Blackpaint 359 – Pre-Raphs, Cardboard Dogs and Complaining in Restaurants

Deliberate mistakes last blog:  substituting Huguenots for Puritans in the Fitzcarraldo mention;  mistaking Patrick Keiller (artist) for Patrick Kielty (TV presenter and celeb).  Sorry, getting senile.

In last blog, did best use of music in film; should have added worst use – that of “stirring” music behind the Crispin’s Day speech in Branagh’s Henry V; corny, distracting, unnecessary.

Pre-Raphaelites at Tate Britain

Enough eye-churning detail to give you indigestion of the brain.  One or two or even five or six – but hundreds is too much, like eating a whole tiramisu for four on your own (yes, I did last week, as it happens).  There are some strikers – that sky (cobalt?) blue in “The Pretty Baa-Lambs”, by Ford Madox Brown; but the sentimentality… Aah, she’s blind, she can’t see the lambs…

There is, however, another magnificent back to add to my little collection – that of the naked young lady in Burne – Jones’ picture below: “The Doom Fulfilled”, Perseus killing the monster.

That is one beautiful back, but spoilt somewhat by the tasteful way her legs taper to slender ankles and the way she stands as if wearing heels on a catwalk.  He should have had her standing in a pool up to her thighs..

Even though they don’t excite me in any way, I find I can remember loads of Pre-Raph paintings – Ophelia, The Last of England, The Scapegoat, Work, Basil and the Pot of Isabella…  must be strong images or maybe just seen them too many times.  I can’t see how you could make a convincing case for them as “Avant Garde” – that just seems perverse.  They look back to mythology, mediaevalism, even the name of the movement – so Victorian.  Second worst exhibition after Munch.

South Korean Art at Saatchi

Some clever stuff here – dogs and furniture made out of cardboard and left half-finished in a tangle of torn and bent card.   Sprayed with a shiny brown “leather” varnish.  Globular pots, vases, china, sawn into portions and soldered together to make huge, sprawling, pustular monsters, prostrate on gallery floor.  Large, grey pictures of bare rooms in which people sink into the floors, light switches and fittings sag and slide down the walls.  Massive,Gursky-like composite photographs of stacks of long balconies with tiny people and piles of those capsule lifts that go up the outside of buildings..  Clever, as I said, but not really much more.  If you bought one and had it at home, would you see something new in it for very long?

Archipelago (Joanna Hogg)

Brilliant film on TV the other night.  Set on Tresco in Scilly Isles, a family at their holiday home.  Neurosis, awkward silences, blazing rows on the phone within earshot of everyone at dinner, embarrassing complaints about food at the restaurant…  it was fantastic.  Beautifully lit – sun through window on white sheets, wind in the lush, semi-tropical vegetation, the shore, the rocks – definite Scandinavian feel, or maybe even Tarkovsky, “the Sacrifice”.  There is one scene in which the brother and sister are talking in one of the bedrooms, in which the light on their faces makes them look like Michelangelo paintings.  There is a painter in it who turns out to be a real painter, i.e. not an actor.  He is called Christopher Baker, and if those are his landscapes in the film, then he is pretty good, to say the least.



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