Posts Tagged ‘art’

In Search of Pavel Filonov

March 31, 2018


So when Tanya from Vologda kindly sent me a listing of the most popular Russian painters  to talk about, I was impressed by Filonov’s Udarniki (or Shockworkers) as shown above.

Some time later I thought I would buy a reproduction to hang on my wall.  Putting some combination of filonov and udarniki plus one of price print reproduction into Google did not yield anything.  But I did find out that the work was apparently also known as Eleven Heads.  

Searching with that title showed that you could buy reproductions on, but only framed versions could be sent to the UK.  That sounded expensive and inconvenient. So then I decided to see what might be available from Russian sources.

There turned out to be a variety of Internet shops selling reproductions of this picture and on the whole they expected you to collect though they could also deliver within the boundaries of Moscow or St Petersburg or possibly in the extreme case to the rest of Russia.

What most impressed me was the offering from Ukraine:


They had decided to turn it from portrait into landscape by chopping most of it off–a novel idea, one might say.

All seemed lost.  Then I thought of searching for an image rather than a name (in whatever language).  Putting the first image above led to discovering it was available from a place in North Shields called Spiffing Prints in a variety of sizes and finishes, under the name of Blue Faces.

Extreme patriotic excitement!

So I’m trying that.  The moral seems to be that if you are looking for an image you should search for an image and not guess at words…

Gerhard Richter exhibition, Tate Modern 01 November

November 1, 2011


Uncle Rudi

I was very impressed with this exhibition–not so much with the blurry paintings from photographs (as in Uncle Rudi above), as with the large and thickly-impastoed abstracts, like Hedge below.


There was one room of grey Germanic grimness of the sort I had rather been fearing.  It was dedicated to pictures connected with the Baader-Meinhof group, though the Record Player (in which a gun had been hidden) was affecting.

Record Player

I think my favourite might have been June, but an awful lot of these abstracts had the strange beauty of shadows falling on us from another world (a good German Romantic idea and entirely appropriate given the references to Caspar David Friedrich in the paintings on show).


A lot of the people present were Germans (or at least talking among themselves in German).  The exhibition wasn’t very crowded and there’s even a 2-for-1 offer here.

I say:  Go, go now, go several times, go with your friends.

Tate Modern 10 November: Gauguin and Sunflower Seeds

November 14, 2010


So this was a nice day for a visit to the Gauguin exhibition, as I thought.  The first thing to strike me was that the painter looked like a Frenchman in his self-portraits.  Well, obvious enough when you think about it I suppose.

The second was that the visitors to the exhibition were rather older (by a factor of three or so) than those to the main collection–well, you had to pay for the exhibition…Then a lot of the paintings were pre-staled by familiarity–you’d seen them in reproductions and it seemed as though you’d always known them.

My companion felt that the Yellow Christ merely looked tired and I agreed that a nasty attack of jaundice would leave you feeling lethargic.  But in the very last room we were certainly impressed by the bare-breasted Tahitian maidens.

Joanne said that Gauguin got better as he got older [which is undeniable] and he was interested in his subjects as people, not merely as objects [which I have my doubts about–maybe you need ‘sex objects’ in place of ‘people’].

And after lunch we ended up returning for the porcelain sunflower seeds, all 100 million of them.

And this is the nearest I got to taking an unblurred close-up:

I was much more impressed by this:  in spite of having seen pictures in the papers, I still found the contrast between the detail and the mass fresh and unexpected, and the viewers were also much more like what I expected Tate Modern denizens to be.  Well done Ai Weiwei!  Well done Tate Modern!

Paul Nash Exhibition, Dulwich Picture Gallery 6 May

May 7, 2010

The Conservative Party Is Building A New World

This exhibition was pretty packed on a Thursday afternoon towards the end of its run, and I still had my mind on politics.  All of my fellow attendees looked like Tory voters to me (with the exception of a couple of young women).  They divided into those who (like me) could only see the paintings with their glasses and those who couldn’t see them at all.

The rooms they use for exhibitions at DPG are really rather small if you get any number of people in.  This one wasn’t as crowded as the Canaletto one anyway, and people didn’t feel the same need to point out interesting details to their friends.

The paintings were bloody good!  I admired the nonchalance of the spirits wafting around in the one above, while in the one below the sun and moon satisfyingly echo each other and complement the in-my-end-is-my-beginning-ness of a landscape Nash had painted at the beginning of his career.

Oleg Tyrkin: ‘Arms And Wings’ Private Viewing, Pushkin House 3 March

March 4, 2010

For the First Time (Oil on canvas; 130 x 150; 2009; £12,000)

This was the first time I had been to a private viewing, and it wasn’t that frightening.  I equipped myself with a glass of wine and some crisps and wandered around looking at the paintings–I think I managed to escape the attention of everyone, even Julian Gallant.

The illustration above shows you the kind of thing–paintings with lots of space, reflecting Tyrkin’s earlier career as a military helicopter pilot.  What you can’t very easily see is the Frank-Auerbach-style impasto, which reflects the intensity that Oleg’s  interpreter/minder said was integral to his conception of space.

The sums on the Price List ranged from £ 1,500 to £ 12,000–at least one visitor felt this was pretty cheap, since you could easily pay £4,000 for a decent handbag.  But I wouldn’t know!

The exhibition runs until 26 March, and you can see the official details here.

Dartford Art Tour 06 February

February 6, 2010


Four clients came under starter’s orders at Greenwich railway station, and our charming and energetic guide first of all led us to the Goth on Bus gallery, where the gallery boss’s flatmate told us about the Incidents exhibition (there’s a review here).  We viewed a small number of enigmatic exhibits arranged around the periphery of your typical white-painted gallery space:

A typically modest exhibit (from

We decided that something was being challenged, but where not quite sure whether it was the gallery space or the very notion of art.  Then we proceeded to the Viewfinder Photography Gallery, to view a collection of photographs by Karen Grainger, like the one below:

The artist herself happened to be present, and explained that the photographs were taken by on the Isle of Wight with the aid of a mirror, so that the picture comprised the ‘real’ view in front merged with what was behind.  We thought that this was good–it queried the idea of photography as mere representation and emphasised that the photograph was a thing in itself.

Then we made our was to deepest Deptford (not nearly as deep as it used to be) and the Arch Gallery, where we saw an exhibition of paintings by Nicholas Middleton, like the following:

The owner, Paul Marks, was on hand and explained that Middleton worked from photographs which he either combined or rearranged, and then gridded up and turned into paintings.  I must admit that the question ‘Why?’ did occur to me–this kind of hyper-realism is surely associated with either the Fascists or the 1970s, neither of which is a great recommendation.  Then some Japanese visitors arrived, and we were able to browse the artists’ materials store attached (our purchases amounted to one Stanley knife in total).

Our next port of call was BEARSPACE, where the director Julia Alvarez kindly entertained us to tea (or coffee) and cake and explained that the Japanese people we had seen were officials from Tokyo, here to learn about regeneration-through-art.  We discussed the fact that an enormous number of local buildings (including the one at the bottom of my garden) had been turned into artists’ premises.  Our guide made the point that the recession had a good side for artists since spaces became available after development had fallen through.

We somehow failed to form an opinion of the Trevor Kiernander exhibition here:

We went past the very interesting-looking Waldron Health Centre

and on to the Old Police Station, which had been turned into studios used by ex-offenders and other marginalised and creative people, as a woman smoking a cigarette outside the men’s toilets told us.

Picture of Old Police Station from

And finally it was a fairly long walk to Lewisham Arthouse, where we saw an exhibition of very diverse Objects of Love produced by artists working in the building.

Objects of Love image from

And that was the end of a very rewarding way of spending a Saturday afternoon in and around Deptford!

Turner Prize Exhibition, Tate Britain 23 December

December 24, 2009


First of all there was a whale largely hidden behind panels and prints of a chair forming an unknown message from Lucy Skaer.

Then we had Enrico David with an installation that looked very like what you find in your living room if you share a flat with art students, apart from being very much larger.

And if you look carefully, you can see a picture of a man’s bottom…After that, it was the famous gold fresco by Richard Wright, and we considered whether it was a picture embodying site-specific references to Blake (suns and winged creatures) and Turner (seraphic illumination and goldenness) or merely a nice pattern; and took note of the red…patterns…opposite above the entrance doorway.

So then it was Roger Hiorns and the ‘atomised’ aircraft engine that looked to me like the (grey!) sands of time and the things incorporating brain matter.

Then you could watch a short video by each artist, of which three were jolly helpful in explaining what the artist was up to.  And the board outside where previous visitors had posted their reactions was interesting too.

In the cafe downstairs my companions voted in favour of Richard Wright’s work because it was gold, shiny and pretty (but neither wanted to marry him), while I rejected him for being too accessible and Skaer and David for being too art-studenty, leaving Roger Hiorns as my choice.