From Apsley House to Haunch of Venison

Contemporary and Old Art Reviews

From Apsley House to Haunch of Venison

Postby Featherblend » Mon Sep 19, 2011 1:01 pm

http://featherblend-grandarttours.blogs ... ience.html


Image
http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/apsley-house/art-collection/
Diego Velázquez Pope Innocent X 1650 Canvas, 82 x 71.5cm

Hung on a tightly packed wall in the lavishly decorated Waterloo Gallery, in the former residence of the Dukes of Wellington, this dynamic portrait stands out. Depicting the frozen power and authority of one of the most powerful men on the planet at the time, Velázquez's Pope Innocent X hangs next to some of his early bodegónes (domestic genre scenes), portraits and still life’s. In contrast with these early static studies Pope Innocent X's ambiguous expression and loosely painted cloak set against a dark void invokes a kind of movement or dynamic intrigue which draws you in. Looking directly into the light Pope Innocent X's expression is finely balanced between either being the one who just farted in the lift and being responsible for authorizing you’re beheading! The more you stare and wonder which side he leans on you start to notice the unnerving eyes and the contrast between face and background and you get the sinking feeling he's chosen the later.
Painted after a second trip to Italy, Pope Innocent X shows the influence of Titian, Tinteretto, Veronese and the loose handling of the Venetian school. The vigourously painted yellow and orange highlights, downwardly converging on the top half of the Pope's cloak, become delicate tributaries of golden light when viewed a few steps back. Moving in close to the painting the brushstrokes look haphazard and erratic like he had made a mistake and was trying to violently paint it out. From afar it all falls into place and magically the appearance of warm, radiant light dances over the surface of the Pope's cloak. The clearly defined cheek bone and the weathered and sagging side of the face closest to his left ear lend to the appearance of an ageing tyrant.
He becomes less ambiguous and more menacing as you notice his remorseless eyes following you. Its no wonder Francis Bacon borrowed this image directly from Velázquez to create a modern horror image.

Image
http://www.artscouncilcollection.org.uk/loadWork.do?id=5268
Francis Bacon Head V1 1949 oil on canvas 93.2 x 76.5cm © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All Rights Reserved. DACS 2010

Bacon pushes and pulls the paint across the canvas and drags the figure with the dry brush into oblivion. Whereas Velázquez's Pope Innocent X looks capable of getting up and giving you a swift clip, Bacon confines his sitter to his space and traps him there. He is a sacrifice or victim of Bacon's treatment. The paint is obliterated as it is dragged and looks like he is slowly being eroded. It’s like he has been deliberately put in this place for a unseen force to act upon him. It is both satisfying to see the encrusted, globlets of paint strewn across the canvas from close inspection as it is to see their movement and disintegration from a distance. Both effects work from both points of view in their own right and come together to produce a single image. I like it because it is like optical mixing and these techniques prove useful as both a visual, pictorial device and a type of narrative feature. Its practical and done to enrich the visual sensation.

The paint in both these pictures is used to create harmonious images. There are dynamic contrasts within them which help strengthen the unity and the paint allows for the subject to come through directly and with great power and focus.

Image
http://haunchofvenison.com/exhibitions/current/adrian_ghenie/
Adrian Ghenie Self-Portrait as Charles Darwin oil on canvas 200 x 230 cm © the artist and Haunch of Venison Gallery

Ghenie has filled the newly renovated Haunch of Venison gallery with wide ranging figurative and portrait work. It is wide ranging in the many different sitters Ghenie has chosen to paint but it can also be called wide ranging in regard to his erratic treatment on any single canvas. Ghenie has generally gone for the industrially dragged, Richter effect on several small portraits. But on larger pictures like Self-Portrait as Charles Darwin, Ghenie has randomly applied paint all around his focal point. Easily recognizable, the seated figure of Charles Darwin is surrounded by a surface constructed of drips, washes, overpainting, blocked in areas, dragged paint, and paint applied straight out of the tube. This application seems as arbitrarily selected as the subject matter. It seems as though it has been done for the sake of it or for somekind of chaotic effect. But without any energy or movement these techniques leave the image looking flat and directionless and detracts from what could have been the depiction of an interesting looking seated figure. Up close the surface of the canvas is just a jamboree of assorted techniques which look as cluttered and messy from a distance. I felt the lack of harmony and focus in the use of paint was distracting and uninteresting and I became suspicious of their lack of doing anything. It seems the artist has taken trademark techniques of masters including Cy Twombly, Gerrard Richter, Euan Uglow and meshed them together to create trend following, hi-end commercial art.

Image
http://www.blainsouthern.com/exhibitions/2011/forthcoming:-marius-bercea,-remains-of-tomorrow
Marius Bercea Truths With Multiple Masks, 2011 oil on canvas 280 x 385 cm © the artist and Blain Southern Gallery

I enjoyed the cold, sharp edged geometric forms set against suburban activity in Bercea's forested landscapes. In this small show the landscapes evolve throughout the seven canvases on display, from dilapidated urbanscapes with totemic structures and populated by tiny, model like figures to the totally abstracted. Although like Ghenie's work, Bercea's largest canvas; Truths With Multiple Masks, is packed with too many fragmented elements which render the image inert. *“it explores the processes of the democratisation of art. Described by Bercea as a ‘fresco of transition’, it features an assortment of apparently unconnected tableaux: a fetishistic blow-up doll balanced on a wooden stool; a man sat upon what could be a minimalist sculpture; a bird of prey peering inside a pram; a bear’s head; an upturned trombone; a light bulb.” There are too many unnecessary flashes of primary colours and manipulating paint techniques which detract from the final image. Judging from the title Bercea seems to have intended to comment on or use multiple devices in this picture but I feel it ultimately left the viewer visually detached. The good thing is that Bercea's work doesn't seem like it’s following a trend for the sake of being fashionable. In Elegant Rationalism, the wind swept trees are emphasized by the way the green paint is pulled across the surface and the mustardy yellow skys are complimented by purple underpainting. It is energetic when viewed up close and unifies the picture as a whole when you take a step back. I think this experimentation from picture to picture shows the artist playfully thinking around the subject as opposed to knocking out formulaic artwork. The success of these images is based on the free and spontaneous use of paint around a simple structure and composition.






* Jane Neal Marius Bercea Remains of Tomorrow 8 September – 1 October Press Release 2011



http://featherblend-grandarttours.blogs ... ience.html
Attachments
Marius+Bercea.jpg
Marius Bercea Truths With Multiple Masks, 2011 oil on canvas 280 x 385 cm © the artist and Blain Southern Gallery
Marius+Bercea.jpg (144.78 KiB) Viewed 6636 times
b483f6ed4899ead1fb642671dca36b37_5.jpg
Adrian Ghenie Self-Portrait as Charles Darwin oil on canvas 200 x 230 cm © the artist and Haunch of Venison Gallery
b483f6ed4899ead1fb642671dca36b37_5.jpg (252.35 KiB) Viewed 6636 times
Diego-Velazquez-Pope-Innocent-X-1650.jpg
Diego Velázquez Pope Innocent X 1650 Canvas, 82 x 71.5cm
Diego-Velazquez-Pope-Innocent-X-1650.jpg (39.72 KiB) Viewed 6636 times
Last edited by Featherblend on Tue Sep 20, 2011 6:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Featherblend
 
Posts: 16
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:26 pm

Re: From Apsley House to Haunch of Venison

Postby George Jensan » Mon Sep 19, 2011 2:11 pm

I never liked adrian ghenies paintings in reality
George Jensan
 

Re: From Apsley House to Haunch of Venison

Postby CAP » Tue Sep 20, 2011 5:37 am

'One of the most powerful men on the planet...'

I guess I'm really hankering after one of the most powerful men off the planet.

I'd be more impressed with a portrait of Lex Luthor or Dr Evil, seeing as the game is basically ye olde history painting or Larry Rivers Meets Francis Bacon in a Transylvanian Showdown (I see that Savu dude gets photo credits for the Bercea JPG). Rou-mania!

Neither Ghenie nor Bercea really do it for me. I keep seeing Cecily Brown pretending to be Neo Rauch, using Jenny Saville's palette knives/spatulas. It's a very 50s vibe.

Bring back Michael Andrews I say.

And BTW Richard Hamilton just died. :cry:
User avatar
CAP
 
Posts: 1081
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 11:38 am
Location: Off-world

Re: From Apsley House to Haunch of Venison

Postby CAP » Tue Sep 20, 2011 5:41 am

Incidentally, is it me or is the Haunch site's Flash slideshow even-more-than-usually stuffed? ;)
User avatar
CAP
 
Posts: 1081
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 11:38 am
Location: Off-world


Return to Art Reviews

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 7 guests

cron