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.
Like hundreds, possibly thousands of 'Etrangers' living in France I journeyed to my administrative centre, in my case Alencon, to complete my application for residency in France. I had thought it a simple straightforward thing to do but providing photographs and having my fingerprints taken was a more disconcerting and reflective process than I had anticipated. I had been, up to a few months ago, a European, a situation I was very happy with, proud of I suspect. Now I had become a foreign resident in what had become a foreign land. How narrowing are the nationalistic notions of much of the population of my native country. So, still British, no longer European but now determinedly Continental. Walter Sickert, one of the fathers of contempory English art had been resolutely Continental. Camden and Dieppe had been twin inspirations, he keenly chronicled life in both and felt an Etranger in neither.
Sickert had close links with Dieppe from his childhood, a regular visitor for over 40 years and a resident from 1898 to 1905. This French connection set him artistically and culturally apart from his contempories in England. Dieppe had a large British expat community and hosted visitors, writers and artists from across the channel all the year round. Rothenstein writes, " Smithers, Symons, Beardsley, Dowson and Conder used often to run over to Dieppe, with it's harbour and quays, it's beautiful churches and dignified streets it had long attracted artists............. I remember Beardsley, Condor and Dowson starting off from the Crown one night, wandering about London, and taking the early boat-train to Dieppe without any luggage......... Beardsley and Dowson coming back a few days later looking the worse for wear. Conder stayed on."
Sickert had been a long time visitor and in 1912 he bought a villa, ten miles from Dieppe, the war of course interrupted his French life but he returned in 1919 with the intention of settling permanently, this time was dogged by his wife's ill health and untimely death. He returned to England in 1922.
In Dieppe, influenced by Degas and his friendships with painters like Monet and Pissarro he developed and honed his own individual style and practice. His open mind and continental connection helped elevate him to greatness. We must hope that the jingoistic mood that pervades the sycophantic Tory right in England will at some point dissipate and the shared cultural heritage we have always enjoyed and benefited from will be fostered once more.
AGED AND AWKWARD