This is a work by the Ukrainian artist Tetyana Yablonska. Born in 1917, she died in 2005. She lived in Odesa, Luhansk and Kyiv and had a considerable reputation and success in her lifetime. This is a self portrait in Ukrainian costume, I think it's a painting for the moment, a citizen of Kyiv full of resolve, pride and determination.
" My head is bloody but unbowed" [W.E. Henley]
This piece is not authored by myself but consists of extracts from a conversation I had with a friend and which I felt were fascinating and deserved a wider readership, so his thoughts on the Blue/Green dilemma.....
French preserves this as a hybrid, from the Greek 'glauque' [ Homer describes the sea as glaukos], in English you hardly ever hear the term 'glaucous', other than in the condition of glaucoma, which implies a certain cloudiness, or opacity, even greyness glaukommatos, grey-eyed..........
.............There was a scene which had Van Gogh staring into a glass of absinthe, It was only commented upon in the drama in relation to the effects of alcohol on an unstable mind, but the vision would surely also have been experienced by Vincent [as by other artists pretty much from Monet onwards] as a colour phenomenum: the swirl of the 'louche' as the sugar releases the herbal essences - before the 'green fairy' emerges.....
The English term 'louche' conveys this idea of shadiness, whose moral associations are transferred from from the French [notably in that rather 'shady' field of late nineteenth-century criminology which extrapolates from physical to psychological attributes] but without so much the ocular substrate: 'loucher' in French means 'to squint' and derives from the Latin 'lusca', feminine of luscus, 'blind in one eye'. [i.e. people who squint are dodgy].........
New Order's 1982 track 'Temptation' has a refrain which goes,
' Oh you've got green eyes....oh you've got blue eyes.....oh you've got grey eyes'
Which echoes a lot of the really obsessively repetitive rhythms of the Belgian symbolist poet Maurice Maeterlink, which foreshadows Beckett and which, like so much else, comes straight out of Baudelaire, notably his poem 'Ciel Brouillie', [Cloudy Sky].
Van Gogh with absinthe: Toulouse Lautrec Angel Fernandez de Soto: Picasso
Cloudy Sky: Charles Baudelaire. [first verse]
One would say that your gaze was veiled with mist;
Your mysterious eyes [are they blue, grey or green?]
Alternately tender, dreamy, cruel,
Reflect the indolence and pallor of the sky.
This poem has always struck me as the perfect symbolist precursor because of the way the observation is heightened by analogy: so the eyes give way to mood, environment, and finally a kind of lethargy.
Thanks to J.W.
I explained to my grand daughter that I had been awake since the end of the Second World War and it was in fact very probably time I was asleep. Not dissuaded she spent half an hour explaining that I might be awake but I was not yet 'woke'. This was not entirely a waste of time as I realised that had I been 'woke' I would not have so readily dismissed the 2021 Turner Prize winning entry as a piece of third rate flim flam.
The piece is intended to reproduce, replicate, conjure the interior of a 'Sibin', a Northern Irish bar. It was produced by a Northern Irish activist group, the Array Collective. The Collective are clearly very woke. The jury admired the lightness of touch, play, conviviality and sense of carnival along with the hidden messages about sexuality and identity. The problem with having been around for so long is that one has been immersed in art for over half a century and 'woke' or not one can spot the fatuous a block away. Beyond a superficial relevance to societies ills one expects artistic rigour. I presume none of the Turner Prize jurors have ever visited the Beanery!
I 'dropped' into the Beanery on a visit to the Stedelijk some twenty years ago. Ed Keinholz created the Beanery in 1965, a scaled replica of Barney's Beanery, a bar Keinholz knew well. It is considered one of the most memorable and important works of the late twentieth century. Visiting the Beanery is a singular and challenging experience, you are instantly immersed in one man's disturbing and provoking vision of American society. It's values and politics are laid bare. Much has been written about this work, it is full of anger, satire and compassion, created over half a century ago, it is now in the world of QAnon and Trump's Republican America, more relevant than ever.
So fifty years hence where will the flimsy, whimsy that is the 'Sibin' be, Stedelijk or skip.
Phillip King died on the 27th July, he was 87 years old. He has been an inspiration for more than half a decade. In 1956 he attended St. Martins where Anthony Caro was the main man, within a year he was on the teaching staff. He was an integral member of the 'New Generation', a group of British artists forging a new sculptural language in the 1960's. His trajectory was set, an illustrious career unfolded, an international reputation, exhibiting worldwide, sculpture in all the major collections, President of the Royal Academy, Professor Emeritus at the Royal College of Art, Trustee of the Tate and the National Portrait Gallery and so on, all the trappings. He is considered by many to be one of the most important British artists of the past half century.
King entered my world in 1963, the Studio International arrived on my doorstep and Genghis Khan blew me away, the first sculpture of the 'New Generation' that stirred my novice imagination. The segmented cones of this time were intriguing and challenging works but Rosebud was a work of genius, sublime in colour and form, a truly poetic and contemplative piece of sculpture, eventually finding it's way to Moma in New York.
Throughout his long career he challenged our perceptions, endlessly innovating, constantly using new and often untried materials, great work was produced, his intellectual rigour and humanity lifted him from the ranks of his contemporaries. Rosebud and Genghis Khan caught me at a particularly receptive moment, they imprinted themselves on my artistic psyche, they are everything I ever thought contemporary sculpture should be. A bright bulb has been extinguished and the room is slightly dimmer but his work will continue to show a way through.
AGED AND AWKWARD