Blackpaint 281


Magritte

Reading Terry Gilliam in the Observer, I observed the observation that he was the only one laughing – “uncontrollably” –  at the pictures at a Magritte exhibition; the other visitors went round, he says, in a “religious state of awe”.  If  the exhibition was in London, they were probably just being English; a slight, lightly contemptuous smirk is generally considered sufficient.

Noel Fielding, who is English, says almost the same thing as Gilliam, a bit further on in the article: “I find it ridiculous when you walk round a gallery and people are just looking at something obviously funny and stroking their chins.”

I’ve often found Magritte to be amusing, sometimes startling – but never funny enough to make me laugh uncontrollably. When you say that,  I think it’s just a way of saying “I got it – but none of those other idiots did”.

This all sounds snotty, I know, but I’m tired of Magritte’s little men in tight suits and bowler hats, doing cute, surprising little things; cloudy blue skies, easels, windows, apples, human rain, toes on shoes, eyes for tits, pipes that are not pipes, trains in the fireplace and so on.  It’s good, of course – how many other painters can you reel off the images like that? – but they can get wearing.  I’m in more of a Pollock/De Kooning/Mitchell mood at the moment.

Beethoven

The symphonies – how is it that the 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th and 9th are all majestic, hummable, full of hooks and themes and totally memorable (although you can mix them up) and the others, 1,2,4 and 8 are completely the opposite?  I can’t recall a single theme or line from any of them.  The contrast is staggering, to me anyway.  Is there a parallel in painting?

The Feis, Finsbury Park

I was at this on Saturday, to see Bob Dylan, Christy Moore, Shane McGowan, and Sharon Shannon.  Dylan’s set was like a blues rock pub gig with a great band; his “singing” now like a cross of Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart, with a bit of the younger Dylan in occasional lines.  You had to wait for a recognisable line to identify the song, but much better than recent reviews had led me to expect.

The crowd, some very boozed-up and rowdy, were notably good-natured; great to see groups of them dancing in abandon to Christy Moore’s song, Yellow Triangle (about concentration camps, murder of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals) and Viva la Quinta Brigada (a homage to the Irish dead of the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War).  No po-faced Respect shit.

Theo Angelopoulos – The Trilogy (Weeping Meadows)

Ethnic Greek refugees from Odessa come to Salonika; from the Russian Revolution to the Greek Civil War.  Reflections in the river, horses, the funeral on the raft with the coffin, black flags, the silent men (recalling the SS men crossing the lake in Visconti’s “The Damned”); it was operatic, somehow, especially the flood scene with all the boats in a flotilla.  The usual problem of history epics covering long periods – people keep telling each other what has happened to keep the audience up to date; the beach/jetty scenes with the dancing reminded me of that JackVettriano painting.  Turned a bit Mother Courage at the end – also a bit Bela Tarr (accordions, rain) and a bit Bo Widerberg (the white sheets stained with Nikos’ blood recalled the father’s shirt in Adalen 31).  Loved the film and the music.

Next entry, more art, less music and films.

Blackpaint

21.06.11

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