Blackpaint 50


L’Atalante

Just watched this film again after a couple of years and was struck again by the images – I love that when you have to fast forward to the bit where you left off, and you get a succession of stills; a film like this (and Tarkovsky’s) really shows up as a set of composed images.  The washed out landscapes, the bare trees, bridges, cranes, cobblestones, angled shots along the ground or up quayside walls…  The sinister night shots of the woman in her wedding dress on the barge and under the water, the sexual frankness – its highly sexually charged, considering its the 30’s.  Michel Simon is quite – well, I was going to say sinister, or creepy, but neither word is quite right – odd is the best I can do.  The pedlar’s suit with those peaked shoulders reminded me of “Brighton Rock” or Olivier in “The Entertainer”.  There’s a feel of surreal anarchy bubbling under the surface; the faces remind me of L’Age D’or & Chien Andalou – and there is the brawl in the dance hall and the pursuit and attack of the bag snatcher.  And the music is haunting.

Chris Ofili

In Blackpaint 20, I advanced the idea that the works of some artists are prone to particular interpretations that arise from their history; specifically, Polish artists and the Holocaust, Scandinavian artists and Norse mythology.  Adrian Searle’s Guardian review of Ofili’s new exhibition at the Tate Britain provides another example: “..two men making music on a wooden platform…a hanged man dangles naked beside them…Why is he there?  Ofili has told one interviewer that this presence was provoked by the empty space he had left on the right hand side of the painting.  But it is hard not to think of some colonial outrage, its aftermath on a hot night.”  So, Afro- Caribbean connection (Ofili is British, of course, but is now based in Trinidad) equals “colonial oppression” interpretation, despite artist’s assertions to contrary. 

Which is fair enough, of course; once it’s in the public domain, we can take from a work whatever we want and give it whatever meaning we choose – and artists have often misled the public about their work, just for a laugh sometimes I think.  Anyway, the show sounds good and I will definitely go.

Naming a Painting

I’ve had to come up with names for a bunch of my paintings at short notice and it got me thinking about how important titles are for paintings and artworks, and how they add or detract from a picture.  More tomorrow, when I’ve thought it through.

Listening to Don’t Start Me Talking by Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller)

“Goin’ down to Rose’s, stoppin’ Fanny Mae,

Gonna tell Fanny what I heard her boyfriend say,

Well, don’t start me talkin’, I’ll tell everythin’ I know;

Gonna break up this signifyin’,

Somebody got to go”.

I thought for years it was “scene of crime”, not “signifyin'” – then saw the words printed somewhere.  I prefer scene of crime, even though it makes no sense.

Blackpaint

26.01.10

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