Blackpaint 659 – Tragedy, Irony and Bob Wills Camping it up…


Pushing Paper, British Museum Print Room until 12th January

Another tranche of the BM’s works on paper, in what appears to be a rolling programme of exhibitions of prints and drawings up in the print room.  This time, the main artist featured is Kathe Kollwitz. (Actually, this is wrong: the Kollwitz is an exhibition in its own right, within the same space).  Consummate skill, big on emotional (tragic) impact – not many jokes.

Examples of Kollwitz and some of the other well-known names, below:

Hands, Kathe Kollwitz

 

Kollwitz – inspired me to append a couple of my “backs”, below.

My Abortion, Tracy Emin

 

Nixon, Philip Guston

 

Stuart Brisley – an unusual image for the provocateur and creator of “happenings”, who was more often seen rolling about in mud and feathers or emerging from a pond naked…

 

Woman with Dead Child, Kollwitz – the way the child’s skull is echoed by the monumental knee…

 

Vita Sackville West, by Peter de Laszlo

Glimpsed this fabulous portrait on the telly, a prog about women’s novels, when Virginia Woolf’s great novel “Orlando” was under examination.  It stands up well in comparison to Singer Sargent;  unfortunately, most of de Laszlo’s other works were more conventional – but this one’s brilliant, love that weary stare, that very slight hint of an ironic smile..

Serotonin. Michel Houellebecq

I’m still trying to place Houellebecq politically; his protagonists are generally free from a political standpoint, unless a “plague on all your houses” is a standpoint.  It seems to me that IF his characters represent his own opinions at all, he hates and shits on all pieties.  Since most pieties originate on the Left, he comes across, to me at least, as a scabrous right winger of the libertarian variety.  I can’t imagine a woman reading any of his novels without grinding teeth.   Some British Marxists, surprisingly, (male ones anyway), seem to have no problem with his works, even when they appear “soft” on sex with underage girls, not only in the context of sex tourism.  He is relentlessly low brow, lists the specs of his (protagonists’) cars, what they have on their plates in restaurants, how many escargot in the pot, for instance…  I think he does this to undermine the pretentious guff that a dinner companion – typically an ex-partner – happens to be drunkenly drivelling at the time.  Roman Roy, the character in “Succession” series, seems to me a Houellebecquian creation.

I hope this doesn’t appear too critical; I eat his work up with great relish.  It’s impossible for me to imagine a writer in the UK being able to publish works, or even to write them, from a similar standpoint.

Country Music, Ken Burns documentary, BBC4

Hank Williams (of course…)

A Burns series on country music would seem to be a thing to cherish and to save on your recorded progs – or even to get the box set.  The trouble is the non-stop, insistent, abrasively- toned commentary by Peter Coyote, who commentates over all the music.  I found myself yelling “Shut up!” at the telly constantly (with some strong language); not Coyote’s fault, it seems; the series runs for only half the time in UK that it has in the States.  No doubt the commentary expands, though…

I was intrigued to see how camp some of the performers appear to modern eyes; Bob Wills in particular, with his prancing and eye rolling and signifying to band members and falsetto voice (no offence to any Texan readers; I know that, “Here in Texas, Bob Wills is still the King”):  I’m talking about appearances and changing styles.

It’s wrong, somehow,  to compare two forms of “folk” music – so here goes.  I love both country and the blues; I think the former has a slight edge when it comes to humour; the latter for variety, poetry and a lack of the sentimentality that sometimes swamps a country song.

 

Back of Omar 1

 

Back of Omar 2

Blackpaint

See all my life drawings on Instagram @chrislessware.com

4/12/19

 

 

 

 

 

 

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