Blackpaint 399 – A Failure to Whack; Paulie, Christopher and Landy


The Pine Barrens

Brueghel’s “Hunters in the Snow” at the end of the episode, as Christopher and Paulie thaw out in Tony’s car after failing to kill the Russian;  the black tree trunks stand out against the snow and Cecilia Bartoli sings; the first Brueghel of the blog, more to come.  The Sopranos was  better than The Wire, the characters more rounded, the tonal range wider, the satire more biting, the acting better, no irritating “Fuck!” episode, no Steve Earle (great singer, world’s most annoying actor) and no spurious analysis by Zizek – as far as I know.

The Ladykillers

I watched a beautiful print of this film on TV; the first time I’d seen it, I’m ashamed to say, it looked as if it was brand new (directed in 1955 by Alexander MacKendrick).  Guinness, Sellers and Lom, but above all, Katie Johnson as the Lady all great – the shots down onto the railway line as the steam boiled up from the locos.. I watched it almost without a smile, gripped.  I know crime wasn’t allowed to pay in the 50s, but all five villains dead in a comedy is some going – although I suppose there was “Kind Hearts and Coronets”, with a bigger body count.

Ekcovision adverts cropped up again; reminded me of the ghost of Roberts, now a pizza place, in Bedford Hill.

Michael Landy’s Saints Alive at the National Gallery

Well, only three alive when we went.  A short queue on Saturday, but still a twenty minute wait for a token to get in, because they control the numbers.  Around the walls, collages of bits of saints stuck together like Duchamp or Picabia, plus some big drawings by Landy of derelict Catherine wheels in a derelict landscape.

The working models were:

St.Francis – he whacks himself in the forehead with a big cross when you put a coin in the slot;

St.Jerome – he whacks himself on the chest with a rock when you step on the pedal (but you have to wait for it to charge up);

St. Multi-Saint – head of St. Peter Martyr, with curved knife on crown, St.Laurence’s grill, St.Michael’s lion leggings and winged devil from Crivelli and a couple of tiny souls in torment – Adam and Eve? – who jiggle up and down in the pan of a set of scales when Multi-Saint is working.  When it’s working, the knife whacks him repeatedly on the head.

So: whacking with implements is the norm; Doubting Thomas has a gouging finger which no doubt probes the hole in Christ’s side, when he’s working; St. Apollonia has a pair of pliers which she pokes, I presume, into her mouth – when she’s working.  The machinery appears improvised and scavenged – pram or go-kart wheels, that sort of thing – but most of the wheels and cogs seem to function on each model.

I thought it was a laugh; can’t see that it had any of the spiritual resonance that Laura Cumming detected in her Observer review.  I did see a know -all type, dragging his wife over to the various paintings in the NG that were illustrated in Landy’s models, so some fun to be had tracking them…

Other Paintings at the National Gallery

These should be checked out:

The Master of Osservanza

osservanza

Ercole de Roberti

de roberti1

Fabulous little pictures.

Lowry and Brueghel

Jeannette Winterson, in the weekend papers, quite reasonably goes on about repetition, mass society, mass production and the age of industrialisation in her appraisal of Lowry’s work;  I have to say, though, that it seems to me Lowry individualises his little figures.  They have different clothes, hair colours, ages, attitudes; definitely not identical figures.  What they remind me of are Brueghel or maybe Avercamp; the skating scenes probably, because of the white.  I love Brueghel – I find Lowry depressing.

James Salter

Reading “All There Is”, his new novel, and re-reading “Light Years” and “Burning the Days”.  The prose is limpid, rather chilly and distanced, compared to, say, Richard Yates.  The Korean flying sequences in “Burning the Days” are great; he describes the dirt in the bottom of the cockpit floating down around him as he rolls his plane in combat.  The sex is somewhat relentlessly wonderful, however; it’s too stupendous and usually leaves the women and sometimes the men on the point of expiry.  He shares that American obsession with the bad teeth of the British.

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Work in Progress

Blackpaint

20.06.13

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