Thomas Newbolt: Drama Painting – A Modern Baroque 29 JANUARY – 13 MAY 2016

Thomas Newbolt: Drama Painting – A Modern Baroque

Thomas Newbolt

 

This exhibition comprises fierce, expressionistic works- many of single female sitters on couches-apparently his models arrive at twilight and he paints them when he cannot quite see the exact colours clearly on his tubes of oil. As the introduction to the exhibition at King’s Place, London states, “Opening in conjunction with the Baroque Unwrapped music programme, Piano Nobile presents Thomas Newbolt: Drama Painting – A Modern Baroque. Immense paintings by contemporary artist Thomas Newbolt explore the very essence of painting: the paradoxes of light and dark, psyche and body, figure and ground. Such liminal spaces are where Newbolt finds a vital potency: ‘I’m interested in the emotional area the painting opens up, so when I stand back I feel it’s true’. Layering undiluted oil paint in vigorous impasto, the paintings have a physical depth mirroring their expressive complexity.” Indeed it is the case that these paintings in impastos of pure colour have an impressive presence and dignity.Thomas Newbolt 2

The figures have the sense that they are apprehensively awaiting a tense psychoanalytic session. Their long and elegant dresses have a timeless elegance about them perhaps reminiscent of Christian Schad but painted with an intensity approaching Francis Bacon. The colours are rich and vivid with an accent on vermillion or verdant dark greens against an equally strong background of intense blue or brown. There is an interesting triptych and smaller studies of heads. Dramatic, indeed, so if you are in London to see a play, take the short walk past the Guardian offices in Kings Cross to see these intriguing works.

Further information at :-http://www.piano-nobile.com/exhibitions/36/works

and at :-http://www.kingsplace.co.uk/art-galleries/piano-nobile-kings-place/exhibitions/thomas-newbolt-drama-painting-a-modern-baroque#.Vtn04vmLTIU

Thomas-Newbolt---Figure-IV-,-2015_248w

 

Otto Rudolf Schatz (Austria, 1900 – 1961)

Ballonverkäufer
Ballonverkäufer

Schatz came from a family of civil servants and attended the Vienna School of Applied Arts. With 22 years of commitment to the political left, the artist had already appeared as a book illustrator for Arthur Roessler and also for Josef Luitpold Stern. Schatz illustrated  books in the interwar period, especially literature from theStrom-Verlag(including Stefan Zweig , Jack LondonUpton Sinclair’s “Co-op” and Peter Roseggers “Jakob the Last”).

"The Hope," by Otto Rudolf Schatz.
“The Hope,” by Otto Rudolf Schatz.

1925 was the Great Treasure State Award, 1928-38 he was a member of the Hagenbund . He lived during the Second World War treasure in Brno, Prague and later in a sub-camp of Gross-Rosen concentration camp in Graditz admitted that he “jüdisch-versippt” -which apparently meant that by his marriage he was considered part of the Jewish “clan”. Schatz became, on his return, by the City Councillor for Culture. His first prize for the design of the Wiener Westbahnhofs  remained unrealized.

“Die Hoffnung” has the erotic interest that figures in much of Schatz’s work and is vaguely reminiscent of the sardonic style of Edward Burra, who has recently been the subject of a programme by Andrew Graham-Dixon called “I never tell anyone, anything”. This intriguing programme is available on You-Tube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BoLh8xgOdI

Extract from a painting by Edward Burra
Extract from a painting by Edward Burra
Sitzende im schwarzgrüne Trikot
Sitzende im schwarzgrüne Trikot

 

 

Vladimir Davidovich Baranoff-Rossine -the1907 Self Portrait

This portrait by Vladimir Baranoff-Rossine (1888–1944) was completed in St Petersburg and it shows a cubist influence, the dynamism associated with futurism as well as a colourful lyricism. The palette is already not dissimilar from Sonia Delaunay with whom he was later to co-operate in Paris in the development of Orphism. They were both Jewish emigrants from Ukraine anduntil 1914 he was a resident in the artist’s colony La Ruche. This  was an old three-storey circular structure- hence its name which is French for  ‘ The Beehive’- situated in the 15th Arrondissement on the Left Bank and originally designed by Gustave Eiffell as a temporary building in the decidedly colourful area called the Passage Dantzig.

Oil on canvas, 75x50 cm. Private collection, Paris.
Oil on canvas, 75×50 cm. Private collection, Paris.

According to the Oxford Art On-Line, “His proximity in the mid-1900s to the artists of the nascent avant-garde, especially David Burlyuk and Vladimir Burlyuk, was of decisive importance to his stylistic development. Contributing to The Link (Kiev, 1908) and their other exhibitions in Moscow, Kiev and St Petersburg, he supported their stand against Realism and the Academy, favouring a brightly coloured post-Impressionism reminiscent of Georges Seurat and Louis Valtat.”

Flamenco-singer-Sonia Delaunay-1916
Flamenco-singer-Sonia Delaunay-1916

Amongst those considered as key figures in the development of painting before Matisse is the painter and print maker, Louis Valtat. He was a close friend of the Nabis. The latter used  simple areas of pure colour and along with Gaugin, these influenced Valtat towards the purity of form, line and colour known as synthetism. His later work is also considered by some, notably Natalie Henderson Lee as proto-Fauvist. This was no doubt due to the time he later spent near the Mediterranean which intensified his use of colour.

Louis Valltat
Louis Valltat

Because Vladimir Baranoff-Rossine was fond of a bright coloured palatte it was said that he was influenced by the post-impressionism of both Seurat and Valtat. It is interesting how much information seems to have been flowing between Paris  and St Petersburg in the mid 1900s partly due to the influence of art magazines. It was also supported by the influence of the members of the group The Link (Zveno) the Burliuks organized an avant-garde exhibition in Kiev.

 The Ziger Macher (the watch mender-1914)
Nathan Altman The Ziger Macher (the watch mender-1914)

Rossine’s self portrait was painted when he was just nineteen. The work already shows his movement towards a orphic style although his palette is not that far away from the colours employed by Nathan Altman in his The Ziger Macher (the watch mender). The notes from Hammersite.com suggest that this particular portrait was painted about 1914 and go on to say,” The painting is from the period Altman exhibited with The Jack of Diamonds group and attempted to express Jewish national identity utilizing a contemporary style. “

1919 Portrait of the painter Kolesnikov
1919 Portrait of the painter Kolesnikov

When Rossine moved to Paris in 1910, he will have come into a situation where critics such as Apollinaire, Gleizes and Vauxcelles were developing and defining the Cubist project. In addition he was already associated with the rather more expressionist style from the Russian cities such as the Burluik brothers. It must have been a period of quite frenzied excitement leading to the many innovative works.The crescendo came in Paris by 1913. (See The Essay at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01pt70h) Other interesting figures within this general ambit include Jean Metzinger, František Kupka, a Czech painter, David Sheterenberg and the Ukrainian Avant-Garde Sculptor, Alexander Archipenko. The latter possibly an influence on Rossine’s own sculptural work.

More Rossine paintings can be viewed at http://www.flickriver.com/photos/tags/Rossine/interesting/

David Shterenberg 1925
David Shterenberg
1925
Guillaume Apollinaire by Metzinger 1910
Guillaume Apollinaire by Metzinger 1910

Auras and Auroras; The work of Matti Braun

The eye-catching, penetrating splendour of Matti Braun’s lyrical paintings and creations are as unusual asthey are inspiring. Braun was born in 1968, trained at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin and also in Frankfurt, he works in Cologne and has had several major exhibitions in Germany, France and Italy. His work can be seen currently at the Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol until the 6th Jan 2013. Further details may be found here at http://www.madeingermanyzwei.de/Kuenstler/Matti-Braun This current exhibition consists of an installation constructed from sections through a Douglas Fir tree obtained from Westonbirt Arboretum. These are surrounded by a lake of water creating a placid, contemplative effect. Filling the tank in which they are enclosed, gave the Bristol fire brigade a useful opportunity for them to practise and develop their skills. Further information can be read on http://www.arnolfini.org.uk/whatson/exhibitions/details/1409 and photographs of the operation at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-19862898 and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-19747232  The work was apparently inspired by a film, later abandoned, by the renowned Bengali filmmaker Satyajit Ray. It was entitled ‘The Alien’.

Braun’s oeuvre includes photographs, installations, sculptures as well as paintings. Some of the latter were displayed in a large exhibition in Rome in 2011 and can be discerned in a You Tube movie at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTmTE-SHD60 and there is a book by Friedemann Malsch et al available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Matti-Braun-Kola-Friedemann-Malsch/dp/3865605966/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1351434791&sr=1-2

In some respects Braun’s compositions are a little reminiscent of the rainbow effects in the colour field paintings of Morris Louis- which the critic Clement Greenberg has termed post-painterly abstraction. There is also the possible influence of Mark Rothko. His paintings in acrylic, silk and cold-rolled steel bring to mind the evocative inks of a Rorschach test. Certainly, they invite the viewer’s personal response or interpretation.

Braun is gifted and prolific. His thought provoking and exciting conceptions will repay further attention in forthcoming years. On a personal basis they remind me of a garden hedge clustered in Mesembryanthemums in full sunlight. Set against a dark background they might suggest the delicate fronds of various luminescent underwater sea coral.

British Surrealism at Falmouth Art Gallery

Agar, Eileen (1899-1991): Untitled, signed, inscribed 18/75, lithograph, 75.5 x 57 cms. Presented by Tremayne Applied Arts, St Ives.

There has been a renewed interest in works of British Surrealism in recent years. In summing up an exhibition in The Independent on the 26th May 2008 at The Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art- http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/british-surrealists-minor-league-but-major-players-834236.html -Tom Lubbock wrote,” People have said that Britain was Surrealism’s original native land Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, William Blake, the gothic novel, Gulliver’s Travels etc. Perhaps we didn’t need the whole movement-and-manifesto thing. But it produced, slightly by accident, a group of very interesting pictures that ought to have a wider showing, and which the Sherwin Collection is willing to lend.” Clearly symbolism and surrealism have obvious links in mythology and archetypes and such matters were thrown into the generally creative and tempestuous furore which grasped interest in the period between the wars.This climaxed in in the organisation of the International Surrealist Exhibition in London in 1936. There is some evidence of these issues in the paintings displayed in the current exhibition, mostly on loan in Falmouth from the Southampton Gallery. The artists on show include PAUL NASH,CECIL COLLINS, CERI RICHARDS, ROLAND PENROSE, JOHN TUNNARD, EILEEN AGAR &ITHELL COLQHOUN.

Some idea of the range of the Exhibition may be gained from the images to be found at this website, http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/pictures/Photos-British-Surrealists-Falmouth-Art-Gallery/pictures-16910494-detail/pictures.html

However, the most exuberant and baroque piece was a comparatively recent work by David Kemp – entitled “The Hanging Gardens of Basildon”. On his blog, Kemp comments, “It is one of a series of a dozen large plant forms, all influenced by “THE GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS” an enigmatic painting by the great Hieronymus Bosch, which  explored many  aspects of medieval life, many of which might still be seen as relevant to the human condition, in our modern world?” This comment on the fantastic botanical forms and the connection with Bosch is reminiscent of the work of the VienneseSchool of Fantastic Realism as explified by Arik Brauer whose interest in Bosch he derived from his own tutor, Albert Paris von Gütersloh.

Arik Erich Brauer Die Honigkaeuferin

No visitor can possibly fail to be impressed by the peculiar botanical drawing, named “Prophylactic sea-mouth” by Edith Rimmington. The haunting form appears as some kind of elongated mutation of a dogfish egg-case with a coiling eel like flagellum.

However, for those interested in the development of the work of Paul Nash, his oil painting, “The Archer” will doubtless attract attention both for its muted complementary colours and the charmingly odd bucolic setting. A friend comments in a personal communication, “The Nash is one of his complex compositions worked on for years with bits from all over the place.  There is a letter by Nash about it in Tate Archives. The central ‘archer’ feature was a structure he made from an old toy boat, glass tube, twig, seaweed etc.  I don’t think it exists anymore other than as a photo. It looks more compelling in the photo with strong echoes of surrealist sculptures by Giacometti, Man Ray etc.  He constructed (like Lanyon), collected and photographed sculptural objects from which he derived elements of his paintings.

Paul Nash The Archer

The ‘target’ is from Men-An-Tol of course + mirrors etc; the shadow of the girl bottom right, sampled from De Chirico etc.etc.  All very sexual with the ineffective arrow being merely the shadow of the archer….. I’m not convinced that he managed to get it to cohere as an image.  I wish he had left the landscape dominant as with ‘Landscape at Iden’ http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/nash-landscape-at-iden-n05047 where the symbolic elements infuse the composition naturally.”

Those interested in Roland Penrose’s work can consult http://www.rolandpenrose.co.uk/works.aspx

De Kooning and friends

 

This photograph of de Kooning and his wife, Elaine is engaging in its own right and may be found on a very useful and visually appealing website, at http://artistandstudio.tumblr.com/archive a site which includes self-portraits, painters and their models, their ateliers in pictures and photographs. Looking at this handsome couple prompts further work into abstract impressionism, its history and associated figures. The photograph is particularly engaging and was taken by Ibram Lassaw.

Willem de Kooning(April 24, 1904 – March 19, 1997) was born in Rotterdam in the Netherlands and journeyed to New York at the age of twenty, he was a stowaway and was very taken by Jazz. He came to prominence when he painted the 105 public murals for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. As the Wikapedia article about him states,” As his work progressed, the heightened colors and elegant lines of the abstractions began to creep into the more figurative works, and the coincidence of figures and abstractions continued well into the 1940s”. At http://www.theartstory.org/artist-de-kooning-elaine.htm it states of the couple,” Elaine and Willem de Kooning endured a long and, at times, very tumultuous marriage. As much as each artist benefited from one another’s paintings and teachings, they mutually suffered due to constant infidelities and struggles with alcoholism.”

Of particular interest is the abstract expressionism developed by de Kooning’s erstwhile colleague, whose fascinating work can be viewed at http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/adolph-gottlieb?before=1338654139 Gottlieb joined de Kooning and others, including Mark Rothko from 1935 to 1940 in a group known as “The Ten” http://www.louisschanker.info/tendisc.htm. Some of Gottlieb’s ouevre is somewhat reminiscent of Paul Klee.

 

Mariner
Man Looking at Woman by Adolph Gottlieb

Gravity
Gravity

 

 

Michael Ayrton, William Walton and John Minton

Sir William Turner Walton by Michael Ayrton

This painting can be found in the National Portrait Gallery in London and shows the celebrated composer, Sir William Walton in 1948 in Capri where he was recovering from jaundice. Its atmosphere suggests recuperation and the date also reminds us that Europe was slowly convalescing from the devastation of war. Walton was to permanently settle the following year on Ischia, a volcanic island in the Tyrrhenian Sea some 30 km from Naples, of which it is a province. The painting with its remarkable diagonal composition and repeated dynamic lines is reminiscent of Wyndham Lewis, who was a significant influence on Ayrton and whose portrait he was to paint, a few years later in 1955; this is discussed at this link- http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/ayrton-portrait-of-wyndham-lewis-t07133. It is perhaps interesting to compare Wyndham Lewis’s well-known portrait of Ezra Pound with Ayrton’s Walton. The subject in the latter case looking a good deal more awake and serenely pondering the pleasures of the view and the prospects of reloading his pipe from the tobacco pouch.

In the portrait, Walton almost seems to be couched against the rocky promontory which cascades down to the sea-where the line of the cliff appears submerged rather than reflected by the water surface. The pale tones in grey, purple, reds and blues convey serenity to the composition. The repeated folds and linear motif however add a contrasting energy to the figure that is captured as though by a camera and achieve a monumental charm at what might otherwise not seem a particularly significant moment. The subject has a contemplative gaze which will be prolonged, indeed deepened by the next twist from the “fragrant weed”. The glass, decanter and bill/slip of paper seem to encourage the viewer to share into his own pensive mood.

Ayrton photograph
Ezra Pound 1939 Wyndham Lewis 1882-1957
Lewis was inspired by Lewis

Ayrton’s body of work at the Tate can be viewed as a slideshow at: – http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/michael-ayrton-681

Verlaine and Rimbaud, Sketch by Ayrton

The Oxford Companion to Western Art, says this about English Neo-Romanticism, the movement which both Ayrton and as we shall see Minton both belonged, “Never more than loosely affiliated, its painters took inspiration from the early 19th-century landscapists: from SAMUEL PALMER and his circle at Shoreham, and from TURNER. They were also influenced by French post-CUBIST developments during the 1930s. The beginnings of the movement were dominated by GRAHAM SUTHERLAND and PAUL NASH, and, to an extent, by JOHN PIPER. Their conception of the anthropomorphic potential of natural landscapes and the objects within them had a powerful influence on the younger generation of artists who became popular in the early 1940s, developing a style of agonized and sinister landscape very different from their early exemplars. MICHAEL AYRTONJOHN MINTON, and John Craxton (1922– ) were the most expressive and innovative of the painters involved; others who shared the concerns of the movement for a time included Keith Vaughan (1912–77) and the Scottish artists Robert Colquhoun (1914–62) and Robert MacBryde (1913–66).”

Minton by Michael Ayrton

John Minton (1917- 57) was a talented but troubled teacher,painter and stage designer who trained at St John’s Wood School along with Ayrton who strongly influenced him. This period between 1935 and 1938 was a time when neo-romanticism seems to have flourished, again the Oxford Companion to Western Art writes of him, “British painter, graphic artist, and designer, born at Great Shelford (Cambs.). After studying in London at St John’s Wood School of Art, 1936–8, he spent a year in Paris, where he shared a studio with MICHAEL AYRTON (with whom he later collaborated on designs for John Gielgud’s production of Macbeth at the Piccadilly Theatre, London, in 1942). Among the artists whose work he saw in Paris, he was particularly influenced by the brooding sadness of Eugene Berman (1899–1972) (More information also at http://www.sullivangoss.com/eugene-berman/) and Pavel Tchelitchew (1898–1957). (There is a You–tube, in Italian at http://www.encyclopedia.com/video/aQpp6epASaQ-la-danza-delle-ombre-pavel.aspx) In 1941–3 he served in the Pioneer Corps, and after being released on medical grounds he had a studio in London at 77 Bedford Gardens (the house in which RobertColquhoun (1914–62), Robert MacBryde (1913–66), and Jankel Adler (1895–1949) lived), 1943–6. From 1946 to 1952 he lived with Keith Vaughan (1912–77). Minton was a leading exponent of NEO-ROMANTICISM and an influential figure through his teaching at Camberwell School of Art (1943–7), the Central School of Arts and Crafts (1947–8), and the Royal College of Art (1948–56).

John Minton Self-Portrait

He was extremely energetic, travelling widely and producing a large body of work as a painter (of portraits, landscapes, and figure compositions), book illustrator, and designer. After about 1950, however, his work went increasingly out of fashion. He made an effort to keep up with the times with subjects such as The Death of James Dean (1957; London, Tate), but stylistically he changed little. Minton was renowned for his charm and generosity, but he was also melancholic and troubled by self-doubt. He committed suicide with an overdose of drugs.”

It has recently come to my notice that Lucien Freud also painted John Minton in 1952.http://www.leninimports.com/lucian_freud_gallery_5.html and that Bratby painted at least two portraits, one of which, a watercolour sketch was up for sale at Bonhams in Jan 2011 see http://www.artvalue.com/auctionresult–bratby-john-randall-1928-1992-portrait-of-john-minton-2824129.htm and another was available at this year’s International Art Fair and is shown below.

Minton by John Randall Bratby
Minton by John Randall Bratby

 

  John Minton as painted by Lucien Freud
Modern Stage by Eugene Berman