners seemed angry, self -righteous and proudly possessed of a deep sense of grievance.  It was interesting to hear the Tory woman and Toby Young cheered loudly and the Labour woman jeered; strange, since the SNP and their followers claim to be far left of  Labour.

I was in favour of Scottish independence and probably closer to the SNP than Labour on most policies – but on last night’s showing, the SNP and their supporters are way to the left of British voters as a whole, and shaping up to dictate terms, in the event of Labour needing their support to form a government.  That could be a disaster for Labour and so I was all in favour of Ed Miliband declaring that, like the Tories, he would refuse to enter any form of pact or coalition with the SNP.  Then, Toby Young said that he should make such a declaration, and I changed my mind; Ed should avoid doing anything right-wing Tories like Young suggest.

Martin Amis, Zone of Interest

I was astounded by an article on Amis’ novel, which was about the fact that it’s going to be published in Germany – the paper said that the Germans had shied away from publishing a “comedy” set in an extermination camp.  Comedy?  In what sense?  Only in the sense of the Divine Comedy, maybe; it’s the Inferno.  I certainly don’t remember any laughs, or even wry smiles; only some unease at the process of using factual material like this to frame a plot.  I think Amis has done a good job on the whole though; wonder if he thinks of his work as a comedy…

 

Cross of Iron, Sam Peckinpah (1977)

Had to watch this again the other night; I love the stereotypes – tough and tender James Coburn as Steiner, correct, avuncular CO James Mason and especially chain-smoking, stooping, cynical, anti-Nazi scruff David Warner.  I love the balletic, slow motion skyward leaps of the soldiers blown up by artillery (cf. the Wild Bunch).  And Maximilian Schell as the cowardly Prussian officer who wants the cross so badly – watching him trying to be nonchalant in the dugout, as shells stalk nearer and nearer – suddenly, that fear-frozen smile brought back Peter Sellers as the mad Nazi in Doctor Strangelove…

cross of iron1

 

 

cross of iron2

 

De Kooning 

Reading Judith Zilczer’s book, I was surprised to find that DK’s famous “emptying out” of his paintings in the late 70s/ early 80s was partly because he was worried about the durability of his earlier work, as a result of his use of safflower oil and household emulsion mixes.  Some critic had predicted that they would degenerate, so he changed his materials and his style, which became more like his stuff from the early years, like “Pink Angels”.  Later. of course, they emptied out more….

dkwoman

 

 

Woman I, 1950-2

dkpirate

 

 

Pirate, 1981 

Still haven’t done any new paintings, so a few old ones to finish:

Blue Crouch

 

Blue Crouch

water engine 2a

 

Water Engine 2

??????????

 

White Line Fever 

Blackpaint

8.03.15

Blackpaint 469 – Portraits of Ladies, Lust, Murder and Mayhem by Land and Sea

November 14, 2014

de Kooning

I have finally got hold of the great Phaidon DK book, written by Judith Zilczer and with a number of paintings that didn’t find their way into John Elderfield’s Retrospective published by Thames and Hudson a couple of years ago.  The illustrations are really high quality too.  I find the sheer density of the marks, in paintings like these below, amazing when you consider how he uses so many colours, and yet manages to keep them vivid and fresh.  I love those run-downs in “Two Figures” – dense and dirty – yet bright and seething, in some way.  Anyway, no point in trying to describe them; have a look and see if you agree.

de kooning woman

de Kooning “Woman” – now, that’s what I call a portrait!

 

de kooning two figs in a landscape

DK, “Two Figures in a Landscape”

 

Queen Elizabeth 1 painting,Tate Britain

There’s a fantastic full-length portrait of Elizabeth now on display in the Tate, by Van Der Meulen.  By way of contrast to the DK above, here’s an alternative approach to the full length female portrait.  Actually, it’s much more impressive “in the flesh” so to speak; the face in the actual painting looks like a Holbein (to me, that is).

van der meulen

 

Scene from The Beggar’s Opera, Hogarth, Tate Britain

A Scene from 'The Beggar's Opera' VI 1731 by William Hogarth 1697-1764

 

Also at TB, a roomful of Hogarths, the most striking of which is above.  From John Gay’s play, two women beg two men for MacHeath’s life.  That’s him in the middle, with the manly stance; his legs are chained.  On the left, the gaoler’s daughter pleads with her father; on the right, Polly Peachum pleads with the judge.  I like that colour sequence of the dresses and the drapes – red, blue, red, white, black, red.  I’ve got to say the perspective looks a little odd to me; the gate and barred window on the right look like something out of “Doctor Caligari” and the oval window and gate in the rear wall don’t look “right” either.  Hogarth as a forerunner of the C20th German Expressionists?

The Cowards, Joseph Skvoresky

Finally got round to reading this; I’ve had it for about 30 years in Penguin Modern Classics, with a great Dix cover.  Set in a Czech country town in the closing days of WW2, it covers the retreat of the Germans, mostly SS, and the arrival of the Russians on their “liberation” drive towards Berlin.  For most of the book, the tone reminded me of “Catcher in the Rye”; the narrator, a young middle-class jazz fan and amateur musician, spends time fantasising, getting himself into and out of scrapes with the Germans and the self-appointed Czech militias seeking to fill the space between the departing invaders and the coming Soviet troops; some of these are close to being collaborators, but Smirecky, the hero is only really interested in showing off to, and lusting after, Irene, his hopeless love-object and a handful of other attractive women in the town.  Then, right at the end, it takes a very dark turn into ambush, torture, mutilation and executions – but Smirecky takes this pretty in his stride, and the tone remains, well, cheerful and optimistic….

Autumn of the Patriarch,Gabriel Garcia Marquez

And, after several months, finished this.  No paragraphs, a full stop maybe every ten pages or so, constant switching of viewpoint within the same phrase.  Will Self is like Hemingway by comparison.  It’s magic realism, with the cannibalism, mutilation, mass murder, casual rape, prostitution, disease, parrots, jungles, tropical seas that often figure in the genre.  At times, it felt like a 200 page Dylan Thomas poem with extreme violence and a reference to “general, sir…” every other line.  Thoroughly enjoyable, in tiny doses – say two pages at a time.

Leviathan, Dir. Verena Paravel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor

This is a staggering documentary, filmed aboard a fishing vessel out of Massachusetts, in the North Atlantic fisheries.  God knows how they got some of the sequences – they must have lowered cameras down with the nets, shot from the mast straight down, hung a camera low over the bow so that it took a sort of “selfie” of the ship, plunging below the water line with the rise and fall.  Gulls flying upside-down from below the sea surface (?), dozens of starfish whirling about in the discarded debris as it swirled overboard.  Most of it shot by night, blinding spotlights, livid greens, orange, blues, reds…  Fish heads sliding across the deck like jewelled gargoyles, a horrible but fascinating sequence where two fishermen chopped skate “wings” from the fishes’ bodies – one held the fish, the other whacked a hook in to steady it and hacked the wings off with a machete with two or three swipes.  It had the most uninspiring little blurb on the TV – “Experimental documentary… contains scenes of fish processing”.  Hooks, nets, knives, chains, hatches, slippery debris underfoot – many ways to have a grisly accident, even if the ship stays afloat.

leviathan

 

 

Recent Life-class effort

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Beware of too much white acrylic on backside.

 

 

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Redleg

Blackpaint

14.11.14

Blackpaint 426 – Wishbones, Hair Gel, Bergman and Buttock

December 20, 2013

Bloomberg New Contemporaries at the ICA

Some interesting stuff to see, some of which I recognise from degree shows at Chelsea:

Martin van den Bos, paintings in acrylic, emulsion and pencil resembling putty grey images slightly reminiscent of de Kooning women in monochrome – one called “Pear shaped Woman”.  I like these, probably because they are old-fashioned Ab Ex type images.

Catherine Hughes does window frames, which lean against the wall, with fluorescent lights loosely attached to their sides, “curtains” made from large digital prints.

Laura O’ Neill, “Boney P”, a large sculpture roughly in the form of a wishbone with feet – again, rather recalling de Kooning.  Nothing like the Clamdiggers really, but made me think of them…

Lauren Cohen, “Lunchbox”, a great little animation, roughly drawn figures morphing into fruits etc,; I love roughness and texture in drawing and painting, would like to see the original stills for these.

Yves Scherer, a plaque of fake grass, thickened and erected with hair gel, under glass – why is that good?  Who knows?

Adam Hogarth, another animation, the memorable feature of which is a doll’s anus apparently addressing the audience…

Joanna Piotrowska, three photos from FROWST (?); really striking, especially the one of the two girls in similar dresses, one gazing frankly at the viewer with her boyish face.  Best thing on show.

piotrowska

There are a number of videos on show upstairs; the one I saw was by Fatma Busak, titled “Blessed are those who Come”, and shows a group of elderly Turkish men, grouped around a ruined temple (?) on the Turkish-Armenian border, so say the notes.  They are rather bemused by the attentions of a woman, her face veiled but her long black dress revealing a bare shoulder, who gives them each a piece of bread (although apparently it is a fast day) and cavorts around them as they discuss whether to stay there as asked and be filmed – or to go home.

In addition to the Bloomberg exhibition, there is a work by Zhang Enlai, who has done a painting which completely covers a large hall – you couldn’t call it a room, it’s more like a vault – and which consists of blue, green, cream, brown patches and smears of paint connected by lines and coils in an abstract pattern – or rather, no discernible pattern at all.  What interested me was that it looked great from outside the room, framed in the entrance; inside, it was rather underwhelming, although all-enveloping.

Persona

Ingmar Bergman’s famous film from 1966 featuring Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann; I sat watching it, predicting what would happen next – she’ll tear the photo in half, she’ll slap her face, she’ll step on the glass – then realised that this film was the origin of the cliches.  Anyway, seen it before, in 66 or 67, so I might even have buried memories.  You can’t miss the influence on Tarkovsky; the lingering close-ups on faces, the music, the landscape, the flashes of old film, the bits of newsreel…

Citizen Kane

Watched this again and was rather hard put to see why it is rated so highly by film buffs; great film, staggering set of Xanadu – but surely Vertov and Eisenstein and Gance were more technically innovative earlier.  I actually think Welles’ “The Trial” was more impressive.  Kane would be in my top 20, probably around 20.

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Woman with Red Buttock

Blackpaint

20.12.13

Happy Christmas to all readers who celebrate it.