Posts Tagged ‘William Nicholson’

Blackpaint 644 – Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Symbolist Spiders and Greek Bees

May 20, 2019

Van Gogh and Britain – Tate Britain until 11th August

Starry Night, Sunflowers, Convicts and some famous self portraits are all here in this show, but are so well-known and frequently reproduced that I though I’d show only some of the other art on show here, either that influenced him or shows his influence.  Gustave Dore is a prominent one – others below:

 

Bomberg

Curious that Bomberg was an avant-gardist, almost abstractionist,  early in his career and later, went back to landscapes reminiscent of VG – an avant-gardist of an earlier generation.  Although I have to sai I can’t see much Van Gogh in this particular selection.  Actually, it’s not curious at all, is it?  Art history is full of examples of painters who started radical and went conservative later.

 

Richard Parkes Bonnington

Actually looks more like a Bourdin than a Van Gogh, I think, if it had been a beach scene that is; Bonington was only 26 when he died of TB.  Staggering talent; see more of his works in the permanent Wallace Collection.

 

De Nittis

As much Manet as VG, I think.

 

Harold Gilman

Gilman’s take on that VG with the psychedelic bark.  Either he’d been at the absinthe that day, or some secretion in his brain was producing that “creeping lines” illusion you get on LSD, as I am led to believe…

 

William Nicholson

Wonky looking base, but lovely flowers AND pot…

 

Spencer Gore

I love his violet shadows and the chiselled edges of the roofs and gables; a roomful of these might be a little insipid, though…

 

Unknown – to me anyway, as I didn’t get the name.

Clear VG influence in the sky and trees – as well as a touch of Hockney’s Yorkshire Dales?

Good exhibition, especially the flower pictures; not altogether convinced by the attribution of influence, though.

 

Rembrandt, “Thinking on Paper” at the British Museum Print Room until 4th 

One big advantage over the Van Gogh – the VG costs £22.00, This is free.  below, some examples:

 

The Three Crosses, 1653

Drypoint and burin on vellum.

 

Reclining Nude, 1658

Copper Plate.

 

Young Woman Sleeping, 1654

Brush and brown wash.

 

Self Portrait Leaning on a Stone Wall, 1639

Etching with drawing in black chalk.

Very different, aren’t they?  On the evidence of these four examples, even allowing for the different techniques, you wouldn’t know they were by the same artist.

 

Symbolist Prints – Print Room with the Rembrandts until 18th July

A visual accompaniment to the morally unsound, absinthe- and drug-suffused, sexually advanced world of 19th century French poets, with their drunken boats, evil flowers and lobsters on leads – have I got that right? – a series of atmospheric and beautifully executed prints, an example by Redon below:

 

Odilon Redon

 

The Beekeeper, dir. Theo Angelopoulos, 1986

I’ve just watched Angelopoulos’ sad and funny film again in honour of International Bee Day today.  The story line, which involves an ageing Marcello Mastroianni on a road trip across Greece in search of spring pollens for his crates of bees would probably attract the displeasure of critics if made now, since it involves – eventually – a sexual encounter with a much younger woman (although the encounter is sort of consensual).  Funny?  Unintentionally, I think – poor old Marcello is made to fling himself bear-like onto surprised and displeased women (one of them his estranged wife) and after a few seconds of desultory struggle, to give up and sink into a torpor.  It’s the contrast between the suave Marcello of “Dolce Vita” and the shabby hulk of the beekeeper…

The film ends with what I thought was a unique “suicide by bees”; the Wikipedia entry, however, tells me that the beekeeper is not dying, but actually signalling in Morse code with fingers I took to be drumming in agony.

An old one of mine to finish –

Skinningrove

Blackpaint

20/05/19

 

 

 

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Blackpaint 635 – London Art Fair

January 17, 2019

London Art Fair, Angel, until Sunday 20th January 2019

This is only on for the next three days, so I’m rushing out this special edition of Blackpaint’s Blog to give the world my highlights – which are as follows: (hardly any words this time – but few necessary, really)

William Nicholson

 

Albert Irvin

 

Euan Uglow

 

Adrian Heath

…and a whole wall of Adrian Heath – or half of it, anyway

 

Martin Brewster

detail from the Brewster – love that scraping…

 

John Hubbard

 

Didn’t get the name of this artist (Stephen somebody) but I love the rough, built-up surface – it’s like a mixture of Roy Oxlade, say, and Leon Kossoff.  There’s a whole room of these, and they’re great.  (28th Jan – It’s Stephen Newton.  Apologies to Stephen for not getting the name before)

Rose Hilton

The top one called to me across a crowded room; pity about that frame.

 

Peter Kinley

Not keen on the yellow, but I like the rest…

Audrey Grant

I loved these figure studies – the bottom two remind me of a famous de Kooning, I think it’s called “The Visit”.

 

Patrick Procktor – Terrific portrait; I think it’s exhibited by the Redfern Gallery.

Again, didn’t get artist’s name, but thoroughly endorse the sentiment.

 

As always, one of mine to finish-

Still Life with Hyacinths and Milk Jug 

Blackpaint

17/01/19

 

Blackpaint 474 – Kiefer, Hambling and Balke: walls of mud and water

December 21, 2014

Anselm Kiefer, Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow

I watched this DVD in disbelief; every artwork, every scene – it was permeated with images that to me were about the Third Reich and yet, they seemed to him to be about other things entirely.  As the artist, I suppose his own ideas have some claim to privilege here; I’ve written about this before in relation to Kiefer and other German artists and also Balka, the Polish artist.  Their recent catastrophic history tends to colour interpretation of their work, regardless of the artist’s intention.  Here, though – his colours are mostly earth colours, mud, brown, grey, black; he has excavated tunnels and pits, underground passages like torture chambers; the pits are like graves, containing sometimes, stiffened and smeared articles of clothing; he burns books; there’s razor wire, great sheets of broken glass, wreckage; in one shot, he prods at a great fire with a long iron bar, looking just like those photos taken secretly of the sonderkommando in Auschwitz, burning bodies in 1944.

Kiefer, however, maintains that the works relate to alchemical processes and the mysteries of the universe to be read in the stars, the transmutation of materials, legends like that of Lilith – nothing relating to the camps and the holocaust.  Since he HAS dealt explicitly with these topics – notably in his pieces relating to the poems of Paul Celan – his word must be respected; interesting though, that this process of dual meaning can unfold.  Or perhaps it’s commonplace…

In the final shots of his abandoned, wobbly towers returning to “Nature”, I saw the ruins of bombed German cities.

kiefer cities

 The Missing, BBC1

In the closing episode of this serial, it seemed to me that James Nesbit was transforming into the George Clooney of “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?”; when he popped up at the end in a snowbound Russian town wearing a heavy beard and staring eyes, the transformation was somehow complete – even though Clooney had no beard.

Actually, this week I’ve had this experience several times – on TOTP2 (BBC4) the other night, the Mick Jagger of the late 60s was turning into George Melly… and Kennedy on PBS was becoming FDR…

Maggi Hambling’s  Walls of Water

There are eight large paintings in the National Gallery under this title, black, white and grey with shreds and streamers of bright colour intertwined; they do indeed represent walls of water (except for one to dedicated to Amy Winehouse. that I presume represents her in some spiritual way).  I have to say that I was disappointed; the “water” didn’t look solid enough to be a wall, nor was it dark enough to be ocean.  More like exploding shower water, in fact.  Pity, because they looked impressive in the paper.

maggi hambling

See what I mean – looks great in a photo, doesn’t it?

Peder Balke

The Hambling is free, and so is the exhibition of this Norwegian painter’s work, from the 1850s; his most impressive sea- and landscapes are virtually monochrome – massive mountains looming up from sea mist, thunder black and blue skies, lonely forts on headlands, the massive blocks of the North Cape, painted from the same viewpoint in different (but not very different) weathers.  Some, like the one below, are really impressive, even allowing for the solid, rather plastic-looking rollers coming in.

Also impressive are the little pc sized ones that look like old sepia photos.  It’s when he’s got hold of some colour that everything goes to pot – the coloured ones look like bad Caspar David Friedrich, or maybe the woods in the old Rupert annuals of the 40s and 50s.

Balke

 

Messums Gallery, Cork Street

While at the Frank Phelan exhibition (see last blog), I came upon this still life by William Brooker.  Seen it before at an art fair; I think it’s brilliant, reminds me somewhat of Uglow.

Brooker

 

And finally, at the National Portrait Gallery, this painting by William Nicholson, of Max Beerbohm;

NPG 3850; Sir Max Beerbohm by Sir William Newzam Prior Nicholson

 

tromso

 Islares,

Blackpaint 21.12.14

 

Blackpaint 456 – Malevich, Bohemia and Bloomsbury

July 21, 2014

Among the Bohemians, Virginia Nicholson

Just finished this rambling, but most enjoyable tour of “Bohemia” by Vanessa Bell’s granddaughter.  It suffers from jumping up and down the decades within themes, often without giving dates, but a good episodic read all the same.  I was astonished to read that Dora Carrington, whose appearance and paintings  give one an impression of strength and intelligence, shot herself after the death of Lytton Strachey.  Bohemia was about drink, drugs, sex and all that – but also about free thinking, freedom from convention, the use of the intellect; pity to read of a great woman artist destroying herself over the loss of a companion (Strachey was homosexual).

Nicholson seems to me rather reticent about Eric Gill, given his unconventional home life and the current climate of opinion in the UK about child abuse; since the word “Bohemian” denotes, among other things, unconventional behaviour, I expected to read more about Gill than was there.  She describes Gill’s behaviour as “preposterous”.

The Art of Bloomsbury, Richard Shone

This book was published in conjunction with a Tate exhibition of 2000; I’ve only just got round to reading it.  The painters it deals with are Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell and Roger Fry.  I was surprised by the colour, beauty, variety and technique displayed by all three artists,,  having always thought of them as a bit “brown” and boringly British.  Just flicking through, there are works that resemble Lautrec (Grant’s Virginia Woolf), the Scottish Colourists (Fry’s Blythburgh and Studland Bay), William Nicholson (Bell’s Iceland Poppies), Bonnard (Bell’s The Open Door and Grant’s Window, South of France and the Doorway); there are fabulous abstracts by Bell that look like Winifred Nicholson, more by Grant and luscious still lifes by both Bell and Grant, the best of which is Grant’s Omega Paper Flowers on the Mantelpiece.  A lovely book and I’m off to Charleston as soon as poss.

grant vanessa

Grant

bell the open door

Bell

grant omega

Grant

bell abstract

 

Bell

 

Malevich, Tate Modern 

So, enough of all this Bloomsbury and Bohemia stuff – off to TM, where proper theoretical painting is on display.  that is to say, it’s underpinned and driven by theory, a good analysis of which can be found in Boris Groys’ “The Total Art of Stalinism”.

In the first room, there is all sorts, as Malevich casts around for a style – some of it looked to me like German Expressionism, nudes surrounded by heavy black lines; Seurat – style landscapes; little collections of figures with Toulouse Lautrec figures; Munch/Nolde – like paintings; a strange, frog-like “dancer” with huge, clubbed hands and feet.

Next, Larionov/ Goncharova influenced peasants, growing more abstract, peasants with metallic, Leger like bodies; Theatre costumes like later Bauhaus efforts; the famous Black Square.

Malevich,-The-Woodcutter,-1912_original

Next, floating, coloured geometric shapes on white, the Suprematist paintings, seeming to be in the process of flying apart or coming together and, in one or two cases, resembling abstractified figures, despite the fact that Malevich gives one or two ironic “realist” titles when they clearly don’t represent the indicated “real” thing at all.

malevich

There is a room of drawings arranged by decade, often showing rough, freehand sketches of the geometric paintings; then, back towards figuration, with highly stylised peasants, metallic, harlequin, clown-like figures that wouldn’t have been nearly realist enough for the regime and finally Social Realist portraits that show the final capitulation of any independence or experimentation.

Malevich died of cancer in 1935, not in the gulag (although he had been imprisoned).  If he’d lived, I’m sure he would have been shot at some stage, despite the SR stuff.

Orlando, book and film

Back to Bloomsbury for a moment; I’ve started Woolf’s book and watched Sally Potter’s film of the same.  There are big differences in the narratives, but they are each great works in their own right.  It’s fascinating to read Woolf’s work in chronological order and see how she changes; this novel is certainly the easiest read yet (not quite Stephen King, but getting there) and the most visual.

The Potter film has strong resemblances to Greenaway’s style, in the use of location and music; the violence and grossness are missing, but it does have Tilda Swinton.

Big Painting

I’m trying to go big by sticking two canvases side by side and painting one image across them.  Results below  – the second image is  the painting as it stands now, but no doubt it will change.  It’s called, for obvious reasons, “Critical Theory – a Guide”.

 

 

?????????? –

First Version

 

??????????

 

Current Version

Blackpaint

22.07.14 

Blackpaint 390 – Blind Gary, Sybil and The Magic Board-Rubber

April 18, 2013

Dobell’s at the Chelsea Space

Little gallery in the Chelsea Art School complex opposite Tate Britain.  Photos from the 40s, up to when Dobell’s moved to Tower Street.  I knew it best from then on, when Les Fancourt used to sell me Texas 50s blues on Krazy Kat pretty much every week, but some familiar faces in the photos, notably Jimmy Asman and Maureen from Asman’s in New Row (sadly, also gone).  Asman sold me my first jazz record, by Billy Banks’ Rhythmmakers in 1932; “the Hottest Jazz Ever Recorded”, the sleeve announces.

The original record racks are in the exhibition, and the Phil Seaman, Billy Butterfield and Dill Jones sleeves – I’m sure they were all in the rack the last time I looked in the shop!  Also those great bags with the record spines; I wish I’d kept some.  The famous shop was at 77 Charing Cross Road, hence 77 Records – see the Blind Gary Davis LP cover below (although I think my copy came from Dave Carey’s Swing Shop in Streatham – sadly, also long gone).

gary davis

Also in the photos, Ray Smith of Ray’s Jazz, which survives in Foyle’s of course, but without Ray or  Bob Glass, who knew everything about jazz and blues, most things about all other kinds of music – and everything, really.

Chelsea Interim MA Show

Worth a look;  there is –

A cardboard ocean liner crashing from heaven into a table (or maybe a chair);

Bright, fragmentary Japanese – style abstracts, stuck like jigsaw pieces to the wall;

Video of a woman bound like a mummy in coloured wool strands, which plays in colour on the floor and in B&W on an old TV on a stand;

Video of PP Arnold in B&W, playing on another TV (I liked this basically because I identified PP Arnold – “First Cut is the Deepest”, before Rod – without seeing the label);

A room full of detritus – Pyms bottles, rubbish, fractured polystyrene, dubious smears and puddles – with a curtain screen at one end, from which hip-hop music emerging.

Sir William Nicholson

Got a catalogue called “Making Waves” in Campbell’s by the Tate Mod for a quid; it had two fantastic compositions by the above, one of which, Portrait of Sybil Hart-Davis, is below.

william nicholson 3

It’s great, isn’t it?  And this one too –

william nicholson 2

I love the composition, the colours, the space in the Hart-Davis one…

Tate Britain

They’ve rearranged the pictures in some of the 20th century rooms and put some new stuff up;

There’s a sort of landscape room (although it’s got that huge Lytton Strachey portrait by Lamb and some other pics that are not really landscape) – I liked the three fibreglass moulds of earth and rock by Mark Boyle, the Tacita Dean lighthouse film, the Wilson Steer girl from behind, and the Spencer Gore.

There’s a huge Hoyland canvas in a dark pink on grey, just big expanses of colour with grey stripe and a sort of inset panel of paint; the colours throb.

Tony Cragg’s “Stack” – like a pile of palettes (although it’s not), with all sorts of matter wedged in – another jigsaw.

A nervy, colourful AbEx job from Fiona Rae, lots of jaggedness on white canvas.

My favourite Gillian Ayres breakfast – although her title is “Breakout”, I think.

Loads more – next time.

In The House

Director Francois Ozon, with Kristin Scott Thomas, Fabrice Luchini and Ernst Umhauer.  A lonely schoolboy insinuates himself into the home of a schoolmate as an unofficial maths tutor, but really to write about the family and maybe seduce the mother.  He writes up his visits and shows them to his literature teacher, who is himself seduced and starts to encourage and aid in the project.  Very funny, but quite slight – unlikely to stay with you long.

Two observations:

  •  It’s another example of that “turning the tables” thing that French directors seem to love – the boy’s obsession captures the teacher, and later transfers to KST, the teacher’s wife (there was another example on TV this week, a film from 2003 starring Daniel Auteuil, called Apres Vous).
  • The prose style of the boy’s regular reports on the family reminded me strongly of Camus’ Outsider.  Must re-read it.

The Magic Board rubber

In Arne Dahl’s The Blinded Man, episode one.  I thought I was seeing things, until Chris Grice mentioned it to me.  It rubs out – then it restores.

Man Hands

Also indebted to Chris for pointing out the Seinfeld episode in connection with last week’s discussion of the Holbein portrait.

094

 

Blackpaint

18.04.13