“When I started painting the pelvis bones, I was most interested in the holes in the bones”.
It was some rooms before Georgia O’ Keeffe’s colourful renderings of pelvis bones where I saw my favourite painting of the exhibition.
I was disappointed by the Georgia O’ Keeffe exhibition, nothing to do with the work on display, it was the lack of public solitude available at this Tate Modern. I am a big fan of unpopular exhibitions, or exhibitions that are unpopular when I turn up. It is an entirely selfish position, but what is the 21st century for if not narcissism?
When I went to the Edward Hopper exhibition, I had been sternly warned that the melancholy of his lonely people may stir me to depression. As it was, the exhibition was so packed with people elbowing each other out of the way to ogle the lonely people trapped on canvas, that my only feeling for these figures was envy for their quiet solitude. I see more dead eyes above laughing mouths in gregarious situations than I do when seeing people alone with their coffee froth and thoughts.
“I have things in my head that are not like what anyone has taught me”.
I admire and envy artists like O’ Keeffe. I want the ability to translate the colours and shapes inside me onto paper, or shape it into something via a tupperware box of plasticine. Red and Orange Streak was the most captivating work for me, one of her paintings influenced by her fascination with synesthesia. I wish i knew how to create “an aural experience of the Texas landscape”.
As all things which we are capable of seem mundane, art like this is shamanism and magic to me. How does this visual experience go into the eye and then come out of the mind via brush and arm?
Just as it is near impossible to effectively verbalise why a tasty pudding delights you beyond a variety of synonyms for “YUM”, the delight of “Pink and Blue Mountain” or “Jimson Weed/ White Flower Number 1” is lost to a vocabulary that is unavailable to me.
Walking around, with my pen in hand and my thoughts too loudly saying, “how am I reacting to that? and what about that? what do you think of that?” rather than just sitting back and waiting, I had a flash image of me tripping over one of the trespass ropes and accidentally piercing a painting. I realised that would be the only way of playing any part in art history.
And it would be far less fun than the story of the nonagenarian crossword enthusiast who filled in Arthur Koepcke’s Crossword themed painting “Reading – Work – Piece”.
There are those who may thoughtfully destroy someone or something so they could be part of the story. I remember being told of the famed writer of imaginative fiction who was hounded by a tax investigator who was a big fan, such a big fan he was willing to drive his icon to bankruptcy and exile so he could get close to the man he admired and maybe be a footnote in a biographical study.
If you need some air after the O’Keeffe exhibition, take a look at the Bhupen Khakhar rooms. I knew nothing of him, but his work is bold and delightful, even when dealing with his cancer.
“His heart bleeds as he chants her name day and night (because of that oesophagus/coal cord got joined to his hear)”, now that’s a title. My favourite exhibition of the work of an artist who kept up part-time accountancy work. He celebrated solitary men in pubs, too.
Book Shambles, presented by Josie Long and me, has just finished series 3. Series 4 starts soon with Nick Offerman, John Dowie and Alan Moore amongst the guests. They are all freely available, but you can become a regular Patreon patron or just make a one off donation HERE. Patreon supporters now have access to new extra stuff and we’ll be giving away free books every week to randomly chosen supporters.
“Heh Heh, I’ve baked a proper gingerbread hottie here… DRIBBLE…just look at those meringue tits! They’ve risen perfectly.” Great news, it’s a double baker issue of Viz, The Drunken Bakers and Fru ‘T’ Bunn. What a treat.