Blackpaint 232


Paul Morley

“Novelists are having a hard time, because reality is writing its own fiction”, said Paul Morley on Newsnight Review.  In the usual melee, no-one commented or asked him what he meant (presumably something like truth is stranger than fiction).

Tate Britain, again

It seems to be in a state of flux at the moment; a couple of totally empty rooms and I’m not sure if that Vaughan/Bacon/Auerbach room is even still there.  Some interesting stuff up, though:

  • Gary Hume – a grasshopper thing in enamel paint on a panel, turquoise and chocolate.
  • Bill Woodrow – an assemblage entitled “Car door, Ironing Board and Twin Tub, with North American Indian Head Dress”.  Which is exactly what it is.
  • Peter Kennard – cartoons and Pluto Press book covers.   Bunches of US and Russian missiles clenched together; The Haywain with mounted missiles, Cruise I think;  a miner with an X ray image of his chest superimposed on real chest;  Thatcher as Queen Victoria.
  • Conrad Atkinson – photos of the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the 70s and 80s, wall paintings, posters, street scenes.
  • Stuart Brisley – 70s photographs of Brisley, seated in a squalid, derelict room in semi-darkness, a record of a 17 hour installation concerned with the stripping of identity.
  • Keith Piper, “Go West Young Man” – slavery, lynching, racial phobia, fear and loathing in heavy black posters.
  • Linder – female images with paper being peeled like skin from the face of model.
  • Judy Clarke – photographic close up images of skin on feet and hands.

Interesting to see some overtly political stuff up on the walls again.

Russian Ark

Sokurov, 2002.  A film set in the St. Petersburg Hermitage, in which time is fluid (more than usual, I mean).  A French diplomat, flamboyant and rather irritating, progresses from room to room, observing and sometimes partaking in the scenes he encounters, conversing occasionally with an unseen observer.  He doesn’t know what’s happening, but takes it all in his stride.  He passes through 17th century, Napoleonic and 20th century periods, balls, soldiers, courtiers, Tsars (Peter and Catherine)..

The unique aspect of the film is that the whole thing was shot in one take.  Single takes seem to be an obsession with film makers, a bit like “modern” painters’ obsession with flatness of surface; I’m thinking of Welles’ “Touch of Evil”, for example.  Whenever it’s on, there is always an admiring reference to the long, single-take opening sequence.  I found the single take rather oppressive at first, as if you were being pulled along by the nose – became hypnotic after a while.

Interesting to me that idea of collapsing time or passing freely back and forth through centuries;  I’ve come across it several times lately; in Bunuel’s “The Milky Way”, where a couple of dodgy “pilgrims” follow the route to Santiago de Compostella and in “The Canterbury Tale” (1941) by Powell and Pressburger.  It starts with a medieval hunting party; the knight flies his falcon, which turns into a Hurricane in the sky.  The pilot turns out to be the knight, of course.

Going back to “Russian Ark”, certain styles of acting are perhaps acceptable in France and Russia, where mime and circus are still popular – in Britain, the social realism of the kitchen sink era purged  more flamboyant theatricality.

Frank Auerbach

Watched a DVD on him, made in 2001.  I’d always thought of him as a dirty brown plasterer, like Kossoff out of Sickert – in fact, a lot of his paintings are done in blazing yellows, blues and greens, with great crimson worms crawling across them in thick oils – the Phaidon Art Book says “like peanut butter”.  Fantastic, jagged stuff, both the portraits and cityscapes; he does the best building sites.

Blackpaint

20.12.10

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