Posts Tagged ‘Yoko Ono’

Blackpaint 458 – Braque, Yoko and Johnny at Bilbao

August 15, 2014

Braque at the Guggenheim, Bilbao

First, a full-size ballet stage set; very rough-cut “curtains and crooked arches, roughly-painted houses, windows of a “working class section” of an Italian town – I didn’t record the name of the ballet. Quite strong resemblance to a de Chirico.

Next, his Fauvist pictures.  One or two look like the Soutine paintings at the Ashmolean exhibition, but without the Expressionist writhing intensity.

Early Cubist stuff – guitars, mandolins, Sacre-Coueur, a port scene – very familiar and formulaic, they appear to my jaded eyes; the usual greys and browns.  Then, the ones that Patrick Heron “borrowed”, only done about thirty years earlier – white outlines round black lines, black, brown, blue, green, yellow, flowers, jugs, interiors.

One beautiful, dark salmon-based one with sand mixed into the paint, looking great from a distance.  Ditto the pink tablecloth one.

braque red tablecloth

I wasn’t keen on the silhouettes of women at card tables, against large lemon-green patches.

Several of the paintings are on black, brown or maybe navy blue backgrounds; the best is the Packing Case.

braque the packing case

Then, there is the Billiard Table, with mysterious white lines binding it, or in which it appears suspended.

braque billiard table

There is a tiny “Basket of Fruit” that looks just like a Winifred Nicholson.  Lots of masks and fishes (black, red, spotted), newsprint, Picasso -like skulls and women – one, greeny yellow with a huge single breast rising from her stomach.

There are some statuesque, brawny women, reminiscent of those Matisse reliefs, with stylised brown breasts and a repeated stomach design like an X ray of the kidneys.

The final room has a series of tiny landscapes, several of which had a touch of Van Gogh – stormy skies, “V” shaped birds.  They (the paintings) are narrow and stretched, as if through the viewing slot of a bird hide.  Interesting that de Stael apparently loved these; I can only think it was the stripe layers that resemble his own late sea and harbour scapes (see last blog).  The last painting is very like Van Gogh’s crows over the cornfield, but with a big, black plough lying detached and still in the foreground.  Suddenly reminded me of the Lanyon sketches on paper, displayed at Gimpel Fils recently and reviewed elsewhere in this blog.

A brilliant show; I’m looking forward to trying painting on dark backgrounds.

Yoko Ono at Bilbao

Most of the stuff on show here is the same or similar to the Serpentine Gallery show reviewed a while back in this blog – the stepladder and magnifying glass, photos of the clothes cutting happenings around the world, a series of bottles of water, each labelled with a famous person’s name; a couple of condoms, half filled with water (I presume) and suspended; a joky room with a huge magnet attached to one wall, pulling kitchen furniture and implements off kilter; a load of furniture sawn in half.

yoko furniture


There is, however, a wall of meticulous ink drawings, done with thousands of dots, of intricate abstract geometric shapes, showing real skill.  That was a surprise to me (not the skill, but the anomaly of the drawings amongst the conceptual stuff).

yoko drawing

De Stael

At the Le Havre exhibition (see last blog) I got a DVD about the painter which is in French.  I can just about understand most of it, but was intrigued that they kept returning to the same picture, the giant one reproduced below.  It turns out it was the one he was working on when he killed himself.

de stael the grand concert


A Separation 

Riveting Iranian film, directed by Ashgar Farhadi in 2011; I’m still halfway through, but  it concerns the trials of a man and his daughter trying to get help to look after his father, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, and the crises that arise from this in their lives and that of the pregnant woman they hire.  Not a happy film, but compelling, I suppose, is the word I’d go for.

Johnny Winter

Saddened to read of the death of this blues colossus the other week; the only way to negotiate the Scalextrix – style motorways before Bilbao is to put on Winter’s “Scorching Blues” and join in the mayhem to the appropriate sounds.

“…So much shit in Texas,

Bound to step in some”


Next blog: Pompidou Centre and Martial Reysse.






Blackpaint 352 – Yoko Ono, Stepladders and Keyholes

July 26, 2012

Yoko Ono at the Serpentine

As you enter the exhibition, you are confronted by three identical, conical mounds of earth – they are labelled Country A, Country B and Country C.  Around you, army helmets hang, containing  jigsaw pieces.  A stepladder stands with a magnifying glass on top, so that you can read the tiny word above – but you can’t climb the ladder, so the word remains unread.  Perspex plinths of graded height stand in a line: on top of one, a box,on the next a needle, on the last, an apple (green, slightly bruised).

There is a series of photos of a laterally stretched face, titled “Doctor”; shoe prints of Yoko and John, heels distinct, soles fuzzy – she describes them as “neat and wild”.  There is a large perspex, box-shaped maze in the middle of gallery; while we were there, a little girl in the maze walked into one of the panels with a resounding bang and burst into tears, so go round with your kids.

There is a fascinating film of a series of butt0cks, some male, some female, I think – but in pairs – shot at anus level while the naked owners walk away – not into the distance, as the camera stays with them; tracking shot, or maybe walking on the spot.  Illusion of  meaty faces rubbing against each other, lips concealed..(sorry about that image).  How often do you get a chance to see that?  Not often, I’m betting.

And there was a film of Yoko having her clothes cut off, now and decades ago.  I believe I saw Yoko at the top of a ladder – same one? – having her bikini cut off at the Alexandra Palace in 1967.  It was a psychedelic all-nighter, with, I remember, Soft Machine, the Purple Gang (Granny Takes a Trip) and possibly Pink Floyd.  John Lennon was there and George or Ringo, in Sergeant Pepper mode – heavy moustache, hair short at sides, granny glasses, Afghan jacket.  I was there with my mate Ian McCormick, later Ian MacDonald, the author of “Revolution in the Head”, definitive book on Beatles’ music.  All our yesterdays….

And Macbeth brings me to-

The Hollow Crown

Simon Russell Beale’s Falstaff was great, I thought, for the pathos – Chimes at Midnight and the scenes with Doll Tearsheet (Maxine Peake terrific too) – but a little lacking in the bluster and vainglory.  Still haven’t seen a better Falstaff than Anthony Quayle in the first BBC Henry, and I’ve seen a few – Welles, Stevens, Joss Ackland, Michael Gambon, Robbie Coltrane.  But whenever I get the video out, I have to watch Quayle doing the Sherris Sack and  the Honour speeches from part one and Chimes from part two – and nobody cries “Woe to my Lord Chief Justice!” with quite the glee and threat that Quayle manages.  But Russell Beale was great and so was Jeremy Irons – saying the words as if he’d just thought of them, not learned them by heart to repeat with reverence.


Been to the National Gallery to see this exhibition, which will get a blog to itself – suffice to say now that you have to kneel down and peer through a keyhole to see Wallinger’s bathing Diana – or her head, the rest of her being hidden by the sides of the bath.  I don’t quite get the analogy with the Titian painting, since poor old Actaeon comes across Diana by accident in the Ovid story… Never mind, it’s all art.

The Torch

Went to see it arrive at Tooting Bec Lido; I was especially impressed with the Samsung, Coca-Cola and Lloyds TSB buses preceding it, in corporate colours, with waving, dancing passengers.

I Mailed it in the Air 2