Blackpaint 148

Sistine Chapel

Yesterday, I described a sort of roughness in the close-ups of some of the Michelangelo figures on the ceiling of the Sistine, as shown in the Taschen book.  Actually, the ceiling paintings are very smooth, beautiful glowing flesh tones and superbly drawn features; only the surface cracking gives a scaly effect at close quarters which is quite pleasing.

The roughness, surprisingly, is in the wall characters, especially the demons and their agonised victims – I suppose this is appropriate (no, not that word again, as the boy in Outnumbered rightly complains).

At the bottom right is the portrayal of Minos, with his asses’ ears, and wound round the body by a large snake which is in the process of biting (off?) his penis.  This is actually a portrait of Biagio da Cesena, the Pope’s Master of Ceremonies, who had complained about the number of naked men and women in tortured and suggestive poses.  The snake is Michelangelo’s revenge.  Biagio spent the rest of his life trying to get the portrait removed.

I like to spot saints by their attributes; the following are easy – Catherine with her broken wheel; Simon with his saw; Bartholomew, carrying his flayed skin (which is a self portrait of M); Lawrence with his grill; Blaise with his sharpened combs; Peter with the keys; Sebastian with his arrows.  The Taschen identifies Dismas, the “good” thief, with the small crucifix and Simon of Cyrene with the large one. 

Saatchi’s Newspeak

Reading the reviews of this show by Sean o’ Hagan in Sunday’s Observer and Adrian Searle in yesterday’s Guardian, I was struck by one thing in particular: the manifest irritation of both reviewers at the lack of some unifying theme to the works on display.  O’ Hagan: “What we have here is a hotchpotch – of styles, approaches and strategies…”;  Searle”..the exhibition is a ragbag of sometimes good, often bad and mostly indifferent art.”  I suppose it makes a reviewer’s job much harder when one cannot “identify any shared direction, a flavour, a style or a zeitgeist “(Searle).  It means that each artwork must be discussed on its own terms, not easy in the context of a review of limited length.  They both mention the works of Jed Quinn, Goshka Macuga and Sigrid Holmwood, but do not agree on whether they are good; O’ Hahan’s review is the more favourable – he describes this as a “big, brash, if sometimes quietly surprising, exhibition.”  My review to follow soon – please try to be patient.

Moses down from Sinai by Blackpaint

Listening to Lane Hardin, California Desert Blues.

“Crossin that old desert mama, just like breaking that Hindenberg Line (*2)

If you get ditched off  that freight train, you know that will be the end of the line.”



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