Blackpaint 600 – “FOOD….AWLRIGHT?” Orange, Dogs and Prado

June 20, 2017

A Clockwork Orange, Kubrick (1971)

I was discussing High Rise (film of) recently with Paul Tickell and Phil Cairney, my director friends, and I compared it to Clockwork Orange.  No, they both said, check out the  theatricality of staging and acting in Orange, compared with High Rise (I paraphrase, of course; neither of them would say “check out”).  They were right, naturally.  The choreographed gut- kicking during the house invasion – “I’m SIINGING in the rain (thud)” – along with the cutting of Adrienne Corri’s cat suit, while Patrick Magee is forced to watch, and the attack on Dim to the Thieving Magpie music are theatre and opera, and I was going to say unique – then, of course, the attack by the nazis on the bouncer in  Cabaret, that’s to music, but not choreographed – and I suppose West Side Story…..  and  just about every Ken Russell music biopic has a sequence of classical music with violence, or sex, or sex and violence… so not unique then, or even rare.  But maybe uniquely malevolent and chilling.

For my money, the best line in the film is Magee’s; he is entertaining the hapless Alex and has come to realise that the youth he is sheltering was his main assailant:  “FOOD (bellowed suddenly)……. Awright? (strangled attempt to get voice under control).

Straw Dogs, Sam Peckinpah (1971) – now available on DVD

Invaluable for its accurate and touching portrait of Cornish country folk in the 70s – a giggling, knife-wielding ratcatcher, a teenage nymphomaniac, rustic rapists, a mentally challenged killer, a drunken malicious patriarch (Peter Vaughan, prefiguring Robert Shaw in Jaws).  Into the village to settle  come Dustin Hoffman, nerdy American maths genius and his wife, escaped local girl Amy (Susan George, in a tight white roll-necked sweater), who disports herself innocently before the depraved locals (with one of whom she has “history”).

The inevitable, in cinematic terms, happens; Hoffman’s character is enticed away and Amy’s old boyfriend turns up at the cottage; a double rape follows.  The furore about the film and its troubles with the censor arose from the fact that Amy appears to be enjoying and responding to the violent assault (the first one, by her old boyfriend, anyway).  Peckinpah has form in this elsewhere; see, for example, “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia”.

What I find interesting, watching it again after 45 years (!), is that Hoffman is apparently unaware of the attack on his wife (he must be both blind and stupid).  His defence of the cottage in the subsequent siege, his ruthless use of deadly violence, is motivated not by revenge, but by the territorial imperative.  “This is my house!” he asserts, as he chucks boiling water, bashes brains in and wields the huge mantrap.  Amy wants him to abandon the house and the mentally challenged killer (David Warner), who  he is ostensibly trying to protect.  She is VERY slow to blast the last assailant with a shotgun, when he attacks Hoffman from behind.  So, not a revenge movie; arguably, the Amy character could have been left out altogether and the story would have worked – although the atmospherics would have been less charged…  Unaccountably, Warner was uncredited in the cast, so I’ve made sure he gets a credit here.

More Prado

Impossible to go fully into the riches of the Prado (which I started last blog): so, two painters of whom I was aware, but only just, before seeing them here.  First, Joachim Patinir (Charon, St.Jerome, Temptation of Anthony Abbott) – blue, lowering skies, small, strange figures in a landscape, something of Georgione about him, maybe.

 

Patinir – Charon crossing the Styx

 

Patinir – St Jerome

Then, de Ribera – grey-white distorted bodies, sprawling across huge canvases. his Tityus lunging towards you across the gallery.  The obvious Caravaggio influence, coupled with a sort of dry abrasiveness of surface…

 

de Ribera – Tityus

 

de Ribera – Martyrdom of St Philip

Finally, Titian’s Andrians, having a fine old bacchanale, below; I like the little kid – is he/she about to urinate?   Hope not, for the “relaxed” lady’s sake.

Titian – Bacchanale of the Andrians

 

Lake District

Blackpaint

20.6.17

 

 

Blackpaint 599 – A Drink with Bacchus and a Sausage with Goebbels

June 13, 2017

Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

Vast hoard of treasures here, so can just give a few examples:  Las Meninas (the Maidservants, below) with its complicated geography – painter on the left, looking towards posing royal couple (reflected in the mirror).  Having read Derrida, I feel I can give my own reading of the painting, totally unsupported by the known facts:  for me, it’s one of those paintings where two or more time zones exist simultaneously – like those Crucifixions where the journey to Golgotha, the crucifixion and the deposition, and maybe Judas’ suicide, are all on show.   So in my reading, Velasquez, having completed the painting, turns in the doorway to glance back at his earlier self, still engaged in the work.  The guide book identifies the figure in the doorway to be Jose Nieto, the royal chamberlain – but I prefer my reading.

Las Meninas, Velasquez

 

The Feast of Bacchus, Velasquez

I don’t know why, but this painting reminds me of Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus.  It gives me the impression that Bacchus and the grinning man next to him are travelling, seated, towards us, despite the presence of the kneeling man, who would be ploughed under, were this the case.  There is something about that arm, too…

I don’t quite have a settled view on El Greco; sometimes I think that his elongated figures thrusting up like flames are fantastic and precursors of artists like Kirchner (yes, fanciful…) – other times, the crowdedness and somehow dry surfaces turn me off.

 

The Holy Trinity, El Greco

 

The Annunciation, El Greco

As for Goya, there are some wondrous canvases such as the 2nd and 3rd May 1808 paintings (the Mamelukes and the Executions), the Black Paintings of course, and the Royal portraits.  There are also some terrible paintings – a Flight into Egypt comes to mind.  I think religious themes didn’t inspire him.  A couple of portraits, then:

The Marchioness of Santa Cruz, Goya

 

The Countess of Chinchon, Goya

More on the Prado next time – I’ve barely scratched the surface.

Dance of the Seven Veils, Ken Russell Omnibus (1970) – see it on youtube

Another brilliant example of Russell’s restraint and good taste: Richard Strauss (Christopher Gable) as a Nazi fellow traveller, reaping the rewards under Hitler and pleading coercion after the Downfall.  It begins with Gable, dressed in animal skins, conducting Zarathustra and soon being ravished by crazed nuns.  Later, his wife is raped by crazed Tommies (fantasy sequence, I should point out, as is the nun bit) again, whilst Strauss conducts.  Above, Mrs. Strauss and Goebbels share a German foodstuff…

Ossessione, Visconti (1943)

Visconti’s version of “The Postman Always Rings Twice”.  Gino the tramp shows up at Giovanna’s garage and roadhouse and sweeps her off her feet – although not onto the kitchen table, as in the Jack Nicholson/ Jessica Lange version directed by Bob Rafelson in 1981.  What to do about Giovanna’s fat, much older husband, however?  Lots of smouldering and some excellent dialogue: (Giovanna to Gino, who has removed his jacket) “Your shoulders – why, you’re built like a stallion!”

 

Rift Valley

Blackpaint

12/06/17

 

Blackpaint 598 – Madrid, Salamanca, Bermondsey

June 3, 2017

Thyssen -Bornemisza Museum, Madrid

Staggeringly beautiful medieval pieces, some below: it has to be said, however, that the Old Masters took some time to perfect the portrayal of a baby – I don’t mean the little adult Christs that sometimes perch on Mary’s knee, but the real babies – like those portrayed below.

 

Yes, it’s definitely a baby…

 

Simone Martini, St.Peter – looking guilty; maybe about the denial of Christ?

Now, a series of three very dodgy Christ babies…

Piero di Cosimo

 

Dodgy Jesus 2 – Jacob Jordaens

 

Dodgy Jesus 3 – Lucas Cranach the elder.  He’s enjoying the grapes, but she doesn’t look too happy…

Carpaccio – some interesting birdlife…

Great Bellini, with that characteristic model again, on the left – she’s usually the Madonna…

Henry Manguin, The Prints (1905).  He’s new to me – another great back for my collection.

 

Michael Andrews, Portrait of Tim Behrens

 

Willem de Kooning – could easily fit in the Last Judgement murals in Salamanca Cathedral (see below) – if it was a bit faded…

 

Salamanca Old Cathedral

Stuck onto the “new” one (started in 16th century); the old one is 12th – 14th century.  We found it by falling down the steps from the new cathedral.

St. Christopher, with Christ on his shoulder – but who are the others under his belt?  There’s another like this in the Prado, taken from a cathedral wall in Segovia, I think (how do they do that?  Taking a mural on stone and transferring it to canvas?); the one in the Prado has the belt people and also has fishes swimming round Christopher’s legs.  The wall paintings in the cathedral need no commentary, for the most part:

I love the sun and moon, looking down on Christ from left and right…

Just look at that half dome painting.

Salamanca is the most beautiful city; storks nesting on the church tower, peregrine falcons circling in the spotlights from the old Jesuit college roof, thousands of swifts screaming as they tear around in raiding parties above the streets, honey-coloured stone…

White Cube Gallery, Bermondsey

Jurgen Partenheimer, “Lichtschwarm” – until 18th June.

Great paintings, a couple of examples below.

 

Rather like Oiticica, maybe.

 

Memento Park

Blackpaint

02.06.17

 

 

Blackpaint 597 – Striders and Chariots and Modern Art in Madrid

May 22, 2017

Giacometti at Tate Modern

Well I know he’s great and the creator of unmistakeable, iconic figures that define stillness and movement and contain both humour and pathos – but he is a little repetitive.  You say that the repetition is a mark  of his obsessive drive to attain the unattainable,  a heroic, almost tragic striving for perfection…but he is a little same-y.  Maybe I’ve seen too much Giacometti (NPG a while back, Sainsbury Centre in Norwich more recently); but this is a big exhibition with lots of rooms.  Maybe it’s the breathless hero-worship he seems to inspire in the women art lovers of my generation, that I suspect has as much to do with the brooding, rugged, Italian peasant features as the art.

Anyway, the good things:

  • The dancing, or falling figure on the posters.

  • The Chariot figure on wheels.
  • The flint axe-head sculptures, cut off below the shoulders, several of which, to me, seem to resemble the Duke of Edinburgh, Her Majesty the Queen,  Princess Margaret and Charles de Gaulle.

  • The pictures on board or canvas that he has blackened so that they resemble sheets of lead, from which the even darker features of his sitters loom; a change from his usual ochre, orange, grey and black, with thin, ink-like lines.
  • The outsize figures, including the strider in the last room (a ringer for Prince Phillip, if he’d had his hands behind his back); a welcome change from the usual size.  It’s a good exhibition, essential probably, so don’t be put off by my jaded comments.

 

Reina Sofia Museum (of 20th Century Art), Madrid

I’ve just spent four days in Madrid, three of them in art museums, so pretty much enough for three blogs.  The first of these we entered at 4.00pm, “fresh” off the plane – and emerged at closing time, 9.00pm, hungry and dehydrated.  Not because we couldn’t find the exit, but because there was so much excellent art to see.  I’m just going to put up our photos with, here and there, my perceptive and witty comments to add to your visual enjoyment.

Schwitters

Behind glass, so my partner’s form can be made out in the centre, taking the photo and enhancing the quality of the artwork.

Ortiz

Lovely little cubist picture.

Oscar Dominguez

He of Decalcomania fame – lots of Dominguez in this museum.

 

Another Dominguez – The Thrower.

It’s rather hard to make out, but it’s a legless, headless and handless black torso, with a thick shard of glass chopping into it at the top.  Compare these two little assemblages as Surrealist images with the Dali painting below:

Dali, The Invisible Man

It seems to me that the Dominguez pieces express in each case a clear idea, or at most a couple of ideas, succinctly, rather as Magritte does.  They are surrealistic, that is to say contradictory or paradoxical (to be “properly” Surrealist, I think they should also be dreamlike – not sure they are); but they also have clarity.  That, I think, is not the case with the Dali, despite the facility of depiction and the multiple images detract from the painting.   Then again, I don’t like Dali – but then, I’m not that keen on Magritte either, so moving on –

Picasso – no comment necessary.

Picasso again – just to point out the roughness (or texture, or painterliness) of the grey, orange and red areas in the lower picture; unusual, I think, in Picasso’s work and  the better for it – not that the untextured stuff isn’t stupendous…

 

Angeles Santos, The Gathering (1929)

There were several paintings by Santos and another painter, whose name escapes me, f.rom the 20s and 30s, in this style – I include them because they remind me rather strongly of Paula Rego’s work (although I much prefer Rego’s execution).

And then, a roomful of CoBrA stuff, to my surprise:

 

Corneille – I like the yellow with the red line.

Appel, Figures

And then,  rooms of abstract expressionism, Tachisme and pop Art:

Yves Klein, his version of Nike

Tapies, Blue with four Red Bars.  Does what it says on the can.

 

Guerrero – It’s a (huge) matchbook with a few missing.

There’s a lot more to see (Bruce Connor, Bay Area and LA artist, and the making of “Guernica” – both special exhibitions, so NO PHOTO, por favor!) so you’ll need to go to Madrid forthwith.  Next time, the Prado.

Here are a couple of mine:

Seated Back, pastel blue

 

Seated Front, pastel green

Blackpaint

21/05/17

 

Blackpaint 596 – Bigfoot, Ginger Man and Newfoundland

May 9, 2017

Willow Creek (2013, dir. Bobcat Goldthwaite)

This is a film that must have cost next to nothing to make, being a found-footage horror film about a pair of seekers after Bigfoot, or the Sasquatch as it is known by cryptozoologists.  Actually, it’s not a pair of seekers – Jim is the obsessive, Kelly his girlfriend is along for the ride.

Very cheap and pretty much like a spoof, until they get deep in the woods.  There is then a sequence where they cower in their tent in the night, while something “vocalises”, hits sticks together and bashes against the tent.  It goes on for about 20 minutes and is riveting – well, terrifying.  Probably if I saw it again, it would be nothing, but first time round…

The real thing.. no, really

I’m avoiding cliches again, so I’ll just say one meets a sticky end and the other a fate worse than death.  Watch it if it shows up again (the film, not Bigfoot); I wouldn’t have persisted with it if I hadn’t seen two documentaries on the Discovery channel about the Dyatlov Pass Incident in the Urals in 1959, which led to the unexplained violent deaths of nine Russian students.  Anyway, good film, not to be watched before you go camping in the woods.

The Ginger Man, JP Donleavy

I’ve written about this quite shocking book before and have just finished it.  It ends with another burst of violence against a woman who has the gall to be defiant to the disgusting “hero”, Sebastian Dangerfield; he slaps her repeatedly, threatens to use his boots on her and she of course submits, agreeing to give up her career as an actress and become a willing sex-slave to this thug, who can’t countenance  a woman of “his” having any independence.  Every woman in the book submits willingly to him, despite his constant drunken state, violence and dirty, bizarre clothing and behaviour.  It’s written in a sub-Joycean style – rip-off, really, from the vernacular sections of Ulysses – that was, surprisingly, highly praised.

Really, what shocks me about it is that I read it back in the 60s, maybe 1968 – and I thought it was hilarious.  So did most others of my age who read it then, male and female.  Or at least, they don’t remember the violence.  I remembered the drunken parade in the kangaroo suit as if it was the main event; it lasts a few pages and results in an unconvincing pub brawl, with KOs and injuries.

So, it’s a book “of its time” – tells you a lot about our attitudes then; not only teenagers like me, but grown-up literary critics regarded it as a sort of bawdy, joyous, drunken “romp” and Dangerfield as an incorrigible, lovable rogue.  I think there are certain similarities in the eccentricities and makeshift nature of the surroundings to Joyce Carey’s hugely superior “The Horse’s Mouth”.

Two new pictures to end with; I’ve given up trying to pretend my abstracts don’t look like landscapes.  Haven’t done any exhibitions, having been stuck in a gallery for two weeks, staring at my own paintings…

The Banks of Newfoundland

 

Panamatic Isthmus

Blackpaint

09/05/17

Blackpaint 595 – It’s British – but is it all Queer?

April 24, 2017

Queer British Art 1861 – 1967

There is a fair bit of great painting in this show, some of it problematic in terms of its queerness.  When you see a Tom of Finland show, like that at the ICA a while back, or Mapplethorpe photos, as in Helsinki, there are no doubts – it’s full- on queerness.  Here, it’s not so clear.  The Hockney “Physique” picture apart, none of the paintings below are queer in the sense of openly celebrating queerness.  Hardly surprising, given the discriminatory laws in force in Britain between those dates – however, what makes the Singer Sargent portrait of Vernon Lee “queer art”?  Or the Laura Knight self-portrait, of her painting a female nude?  Or William Strang’s picture of the woman in the red hat?  The answers, presumably, are that Sargent and Vernon Lee were both queer, as was Vita Sackville-West (the sitter for the Strang portrait) and Knight’s self-portrait was a conscious protest against the art school ban on women artists painting nude women models.

Anyway, the riches on offer include:

  • Three beautiful Keith Vaughans in his characteristic blue, cream and brown hues, all figure studies I think, including the one below.  Best in show (Crufts again);
  • The Laura Knight self-portrait I mentioned;
  • A couple of terrific Patrick Proctors, quite like Hockney – but different;
  • Ethel Sands – shades of Harold Gilman, Sickert and Vuillard, I thought;
  • A Lord Leighton classical theme that looks like a Bright Young Things fancy dress ball;  fine-boned, handsome youths with lower lips seemingly a-tremble;
  • Duncan Grant swimmers and divers.
  • There are Cecil Beaton and Angus McBean photographs and posters for cross-dressing music hall acts Vesta Tilley et al.

 

Henry Scott Tuke

 

Vernon Lee (author of “The Virgin of the Seven Daggers”) by Singer Sargent

 

Hockney, of course

 

Keith Vaughan

In addition, there are some interesting oddities, such as Oscar Wilde’s cell door from Reading Gaol and Noel Coward’s dressing gown.  Go and see it; interesting history – not all the art is great, because the queerness is maybe more important here than the quality – but enough is great to make a visit worthwhile.  Still not totally comfortable with the idea of using “queer” out loud, though…

Cataracticus

Blackpaint

 

Still on for another week and several paintings still unsold!

Blackpaint

24/04/17

Blackpaint 594 – Reaping the Rye in Notting Hill

April 17, 2017

Out of Blixen, Riotous Company, Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill Gate

Kathryn Hunter (below) in the play which consists of four Blixen/Dinesen stories, stitched together with a little biographical narrative from Hunter as Blixen.  In the photo below she is playing a 13 year old girl; elsewhere in the play, she imitates a fish – rather effectively, in both cases.  I remember seeing her as Richard III at the Globe some 15 years ago; she seems to have unlimited powers of transformation.

The staging is varied – few tricks missed,  Mia Theil Have, playing at various times a peregrine falcon, an exotic dancer and a (bogus) angel, loses no opportunity to climb up into the stage curtains and utilise them as ship’s rigging or heavenly wings; she is most striking, though, as a peasant woman reaping imaginary rye with an imaginary sickle, all around the auditorium – like an animated Russian propaganda poster.  There are also stilts, a mobile piano, some minimal audience involvement and earth, or possibly grain, falling onto the stage from the heights (to crunch underfoot, during Blixen’s piece).  It’s pretty much magic realism.  I see Blixen as a bit like Frida Kahlo – Kahlo shattered by her tram accident in youth, Blixen afflicted by syphilis inherited from her father, I believe.  She’s popular with feminists; Paul Tickell, the writer of this piece, says she draws “in particular on the feminism which began to emerge out of the 18th century Enlightenment”.  It’s on until 22nd April.

Selfie to Self-Expression,  Saatchi Gallery, Sloane Square

Well, is it art?  Some is, for sure.  Fantastic exhibition if you are a teacher in search of a good trip out for the kids (judging by the number of school groups there on the days I went).

There’s a room of illuminated photographic panels with famous self-portraits that could never be assembled if you wanted the originals:  three of the famous old age  Rembrandts, Courbet, Manet, Renoir, Cezanne, Basquiat, Warhol, Freud, Spencer, Van Gogh, and Velasquez’ Las Meninas.

Then, a room of proper selfies: Russian daredevils atop skyscrapers, a swimmer kissing sharks – and another with a great white approaching fast behind him, Brad and Jolie, Cumberbatch photobombing U2, and so on.

Novelty tech as below; a creepy room where you appear in surveillance mode; a selection of creative self-portraits entered for an exhibition, containing some brilliant work. Highly recommended – I’ve been twice.

 

Who can this miserable old git be, with the glamorous, smoky-eyed woman?

 

The same pair, I think…

 

Russian jail tattoos, part of selfie exhibition.

 

Get Out (dir, Jordan Peele, 2017)

Starring Daniel Kaluuya, great in “Black Mirror”,  a warning to black American men to beware of white girlfriends with liberal parents.  Whatever you do, don’t go to visit for the weekend…

It’s full of references to other films: I got “The Prophet” (the deer scene), “Night of the Living Dead” (Romero’s original B&W), “Les Yeux sans Visage” (the surgery scene), “Under the Skin” (the Sunken Place) – not to mention “Stepford Wives”, which all reviews – well, mention.

When I saw it, at the Brixton Ritzy, there were only two black people in the cinema; a woman and her daughter, I think, sitting in front of me.  They were talking intermittently,  in a sort of Gogglebox way:  “Oh he’s not going in there, is he?  Get out now, you fool!” – that sort of thing.  Suddenly, a young woman’s voice, slight accent, French maybe – “Ladies; please can you stop talking?  Thank you”, from across the aisle.  Meanwhile, on screen, the black hero struggled to save himself from the Obama-loving white liberals.  The ironies abound.

Keith Tyson, Turn Back Now, at Jerwood Gallery (Hastings)

Keith Tyson

Tyson’s pictures are displayed as above, in a sort of 19th century Royal Academy Exhibition way. wall to wall.  They are so varied as to defy description, except to say that many have whimsical, surreal or ironic commentary.  I liked some, for instance, the rather Festival of Britain ones in the picture above.

The permanent collection at the Jerwood, although small, contains some beautiful pieces, by Michael Ayrton, David Jones, John Wells, Barnes-Graham and others – especially Eileen Agar, who has a room to herself:

Eileen Agar – rather like Colquhoun and MacBryde, I thought

 

Agar again

 

Christopher Wood

Next week, Queer British Art at Tate Britain.  Readers in London during the next two weeks may like to visit our annual exhibition at Sprout Gallery (see below):

Western Approaches (WIP)

Blackpaint

17/04/17

 

 

Blackpaint 593 – The Fly on the Lobster and the Cold, Hard Stare

April 5, 2017

Wolfgang Tillmans – again (Tate Modern)

Second visit to Wolfie at Tate Modern and photos of some of the – photos I mentioned last time: above, the drainpipe (obviously);  below, the fly on the shellfish (appetising!) –

 

– and here, one of those huge aerial shots that are in focus throughout the range (excuse the technical inadequacy – my description I mean, not Tillman’s photo).

Additionally, you should look out for the leaden sea (Richter, Roni Horn), the blue tee shirt man and the dark disco shot.  They’re all good, really, apart maybe from the makeweight pics of his cluttered desks and the disassembled computer bits..

Drawing Biennale at  the Drawing Room until 26th April (Unit 8 Rich Estate, 46 Willow Walk. London SE1)

“Over 200 unique works on paper”, all for sale in an online auction between 12 – 26 April).  Plenty of big names (Caivano, Gormley, Hatoum, Joffe, Turk, Perry,  Kentridge, Bob & Roberta….) and an astonishingly – well, no, surprisingly –  broad definition of drawing, as if that mattered.  Writing-drawings, graph printout drawings, photo-drawings, collage drawings, painting-drawings, a woven textile drawing, even some pencil and charcoal drawings. A few pictured below:

Patti Smith of course; not a fantastic likeness really…

 

 

Once again, note how my partner has managed to incorporate her image into Gotz’ picture; clever.  An excellent show of real quality drawings, not at all just knocked out in response to a request for a small piece to be auctioned.

Here’s one of mine; not in show, but open to offers, of course…

Blackpaint

Free State of Jones, dir. Gary Ross (2016)

Gruelling chunk of American Civil War “history” – but how much is true? – in which an alliance of escaped slaves and poor whites take on the Confederate army in Mississippi.  Violent, at times inspiring, at times confused.  Matthew McConaughey has ample opportunity to do his brilliant cold, hard stare; a little less convincing when he has to do compassion.

Chaos and Night, Henry de Montherlant

Re-read this after half a century; I’d always thought of it as a comedy, this story of Celestino, an impossible old Spanish anarchist exile in Paris.  It is funny, but I’d forgotten the end, in which his death mirrors the death of the bulls he has just seen slaughtered in the ring.  He finally comes to a realisation:

“There was life, which was confused, incoherent and unstable, and then whatever exists before a man’s life and after it, which was fixed and absolute.  The loudspeaker had spoken truly: there was chaos, which was life, and night, which was whatever exists before life and after life (Chaos and Night, two characters in the divine comedy of Hesiod, whom Celestino had never read).  There was non-sense, which was life, and non-being, which was what exists before life and after it.”

So, yes, a comic novel – but with the odd unfunny bit.

Chaos and Night

Blackpaint 

5/04/17

 

Blackpaint 592 – Acid Colours, Alabaster and Lost Cities

March 28, 2017

Maria Lassnig – A Painting Survey, 1950-2007 (Hauser & Wirth, Savile Row W1, until 29th April)

Austrian painter (1919-2014), worked in Vienna.  Gallery blurb says she was influenced by Kokoschka’s colours and Schiele’s figuration; I think I can see an affinity with Dumas and Chantal Joffe, but I guess any influence would have come from Lassnig to them, because of the dates.

The figures below are her least extreme, perhaps; her bodies are usually squat and sawn-off, the faces porcine with upturned snouts.  Her colours are rather like those livid ones that are left over from a box of paints when you have used up all the good ones – lemon yellows, yellowy greens, sickly oranges, radioactive mauves.

 

I like the delicacy of the hands and breasts of the left hand seated figure; not so taken with the one on the right.

 

Like the shoulder and the green hair.

 

Great abstract – don’t know why.

 

That mauve is deadly; kills human cells by radiation.

 

Looks like a rabbit hurtling full-tilt towards viewer – but it’s not; male and female figures, apparently.

 

Lewitt, Orozco, Richter, Spalletti. Toroni (Marian Goodman Gallery, Lower John St. W1, until 8th April)

The title of this exhibition is: “The supreme rifts….a measured propinquity” – whatever that means.

There are two Richters: one of those thin multi-coloured, computer -made stripe ones, that make your eyes ache – and a frame carrying several large, hanging, glass plates.

The Spalletti I liked were these alabaster slabs on a plinth (below) – they look good enough to eat, as if made of coconut or a translucent white cheese.

 

Spalletti

There is a room of Lewitt walls upstairs (see below); there is a dappled effect in the paint, or rather inks, which could have been sprayed on, but I guess were done by someone with a roller.

 

Sol Lewitt

 

The Lost City of Z (Dir. James Gray, 2017)

A staggeringly old-fashioned account of Percy Fawcett’s obsessive, repeated expeditions into Bolivian rain forest in search of a pre-Christian civilisation, ending of course, in his (and his son’s) disappearance.  Stilted, cliched script, Charlie Hunnam’s dodgy accent (Bring back Kenneth Branagh – bit old now, I know) and some feminist politics from Sienna Miller who wants to go with him, but has to stay home while he carries on up the jungle, having to put up with brief visits between expeditions (each visit resulting in a pregnancy).

The WW1 Somme battle scene is the worst bit; two fires on the muddy horizon are clearly from gas jets; as they go over the top, the men level their rifles and fire at the enemy as if in a western.  The Webley revolvers sound authentic though.

In the scene near the end, where Fawcett and his son are beset by angry aboriginals, I was reminded of that old film of Richard Attenborough in New Guinea, where the locals swarm down to surround him.  Happily for Attenborough, they turned out to be welcoming.

Eagle Annual stuff, about 1955 – lots of ecological message though, and some stunning scenery, but give me Aguirre, Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo and Embrace of the Serpent.

 

Borderlands

Blackpaint

27/3/17

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 591 – Churches, Poetry, Photography and Zombies

March 21, 2017

My latest painting (below); I’ve gone back to putting the painting first, in case there are some visitors who move on straight away – unlikely, I know…

Moscow Connections

Blackpaint

 

The Borderland, House of Leaves, Ash Wednesday

Wrote about the film “the Borderland” last week; a “found footage” film, in which a sort of Catholic psychic fraud squad  investigates dodgy claims of paranormal events in churches.  The investigators penetrate deep into the bowels of the church and become – absorbed – in their work.  I didn’t connect it last time, but it came to me that it strongly resembled Mark Danielewsky’s “House of Leaves”, although in “Leaves”, it’s not a church that is plumbed, but a house that is like the Tardis only more so; it goes deeper and deeper, darker and darker…  then, I came across this, in Eliot’s “Ash Wednesday”:

At the first turning of the second stair

I turned and saw below

The same shape twisted on the banister

Under the vapour in the fetid air

Struggling with the devil of the stairs who wears

The deceitful face of hope and despair.

At the second turning of the second stair

I left them twisting, turning below;

There were no more faces and the stair was dark,

Damp, jagged, like an old man’s mouth drivelling,

Beyond repair,

Or the toothed gullet of an aged shark.

The three (film, novel, poem) are not identical or even similar, I know, but they seemed to me to chime somehow.

Britain in Focus: A Photographic History (BBC4)

Brilliant images, especially those of the Sidney Street Siege and the soldiers’ own snapshots of life in the trenches; and Eamonn McCabe is a great photographer – but he’s not the most riveting presenter.  He’s a bit too diffident and self-effacing to hold your attention.  I was about to say that this might be a syndrome of photographers in general; then I thought of Norman Parkinson, Cecil Beaton, David Bailey and I realised how daft that is.

Just watched the last one in the series of three;  surprising images from the early 60’s of John Lennon and Paul McCartney taken by Jane Bown – they look completely different from usual, Lennon with a startled eye that is nothing like his default knowing, skeptical look.  She didn’t even use a light meter.  Then there were Martin Parr’s very funny colour “social” pictures and some fantastic colour pictures of young miners and pit ponies in mist, by John Bulmer.

I know now what it is with McCabe –  it’s his voice.  He’s like that priest in “Father Ted”, the one who nobody can understand because his voice is too boring to follow for more than a word or two.  Also, he nods too much at interviewees.  The programme makes a good case for the use of professional presenters.

Zombies

Since I’ve been writing about a horror film and horror novel, I thought I’d finish with two life drawings that were supposed to be simple action poses, but which turned out to resemble – well, see for yourselves:

Blackpaint

21/3/17