Archive for the ‘World Cinema’ Category

Blackpaint 645 – Bellany and Davie; Skates, Bats, Donkeys and Diamonds

May 22, 2019

John Bellany and Alan Davie,  “Cradle of Magic”, Newport Street Gallery until 2nd June

A special, supplementary blog about one show, because it’s soon to close.  This brilliant free exhibition, all works owned by Damien Hirst, has been on since February, but somehow I’ve managed to miss it up to now – and there’s only ten or so days left; so if you possibly can, you need to get to Vauxhall Gardens and see this.

Both Scotsmen, Bellany died in 2013, Davie in 2014 at 94.  Bellany was figurative, Davie abstract – yet their paintings somehow go together, bounce off each other.  Maybe it’s colour, maybe brushwork (sometimes);  don’t know.  I’ve mixed them up, as they are mixed in the gallery, although not in the same order.

Bellany’s paintings, which are enigmatic, I think it’s fair to say, bring to my mind a range of painters; Ensor, perhaps, is foremost.  Skulls, masks, hanged men, groups of solemn, dark-clad men staring out at the viewer, the disconsolate skate/ray fish in the picture below; a general sort of cartoonish quality.  Both Ensor and Bellany lived in coastal towns; Ensor in Ostend, Bellany in the fishing village of Port Seton, near Edinburgh. Others: Max Beckmann, Soutine (another skate man), Arthur Boyd (his “Scapegoat” has the donkey – AND a skate fish, in the Australian desert) and Kitaj somehow, in the drawing and breadth of subject matter.

 

Bellany – Title? Date?

The skate king on his throne.  What are they, birds or bats?  Beckmann here, I think, and in Rose of Sharon below.

 

Davie – Bath Darling, 1956

Davie was a jazz musician and a pilot as well as a painter – a youtube fragment on him (Allan Paints a Picture) shows him at the piano – I think it’s “Getting Sentimental Over You” but the chords are rather free – reciting poetry at the same time, and reminding me a bit of Ron Geesin.  Unlike Geesin, he looks pretty tough as a young man, muscular and long-bearded.  He was feted in the states by the likes of Pollock, Kline and the other AbExes, and the painting below clearly shows the influence of Pollock and maybe de Kooning.  He combined the freedom of gesture (the black sweeps in the picture below, the drips and spatters above) with rich colour and a repertoire of recurring symbols (wheels, snakes, diamonds, images taken from rock pictures by indigenous people in St. Lucia, where he lived for 10 years).

Davie – Red Parrot Jay, 1960

 

Bellany – Eyemouth 1985

The look of love or hunger from the giant seagull?

 

Bellany – Rose of Sharon, 1973

The skate again.  A hint of Mexican influence here?

 

Davie – Romance for Moon and Stars, 1964

 

Davie – Trio for Bones, 1960

 

Davie – A Diamond Romance, 1964

In all three of these Davie pictures, there is the combination of rich colour, symbol and gesture – the rough and smooth elements that sometimes suggest Bacon’s work, without the figures of course, but a potent combination.  In more recent paintings (not represented here) the symbols remain but the rough gesturalism has gone – and the paintings are poorer for it, in my view.

 

Bellany – The Journey, 1989

Very reminiscent of the Boyd painting I mentioned earlier; also a touch of Kitaj in the execution.

A rather solemn portrait from (but not of) me to finish:

Man of Sorrows

Blackpaint

22.05.19

 

 

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Blackpaint 644 – Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Symbolist Spiders and Greek Bees

May 20, 2019

Van Gogh and Britain – Tate Britain until 11th August

Starry Night, Sunflowers, Convicts and some famous self portraits are all here in this show, but are so well-known and frequently reproduced that I though I’d show only some of the other art on show here, either that influenced him or shows his influence.  Gustave Dore is a prominent one – others below:

 

Bomberg

Curious that Bomberg was an avant-gardist, almost abstractionist,  early in his career and later, went back to landscapes reminiscent of VG – an avant-gardist of an earlier generation.  Although I have to sai I can’t see much Van Gogh in this particular selection.  Actually, it’s not curious at all, is it?  Art history is full of examples of painters who started radical and went conservative later.

 

Richard Parkes Bonnington

Actually looks more like a Bourdin than a Van Gogh, I think, if it had been a beach scene that is; Bonington was only 26 when he died of TB.  Staggering talent; see more of his works in the permanent Wallace Collection.

 

De Nittis

As much Manet as VG, I think.

 

Harold Gilman

Gilman’s take on that VG with the psychedelic bark.  Either he’d been at the absinthe that day, or some secretion in his brain was producing that “creeping lines” illusion you get on LSD, as I am led to believe…

 

William Nicholson

Wonky looking base, but lovely flowers AND pot…

 

Spencer Gore

I love his violet shadows and the chiselled edges of the roofs and gables; a roomful of these might be a little insipid, though…

 

Unknown – to me anyway, as I didn’t get the name.

Clear VG influence in the sky and trees – as well as a touch of Hockney’s Yorkshire Dales?

Good exhibition, especially the flower pictures; not altogether convinced by the attribution of influence, though.

 

Rembrandt, “Thinking on Paper” at the British Museum Print Room until 4th 

One big advantage over the Van Gogh – the VG costs £22.00, This is free.  below, some examples:

 

The Three Crosses, 1653

Drypoint and burin on vellum.

 

Reclining Nude, 1658

Copper Plate.

 

Young Woman Sleeping, 1654

Brush and brown wash.

 

Self Portrait Leaning on a Stone Wall, 1639

Etching with drawing in black chalk.

Very different, aren’t they?  On the evidence of these four examples, even allowing for the different techniques, you wouldn’t know they were by the same artist.

 

Symbolist Prints – Print Room with the Rembrandts until 18th July

A visual accompaniment to the morally unsound, absinthe- and drug-suffused, sexually advanced world of 19th century French poets, with their drunken boats, evil flowers and lobsters on leads – have I got that right? – a series of atmospheric and beautifully executed prints, an example by Redon below:

 

Odilon Redon

 

The Beekeeper, dir. Theo Angelopoulos, 1986

I’ve just watched Angelopoulos’ sad and funny film again in honour of International Bee Day today.  The story line, which involves an ageing Marcello Mastroianni on a road trip across Greece in search of spring pollens for his crates of bees would probably attract the displeasure of critics if made now, since it involves – eventually – a sexual encounter with a much younger woman (although the encounter is sort of consensual).  Funny?  Unintentionally, I think – poor old Marcello is made to fling himself bear-like onto surprised and displeased women (one of them his estranged wife) and after a few seconds of desultory struggle, to give up and sink into a torpor.  It’s the contrast between the suave Marcello of “Dolce Vita” and the shabby hulk of the beekeeper…

The film ends with what I thought was a unique “suicide by bees”; the Wikipedia entry, however, tells me that the beekeeper is not dying, but actually signalling in Morse code with fingers I took to be drumming in agony.

An old one of mine to finish –

Skinningrove

Blackpaint

20/05/19

 

 

 

Blackpaint 643 – Franz West, Dorothea Tanning and Fellini’s Roma

April 24, 2019

Franz West – Tate Modern until June 3rd

I was pretty well disposed to regard this exhibition as a waste of space when I arrived, having seen the odd photo of West’s work in art books and been unimpressed by them.  After a few exhibits, however, I was feeling some grudging amusement here and there and was quite won over by the time we left to see the Dorothea Tanning.  It’s necessary, I think, to see the size of some of these pieces, coupled with the lack of portent.  He’s indulging a spirit of playfulness – yes, a sentence that would normally lead me to go elsewhere at once – but somehow, without annoying infantilism that implies.

Actually, now I come to think of it, it IS infantile and, yes, it IS annoying.  But the proper course of action, perhaps, is to see it and then condemn it.  What’s in it?  Some examples, as always, below:

 

Show kicks off with a series of framed cartoons like these;

 

Lots of stuff roughly sculpted or thrown together in plaster-

 

-or metal –

 

-or gold tinfoil (looks like, anyway)-

 

-or these sorts of entities, standing drunkenly and precariously on thin supports.  Also giant microbes or viruses dangling from the ceiling, huge boulder piles in fibre glass or epoxy resin or some such and a variety of insane prostheses that the more exhibitionist visitors can parade around wearing in front of their partners.  There are some metal sculptures that recall Paolozzi, perhaps, and a series of great spoof film posters.  Yes, on reflection, it’s childish in a Dada sort of way, but I quite liked it – don’t know why, really…

Dorothea Tanning – also at Tate Modern until June

This exhibition is haunted by Max Ernst, as can be seen in the first example below – reminded me of that little one he did called “Children Frightened by a Nightingale” or something similar.  Not surprising, since she was married to Ernst (Ernst had previously partnered Leonora Carrington, with whom I tend to confuse Tanning, and not only because of Ernst and the names; their work also has some similarities).  The giant locust thing on the tablecloth is a famous image of hers, and instantly recognisable, as is the one with the floaty haired girls in the corridor with the giant sunflower…

As for the third example below, the  biomorphic shapes wrestling by a table, there is a whole roomful of these paintings, sculptures too, that are completely different in style from the Ernst-ish ones and graphic locusts.  They (like everything, I suppose) are a matter of taste – I think they suffer from the similar stuff that often pads out affordable art fairs.

 

 

 

 

Roma, dir. Fellini, 1972

Fabulous film, not only for the ecclesiastical fashion show and the brothel scenes, but also (and mainly) for the underground breakthrough into the Roman villa, the fading murals and the wild, hallucinogenic scenes on the autostrada in the rain.  I’ve now seen all the Fellini available on DVD and Youtube and it’s all great – a few longeurs in “Clowns” perhaps, but the YouTube version had Portuguese subtitles.  I recommend getting all available Bunuel too, and watching them turn and turn about with the Fellini.

 

 

And this is one of mine.

 

The World Turned Upside Down 2

Blackpaint

24,4,19

 

Blackpaint 642 – Monk, Barlow, Nudes and Fellini

April 4, 2019

William Monk, “A Fool through the Clouds”, The Pace Gallery

This is only on until 10th April, so visit soon if you like his works.  Three examples below – they are big, by the way.

 

 

 

Phyllida Barlow, Royal Academy until 23rd June

As at the Tate some years back, and at the Venice Biennale 2017, giant structures in stone, wood, fibre glass, canvas and metal, filling the white galleries and presenting beautiful prospects through the archways.  As can be seen, they recall skeletal structures, perhaps poking up through mud on river banks or sea shores; great precarious boulders or metal chunks, balanced on spindly supports and draped with canvas swatches.  I don’t know who to compare her works to – maybe Keifer in terms of size (but not portent)…  No-one else, really.

 

Great view through doorway.

 

I wouldn’t stray beneath those structures at the back…

 

They were squashed flat 10 seconds later…

 

The Renaissance Nude, Royal Academy, Sackler Gallery 

As you would expect, there are some fabulous treasures on display here; nothing, however, to justify the rather overheated review Adrian Searle gave it in the Guardian a few weeks back.  Far from arousing lusty thoughts, I was constantly struck by how odd some of the nude body shapes and features were, Cranach for instance, but also Durer, and others.  Many of the artists seem to have a better grasp of the muscular male physique.  I particularly liked this mysterious little picture in a vitrine with several others in a series; it’s by Giovanni Bellini, I think – what’s he doing?  Coming out of his shell is the obvious answer.  Probably has some alchemical significance – maybe??

 

 

The Ship Sails On, Federico Fellini, 1981

Fellini will be turning up regularly in this blog over the next few weeks, as I’ve just been watching virtually his entire output on DVD.  Three to go – “Clowns” (on You tube, but in Italian with Portuguese subs), “Intravista” and Voice of the Moon” (his last film, can’t find it on DVD).

Anyway, “Ship” is the one about the voyage to dispose of the ashes of a star opera singer (Helen Suzmann) in 1914.  The guests are an assortment of singers, academics, royalty and hangers-on, and there is a sort of narrator in the form of Freddie Jones, a journalist who breaks the fourth wall constantly to address us (as he is doing in the still above).  What I particularly noticed this time round was how closely Jones’ facial expressions resemble those of Giulieta Masina, Fellini’s muse and wife.  Raised eyebrows, sudden perplexed frowns, that mouth pulled firmly down at the sides, expressing an undermining skepticism: a sort of facial shrug.  Barbara Jeffords is great too, as a rival diva.  The fabulously artificial seascapes too, with the static plumes of black smoke from the funnels.  At the end, Fellini pans back (is that the right expression?) to show the crew working the “sea” surface in the studio.

No new paintings, so these are the ones I sold in the exhibition last week:

Bad Old Science

Good New Science

Ballet

Disunity of the Spheres

I certainly can’t be accused of pretentious titles…

Blackpaint

4th April 2019

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 641 – All About Me and my Partner

March 24, 2019

Sprout Gallery

This blog is a departure from all others; we are exhibiting at the world-famous Sprout Gallery in London (Moyser Road Tooting, to be precise) until Sunday 31st March, i.e. ONE WEEK only left so I thought it only fair to devote a blog to it at this time, so that readers across the globe can arrange to fly in before we close.  So – no trenchant, perceptive arts critique this week, just staggeringly wonderful painting, reasonably priced too….

 

Left to right: Yellow Triangles 1 and 2 (Marion Jones), StormFront and The World Turned Upside Down 1 (Blackpaint)

 

No Exit 2 and Old Blue (Marion Jones)

Clockwise from top left: Bloody Glacier, Suez Canal Zone, Still Life Blue Jug on Fire, Zig-Zag Path (Blackpaint)

 

Midnight Train to Nowheresville, The World Turned Upside Down 2 (Blackpaint)

 

Left to right: Storm Front, World Turned upside Down 1, Oceanic Divide (Blackpaint)

 

Come and see.  Normal service will be resumed next blog.

Blackpaint

24/3/19

Blackpaint 640 – Bill Viola, Michelangelo, Ken Kiff and Fellini – the sublime and…

March 5, 2019

Bill Viola and Michelangelo, RA

No photos allowed, so can only comment on this.  The Michelangelo drawings, Archers Shooting at a Herm, notably, are as wonderful as one might expect and would constitute a great exhibition alone (as I think several have, a few years back at the Courtauld – I’m sure Tityas was there and Phaeton). It seems to me an enormous stroke of hubris to display them with Viola’s works, as if there were something fundamental that they had in common.  As it is, it strikes me as two separate exhibitions in one space.

As for Viola’s videos and installations, there’s no doubt that they are striking – who wouldn’t pause and watch transfixed as a baby emerges from the mother, who squats facing the camera?  I’ve been there (childbirth) three times, but I was always at the other end so the view was obscured.   At the other end of this triptych, Viola’s mother is dying – one might think filming to be an intrusion at such a time, but I suppose it’s easier than getting a stranger or his/her family to consent…  Can’t remember what’s in between; life, presumably.

My favourite of the Viola’s is the one with the diving figure that never arrives at the surface of the pool.  Reflected in the water can be seen the upside down images of poolside people walking – but they are not there.  The most annoying film is that of the two old people examining their naked. scrawny bodies with pencil torches – saw this in Bilbao a while ago and it annoyed me there too.

Here’s a Viola from Bilbao – not in this exhibition, but it will give you an idea…

 

Ken Kiff, Sainsbury Centre, UEA Norwich, until 23rd April 2019

This is without question the strangest exhibition I’ve seen for a very long time.  Kiff, who died in 2001, started a sequence of paintings in 1971 that eventually ran to around two hundred.  He called it – The Sequence.  The catalogue refers to Bosch, Klee, Chagall and Samuel Palmer as possible influences, or “fellow travellers” at least, and the Jungian influences are hard to miss; or so the book tells me.  Ovid, Yeats and Rilke also get a mention.  He was in psychoanalysis from 1959 onwards and this also informs the work, to say the least.

No title given in book

 

Love and shadow – sorry about the reflection; she’s holding his leg, by the way, not a stick

 

Crouching Man (1)

 

Dignified man in a respectable London suburb, passed by a girl

Talking with a psychoanalyst; night sky – the analyst is the black seated figure; the pointing finger is mine

The poet; Mayakovsky – For what its worth, Kiff is wrong – Mayakovsky shot himself in the chest, not the head (photograph in David King’s brilliant book, “Red Star over Russia”).

 

(Woman with) protruding tongue – reflection again

The works are all small (the largest is 113×76 cm) and are in acrylic on paper, gummed to board.  The book claims him as, for a time, a very influential figure in British art.  I can’t see any obvious evidence of his influence, however; he seems a complete one-off to me.

City of Women (Fellini, 1980)

Watched the DVD of this fevered and feverish film, starring Anna Prucnal and “Fellini’s favourite alter ego”, Marcello Mastroianni as Snaporaz,  and was deeply moved.  In the age of #MeToo, it seems to me that Fellini’s film still has much of relevance to tell us.

Next time, Don McCullin, Franz West and Dorothea Tanning.

 

Free Radicals

Blackpaint

05 March  19

Blackpaint 639 – Irvin, Lanyon, Frink and Malle

February 20, 2019

Albert Irvin and Abstract Impressionism – RWA Bristol until 3rd March 2019 – so hurry to visit!

Following hard upon my enthusiastic review of the Bonnard exhibition at Tate Modern, another positive reaction to the above; I’m sure I’ll soon find an exhibition to hate, but in the meantime, this is really very good.  Not only a great collection of huge, colourful Irvins, but also Brit kitchen sinkers (Bratby, Coker), abstractionists (Lanyon, Hoyland, Beattie, Blow) and American AbExes (de Kooning, Pollock, Jack Tworkov, Grace Hartigan, Newman, Motherwell, Sam Francis).

I’m putting the sizes of these paintings in, since size is one of the main things emphasised by all the British painters in their reaction to the exhibition of US ab exes at the Tate in 1959 – although not all the American pictures on show here are huge; a de Kooning, Motherwell’s “Ulysses”, the Hartigan and the Francis are smallish.

Unless otherwise stated, the Irvins are done in acrylics, which he started using in 1971.  He painted with canvases either against the wall or on the floor, supported by paint cans in the corners to allow air beneath so the paint would dry more quickly.  The catalogue, with a revealing interview with Basil Beattie, a close friend of Irvin, is great at £15.

Untitled 6, 1975, 178×203

Oranges (colours, not the fruit) make a regular appearance in Irvin’s work.  Early on, he used a lot of black in his paintings in keeping with the spirit of the times – but. as can be seen, this soon disappeared, along with most earth colours, apart from the odd patch of yellow ochre, from his paintings and prints.  As Beattie says, there’s no angst in Irvin’s work.

 

Wall of early-ish Irvins

See the black?

 

Untitled 3, mid 70s, 213×305

OK, wide dark slash here – exception to the rule.

 

Kestrel, 1981, 213×305

 

Almada, 1985, 213×305

 

Irvin, Sky 1960, oil on hardboard, 122×183

Lanyon was a big influence early on, as can be seen here.  Compare it to the Lanyon below:

 

Lanyon – St Ives Bay, oil on masonite 1957, 122×183

 

Irvin, Fallen Child in Corridor, oil on hardboard, 1955, 122×77

Example of Irvin’s figurative work in the 50s.

 

Peter Coker, Table and Chair, oil and sand on fibreboard, 1955, 153×122

I love this Coker – the extreme tilt of the table. the flayed head (cow’s?) on the surface; why doesn’t it all slide off?  On the down side, there’s the lemon headed kid, reminiscent of some Mintons, Joan Eardley maybe.  I thought of Colquhoun and MacBryde too, but no, too realist and dowdy.

 

Irvin, Untitled 2, oil on canvas, 1966, 152×127

A rare oil among the Irvin abstracts – note the trickle downs, absent from the acrylic works.

 

John Hoyland, Ivanhoe 16.3.81, 1981, acrylics, 183×167

A very nice (I’m determined not to use any more hackneyed superlatives) Hoyland from the Brit abstractionist section.  Hoyland got Irvin in on an exhibition at the Hayward, from which he got his gallery, Gimpel Fils.  no photos of the Americans, I’m afraid – not allowed.  But check out the Tworkov, “Cradle”, and the Sam Francis especially.  The Grace Hartigan is not her best and I could never “get” Barnett Newman.

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

Just down the road from the Irvin exhibition, this collection, containing the lovely Bouts below, with the refreshingly everyday BVM (is that a chocolate she’s about to give the baby Jesus? and what’s wrong with his left leg?)

Dieric Bouts

…and this treatment (below) of the Annunciation by Berchem, which looks as if it was done by the studio of Jeff Koons a year or two ago.  without the irony though – if Koons IS being ironic…

The Annunciation to the Shepherds, Nicolaes Berchem the Elder, 1656

 

Lanyon – who else?

Other moderns on show are Rose Wylie, Aubrey Williams and Auerbach.  More next blog.

Elizabeth Frink, Sainsbury Centre. UEA, Norwich until 24th February 2019 – so go straight from Bristol!

I thought Frink was some formidable old Iron Lady – turns out she was a ringer for Germaine Greer, so certainly not a FOIL, in the 70s anyway.  The sculptures are superlative and often funny – probably unintentionally – like the two running men, but I think the best in the show are ink on paper drawings called “Cuchulain”, a mythical Irish hero.  No images online that I could find…

Au Revoir Les Enfants dir. Louis Malle, (1987)

Rather devastating in a quiet way, film about a Jewish boy being hidden in a Catholic boarding school in WW2 France.  It seems that it was autobiographical, another take on collaboration and resistance to go with “Lacombe, Lucien”.  Essential viewing for these times.  Essential reading: “If This is a Man”, Primo Levi; essential listening: Ralph McTell’s “Peppers and Tomatoes”.

Next time, definitely Bill Viola, Ken Kiff, Don McCullin.  And Michelangelo.

To the Dream Lighthouse

Blackpaint

20/02/19

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 638 – Asger, Louis, Lorenzo and the Singing Raspberry

February 8, 2019

Amadeo Lorenzato, David Zwirner Gallery W1 until 9th February

You’ll have to hurry if you want to see this one – ends on Saturday!  He’s a Brazilian artist, about whom I have no information; don’t even know if he’s living.  The paintings are small, mostly around 19×15 or 16 inches.  They have a strange, “combed” surface – that’s to say it looks like he’s run a comb through the wet paint.  Most are titled “Untitled” and these three are all undated.  Dates for the others are 1971 – 1993.  There are two that look a little like miniature Hockneys, those treescapes of Yorkshire he’s been doing over the last few years.  The Zwirner Gallery is in Grafton Street.

 

 

 

Asger Jorn, Per Kirkeby, Tal R, Victoria Miro Gallery W1 until 23rd March

Jorn and Kirkeby among my favourite artists; never heard of Tal R and he seems to me to be unlike the other two.  The Guardian reviewed this exhibition last Saturday and dealt only with Tal R, whose works, the reviewer found, concealed perhaps sinister secrets behind the unrevealing facades and fences in his works.

Jorn and Kirkeby both dealt with Scandinavian myth and also with historical themes; Stalingrad and the battle of Copenhagen come to mind, both Jorn, I think.

 

Asger Jorn, “Overlord and Underlings”, 1951

Typical Jorn mythic figures…

 

Per Kirkeby, “Untitled”, 1964

 

Tal R, “punta de chroores”, 2006

That’s not Tal R in the picture, but a punter, rapt, by the look of him.  Oil and pins on cardboard, wood, artist-made frame.

 

Per Kirkeby, “Untitled”, 1964

Very Jorn-like, this one, with the floating jelly fish figure emerging from the black and reaching towards the reddish outline figure (looks like a female symbol or one of those Egyptian crosses, an ankh).

 

Jorn, “Aurorapide”, 67-68

Lovely, thick, swirling paint…

 

Jorn, “Untitled”, 1943

 

Jorn, “Black Lac Blues”, 1960

Great title, great painting – love the crusty, creosote-y surface.

 

Richard Pousette-Dart, Pace Gallery, Burlington Gardens W1 until 20th February

Pousette-Dart is the lost Abstract Expressionist – he was in the famous photo with Pollock, Kline, de Kooning, Rothko et al, Hedda Stern the only woman, in the foreground.  To be honest, the smaller works like that below strike me as not especially great; they look to me a little like surrealist automatic drawings, or maybe the early Rothkos.  Most of the pictures are the usual Ab-Ex size, that is to say huge; they are “all over”, densely coloured and figured canvases like those of Mark Tobey – another “Ab-Ex” who really wasn’t.

Lorenzo Lotto, National Gallery

This is absolutely the best free exhibition in London at the moment; several of the portraits are up there with Holbein – well, nearly, overstated a little maybe – and there is a madonna and child with a couple of saints in which the colours are superlative; Mary’s dress is a sort of raspberry which sings against blues and a lovely ochre.  No photos, I’m afraid.

Louis Malle’s Films

Lacombe, Lucien (1974)

Got a box set of 10 Malle films for £25 from Fopp at Cambridge Circus; same box costs £54 odd at the BFI.  Tragically, Fopp is owned by HMV, so its demise might not be far away, if this Canadian buyer decides not to keep it afloat.  Where will all the old gits like me go to get their CDs, DVDs and vinyl?  Another one gone into the darkness, maybe, like Gaby’s and Koenig and Blackwells a while ago…

Anyway, I’d always thought that Malle was a bit soft, bit romantic; turns out not so.  Seen six so far, and apart from “Zazie Dans le Metro”, they have all been about transgression.  “Lift to the Scaffold” is about murder, both planned and random, “The Lovers”, adultery (and child desertion), “The Fire Within”, alcoholism and suicide, “Murmur of the Heart”, incest (mother and son) and “Lacombe, Lucien”, collaboration with the Nazis and anti-semitism.  So quite strong stuff, but done with a light touch.  His use of music is brilliant too.  Scaffold has Miles Davis, Lovers a Brahms string quartet, Fire, Eric Satie, Heart, Charlie Parker –  and Lucien, Django Reinhardt.  I can’t think of a more exciting opening than Lucien tearing along country lanes on his bike to the strains of Django and Grappelly tearing through “Swing 42”.

 

Dream South Bank

Blackpaint

07/02/19

Blackpaint 637 – Bonnard, Nolan and Lift to the Scaffold

January 31, 2019

Bonnard, Tate Modern

I can’t really recommend this show too highly; I’ve been looking forward to it for weeks, been twice already and like everyone else, took photos of everything possible.  The colours are beautiful; mauves, blues, oranges, yellows (don’t know why I’m listing them, you can get a fair idea from my crappy, fuzzy snapshots below – all the good, clear ones were taken by my partner.

I was surprised at Adrian Searle’s negative review in the Guardian; despite giving a reasonably fair assessment of Bonnard’s achievement, he ended by saying he couldn’t get away from it fast enough.  No accounting for taste and Bonnard WAS a pretty dyed-in-the-wool bourgeois – he certainly looked it, anyway.  I suppose it’s all a bit old, white, privileged, domestic, smug, middle-class for Guardianista taste – but at least he’s Euro, not British.  Wonder what he thinks of Matisse?

One thing Adrian Searle is right about is Bonnard’s wobbly portrayals of people.  The faces are pretty rudimentary; Monchaty, his lover, for example, in the first real portrait in the exhibition.  One of the Marthes, emerging from the bath(s), actually looks like a sea lion to me.  Now and then, though, they are close to Degas.  While I am on about resemblances, here’s a few:  Peter Doig, Klimt, Degas, Vuillard, Goncharova, Van Gogh.  Didn’t bother with titles; too crowded to get them.

Something that the exhibition touched on was Renee Monchaty’s suicide, after Bonnard had decided to marry Marthe.  It didn’t say that Bonnard found her body in the bath.  This is of interest, given that Bonnard spent years after, painting Marthe in, and getting out of , the bath – you’d have thought he would avoid the setting.

 

.

Very fuzzy – a bit Vienna Secessionist, I think, with that monumental prone nude on the wall.  Dodgy armpit..

 

 

Detail of a garden – Doig-y?

 

Unusual sharpness to door frame.

 

In one of the rooms, some frames have been removed – I think the result is a big improvement on those great wooden gilt jobs.

 

Very poor photo, great painting, VAST bath (in one picture, it looks to be floating about six feet off the ground.  I think some of the background is reminiscent of Klimt.

 

Love the various planes of colour in this and the woman just visible through the opening.

 

Bonnard’s windows and doors are often wobbly; when the scene is outside, it can look like a heat shimmer.

 

 

Very unusual scene for Bonnard; non-domestic setting, lots of people.  Placement and execution of distant figures rather like Lowry, the colours pastel-like.

 

This one says Van Gogh to me (or might, if it was a person, not a painting…)

 

I love the orange cow, or calf, on the left – that’s where I got Goncharova from.  The painting’s massive, by the way.

 

Lovely painting – no comment necessary.

 

Ditto.

Sidney Nolan, BBC4

Some stunners in this great programme last week – and also some not so stunning (to my eye, anyway).  I was surprised that some of his portraits, especially the early ones, reminded me a little of (early) Lucian Freud; some of the later ones, veiled and distorted, of Bacon.  Here and there, you could see vegetation and rock as Bacon would have rendered it – and also, maybe, Michael Andrews.  And an echo, sometimes, of John Bellany (maybe that should be the other way round, but anyway).

 

 

 

 

touch of Brett Whiteley here?

Lift to the Scaffold, dir Louis Malle (1958)

Doing what the French do best.

Otherwise known as Elevator to the Gallows, tense, clear, cold film noir with perfect Miles Davis music and beautiful Jeanne Moreau, haunting rainy Paris by night, searching for her lover (Maurice Ronet, above right) – who is stuck in the elevator, after killing her husband on the top floor.  Like a fool, he left the rope and grapple he used to scale a couple of floors to the victim’s office, dangling from the balcony and had to go back to get it….  A couple of juvenile delinquents, as they used to be called, nick his car and his gun and go on a spree, just to complicate matters further.

Here’s mine for this week:

Slouching to be Born

Next blog – Bill Viola and Michelangelo at the RA.

Blackpaint

30.01.19

 

 

 

Blackpaint 636 – Vishniac, Wallace, Schiele and the Giant Slug

January 24, 2019

Roman Vishniac, Photographers Gallery, until 24th February

Unique and fascinating photos of  life in pre – war Jewish ghettos in Poland, resettlement camps in Europe and Israel after the war as well as war-ravaged Germany and miscellaneous pictures of life in the USA at that time (is that Josh White on guitar? it is!) .  A selection below:

Somehow, looks earlier than 1935; I would have guessed the early 20s, or even 1919 – the soldiers look more like Freikorps than regulars…

 

Berlin street –  see the statues over the doorway.

 

Pre-war Berlin – love the saint/patriarch on the right, watching the men up the ladders.

 

Wallace Collection – Manchester Square W1.

Great paintings in an ornate – to put it conservatively – setting; in fact, I find the gold leaf and plush a bit too rich for my taste, but it fits the paintings right enough.  As usual, a few of my favourites below:

 

Esaias Boursse

A beautiful little jewel of a painting – look at the bonnet and the fabrics; super realism, visual poetry.

 

Gabriel Metsu

Reminded me of that Velazquez with the fish and the servant woman in the foreground and Christ in the room behind..

 

Van Der Velde

A couple of lovely seascapes by the master.  The frames are just too much for me, so I cropped the second one.

 

Van der Velde

 

Watteau

An early Dejeuner sur l’herbe, but without the nude woman and the men in top hats – so nothing like it really… but still….

 

Jan Weenix

Weenix had to be included, both because I like his name and because he is the master of dead game, especially hares.

Plenty more to look out for: more Watteaus and Lancrets, a Canaletto with a tiny Dutch flag on a vessel exactly equidistant from left and right side of the canvas (well spotted, Bernard); and some interesting Richard Bonningtons – I’d thought he did intricate scenes of ships’ rigging and the like, but some nice theatrical pictures here.  And some lovely Rubens sketches.

 

Renzo Piano, RA – ended 20th January, unfortunately.  

I felt I had to include this building, which I think is a film museum in New York – it looks like a big slug to me.  I rather like it.

 

Egon Schiele at the RA, on with drawings by Klimt  until 3rd Feb- a couple more.

Some homosexual activity to offset the risque pictures of women I posted a couple of weeks ago…

 

…and back to women…

The Passenger, dir Michelangelo Antonioni (1975)

This is on at the BFI at the South Bank in a new print.  I watched it on my DVD.

The three main characters in one shot – Jenny Runacre, with the long legs, in the phone booth; Jack Nicholson with his back to us; and Maria Schneider with the bag.  Don’t know who the receptionist is.

One of the things about this film is the scene at the end, in which a character is shot in a hotel room, while the camera gazes from the room’s interior at the window through which the fatal shot is fired.  I’ve watched it over and over, and I still can’t pinpoint it.

 

Detail of “Golem“, one of my old ones.  Next blog – Bonnard at the Tate Modern.  Nice.

Blackpaint

24/01/18