Parting at morning

Parting at Morning 1891 by Sir William Rothenstein 1872-1945
Parting at morning, William Rothenstein (1890)

Parting at morning

The beauty of beauty
innocence in an age
of experience
a fresh wistful face
as yet unlined by life

a body scarcely knowing love
details yet to be added
language without words
she on the verge
of womanhood
the purity of the body
as yet unveiled
in the rite of love
simplicity of the pose
the dress and hair
an almost boyish look
slant of the shoulders
her top rolled down
but barely revealing
the simplicity
of the pleated skirt
elegance of the arms
relaxed by her side
we wonder what
became of her
with her quizzical smile
and where she went
when she left
the painter’s life

John Lyons


This painting may be viewed at Tate Britain.


 

Ben Turnbull at the Saatchi

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I need a hero, Ben Turnbull

Ben Turnbull at the Saatchi

Thank you Ben for reminding us
             that we are all composed
of tiny snippets of other people
             of their words and their actions
and their lives and their histories
             and their joys and tribulations
including their deaths in sad scenarios
              of heroism and sacrifice

taken from the warring
             world of destruction
recreated with tiny clippings
             from vintage American comic books
in which you capture the hollowness
             of military bombast
and all the wasted energies
             all the personal traumas
the heartbreak and loneliness
             and the endless pity of war

Thank you for your unflinching
             words and images broadcast
from the artistic trenches
             of your very own frontline
and dispatched so as
             to combat and confound
the arrogance and complacency
             of those in high places
who would thoughtlessly send
             young innocents to their death
in pointless and illegal wars
             that bring the realm of humanity
to the very brink of twilight’s
             last gleaming and so God Bless

John Lyons


Catch Ben Turnbull’s brilliant and poignant exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery, King’s Road, from 11 April to 8 May 2017. 


Where’s the Pollocks?

A day in the life

tatemodern
Tate Modern

So Sunday morning I wake at six o’clock as per usual and peek out the window. Can see it’s a blustery day and I feel that the grey clouds slopping about overhead are ganging up on me, just waiting for me to step outside. Does not bode well! Still, intrepid as ever, it’s shower, shave, gallo pinto for breakfast and out the door, notebook in hand, optimism in my heart. Head down to the tracks and off to London town in search of Pollocks. Readers may recall my previous Sunday visit to Tate Britain. No Pollocks there, but plenty of other first rate objets d’art so not a wasted journey by any means. This Sunday, it’s Tate Modern, gotta be Pollocks there, surely. Get to Blackfriars on the Tube and as I hit the street all hell breaks loose up above, cats, dogs, anything the weather can throw at me, so I arrive at the old power station drenched to my Wilson socks, shake it off like a dog and enter the monumental arthouse, nip up to the second floor and ask one of the attendants: “Where’s the Pollocks?” She’s very sweet, about 5’ 2”, glasses, dark auburn hair, just a tad overweight, but that’s her business not mine, and the bearer of bad news: “Sorry, my love, they’re all in Tate Liverpool for a big exhibition.” My face is now a pool on the Tate Modern floor. “What? In Liverpool? O for God’s sake! I’ve come all this way!” “Sorry, my love. But they’ll be back sometime soon, second week of September, if I’m not mistaken.” “But I wanted to write a piece about them, I’ve got a blog.” She gives me a long, hard, charitable stare. “Sorry, ducks. Can’t be helped.”

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Zhang Enli

Resilience, Battle of Britain spunk. I must have some of that somewhere. So, yeah, sure enough, I thank the girl for her kindness and consideration and traipse off down a few aisles, take a butcher’s at a few Dalis and Picassos, nothing to write home about and then I come across someone who just might be the ticket. Zhang Enli, never heard of him but his series of still lifes grabbed me by the . . . . Anyway, two and two together, cats and dogs, leaking roofs, why not buckets, memories of the Great Dartford Flood of 1968 when the branch of Woolworth’s was up to its ears and staff were obliged to enter the store (I kid you not) by boat, and I think “Eureka, I’ll write about Zhang Enli. Try to turn him into a household name. Do my bit at least.”


Born in Jilin, China in 1965, a teacher at the Arts & Design lnstitute of Donghua University, Zhang Enli currently lives and works in Shanghai. Doesn’t tell you much but the guy is good and he’s had exhibitions all over the shop.

Zhang Enli, Bucket 5, oil on canvas, 2007

Art is about focus, the mind homing in on something or some emotion before transferring that energy into an artistic product, notes on a stave, steps on a dance floor, words in the mouth of an actor, paint on a canvas, you get the idea, from the mind through the body into or onto whatever is the chosen medium. For a painter, Enli in this case, there are so many options, so many considerations, so many choices, oils, acrylics, board, canvas, grape stems, representational or abstracted, it’s always ‘make your mind up’ time. Art is mind on matter, even if that matter is the thin air fattened by a few Beethoven chords. Long and the short is that our friend Zhang has a technique and an eye that Pablo would have been proud of. Word of warning: No good admiring it on a computer screen, or worse still a crappy iPad. You gotta go and see for yourself the delicacy of the brushwork, the subtlety of the colours, the perfection of the composition. It raises the humble bucket into an icon, but the icon is dedicated to our humanity, to the essential ordinariness of all of us, our common bond in the occasionally very damp and gloomy human condition. Art is elevation. It makes us feel good and alive, and it is not a luxury, it is oxygen to our soul and any attack on the arts, by reducing curriculum time in schools, or failing to fund local arts, national arts, whatever, is an attack on the species. Forget global warming, the battle for the survival of the human race is an artistic battle. Still, that’s enough from me on my hobbyhorse. Uncle Toby would be proud of me, de gustibus non est disputandum. . . and so on and so forth. Get along to the gallery and get a load of it for yourselves.

Meanwhile, busy busy busy. It’s still chucking it down outside when I head back to Blackfriars and I’m sitting on the train bound for Denmark Hill when the blog editor comes on the mobile blower to say we’ve had another sweet comment on Jonah and Anna-Belle, our running  soap, from dear old Molly Rosenberg. She’s such a darling, melts my heart every time. A ray of sunshine on a godawful day!

Note to myself: must get more sleep and slow down!