Archive for March, 2016

Blackpaint 538 – Saul Leiter, the Easter Rising, Pasolini and Friedrich..er

March 25, 2016

Saul Leiter, Photographers Gallery

I can’t praise this exhibition too highly – I’ve been twice in two days and wanted to download every image.  It’s singular, in that the colour photos are even better than the B&W ones; how often does that happen in street photography?  He does figures seen through condensation on windows, odd cropping, red umbrellas (lots of red, yellow and black), hats, snow, ads, car windows – all the usual props, but they’re somehow better.  See below:

 

saul foot

Like a Cheever story, somehow..

 

saul canopy 2

Is that William Burroughs?

 

saul black man

He must have scouted the signs out and waited for the man in the hat and cigarette to walk into the frame..

 

saul postmen

US Mail, coming through the snow..could be by Norman Rockwell.

In addition to the street photos, there are his great fashion pictures, pictures of the beautiful (and beautifully named) Soames Bantry – watch the video of Leiter talking about her and his art, He cites Eugene E Smith and Cartier Bresson as influences and some of their pictures are included in the video.  Finally, there are his gouaches on thin paper, brightly coloured, some abstract, some little portraits and nude photos coloured in, as it were.  It’s terrific and free before 12 0’clock.

The Easter Rising

Also in the Photographers Gallery is a collection of  photos relating to the Dublin rising against British rule in April 1916 – the events leading to it and following it.  It’s a bit more than the usual formal pictures of Pearse, Connelly and the other martyrs that I remember from museums in Irish towns – the desperate crew below are purportedly the “Cairo Gang” , British military intelligence officers, who were all murdered by the IRA on 21st November 1920.  On the same Bloody Sunday, the British “Black and Tan” auxiliaries opened fire on the crowd at Croke Park stadium, killing twelve spectators, as a reprisal.

There are also photos of two of the Invincibles, who carried out the Phoenix Park murders; shades of Skin the Goat, the Invincible (it’s rumoured) who runs the cabmen’s shelter in “Ulysses”, where Bloom takes Stephen after the NightTown episode.  And plenty more – hunger strikers, countryside evictions, street ambush, Countess Markievicz posing with a revolver…

 

cairo gang

The Cairo Gang – or perhaps not.

Wikipedia says that the photo more probably shows the Igoe Gang, RIC undercover agents, who succeeded the ill-fated British agents.

Friedrich Vordemberge – Gildewart ( Annely Juda Fine Art, Dering Street W1)

Yes I know, I can’t get the name into my head either – and the exhibition’s finished now anyway.  But the paintings and collages are great.  He was a member of de Stijl and the pictures remind me a little of Malevich, a little of Van Doesburg and one or two are like Prunella Clough.  Oh, and maybe a touch of Oiticica.  Little lopsided squares and wedges of colour, thin lines like spills tipped out on grey or blue or yellow.

fred

 

fred2

Here’s my partner, putting her image into a picture in a homage to the techniques of Saul Leiter, no doubt.

Pasolini

I’ve recently watched the DVDs of the Decameron and Oedipus Rex and, as well as Silvana Mangano and the brilliant thug Franco Citti, I noticed that Pasolini himself appeared in both, as the painter in Decameron and in Oedipus.  I’ll be checking on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew over Easter, to see if he shows in that too.

franco citti

Franco Citti (Oedipus)

Pier-Paolo-Pasolini

Pasolini as Giotto

And my latest painting:

St.Jerome 2

Jerome

Blackpaint

24.3.16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Blackpaint 537- Rape in the High-Rise; OK because it’s the Seventies (sort of)?

March 21, 2016

High-Rise, Ben Wheatley (2015)

high-rise

Laing (Tom Hiddleston) at the high-rise supermarket

First, let’s play the tiresome game of influences and references (because it’s fun); the obvious one is Kubrick’s “Clockwork Orange” – Jeremy Irons recalled closely the fantastic Patrick Magee’s crippled writer in the Kubrick film, as well as the general air of impending violence and social breakdown.  The neglected, precocious child left to his own devices to roam the ravaged building is like the boy in John Boorman’s “Empire of the Sun”, based on Ballard’s own semi-autobiographical book.  For some reason, I think of “American Psycho”; there’s something about the excellent Hiddleston’s coldness and the general lack of affect – and for the non-stop smoking, the smokiest film ever, Fritz Lang’s “M”.

The constantly escalating anarchic violence recalled Claude Faraldo’s 1973 grunt fest, “Themroc”, in which Michel Piccoli turns his apartment into a cave and eats a policeman he has roasted on a spit, having had sex with his sister (Piccoli, not the policeman, to be clear).  Finally, there is Pasolini’s “Salo” (1975), just for the sexual violence, perpetrated in this film on the women, but in Pasolini’s, on boys too.  There is no discernible eating of faeces in “High-Rise” however.

I saw the film in the Brixton Ritzy.  Back in 1990, I saw “The Grifters” there; Anjelica Huston (or was it Annette Bening?) was subjected to a beating about the kidneys with oranges wrapped in a stocking.  A young woman jumped to her feet and turned to the audience, angrily denouncing it as “sexist shit” and us in the audience, as complicit for watching it.  I recalled this 26 years later, as I watched Elisabeth Moss, heavily pregnant, being dragged off to be raped by two men and shortly afterwards, Sienna Miller being dragged off by her ankle to be raped, but this time, only by one man.

To be fair, no actual rapes happen on screen – although Sienna Guillory arrives at the “party” on a horse and demands to know “which of you men are going to fuck me up the arse?” and having descended from the horse, crouches down on all fours with a champagne glass balanced on her back, to facilitate her request and to reward the obliger(s).  You also see the tops of female heads bobbing above the crutches of men, who are casually drinking and conversing whilst seated naked on the floor.  Sienna Miller, bearing the cuts and bruises of her rape, appears later, waiting on Hiddleston and Irons, serving them wine, in a subdued, Stepford Wives fashion.

And all this, with no gasps of outrage and even a few laughs from women in the audience.  Maybe the sexual violence was OK because 1. the film was set in the seventies; 2. it was “ironic” in tone; 3. Ballard is now in Penguin Modern Classics, so the rapes have to stay (I presume they WERE in the book?); 4. Arguably, it’s essential to the plot and the atmosphere;  5. The rapes mostly happen off screen and 6. the screenplay was written by a woman (Amy Jump).

Actually, the film is an attempt to make a film of “High-Rise” as it would have been if made in the 70’s; a pastiche, essentially, like “The Artist”.  Brilliant piece of filmmaking, nevertheless.

And was that a real head that Tom peeled?  It certainly looked real….

 

interregnum

Interregnum

Blackpaint

21.3.16

 

Blackpaint 536 – Newbolt, Soutine, the Leopard and the Greek

March 14, 2016

Thomas Newbolt at Kings Place

Thomas-Newbolt---Figure-IV-,-2015_248w

 

A series of solitary young women,  lost look in their eyes (or asleep as above), in glamorous dresses,  perched on a sofa; and small portraits of women’s faces, some cropped to show only some features.  The paint is thickly sliced on with a palette knife and is thickly textured in an almost Auerbachian manner.  I think there are one or two male heads out of twenty(?) or so.  My friend suggested a resemblance to the portraits of Soutine, which seemed to me exactly right.  I enjoyed the paintings greatly, even though several were obscured by the screens of a corporate event that was taking place.

Soutine

Having mentioned this great and influential artist – Bacon and de Kooning, among several others, were influenced by him – I’ll put up some of his works; wild. expressionist townscapes, the portraits that Newbolt’s paintings faintly resemble and a side of beef, if I can find one:

soutine 2

soutine selfie

Soutine self-portrait

soutine1

That path looks like a salamander holding a pine tree…

 

beef

Mm – Tasty!

 

soutine skate

Here’s a Soutine Ray, to compare with Ensor’s Skate

Why is there no Taschen of Soutine, or any reasonably cheap book of his paintings?  A question I have asked before in this blog; but, despite its wide readership and undoubted influence, no reply has yet been forthcoming.

The Leopard, Visconti (1963)

the leopard 1

Burt Lancaster’s superb performance as the Sicilian prince, facing up to social and political change, his own mortality and that of his caste and values.  The operatic battle scenes, the insufferable nephew Tancredi (played by Alain Delon), the sweaty, shifty, worldly priest (Romano Valli – later, the fussy hotelier in Visconti’s “Death in Venice”, and brilliant in that too) – but above all, the ball  and that waltz with Lancaster and Claudia Cardinale, prefiguring, perhaps, the ball scene in Sokurov’s “Russian Ark”.

leopard 2

Well, no, not above all; there is a scene after the dance in which the ailing prince, looking for somewhere to rest, comes upon a huge room filled with the used chamber pots of the ball guests…

The Renaissance Unchained (BBC4)

I liked this series, especially Waldemar Januszczak’s exploration of Van Eyck and other so-called “Flemish Primitives” such as Memling, which showed up the absurdity of such a term for these brilliant draftsmen of fiendish detail with their clear, cold, deep colours.  I thought he had something when he referred to Michelangelo’s “Opal Fruit colours” in the Sistine Chapel (not the blues and browns though!); I’d also never noticed before the similarity between El Greco’s naked, elongated bodies in “the Opening of the Fifth Seal” and those of Picasso’s “Demoiselles d’Avignon”.  Apparently, this has been known since the 80s.  Here’s the El Greco, but I can’t find a decent photo of the Picasso, oddly.  Still, it’s a well enough known image…

fifth seal

I used to think El Greco’s paintings were OK, but sort of stuffy and boring in a dark, heavy, religious, Spanish way (despite coming from Crete); now I like them – but not that shimmery thing he has, see above.  No doubt, next week, I’ll think different.  A couple of life drawing exercises and an old painting of mine to finish:

 

cropping 1

Cropping 1

 

cropping 2

Cropping 2

 

green fuse

Green Fuse

Blackpaint

14.3.16

 

Blackpaint 535- It’s all there, at once; the Night Manager, Churchill and Llewyn.

March 6, 2016

George Blacklock – Colour and Abstraction (Crowood 2015)

Although I don’t agree with many (actually any) of the rules Blacklock sets out in his book, he makes the interesting observation that a painting differs from other art forms – literature, music, cinema, dance, theatre – in that you see the whole of a painting immediately.  With the others, the work unfolds, revealing itself to you gradually; the painting’s there straightaway, in its entirety.  Even with a sculpture, you often have to walk round it to get the full picture and, of course, you can’t see it all at the same time.

bosch

Obviously, with paintings by, say, Bosch or Bruegel, you can spend ages taking in the dozens of little monsters lurking in the landscape, or the proverbs that the peasants are acting out in the village; you don’t take in a whole painting instantly – but you do get an overall impression.  I’m not sure I know where I’m going with this, so I leave the reader to consider the implications which I’m sure are interesting.

bruegel proverbs

By the way, the rules Blacklock outlines in his intro are as follows:

  • Make all marks with “absolute conviction”; hesitancy and doubt won’t do.
  • Make sure that your surface is smooth and able to take the paint; no bobbles.
  • Make sure you have enough of the right paint.
  • Make sure you use the right-sized brush – is it big enough?
  • Paint with conviction – no half measures!

I break all these rules, all the time, which is no doubt why I’m a shit painter.

The Night Manager, BBC

I think this is being way overpraised; Tom Hiddleston is unconvincing so far in the violent bits and the same goes for Olivia Colman, whose indignation about Roper and the “river boys” (MI6)  looks manufactured to me.  I don’t think it’s the fault of the actors – it’s just a really creaky book.

Churchill’s Secret, BBC

Gambon was brilliant but I can’t understand the point of having a fictional character (Romola Garai’s nurse) in there in a central role.  Annoying, this mix of fact and fiction, where a big chunk of make-believe is chucked in.  Gambon and Glenda Jackson looking alike these days, I noticed, when the latter was being fawned over by a woman guest presenter on a recent Artsnight (BBC2).  It’s ageing, I suppose, working on the basic structures to eliminate the individuality; depressing.

Inside Llewyn Davis, 2013

This Coen Brothers film on TV the other night I realised how good it was, apart from John Goodman’s hammy bit;  I love that flat stare that Oscar gives – disbelief, resignation, contempt, long-suffering, breaking point coming very close, very quickly – and a touch of ironic humour.  That’s pretty good, just for a stare.  The music was great too, spot on, especially “The Old (Auld?) Triangle”, Dominic Behan’s song, I think, delivered by a white-sweatered close harmony group – a sort of US college boy version of the Clancy Brothers.

Llewyn gives up trying – “That’s all I got” – and walks out of the club and “folk” music – as a young Bob Dylan sings in the background.

oscar-isaac

I’ve been stuck in a freezing gallery, watching passers-by pass by – but have managed to knock out this scruffy landscape-ish thing in between stints.  Bobbly surface, ran out of paint, used the wrong brush and was hesitant and tentative.

col blow, rainy night 4

Cold Blow, Rainy Night

Blackpaint

6th March 2016