Archive for August, 2016

Blackpaint 566 – Babes in the Wood

August 23, 2016

Bacon and Auden

I can never read Auden’s staggering poem “September 1st 1939” without remembering Bacon’s painting – and vice versa.  It’s the two men in hats, sitting in a bar(?) while the slaughtered body hovers to their left:

bacon crucifixion 1965

Bacon – Crucifixion 1965

Faces along the bar

Cling to their average day:

The lights must never go out,

The music must always play,

All the conventions conspire

To make this fort assume

The furniture of home;

Lest we should see where we are,

Lost in a haunted wood,

Children afraid of the night

Who have never been happy or good.

Actually, Bacon’s triptych suggests another Auden poem as well; “Musee des Beaux Arts”.  The theme of this is how normal life goes on while momentous and/or tragic events unfold “next door”; Auden refers to Bruegel’s Icarus picture (below), in which the ploughman goes on ploughing as Icarus’ legs – see them? – follow the rest of his body into the depths.  The barflies in the Bacon are sort of parallel to the ploughman.

 

icarus

Bruegel the Elder – Icarus

Interestingly, Auden excluded “September 1st 1939” from his Collected Poems; maybe he regretted being in the USA as Great Britain went to war; maybe he changed his mind about the politics; “Those to whom evil is done Do evil in return” might be represented as an excuse for the rise of Nazism.  Whatever the reason for its exclusion, it has to be one of the best poems on a political theme ever written.

Z, dir. Costa – Gavras, 1969

I fancied something political and unequivocally left-wing to watch, maybe to readjust my parameters a bit, so I turned to the DVD of “Z”; I guess “Battle for Algiers” would have served, or a Franco Rosi, but I haven’t got them.  The film is about the murder of the politician Gregory Lambrakis in 1963, carried out, allegedly, on the orders of local police and army chiefs.  Marcel Bozzuffi (left, below, with Jacques Perrin as an opportunistic journalist) is the assassin and a brilliantly malevolent one he makes; he went on to kill again in “The French Connection” and judging by the titles of many other films, in those too.

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I think Costa -Gavras might face accusations of homophobia if he were making the film today, since Bozzuffi’s character is shown to be both gay and predatory , with arguably little relevance to the plot; presumably the film is historically accurate on this point.  Bozzuffi is a great villain, though, and joins two other of my cinema icons, the wild men Gaston Modot (l’Age D’Or, La Regle du Jeu) and Franco Citti (Oedipus Rex, Canterbury Tales).

franco citti

Citti

 

modot

Modot

 

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (dir.Mat Whitecross, 2010)

Watching Andy Serkis as Ian Dury the other night, composing, or rather throwing together the words to “Spasticus Autisticus” in a stream of consciousness, I was reminded of Finnegans Wake.  I’m sure this is a trite, pretentious observation, made by many commentators before – but I’ve never shied away from triteness and pretension in the past, so why start now?

lost in the wood 1

Lost in the Wood

Blackpaint

23.8.16

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Blackpaint 565 – Giacometti at UEA, Redford, Boris and Eating Livers

August 11, 2016

Giacometti et al at Sainsbury Centre, (UEA, outside Norwich)

Great exhibition, if you like Giacometti; it strikes me that some people, especially women,  have a sort of religious regard for him – I think it might be that craggy, handsome face, bit like Michelangelo but apparently heterosexual.  And he’s sort of Italian…

 

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There’s no denying the appeal of his “strider”; see the great Cartier-Bresson photo of G striding past his strider sculpture.

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Great self portrait, before the marks and lines of age made him craggy/distinguished; the older G always reminds me of the late British/Austrian blues populiser Alexis Korner.

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I love this sculpture of his brother in a thick sweater, BUT…

 

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..I have a bit of a blind spot about his drawing – I think it’s insipid.  Anyway, it’s well worth a visit, accompanied as it is  by a number of comparable sculptures by the likes of William Turnbull, Kenneth Armitage, Lynn Chadwick, Bernard Meadows and others.  There are also several paintings by Isabel Rawsthorne, famous for Bacon’s pictures of her.  Also see the fabulous Picasso naked woman and the Soutine Blue portrait in the permanent collection upstairs.

Jeremiah Johnson (Dir. Sidney Pollack, 1972)

Finally saw this film the other night on TV and was most impressed.  Surely the director of “The Revenant” must have been familiar with it; there are  many parallels in the stories, both based on fact, allegedly.  And the scene where Johnson (Robert Redford) discovers the frozen corpse of Hatchet Jack and takes his Hawken gun – it’s Jack Nicholson, frozen to death in the maze at the end of “The Shining”.

Below, some lookalikes:

 

jonson

Redford as Johnson.

Tube strike...Mayor of London Boris Johnson and commuters cross the Victoria Embankment, in central London, as a 48 hour strike by the RMT union causes widespread disruption to the London Underground. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 10, 2009. The 48 hour strike started at 7pm last night after last-ditch talks over pay, jobs and disciplinary issues, broke down. See PA story INDUSTRY Tube. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski /PA Wire

Johnson as Johnson – a strong resemblance, surely?

Finally-

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The real Johnson – known as Liver Eating Johnson, because of his unsavoury treatment of the Crow tribesmen who attempted to kill him- obligingly, one at a tine, as someone in the film remarks.

The Guardian:  “Labour in Turmoil…”

Said I would avoid politics, but I have to comment on the Guardian’s article today, about Tom Watson’s spurious accusations of Trotskyist entryism in the Labour Party.  That “Labour in turmoil” tag – typical Mail or Telegraph.  Labour is ALWAYS in turmoil.  The Guardian’s just the Sun for snobs.

A Study in Scarlet. Conan Doyle

Since I’ve been told that those, like me, who voted for Brexit, read books mainly for the stories, I thought I’d better put Proust and Finnegans Wake to one side for the time being and read a rattling good narrative.  And so the above is.  I was fascinated to discover that Holmes by no means knows everything – Watson tells us that he knows nothing about fictional literature, little about politics, little about botany other than poisonous plants – in fact, his knowledge is purposely patchy.  He believes that when you learn one fact, it pushes another out, so you must be careful about what you learn.   This, I’m informed, is also the Homer Simpson theory of knowledge…

I’ve finally finished a painting, and this is it:

I Mailed it in the Air 2

I Mailed it in the Air 2

Blackpaint

12.08.16

 

Blackpaint 564 – Tootles, Sickert, Etel and Breakfast

August 2, 2016

Painting with Light, Tate Britain

Great exhibition of photographs and paintings from photographs; again, much of TB’s collection recycled (Sargent kids with lanterns, Clausen turnip choppers, Rosetti women), but justified on the whole.  Standouts for me were Coburn’s photos of the river and Regents Canal, clearly influencing Whistler:

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His portrait of the beautiful Elsie “Tootles” Thomas:

tootles thomas

Tiny, but fabulous…

And Jane Morris, the model for Rosetti’s “Proserpine”:

jane morris

Proserpine 1874 Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1828-1882 Presented by W. Graham Robertson 1940 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N05064

He’s glammed her up, hasn’t he?  Especially the lips…

Big exhibition, loads of interest, highly recommended.

Just off the main hall is a group of paintings from photographs by Walter Sickert.  This goes nicely with the main exhibition as regards subject matter; Sickert seems to have used a pink grounding and a lot of scraping.  One or two of these pictures are almost like Luc Tuymans or Gerhard Richter.

Claude Phillip Martin 1935 Walter Richard Sickert 1860-1942 Presented by Sir Alec Martin KBE through the Art Fund 1958 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T00223

 

 

Variation on Peggy 1934-5 Walter Richard Sickert 1860-1942 Bequeathed by Dame Peggy Ashcroft 1992 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T06601

 

Etel Adnan, Sackler Gallery

Over by the Serpentine, the third great exhibition, that of the Israeli artist, whose earlier paintings of the 60s and 70s are far superior to those more figurative and simplified that are more recent.  The early ones have great texture and colour and are strongly reminiscent of Nicholas de Stael and also Victor Pasmore (one or two):

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Corbyn/Manson

Last blog, I made a facetious remark about Jeremy often being surrounded in photos by adoring young women in long summer dresses – like Manson Family members, I “joked”;  Hadley Freeman in Saturday’s Guardian made a similar, but NOT facetious link, linking the apparent “cult of personality” to violence and anti-semitism in the Momentum camp.  That will teach me…

corbyn

Sorry, pathetically short blog this week; running out of steam in many ways.

 

all day breakfast

All Day Breakfast

Blackpaint

1/08/16