Archive for July, 2013

Blackpaint 406 – Tarkovsky and porn, events in Jane Austen, My Old Paintings

July 25, 2013

Uzak (cont.)

It’s about alienation, of course – hence “Distant”, meaning of Uzak.  The distance between Yusuf and Mahmut, Mahmut and his ex-wife, Yusuf and the pretty girls he half-heartedly stalks, the distancing effect of the snow on Istanbul’s streets and buildings… you get the picture.  The country cousin Yusuf, with his hungover, hangdog expression, “sailor’s cigarettes” and childish laugh manages to generate some sympathy; the rat-faced Mahmut, drinking in trendy jazz cafes, watching Tarkovsky and porn, and resenting the lack of sophistication of his lumpish guest, is the more dislikeable of the two.

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Some great shots, as well as the snow scenes I mentioned last blog; one in particular, a silver fish flipping on the pavement, having fallen from the full creel; the camera pulls back and up to close-up of Yusuf, and then beyond him to the traffic that flows both ways across the screen, slightly out of focus against a leaden grey sky.  Hard to explain why so good – something to do with the closeness and the angle of shot, maybe.

Ceylan now my third favourite director, after Bela Tarr and Fellini – but then there’s Bunuel and Herzog and Sokurov and Ken Russell….and Visconti and Pasolini….

Simon of Sudbury

Sight of the week on TV was on BBC4 last night, in “Chivalry and Betrayal” :  the head of the above-named unfortunate, still with some skin clinging, kept in a wall safe at a church in Sudbury, having been chopped off 600 plus years ago by Wat Tyler’s followers in the Peasants’ Revolt.  Sudbury thought up the first poll tax – bad idea, as he was dragged out of the chapel in the White Tower and dispatched unceremoniously by the unimpressed taxees (is that a word?  It is now).

Simon of Sudbury

Jane Austen  (no, that’s Simon of Sudbury above)

Great that her face is going on banknotes; I once used to say that I would go to my grave without reading Jane Austen – now that I have made it to chapter 44 of “Sense and Sensibility”, I wish I’d stuck to that.  Event-free, is how I would describe it; things livened up a little when it looked as if Marianne was going to die – but she got better.  Maybe she’ll have a relapse in the last 6 chapters.  What I find really difficult is keeping up with who is related to who – who, for example, is Mrs. Jennings?  I can’t be bothered paging back through the Kindle; I’ll have to go to Wikipedia, I  suppose.

Some Old Work

I’ve not finished a new painting since last blog and latest is in no fit state to insert as a work-in-progress (must get rid of the lime green patch first) – so here is some old work that I’ve never used or not shown for ages:

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Sweet England

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Grey Landscape 

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Bushes and Briers

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Finsbury Mud

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Fog and Glass

OK – enough old stuff for now.  I hope to have at least one new painting to show by next blog; depends on the lime green and its willingness or otherwise to go away.

Blackpaint

25.07.13

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Blackpaint 405 – Rembrandt’s Mother, Mating Slugs and Shipwrecks

July 20, 2013

Top of The Lake

Holly Hunter as GJ shaping up already to be the most irritating act on TV, with Peter Mullan’s as the character you would most like to see blasted with a shotgun.  Is rural New Zealand really like this?  Those two from “Flight of the Conchords” seemed harmless enough.

Bought with Love BBC4

Prog about early private collections in England.  Many astonishing paintings, but the one that stuck in my mind’s eye was the portrait of Rembrandt’s mother at Wilton House; the old woman’s face seems to be coming out of the picture towards you, while the papers she is reading stay below within the bounds of the canvas.

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OK, that effect not so obvious here, but on the telly….

Uzak

It means “distance”.  2002 film by Nuri Bilge Ceylan of “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia”.  Ravishing shots of Istanbul in snowstorm, especially scenes in the docks that remind one of “Red Desert” somehow.  There is a whole ship tipped over on its  side; the cranes and containers under the snow inevitably recall Brueghel, and therefore Tarkovsky – obvious tribute here, I think the video which Mahmut watches is “Stalker”; that is, until he swaps it for a porn film…  You can hear owls hooting in the night streets of Istanbul, apparently.  And I’m only halfway through…

Roberto Zabetta at the Ronchini Gallery in Dering Street

Huge, black and grey, swirling, sliding paint on canvas – “rhythmic spurts of paint and expressive brush strokes”…  like half a Rauschenberg, without the graphics.

Lun Tuchnowski at Annely Juda (next door to Ronchini) 

Fantasy metal helmets, like Lord of the Rings props, one like a Mickey Mouse Club hat, another with hedgehog spikes;  dangling, entwined, metal tubes and coils, like giant slugs mating; a wall full of giant, pouting bronze lips; a huge, plastic or fibre glass coloured wheel and bobbin, like space  escape capsule and marker buoy.

Also at Annely Juda, the Russian Club present Wonderland (?) 

Not sure exactly what this is all about – they’re not Russians; but there is a very striking video of an artist nursing his bare right leg – I think its his right – as if it were a baby.  After watching for a few moments, you do get the illusion that it is actually detached…

Bernard Jacobson Gallery, Cork Street – Robert Motherwell collages

Big, rather simple collages, usually consisting of one or two stuck-on paper components, a magazine or ticket, say, with coloured and striped background.  Reminded me somewhat of the Kitaj collages at the British Museum prints and drawing room.  Very different to the Schwitters collages, which usually consist of far more disparate elements assembled in a pictorial way – not sure that makes sense, I just mean the Motherwells are bigger and more simple.

Daughters of Mars, Thomas Kenneally

The early parts of this book about Australian nurses in WWI are riveting; Gallipoli, the sinking of the Archimedes… second half. however, while still readable, beginning to remind me of those prestige costume dramas you get on Sunday on BBC; Birdsong, maybe, or the Paradise.  Kenneally, interviewed at Hay Festival, did say one interesting thing, though; that authors (I think he meant male ones) write about sex far more than they actually get it – wonder if that applied to Salter, in his younger days of course.. he is 87 now..but then again, you never know.

 

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Blackpaint

20.07.13

Blackpaint 404 – too hot to blog properly

July 18, 2013

An Apology

Sorry!  Totally shagged out from heat wave, yoga and too much cold Leffe (can there be too much?)

So here are some really crap life drawings/paintings for you to have a laugh at until normal service is resumed tomorrow.  Then, the usual reasoned and measured analysis and insight will reign again…

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OK that’s enough; proper blog tomorrow, or poss. at weekend.

Blackpaint

18.07.13

Blackpaint 403 – Gunslinging, Carbon and the Dummy Chamber

July 11, 2013

Sam Francis

I’ve been reading “Pacific Standard Time, LA Art 1945-1980” and I’ve been surprised to find that Francis did some Minimalist paintings as well as “happenings” in later 60s, like skiers with coloured smoke flares in Japan and “Helicopter Sky Painting”, again with smoke flares, also in Japan.  Buy the book if you can find it; it’s great.  Published by Tate.

Artists and guns

As well as Niki de Sainte Phalle, other artists used firearms in their work; Joe Goode produced a “Shotgun” series. in which he fired pellets at his canvases to reveal lower layers of paint – and Chris Burden staged a performance in 1971 called “Shoot”, in which a friend shot him in the arm with a .22 bullet from 15 feet.

A Field in England (cont.)

I’ve seen a couple of reviews since last blog and watched the film again; I missed the Western nature of the final shoot-out completely.  Seems unmissable now, when you see the big hats, dark cloaks, bloody wounds.  To make it even more obvious to me, the film that clocked in as the recording came to an end was “Chato’s Land” – like a continuation in colour!  Later, I caught the last shoot-out in Michael Winner’s 1971 “Lawman”.  Cold-eyed Terminator Burt Lancaster leaving three cowboys dead in the dust, including one shot in the back whilst trying to run away; the pathetic suicide of Lee J Cobb, on seeing the death of his son moments before.  Somehow colder and more depressing than “Unforgiven”, or “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid”, films which explore similar or comparable themes – is that down to Winner or Lancaster?

Since I’m on about Westerns, I have to mention “Charge at Feather River” which was on recently, because it was the first film I ever saw, in 3D, back in 1953 – lances coming towards you, repeated three times at least – but also because it was based on the Battle of Beecher’s Island, in which, in 1868,  the Cheyenne chief Roman Nose was killed, besieging a small cavalry force under Colonel Forsythe ; (see the Buffalo Bill Annual 1951).

buffalo bill

And Trooper Wilhelm, a minor character who died early on in the film battle, provided the name for the “Wilhelm Scream”.  This was a recorded death scream, originating from the film “Distant Drums”, when a character was killed by an alligator. George Lucas used the Scream in “Star Wars” apparently.  The screamer was Sheb Woolley, who died recently – not by alligator action – and who recorded “The (one-eyed, one-horned, flying) Purple People Eater”; yes, I’ve got it, on 78.

“C” by Tom McCarthy

The rather highbrow book group to which I belong chose this to read and discuss.  Why shouldn’t I be a member of such a group?  Look at the credentials I have displayed in the last couple of paragraphs.  The others are into French theory, though; Deleuze gets mentioned quite a lot; I keep my head down at these moments.

The book embraces, amongst other things, the breeding of silkworms and the manufacture of silk, early radio technology, pre-war European spas and medical thought, WW1 observer pilots, drug culture and seances in 1920s London, spying, and Egyptology – so a lot of research, which is convincing for the most part, if a bit tiresome at times.  The theme is connectivity, everything resembling something else,  being a metaphor or analog for something else, melting or morphing into something else; the C of the title is carbon, the stuff of life and matter (as well, no doubt, as cocaine, communication and loads of other C’s).

There’s one thing that puzzles me – the dummy chamber.  McCarthy explains, through a character,  that Egyptians built dummy chambers in their tombs to fool grave robbers into thinking they’d found the real thing,  As the main character in the novel progresses through a delirious, sub- Joycean dream sequence in which the connectivity thing is made explicit, he cries out “The Dummy Chamber!”, implying that there’s something beyond the merging, morphing, connecting thing…  Maybe he’s going for a Moby-Dick, whale of a book, here-comes-everybody-and-everything-type of reception.

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OK, no more life drawings after today – will have some proper paintings by next blog.

Urban Art, Josephine Avenue, Brixton SW2, Saturday and Sunday 13th and 14th July. Art in the street, come and see.  Easy access to Brixton tube from Heathrow, if you’re flying in from USA, Oz, NZ, Ukraine, Brazil……

Blackpaint

11.07.13

Blackpaint 402 – Empty Streets, Kentish Fields and Decapitation

July 8, 2013

Lowry – last word

Forgot to say the most striking thing to me about the Tate Britain exhibition; how crowded the streets were!  Always kids and stray dogs hanging around, great swarms of people fleeing the factory gates or trudging resignedly towards them.  Now. most kids are at home on their computers or watching “Game of Thrones” box sets or porn, not hanging round the streets, having a normal childhood and  being a nuisance.  Bloody good job.

A Field in England

Got a terrible review from Catherine Shoard in the Observer, but she appears to be a lone voice; the others loved it.

I thought the tableaux at the beginning of scenes were great, as well as the black and white, overcast English countryside – just like the fields round Down and Knockholt in Kent; the  slow-motion emergence of Whitehead from the tent with a rope round his middle and a terrifying, beatific grin on his face (reminded me of “Jesus Wept!” in Hellraiser); and of course, the psychedelic scene (forerunners: The Colours in “2001”, The planet surface in “Solaris”, the exploding fridge in “Zabriskie Point”, the cemetery scene in “Easy Rider”) all great too, as was the song and the weaponry – those long pistols and the matchlock arquebus.  What wasn’t so good was some of the Pegg-Frost type dialogue – an association underlined by the presence of Tyres as the Master.  On the whole, brilliant and sent me back to my Fairport Cropredy records.

Life Drawing and Painting

Some time ago, I put some of my life drawings up and I’ve got some more, occasionally showing a hasty error that might prove instructive.  When I brought them back from Putney and set them all out in the front room to have a look, I was surprised when a visitor looked in and retreated, clearly embarrassed; not by the dodgy quality, but by the nakedness.  Museums and galleries have been full of nude paintings and sculptures for 100’s of years, but still people are shocked occasionally.  So – my apologies in advance for any distress caused by the following images.

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Forgot to do face.

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Head this time.

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Forgot the feet.

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Face again.

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OK that’s it for now – proper blog on Thursday as usual.  Come and buy my paintings – the proper ones, not the botched ones above – at Urban Art, Josephine Avenue SW2 next weekend, Sat and Sun, 10.00am – 6.00pm

Blackpaint

8.07.13

Blackpaint 401 – Manhugging at the Fair; Annoying in Chechnya

July 4, 2013

Lowry at Tate Britain

I think he’s more important as a social historian than as a painter; the old Mitchell and Kenyon films which play in this exhibition show that his particular vision was spot on.  No-one else was covering this sort of industrial, municipal vista so consistently.

As I said in last blog, I think there’s something of Brueghel in there and not just the small figures and the white background.  B documented the lives of his peasants and Lowry  is doing the same for the people of his northern towns, to an extent; the Fever Van, the Funeral, Going to and Coming From Work, the Fair at Daisy Nook (twice, at least).  His figures are less solid than B’s, caricatures really, but he does give them individual details, even if they come out looking the same.

Several characters recur; a pair of drunks (?) “man-hugging”, kids, and those two dogs – probably more that I didn’t notice.  None of the figures seem to cast a shadow – indeed, they look somehow separate, even when they overlap, as if collaged.

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No dogs in this one.

When you see the paintings surrounding you, their filmic quality is obvious; you can easily imagine the figures coming to life and swarming through the factory gates towards the smoking chimneys.  I thought of that film of snow-covered Nevsky Prospect and the people  scattering under fire during the 1905 revolution.  It’s on the cover of the paperback of Trotsky’s “History of the Russian Revolution”.

My favourite painting is uncharacteristic and one of the first in the exhibition – it’s the little brick terraced house with the flowers in the window.  Look closely at it- it’s beautifully painted, especially the brickwork.

Another interesting and uncharacteristic painting was a Welsh scene, I think called “Bargoed”; somehow, the perspectives are more conventional (his townscapes often look like two or three different photographs cut up and collaged together and the diminishing size of the figures as they recede is often “wrong”) and the whole picture has a more “muscular” feel – not better than the townscapes, but much more conventional.

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Quick visit to our favourite room, the one with Bigger Splash and the red Caro – I looked closely at the Bacon triptych and was interested to notice how thin the paint was – the weave of the canvas fabric was clearly visible.  His own remarks about the role of accident and chance in a painting and the common (mis)conception that he painted with a sort of vigorous abandon had led me to believe that the paint would be applied more thickly.

The Tony Cragg “Stack” – how did they install it without its falling to pieces?  It’s surely not stuck together and yet there is no way it could be raised – unless it was on a palette that was somehow slipped out from under it when it was in place…

Aleksandra, Sokurov

How irritating Sokurov’s characters can be.  This is the film about the grandmother who visits her army officer grandson when he is on active service in Chechnya.  She goes around being provocative, as if the presence of a matriarchal figure, overweight and with  bad legs, should be treated as completely normal by the gormless boy soldiers.  They have to help her out and keep her safe.  She meets some Chechnyan counterparts and treats them, and a young Chechnyan assigned as her guide, to a string of platitudes that, I’m sure, would have gone down really well with the population during Russia’s war on the Chechen “rebels”.

I was reminded of the diplomat in Russian Ark; he is also an irritating figure, pushy, inquisitive and  annoying to everyone in the film.  Unlike Alexandra, of course, he (the character, that is) is not Russian, but French or Swiss.  And then there is the Mephistopheles character in Faust – but its right for him to be annoying, I suppose.

Salter, “Light Years”

There’s a great scene in this, where Viri, the central male character, is at a party, getting drunk – except that you don’t know he’s plastered, until he insists on doing a costumed imitation of Maurice Chevalier, unbidden, before the guests, forgets and repeats lines, then passes out in the maid’s bedroom as the others go in to dinner.  It’s a trick that Richard Yates also uses, I think in “Easter Parade”, where the male lead instigates a punching contest with a younger character who is annoying him by being younger and having opinions…

Imagine, Vivian Meier

BBC programme on the staggering work of “amateur” photographer and professional nanny Meier, who printed only a tiny proportion of her 100, 000+ negatives and kept the rest in storage, to be sold off after her death.  She seemed to have taken pictures in just about any style, all good, many stunning.  Joel Meyerowitz made a good point about her portraits, which were often of street people; he said that using a Rolleiflex, which you looked down at while you pointed it at the subject from your midriff, meant that you didn’t have to confront people by raising the camera to your face and looking at them directly.  Maybe that helped – whatever the reason, great pictures were the result.

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Poor Tom – an old one, but I like it…

Blackpaint

4.07.13