Archive for the ‘Painting, Traditional, Modern and Abstract, Conceptual art’ Category

Blackpaint 676 – Back to the Tate

August 6, 2020

Tate Britain, open again..sort of..

Booked a trip around the bits of the Tate that were available: British Art 1931 – present day, and British art 15 something – 1890.  Not much going on between 1891 and 1931, maybe…  Hang on, there was World War One, Nash, Nevinson, Orpen, Spencer and all that –  and probably some other art stuff too…

Anyway, great to be back and in the (short) queue and the galleries too, not many people about and most, but not all, wearing face coverings.  Like always, when you haven’t seen pictures for a time, they look fresh and exciting and there are a few new ones to pique your interest.  I went round exactly like those people I usually deride – photographing everything.  A few examples below with the customary banal and/or facetious comments:

Joshua Reynolds, Detail of a woman’s layered skirt

My partner took this one.  I thought she’d got the whole painting but she’s mainly interested in fabrics so just got the skirt.  Quite amazing really, like a fractured ice cliff.

 

Gerald Brockhurst – Margaret Duchess of Argyll, 1931

Great portrait, very like Keeley Hawes in “the Durrells”   (see below)

 

 

John Tunnard – Fulcrum (top) 1939

A typical Tunnard painting, recalling a science fiction paperback from the 50s or 60s – or maybe Festival of Britain art – so ahead of his time.

Sam Haile – Surgical Ward (lower) 1939

Sam Haile is new to me; Miro-ish, but with a drab British palette.

 

Meredith Frampton – Trial and Error, 1939

Beautifully executed, but “painting by numbers” Surrealism – think of a bunch of unrelated objects and assemble them to make a dreamlike still life.  Leaves me cold really, compared to, say, Magritte or Delvaux, who really do evoke dreams successfully in some of their images.

 

Jacob Epstein

And on the back of the Epstein sculpture..  I didn’t realise that there was anything on the reverse.

 

John Minton – Portuguese Cannon 1953

A new Minton (I’ve never seen it before, anyway), in the style of his big picture of the death of Nelson.

 

Keith Vaughan

Lovely picture, no comment required.  So- no comment…

 

Patrick Heron

This one’s been up on the walls within the last five years, I guess – unusual Heron with regard to the colour; that acidy, poisonous green – or is it greeny yellow?  Well, it’s both really.

 

William Scott

Scott often painted huge pictures of assembled kitchen implements, frying pans, pots.  I didn’t get the title of this so I’ve no clue as to what is depicted – brick wall, bits of toast, cribbage peg board..  It’s a new one.

 

Peter Lanyon – Zennor Storm, 1958

An old favourite.  I’d always thought the central image was a boat – bit like Noah’s Ark.  But no – it’s the green at Zennor (in a storm, of course)  I actually miss “Wreck”, the one they had up before Covid, with the boat, the guitar, and the shark.

 

Roger Hilton – September 1961

Stark, clear composition; back view of a sleeping dog on the floor of an old pub, perhaps? but what’s the black loop?

 

Alan Davie – Black Mirror, 1952

I think there’s more than a touch of Bacon in this image and the brushwork; I wonder if they knew each other’s work?

 

Peter Lanyon – both the glass assemblage and the painting, which I think is called “The Lost Mine”.

 

Rose English

Her fabulous film, made in 1975, I think, of these women at a horse show, trotting round like horses in formation, kitted out with tails, making an obvious feminist point, but no less funny for it.  Forerunner of “Smack the Pony”.

 

 

Unknown artist – William, First Lord de la Warr, c.1550

I’m sure I’ve seen that face on TV or at the National Theatre.  Tried to poison his brother, says the plaque on the wall.  He looks well capable of that.

 

I’m going to avoid making the obvious remark.  It’s a strain, but I’ve managed it.

 

Thomas Gainsborough – Mr and Mrs Carter, c.1747

I had to include this for the clear disparity in dimensions and the fact that the lady appears to be floating…  It seems remarkable to me that Gainsborough painted both this caricature-like portrait AND the painting below: two completely different styles (and he had at least one more).

 

Thomas Gainsborough

 

Tilly Kettle – Mrs Yates as Mandane in “the Orphan of China”, c.1765

Mrs Yates in a martial arts defensive posture.

And that was our end-of-shielding trip to Tate Britain.  An old landscape of mine below:

Islares Bay 

Blackpaint

7/08/2020

 

 

Blackpaint 675- Camus, Sade, Satan and Still Life

July 19, 2020

Apples, Pears and Paint: How to make a Still Life Painting

Staggeringly beautiful paintings and detailed almost beyond possibility, especially those by Kalf and the other Dutch show-offs.  This programme traces the development of the still life from Caravaggio’s flowers sitting on the bottom of the canvas, through to present day tableaux which reproduce Old Masters on film and in which bullets are shot through the fruit.  It looks back to classical times, fabulous wall paintings of Pompeii for instance, and mosaics from Roman villas in Britain and elsewhere in the Roman Empire.  Some examples below:

 

Cezanne Apples

 

Asparagus

 

Not sure who this is…  Conspicuous consumption in the Netherlands.

I will be returning to this programme to find more treasures; Chardin, for example – but right now, I’m in a hurry to publish.  Some interesting points;  the still life was at the bottom of pile as far as prestige was concerned; history and mythological painting at the top. portraiture next, then landscape, then still life.  Many of the Dutch and Flemish still lifes. perhaps most, contained aspects of decay and corruption – rotting fruit, insects – mementos mori, in fact.

 

Albert Camus – The Rebel (1951)

I love the cover; painting by Andre Masson, “The Suntrap” 1938 (Penguin Modern Classics, 1971).     I’ve had it since then, but found the philosophy quite hard going after his brilliant novels and short stories, so never finished it.  I think I’m finally ready for it.  I find his style of reasoning exhilarating – no tiresome linguistic analysis in the manner of Ayer or Ryle or Russell, but a flowing series of assertions, several ( but not all)  of which follow from what he was asserting before.  Examples;  “Undoubtedly, he (the rebel) demands respect for himself, but only insofar as he identifies himself with humanity in general”; or, “the rebel, on principle, persistently refuses to be humiliated without asking that others should be.  He will even accept pain, provided that his integrity is respected.”

This is what I never understood about critical theory until a couple of years ago; you come up with a “reading” of a topic or proposition, rather than examining it to see if it holds water.  Then, having asserted your “reading”,  you can storm on to conclusions and build castles of thought in the style of Nietzsche, or proclaim that everything is relative like Derrida. without that irritating business of interrogating the truth of your assertions.

To be fair, I’m early on in the book; he’s just dealt with de Sade and is moving on to the “Dandies”, the first of whom appears to be Milton’s Satan in “Paradise Lost”.

Old Friends from Paris

Got some paintings back from shows in Paris.  I was very glad to see them again (not really; rather have sold them) – but they always look better when you haven’t seen them for a while.  I think so, anyway.

 

God Only Knows

Not a religious observation – I was listening to the Beachboys while painting.

 

On the Rocks

Mine’s a Martini.

Tenby Wall

In 2013, my son Ted and his friend Dave Greaves swam, rode and ran the Iron Man Triathlon at Tenby.  Anyone who’s been there and run on the beach will know the stretch between the fort and the wall of rock; I remember running it with “Baba O’Reilly” blaring on the Ipod;  You know, “Teenage Wasteland”…

 

And a New One

Louisiana Blues

Not only  the state in America, but also  the fabulous gallery near Copenhagen, with the Giacometti landing and the view over the sea.

If you are lucky enough to be in London, drop down to Tooting and see our window exhibition in Sprout Gallery, Moyser Road SW16, 10.30am – 8.00pm every day until next Saturday inclusive.

Blackpaint

19.07.20

 

 

Blackpaint 674 – Urban Art Brixton

July 1, 2020

UrbanArt Brixton

Sorry – no ordinary blog today, full of the usual stunning insights and wise comments;  this weekend, I have a lot of my paintings on display in a virtual exhibition (see poster below) so I’m going to put a few of them up for your edification and you can see the rest by googling chris lessware paintings.  Or you can go to the web address on the poster and access my works and those of all the other artists taking part from there.

 

 

Still Life with Tomatoes and Steak

 

 

Midnight Rider

 

 

Raised Arm

 

 

Overland to Atlantis

 

 

Erebus

 

 

Elsinore

 

 

Solstice

 

 

Newsagents 1963

Man with Crutch

 

 

Judgement

 

So there we are – loads more on the website.  Next week, back to normal.

Blackpaint

01/07/20

 

Blackpaint 673 – Smug Dutchmen, Michelangelo and Mermaid Sex

June 17, 2020

Andrew Graham Dixon, Art of the Low Countries, BBC4

Must be an old series, since not much is getting made at the moment, but it was new to me.  It had the usual Graham Dixon startling and rather dubious suggestions – for instance, the Dutch bourgeoisie portraying themselves in art was a sort of collective depiction of a revolution comparable to that of Russia in 1917.  However, the revelation for me was the later paintings of Frans Hals.  The so-called Laughing Cavalier was highly finished, ornate and rich, the subject plump and smug: look at the pieces below it; the hands and the woman from one picture and the self-portrait with baggy eyes.  The brushwork is loose, the woman has a face out of Van Gogh – and it’s hard to imagine that the same artist painted those hands and the moustached smirker above.

 

 

 

 

The two paintings below were not identified in the programme, but I think they are both superb, whoever painted them.

 

 

 

Michelangelo, Love and Death, Sky Arts

Again, I think this was maybe an old programme – it brought home to me just how staggering his achievement was in painting that ceiling – I’d not really noticed how strong the trompe l’oeil effect was when I visited the Vatican.  The crowds and the continual chanting from the attendant of “no talkin, no photo” , coupled with the need to keep moving, didn’t allow much in the way of close scrutiny.

 

The Altar wall (detail).  Michelangelo did the wall some 30 years after the ceiling.

 

St. Lawrence with his grill on the left, and St. Bartholomew with his flayed skin in the centre (supposed to be a self portrait – of M, not Bartholomew).

 

This is a scene from the programme, NOT a painting – imagine it without the cars; could be Brueghel or Carpaccio.

 

You can really see the trompe l’oeil effect in this section, 

 

Go and put your pants on immediately, says God…

 

The Lighthouse, dir. Robert Eggers (2019)

Fabulous cinematography, recalling the work of Bela Tarr- say, Satantango or The Man from London, I thought.  Some rather strange accents, here and there hints of Monty Python – but plenty of violence against seagulls and humans, masturbation, drinking, frenzied dancing, more drinking, imaginary mermaid sex, a live burial, axe and pickaxe attacks and a naked man being eaten by seabirds.  All this, and a recording over the credits of AL (Bert) Lloyd, a famous British folk singer and researcher, performing the shanty “Doodle Let me go, me boys”, which turns out to be a genuine earworm.

The film is a basically a two-hander (sorry), William Dafoe and Robert Pattinson.  There is, of course, the mermaid and the seagull but they don’t have speaking roles.  Dafoe has made a career out of films which “push the boundaries”, as they say: I’m thinking of Antichrist (Von Trier) and Abel Ferrara’s Pasolini, with the long and energetic sequence of oral sex in the car park.  I’ll certainly be watching The Lighthouse again, for the heroic drinking and the AL Lloyd, as well as the classy cinematography – but not for the mermaid sex, which, like many men, I get enough of in dreams…

As a painter, it’s dispiriting when you realise that paintings you were doing 10 years or more ago are better than the ones you are doing now….  Here are a few examples:

 

 

 

Blackpaint

16/06/20

 

Blackpaint 672 – Bomberg, Deneuve and Angels’ Wings

May 28, 2020

Bomberg

Continuing from last blog on Roy Oxlade and Bomberg, I’ve now finished the Oxlade book “Art and Instinct” and I’m somewhat wiser, but by no means completely clear on Bomberg’s main message – or the “Approach”, as he called it (Bomberg tended to capitalise throughout his writings, most of which, in the Oxlade book at least, were unpublished notes).  Two things are clear – he was regarded as a guru by his students, who tended to make works which obviously reveal his influence (see Creffield and Dorothy Mead, for example) and he had an overwhelming sense of mission, to deliver art, and art teaching,  from the “errors” propounded by William Coldstream and others.  Coldstream was  imposing the LTS (learn to see) system on students, which was based on “accurate” observation, measurement, the rules of perspective and proportion developed during the Renaissance.  This precluded a freshness of approach, strapped students into a visual and practical straitjacket and prevented them from finding “the Spirit in the Mass”, to use Bomberg’s phrase.

What was, or is, the “Spirit in the Mass”?  Not sure.  There’s some religious or at least metaphysical stuff in there, obviously – but is it any more than “forget the rules, respond to the subject as you see fit, try to find the essentials, whatever they are, of the object which you are drawing or painting”?  I was surprised, when I looked into Bomberg’s work, to find how poerful and varied it is.  Some examples below.  I’ve left out the early, semi-abstract ones, “Mud Bath” and “Jiu Jutsu” as I’ve discussed them elsewhere.  Also I left out the Palestine paintings – “accurate”, but flat and boring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a few; I love the way he paints women and I was surprised at the erotic charge in some of the pictures.  And that mountainscape.  Check him out – there’s a great sequence on YouTube.

Coronavirus Updates

We in the UK have, for the last six or seven weeks, had the benefit if a daily update on the progress of the pandemic here, delivered mostly by the government minister of the day, flanked, at a proper distance, by a scientist or two.  Certain idiosyncracies of vocabulary and phraseology have developed over that time, repetitions that maybe have already been noted in the press – I wouldn’t know as I stopped buying papers weeks ago – they can carry the virus.

Of the politicians on offer, my favourite is Dominic Raab, because he resembles  Simon Cadell, who played Mr. Geoffrey in “Hi De Hi”.  Anyway – “Incredible”; everyone is working incredibly hard under incredibly difficult circs, doing an incredible job.  Related to this is ” the clock“, which again, everyone is working round“Granular”; I think Jonathan Van Tam, the scientist, introduced this one.  It’s to do with looking really closely at evidence, getting right down to the real nitty gritty to quote the old song – and coming up with a really close analysis – not smooth, but – well – grainy.

And phrases; the way they evaluate the questions put to them, especially those from the public; “I think that’s an incredibly good question” – Matt Hancock is the master of this – “I really do think that’s a really great question” –  then they proceed to avoid answering it, usually by “paying tribute” to “the incredible work” being done by health care workers, researchers, or whoever it might be.  This sounds snotty – I don’t mean it to be; I’ve less time for the arrogant journalists who think they are the real government.

 

Truffaut’s Films

The Last Metro, Deneuve and Depardieu both on fabulous form in Truffaut’s WW11 piece, about an actor/manager (Deneuve) trying to keep a theatre going in occupied Paris, while her Jewish playwright husband hides in the cellar from the Nazis.

 

The next best in the box set; Fanny Ardant this time, with Depardieu; she moves in next door, not knowing that D, her former lover,  lives there.  Smouldering, as Barry Norman probably said.

Angels’ Wings

Jan van Eyck, Ghent Altarpiece (detail)

This picture appeared in the RA magazine, and my partner was intrigued by the wings.  They look as if they’re cut from a melon, she said – green on the outside and sort of fleshy glistening inside,  I looked at some other examples to see – as far as I can make out, they are a one=off.

 

Ghirlandaio, Coronation of the Virgin (detail)

Nice splash of red, yellow and blue here…

 

Fra Angelico, The Last Judgement (detail)

Beautifully marked – but no recognisable pattern..

 

 

Fra Angelico, The Annunciation (detail)

Butterfly wings, definitely.

 

Dieric Bouts, the Road to Paradise (detail)

Lovely blue ones – and presumably, holes cut into the robes.  Must be difficult to get on.

Raphael, The Archangel Michael (detail)

Hint of snakeskin here – look at that fore-edge.

 

To finish, a revamped painting of mine, which I noticed “after the fact” sort of bore a resemblance to the theme – but not to the quality, of course…

Angel Wings (formerly Lost in the Woods)

Blackpaint

29.5.20

Blackpaint 671 – Oxlade and Lancaster, Drawing and Swimming

May 17, 2020

Roy Oxlade, Art and Instinct (Ziggurat Books, 2010)

Oxlade, Figure on Chair, 1985

I have been reading, with growing interest, this artist’s book of essays and criticism, “Instinct and Art”.  Oxlade, who died in 2014, was an alumnus of Bomberg’s 2nd Borough Group, and had a thoroughly worked-out approach to painting and drawing.  As can be seen from the examples below, his art was representational or figurative – but in some cases, only just.  The casual viewer might think that they are abstract, mostly, but with the odd bit of “real world” –  a cartoon coffee pot or lemon squeezer

 

, say, thrown in the mix.  This was a direct result of his attitude to art and to art school teaching.  To put it simply and, no doubt, crudely, three things were (and are) undermining artistic creativity: first, the art market, with all the evils of naked capitalism; second, the tendency of art schools and the public to see drawing and painting as skills-based activities in which “accurate” reproduction of the “real world” is the goal – and third, conceptual art, from Duchamp through to Hirst.

Obviously, the last has long superceded the second and had done so even when Oxlade was writing in the earliest of these essays.  As far as drawing is concerned, Oxlade says it should bear a    metaphorical, not literal, relationship to the real world – which we all know is there, so we don’t need to reproduce it.  Children, before they are corrupted by adult conceptions, are truly creative, since they see freshly and draw directly; same goes, to a lesser degree, for untutored adults, until someone (an art teacher, say) tells them they are “doing it wrong”.  Oxlade doesn’t mention CoBrA, but I guess his attitude fits in perfectly with the likes of Appel, Jorn, Constant etc.

So, he’s an odd mix; left-wing, anti-elitist, egalitarian, anti-Renaissance – and yet, very definite, almost autocratic in the expression of his views – in print anyway.  There’s a strange elitism in there somehow.  No doubt this has nothing to do with his years as a Bomberg student…  More about this when I’ve finished the book.

 

 

The Swimmer dir. Frank Perry (1968)

 

Ploughing through the DVDs during the lockdown, I watched this again and re-read the Cheever story afterwards:  I regard both the story and the film as masterworks in their own right.  Eleanor Perry, the screenwriter has added a number of scenes (the teenage babysitter, the race with the horse, the neglected boy by the empty pool and the long interplay with the ex “mistress”) which point up Ned Merrill’s sexual/class sense of entitlement, his Peter Pan naivete and the  sense of unease, mental slippage and lack of self awareness.

Some other added or developed scenes bring an element of class and race politics in, but they fit perfectly, no false notes: his crass (but well meant) comments to the black chauffeur; the confrontation with the Biswangers over the hot dog cart; and above all, the meeting with Howie and his wife at the public swimming pool.  Burt Lancaster is fantastic throughout as the affable, athletic, confident. blindly insensitive – and, it turns out, mentally ill – Neddy Merrill.  The ending, when he finally reaches his house in the storm, is devastating.

The Cheever story has two things that are striking and not in the film: firstly, Merrill is mystified by the stars- they seem to be autumn constellations, not those of high summer (the film takes place in daylight; in the story, Ned arrives home after dark); secondly, Ned bursts into tears at the end.  Hard to imagine Burt Lancaster bringing that off…

A couple of my new – well, recently adapted – paintings to end:

Black Night

 

Still Life with Red Pot

Blackpaint

17/5/20

Blackpaint 670 – Basquiat, Chabrol, Audran – and Blackpaint

May 3, 2020

 

Basquiat – Rage to Riches (BBC4)

Stunning pictures; fantastic colours.  Especially good when his cartoonish figures are combined with a swishy “AbEx” background, reminiscent of Twombly and Rauschenburg.  Great story about his visit to Twombly’s studio – he was brought there by another artist as a big fan of Twombly, and was told to leave by T’s gallerist – very revealing of the prejudices of the time – all gone now, of course..  A lot of influential critics suffered from  motes in the eye as far as Basquiat was concerned, I think – I wonder why?  Maybe they felt he was over-praised at the time.  Fascinating to see too, the rather touching irritation expressed by Andy Warhol in one excerpt, when he felt that Basquiat had failed to give him his due, in some way that I didn’t quite get…

 

Films of Claude Chabrol

I’ve been watching my DVD set of the great director’s films; the sombre music, often a cello piece, the colour somehow drained in most films (not Le Boucher, though) and the great interaction of his troupe of regulars: Jean Yanne, Michel Bouquet, and above all, Stephane Audran (Chabrol’s wife), with her mask-like beauty concealing her thoughts – that was very much her thing.  “Social” niceties, sympathy, good manners, humour, she could perform to satisfy convention and politeness; but she conveyed the impression that there was much more going on beneath the surface.

Stephane Audran and Jean Yanne in Le Boucher (1970)

 

Stephane Audran in “La Femme Infidele” (1969)

Chabrol is not, to my mind, “the French Hitchcock”; the plots are far less contrived (with the possible exception of Les Biches) than Hitchcock’s – none of them really contain a mystery.  They are about ordinary everyday concerns – love, lust, greed, jealousy, revenge – and the whodunit element is absent.  The last film in the set is his version of Madame Bovary, with Isabelle Huppert, never better, as Emma and Jean Yanne as the chemist Homais; a big contrast to his role as Le Boucher back in 1970.

I like all the films, except for “Les Biches”; perhaps “Juste Avant la Nuit” (1971) is the most intriguing.  A man (Michel Bouquet) kills his mistress in the course of an S&M sex session.  He then feels compelled to confess – and everyone, even the victim’s husband, seem compelled to forgive him and persuade him not to give himself up.

Bovary, of course, is a horrific story in several respects; Chabrol’s version is rather… softer, perhaps, than Sokurov’s Bovary, rather bafflingly called “Save and Protect” (1990).  It does, however, have a great ballroom scene, not quite rivalling that in “The Leopard” or the one in Sokurov’s “Russian Ark” – but pretty good, all the same…  Interesting that Chabrol and Sokurov chose to do the book within a year of each other, maybe in production at the same time.

Blackpaint’s Paintings

I’ve finally managed to get a couple of paintings done, despite a heavy schedule of crossword puzzles, reading Beevor’s battle books, pounding sweatily on a treadmill and tea drinking.  I present them below for your delectation – or derision:

Over the Hill

Still Life with Tomatoes and Steak

Blackpaint

3rd May 2020

Blackpaint 669 – From the Lockdown

April 15, 2020

Some pictures that I really like

Very lame heading, I know, but no exhibitions accessible during the lockdown, so I’m forced to improvise and go back to the archives.

 

Red Nude, Karel Appel (Ghent)

He can smash those colours together and they never turn into mud.  the black ground too…

 

Sleeping Child, Will Barnet (Washington)

I’d never heard of this US artist, despite the fact that he lived to over 100 (died 2012) and ran a famous print studio in the States.  Very stylised, Japanese-y…

 

The Entombment, Caravaggio (Vatican)

Nothing needs to be said about this – so I’ll say nothing.

 

Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling, Holbein (London)

Is there another portraitist who comes anywhere near Holbein?  Might get a blog out of that in the future…

 

Orange and Black Wall, Franz Kline (Madrid)

The colours here I think  detract from the trademark starkness of Kline’s monochrome pictures – but they add something too; variety obviously!

 

The Rape of Europa. Titian (Boston)

There was a TV prog last week on the series of paintings which Titian did for Philip II of Spain.  The paintings are, or were, on exhibition at the National Gallery – but the lockdown has closed the NG.  Some of the TV prog was taken up with discussion about objectification and sexualisation of women by male artists and purchasers.  Mary Beard opined at the end that the pictures should be shown because they tell us a lot about sexual violence against women.

I seem to recall reading or hearing on TV somewhere that the word rape, as in the example above and in the various kidnappings of the Sabine women, meant abduction, rather than the assault itself.  That’s clearly the case with Titian’s painting – yet Beard asserted several times (I think) that we were seeing a rape in progress.  It’s confusing for us old, white men.

 

Comtesse d’Haussonville, Ingres (New York)

Stunning portrait, but like the paintings in the Tate Britain’s “British Baroque” exhibition, the real focus of interest is the dress.

 

Cemetery in Corsica 1948, John Minton

A re-showing last week of Mark Gatiss’ great documentary on the painter, teacher and illustrator John Minton.  I have to say that I loved the Cornish pictures, reminiscent as they were of Sutherland and Piper, but found the bright colours of his Thameside paintings rather jarring.  I really like this Corsican one with the green sky, though.

 

I haven’t mentioned any films of late; in recent weeks, however, the virus has led me to do little else but watch DVDs.  Here are a few-

 

Caravaggio, Derek Jarman (1987)

Tilda Swinton as Lena, an angel with a dirty face.  I don’t know if Jarman’s film has any connection to historical reality, but it’s certainly visually brilliant, especially the colours and the bodies on show – all swathed in Caravaggian blacknesses as above.  Sean Bean and Dexter Fletcher sneer, grin threateningly, brandish knives, pop their pecs and sweat glossily and Nigel Terry, as the adult Caravaggio, has the necessary authority – and looks just like the painter.  There is also the impish Dawn Archibald, who does amazing things with her body – to loosen up after modelling.  I was saddened to discover that she died in her 50s in 2016, having been a peace activist for some time in the Edinburgh Women in Black group. RIP.

Dawn Archibald in Caravaggio

 

Le Jour se Leve, Marcel Carne (1939)

Jean Gabin and Arletty in a Parisian bar, prior to the killing of the dog trainer (don’t ask) and the ensuing siege in the top apartment.  Gabin’s character, despite the gangster cap and hard man expression, works as a paint sprayer and rides a drop handle bike…

 

Hotel du Nord, Marcel Carne (1938)

Arletty again, this time with pimp Louis Jouvet and a couple of police heavies.  Arletty, also a star of Carne’s Les Enfants du Paradis, was imprisoned for collaboration after WW11; she “had an affair” (seems a quaint phrase to me now) with a German officer who later became a diplomat in Africa – and was eaten by a crocodile.  Which has nothing to do with the merits of the film; like the other two Carne fims mentioned, it’s still sort of hypnotic and archetypal in settings, characters and story.

To end, two recent paintings of mine:

Drop in the Ocean

Sonia’s Twisting Pose

Blackpaint

15th April 2020

Blackpaint 668 – Imaginary Tennis and Desperate Housewives

March 29, 2020

Blow Up, dir.Antonioni (1966)

Saw this for the first time last night, having recently visited Maryon Park in Charlton, where the “murder” was committed.  I love those swinging London films, especially if they’re directed by a foreigner – they get things slightly wrong, making the films even more quaint than the 60’s in London really were..  Nothing I can put my finger on, though.  Fabulous location shots around South East London – instant nostalgia.

Vanessa Redgrave strives to convince us that she fancies photographer David Hemmings, going to the lengths of stripping off (top only, though) for him; we don’t see what happens next so maybe they just have tea and then she leaves, with the negatives of the murder that she came for.

Wait a minute – what’s that painting on the wall?  Yes, it’s an Alan Davie!

Lighting not good here though.

Anyway, the film ends back in Maryon Park, with Hemmings watching a mimed tennis match (don’t ask, as they say), with Julian Chagrin and partner using imaginary racquets and an imaginary ball.  Hemmings picks up the “ball” and mimes throwing it back – I take this to be a suggestion that the murder was imaginary too.  But then he did go back to the park at night and saw the body… Maybe it was all a dream; it WAS the 60s after all.

No galleries open, of course, but I want to post, so just a few old pictures until I can get round to painting.  Should be able to, with three months at least ahead.

 

 

Road to Damascus – very like Caravaggio, I think you’ll agree.

 

Figure Study 1

 

Figure Study 2

 

Desperate Housewives

 

Old Cambridge Circus

Blackpaint

29th March 2020

 

 

 

Blackpaint 667 – From the Belly of the Beast

March 18, 2020

British Surrealism at Dulwich Picture Gallery until 17th May

Well, it was to be until 17th May; now, gallery is shut down for the duration of the crisis.  I was surprised by how good or interesting some of these paintings are; like many people, I loved surrealism in my teens and twenties, but sort of grew tired of it of it when I discovered colour, texture and form in paint.  I’m less interested in the stories paintings tell, than in paintings as sensual entities in themselves.  Here, there’s plenty to enjoy in the pictures before you even have to try to understand them.  So, below are some of the pictures that please me as arrangements of paint on canvas, not necessarily as surrealistic experiences:

La Cathedrale Engloutie, Ithell Colquhoun

Colquhoun is the most interesting painter here (apart from Bacon and Freud, who have one painting each in the exhibition).  Reminds me I need to make a dental appointment, if I make it through the pandemic…

 

The Oneiroscopist, Edith Rimmington

Yes, Rimmington does a good surreal bird.  Has it eaten the deep sea diver, or is the helmet its own?  If so, how does it get the helmet on over the beak?  Sorry, getting involved in the narrative…

 

Aftermath, Marion Adnams

I used to have a skull the same as this – fox, I think – that I found in an abandoned Scout hut in 1962 or 63 – no bow, though.  I see there’s barbed wire on the parapet, so I guess it may date from WW2 – the picture, not the skull.

 

Graham Sutherland

Slightly blurred photo, sorry; and that’s my reflection in the glass.  Is it really a surrealist painting or one of Sutherland’s stylised landscapes?  I love the colours.

 

The Old Maids, Leonora Carrington

Elongated women, small heads, crab-like chair, naughty monkey – classic Carrington.  I still mix her up with Dorothea Tanning (style, name, Max Ernst connection) and also with  Leonor Fini…

 

Nocturnal Drama (Fantasy), Merlyn Evans (detail)

Reflection in glass again, I’m afraid.  Such a good painting, though.

 

Guardian of Memories, Eileen Agar

You can get this one on a tea towel at DPG – when it re-opens of course.  Great sharp image and execution – Agar is the other champion here, bigger name than Colquhoun.

 

Francis Bacon

Bacon’s dogs remind me of Bonnard’s cows.  I think I read somewhere that the face of the tree thing is supposed to be Goebbels or Goering…

Some other great stuff, but it’s all on hold now.

 

Dulwich Picture Gallery Collection

Copy of work in Uffizi by Cristofano Allori

Surrealistic handbag?  Fabulous little painting. Judith with head of Holofernes, of course.

Willem de Kooning

Just to illustrate that pretentious nonsense I wrote at the beginning, about paintings that you like not for the “story” but for the paint itself, here are a few from the Master (the Mistress would be Joan Mitchell, naturally).

 

I hardly dare to include my own latest painting to follow this group, but it’s my blog, not de Kooning’s, so here it is, entitled “Lockdown” – not for the content, but for the times:

Lockdown

Blackpaint

17/3/20