Sunday, 12 March 2017

Brief Comments on Current SHows

Tate Modern:

Rauschenberg: Typical, awful, dull, Tate Modern curating, makes the whole show look like a series of 3D prints. Dante drawings stunning and unharmable. I don't the regret the lack of queer readings, I don't need an ambitious US queer theorist to show the truth, I think if you don't get that the abused, golden Japanese screen is about being in sex, cum and piss and libidinous disorder, then you don't need to. Chacun(sic) à sa vue, so as to speak. Some of the work looks like very tired once radical gestures, the Goat. One could miss this.

Tillmans has become a kind of one man Kabakovs, in his own way, a marvellous mixture of seeing, recording, imagining, thinking, a kind of activist anger embedded it the working of art with a sensuous wonder with the sexual, processes of transformation and decay and stasis (see the section in the tanks). Not to be missed. In this light the showing of the Concorde series at Tate B looks better than ever. A big relief after the above elderly master.

Emilio Isgrò at Tornabuoni London. Another very good show at this gallery, after their Boetti that showed his collection of things to look at, borrowed from his heirs. Isgrò reminds us that Tom Phillips Humument was one of the tips of an especially interesting conceptual iceberg that involved defacement and refiguring of printed books, and here the 24 Britannica open pages articulate idea and hand-marks together, with intellectual fascination and the obsessive beauty of a certain kind of skill. Wow, can he make marks.

Systems room at Tate Britain. For me all of my version of radically growing into art in the '60s-'70s. Systems was a quite a woman-open grouping, something the Tate web site curiously neglects on its main page for this show, preferring a particularly horrible John Ernest moebius  sculpture that I have hated for decades, rather than Gillian Wise. However the great piece here, in a dismal and mean Tate release, a huge painting that I watched being made, by Jeffrey Steele, which is part of this series, but three huge panels.

Forget the easy and factitious and overworked, overloaded 'colourism' of the late Howard Hodgkin, this is the truly great painting of the last few decades. Get there. See Elizabeth Price video In The Tent for a fine contemporary insight into this work, and a very fine work in itself.

Nash, at Tate Britain, took all his life - I found out - to do without either rather schematic birds or war stuff in his skies. The last room was achieved in a new way, with some of the finesse of the first, the interim is rather second rate. Not the accomplishment of Ravilious in the end.


Went last night (whenever it was now, (last October?) to see/hear Paper Music at Coronet. Beautiful performance by two singers and pianist, rather classic semi-trash avant-gardist set up of the '70s with old vinyls on crummy portable gramophones, amplified spinning wheel, plucked piano strings - not the calm absorption of Tilbury playing Feldman, but a frenzied and hysterical excess of burglar alarm imitations, crooning and singing with eclectic piano scoring reminding one, overall, and from time to time of fragments of Zemlinsky and Eisler. The problem here is neither the performers nor Phillip Miller's interesting scores but the grand master of the moment in what I will, vulgarly, call the 'Visual Arts', William Kentridge. He no longer makes any work that does not have as its reference, its absolute presence and its sole indicated subject, anything other than


Friday, 3 February 2017


Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Sometimes I do stop to ask myself why I like Slava Mogutin quite so much (with acknowledgements to his site)

And in the context of Didi-Huberman's ghastly Soulèvements exhibition, on which more to follow, I can see why. Other things apart, D-H has an astonishing aptitude for desexualisng and degendering.

Three pictures for 2017, or optimism is an auto-immune malady of the soul.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Travelling Images:These must be my grandmother's grandparents on her father's side, prob Damascus 1860s? Below the first Dictionary bought by my grandmother on arriving in England from Alexandria in 1923, without a word of English. Then a source of consuming interest for me at 13 years.




Two Vivienne Koorland and one detail from Edinburgh Fruitmarket - Immense and wonderful

Four decades ago toujours la même histoire, again....., my brown ink of the period, oh Maoist me.

You know the thing, unpacking my library etc, so having moved to London N4 (we quit E1 because of how hip grew into hipster, we were always the first, never the second, one syllable too many with no poetic value at all) I found these documents that are self explanatory and very interesting for long term studies of art education. Below is a list of attendees, Andrew Brighton's statement and mine, I will put the others up to.  I put his and mine up as we always enjoyed, in the rather Lacanian sense, disagreement, before J Rancière made it respectable, dunque, three pages as good jpegs:

BTW Hoggart really came out as an elitist and authoritarian know all facing the younger audience, a kind of Mr Bounderby of theoretical knowledge. Had a nice fight with him, but I recall that before that Stuart Hall dismantled him on a radio programme - inspiration, in disagreement!

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

EU EU EU EU and the Land of the Pharaohs, let's be the crocodiles?????????????

Do you recall that marvellous shot at the end of Land of the Pharaohs ( when the villain looks down from the wall from which he is to plunge into the crocodile pit and sees them there with open, welcoming jaws - and then, as he plunges, we see him fall from the viewpoint of the crocodiles themselves - but never the impact?

Is that not the position in which we now find ourselves vis à vis the EU?

What would Jack Hawkins do and whatever was it that Joan Collins did? Will there ever be another episode? At the moment of writing the whole thing is turning into a crossover between a screw-ball comedy with Cameron as a goofy and unintentionally clumsy Jerry Lewis, and a rather coarse and vulgar tragedy of the kind that only Goves, Johnsons and Farages could produce. The number of vile politicians on both sides is utterly astonishing, with the hideous CD right of Schauble or Merkel looking like the moderates that they are not - as we know over the decades, but saw nakedly in their handling of Greece; the grimly neoliberal Juncker with his mafioso style denials of his running his country as a tax haven having anything to do with heading up the EU, actually demanding that the UK exit today and so act in conflict with the Lisbon treaty and UK Parliamentary procedure; and the skunk-like putridity of Le Pen and Farage coming head on with the pro-EU but hardly less fascist Eastern European leaders. Is there anyone to admire? Schulz, who tried to block the EU from one of its honourable moves in labelling West Bank products and who apologised to Netanyahu for even suggesting that israel might deprive the Palestinians of water? Pity the poor crocodiles, if this lot were to fall from the wall even their cast-iron digestive tracts would be sorely challenged.

The weird outcome of the stupidly anti-democratic and manipulative UK referendum is that disagreement, or mésentente, now rules; the staging of the sensible is reworked in an uncannily new décor and we have a chance to look long and hard at our own delusions and illusions. The racist or xenophobic insult to our new populations stands out clearly as a symptom to be accounted for - while on the one hand understanding that the much vaunted freedom of movement is not much more than Norman Tebbit's one time 'get on your bike' for the poor and, on the other hand, a privilege of the Eurogranted academics and art world tourists of whom I am still a hanger-on. We need to see this, and to look at the delusions as at the wounds, without shame and without lamentation as a state of things in which we might or might not find some kind of effective thinking ... I read three things today that beautifully support this reading, Chantal Mouffe, Etienne Balibar and Stathis Koevelakis

Never written... The Catamites of Cork Street

when I first lived in London the bottom of Regent Street and Piccadilly Circus still looked more or less like this. Ah the good old days, real department stores, Swann and Edgar, seen here, Debenham and Freebody on Wigmore Street, with it spectacular marble staircase, the labyrinthine men's department at Liberty, cruising ground annex to the Marshall Street Baths (or vice versa), or Whiteleys on Queensway with its glorious cast iron galleries and strange bed department with a sinister, low ceiling.
All of this was still in black and white and reality had yet to be coloured by digital numbers, like a cheap oil painting .. Oddly many of these stores were not far from municipal, private or public Turkish baths, The Savoy in Jermyn Street or Porchester hall up Queensway, or strangely near to famous cottages (Piccadilly Circus station). So there was a gayish novel to be written, even before Hollinghurst had published his glorious Swimming Pool Library (yes, yes, the cheap smell of rented speedos!).

My novel, as a Proust reader and a gallery rat was to be entitled:

Du côté de chez Swann and Edgar, 
and the first chapter was to have been 
'The Catamites of Cork Street'.

here is a picture I drew a couple of years ago, on my tablet, for a conference where we were asked to bring a bit of porn, I think. It is a memory of a graffito seen on the wall of the Gents at the corner of Carnaby Street, just behind Liberty. It made me laugh so hard I peed on my jeans. Heigh ho, 1968 was such fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

Just behind Carnaby Street in Ganton Street was the hatter Malyard from whom I bought a lavender/grey-pink floppy number to be worn with a copy of AD magazine, maybe folded round NME. It appears that J Lennon (a person I ever disliked) had one in a rather brash purple and it is for this reason that I can still retrieve an image of this lost object, maybe 1970 this time? To quote Hollis Frampton, 'do you see what I see?'