Archive for the 'Tate' Category



Hodge-podge

Victor Pasmore was a pioneer of British abstract art. I didn’t really mark any of his abstract stuff in the Tate, but one of his more traditional paintings caught my eye:

Source: Wikipedia

It’s a scene of the Thames that mixes the styles of Turner and Whistler. Sometimes pastiche works.

And After the World Exploded

It wails like something dying. An operation set by a forgotten algorithm, the whys or hows are not known or existing. It is perfect now, but where are they? Where are they? Everyone has disappeared, having forgotten what it is to be too human. Since when was death acceptable?

Source: Wikipedia

Bomberg – In the Hold (1913-4)
Do they ever (say) sneeze in the trenches and remember? Ever go back to something made alien by a non-entity nobody makes present anymore as they are ground into mincemeat unit after unit? Like Dante’s ascent, their companions become abstractions, generals, universalized souls as they move towards a token God in whose presence others are no more to one.

Source: Wikipedia

Bomberg – Ju-Jitsu (1913)
And after the world exploded the sins of our fathers would not be purged, because there is no-one left. Words do nothing, the brain means nothing; there is something hidden, but it’ll turn out to be empty every time it is discovered. There is little melodrama in it or the realization that it was made up of the banal. You can still enjoy the sight of a butterfly, it just does not mean anything.

Source: Wikipedia

Bomberg – Mud Bath (1914)
Does this change things? Yes. You cannot be a spoke in the wheel anymore because there is little use for yous in its anatomy. It wails like something dying. It is out there, someone made it count, and there is no retrieving it. All the gifts: no hope, no worries. Enforced global enlightenment made the human race disappear.

Past the Wit of Man

When it comes to painting scenes from legend and song, there are few who could match Henry Fuseli‘s ability to pick ones that are scary, twisted, and plain weird. As far as history painting goes, he’s the goth you get when you combine an appetite for literature, an admiration for Italian art, and a Romantic twist of mind. His Polyphemus, for example, surpasses anything Blake ever did, or that’s how it seems to an uncultivated peasant such as myself. But there is something even better in Tate Britain, something that overpowers Blake’s version of a scene from the same play. Namely, this thing:

Source: Wikipedia

There is very little that is sinister in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: it’s a story about a wedding party that gets lost in the woods where the spirits of the forest are playing tricks on one another. Oberon, the king of the fairies, is pissed off at his queen, Titania, and decides to get even by making her fall in love with a man with a head of an ass. Bottom the weaver happens to be nearby, so his unfortunate head receives the magical treatment that turns humans into ass-headed monsters. The main events of the play take place in the hallucinatory region where imagination and reality, myth and fact, day and night, light and dark, etc. meet and Shakespeare blends it all into a wonderful mess of a comedy where everyone gets married in the end and all is well in both the seen and unseen realms of the world.

What Fuseli has done in this scene with Bottom and Titania and her entourage is epic. The monsters are graceful, the fairies scary, the seductive figures repulsive. It is a dark painting, the light is suitable for a summer’s night, and some of the figure stare out from their mythical realm, ready to burst out a any given moment and grab you, it seems. Most of them are not too strange, because seriously grotesque monsters would be too amusing — just look at Bottom in the middle — but they are subtle distortions of the human and human-like figures we would expect to see in any history painting. It’s the little things that count, especially in the art of making the world seem strange.

A Flange of Venuses

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Who Owns Andy Warhol?

Andy Warhol would have been 80 years old today. I went to Warhol’s Wikimedia Commons site to get some pictures for this post as I normally do, but there were only some publicity shots and this legend:

Works by this artist are not in the public domain. They are protected by international copyright laws at least until 70 years after his/her death. Please do not upload photographs or scans of works by this artist, except those covered by freedom of panorama.

I don’t know what “freedom of panorama” is nor do I care, so fuck Andy Warhol and his art. Even pictures of his pictures are about consumerism and ownership.

Explosive Decompression

Some trashy movie I saw a while back got me interested in explosive decompression. The scene we see in the movies is something that occurs in the movies only, I found, and the actual decompression that is classified as explosive really is an explosion of sorts. It’s something that happens in a time span of 0.1 and 0.5 seconds, a far cry from the movie style sucked-into-space sort of thing where everybody grasps at railings as their feet fly in the air. There is a serious risk of lung damage when this actually happens.

Source: Wikipedia

Derek Boshier – The Identi-Kit Man (1962)

Reading Wikipedia, I wandered on to a page concerning something called the Byford Dolphin accident. The Byford Dolphin is an oil-exploration rig and the site of a famous accident where a number of people lost their lives due to explosive decompression. The description of the fate of one of the men onboard (here called diver D4) is particularly gruesome:

Diver D4 was shot out through the small jammed hatch door opening, and was ripped apart. Subsequent investigation by forensic pathologists determined that diver D4, being exposed to the highest pressure gradient, violently exploded due to the rapid and massive expansion of internal gases. All of his thoracic and abdominal organs, and even his thoracic spine were ejected, as were all of his limbs. Simultaneously, his remains were expelled with force through the narrow trunk opening left by the jammed chamber door, less than 60 centimeters (24 inches) in diameter. Fragments of his body were found scattered about the rig. One part was even found lying on the rig’s derrick, 10 meters (30 feet) directly above the chambers. His death most likely was instantaneous and painless.

Source: Wikipedia

Patrik Caulfield – Black and White Flower Piece (1963)

This man literally exploded and his spine shot from his body. It was a terrible accident and we should hope it never happens again, but what a way to go: to end your life as the Spontaneously Exploding Man.

Just Express Your Feelings

Before I walked into the Tate Modern for the first time, I had never heard of Graham Sutherland. He was a completely new painter to me, although his works do seem to have a Baconesque quality to them. Therefore, I thought I had a fresh perspective on his stuff, fresh eyes and mind to look at what he made and offer a natural reaction to them. The trouble is, the paintings are not exactly what you’d call fresh.

Source: Wikipedia

The painting above is named Head III (1953) and it seems to depict a head of some sort. Or perhaps it is a picture of a sculpture, probably in metal, situated in what seems to be a barn. The barn reminds me of the southern states of the US and, naturally, serial killers who operate there in an Ed Geinish way. The scraggly metal is a strange choice of material, but if you are indeed a serial killer bent on making portraits of ET crossbred with Alien I suppose it makes sense.

Source: Wikipedia

And here’s Green Tree Form: Interior of Woods (1940), a fallen tree covered with moss and abstracted into something that resembles one of those strange creatures like the hallucigenia I once read about in a book by Stephen Jay Gould. Obviously, it is an injured hallucigenia if it is one, having lost many of its spikes or tentacles battling some ancient Paleozoic sea cucumber. Oh yes, and the colors are awesome!

Source: Wikipedia

Finally, this is Hydrant II (1954) and I like it because it has many nice shades of blue and something that resembles a mechanical device.

In fact, writing out a gut reaction does not really work. I don’t really know why these look so great and why I think they are great works. Sure, Hydrant made me giggle because for some reason it gave me the idea that I was looking through the eyes of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, delivering presents and setting my eyes on a large Christmas-tree-shaped bong in the living room of some people who’ve been nice all year round. That’s clumsy, but that’s pretty much what a mind that hasn’t been spoiled with information or insight produces. Had I not the patience to read up on Sutherland’s stuff I, and presumably anyone been made to express “just what you feel and comes to mind” when confronted with these works, would just go inanely on and on and on and on . . .