Posts Tagged ‘Ansel Adams’

Blackpaint 618 – The World is a Den of Thieves – So Stay Behind the Line

April 9, 2018

Gursky at the Hayward

This finishes on 22 April, so go soon.  No concessions for seniors not on benefits, which is bad for me but probably satisfying if you’re a resentful younger person awaiting the demise of “selfish” baby boomers.  Before entry, we were briskly told to keep behind the lines on the floor in front of the pictures, but were given no further instructions on our behaviour in the gallery.

I had thought that Gursky produced huge, intriguing photos of striking scenes – supermarket shelves, winding motor racing tracks in the desert, panoramic harbours – and yes, these are all there; but he also manipulates the pictures,  adding and/or removing elements from a scene – the river Rhine, straight as a road, dull grey, between dull green banks under a dull sky, for example, has had buildings erased from the skyline and a photo of  museum interior with paintings and sculptures and a nude woman posing is a collage of images making up a fictional exhibition.  One of the pictures in this fictional display is Gerhard Richter’s “Ema (Nude on a Staircase)”,  which is apt, since there are echoes of Richter elsewhere.  A large, grey, ridged expanse of surface turns out to be carpet, but reminds you of Richter’s sea and sky pictures.  A few examples of the pictures below:

 

Rather reminiscent of Ansel Adams’ work, I thought; small and untypical of Gursky…

 

That’s more characteristic; huge and busy.

 

Antarctica, based on a satellite image.

Reading over what I’ve written, I’ve made it sound rather colourless.  There are some stunning examples of colour saturation – another composite image of ocean and islands from satellite images that looks almost like a Lanyon painting, for example; pictures of operatic entertainments from North Korea, a Japanese cityscape, a panoramic view (manipulated?) of Salerno harbour.  And a huge image of two teams at a Formula 1 pitstop, changing tyres or whatever on their team vehicles.  Highly recommended, but remember not to step over the lines…

Fanny and Alexander dir.Ingmar Bergman (1982)

Rewatched this on DVD and struck by the lush sets, costumery and so on, so different from most of the other Bergman films I’ve seen, most of which are set on islands with relatively few actors, pulling carts, chopping wood and having breakdowns.

A mixture of eccentric (and wealthy) family saga and magical realism, it suddenly touches Shakespeare, or maybe Beckett, in  Ekdahl’s speech in the scene above:

“Suddenly death strikes.  Suddenly the abyss opens.  Suddenly the storm howls and disaster is upon us… The world is a den of thieves and night is falling.  Evil breaks its chains and runs through the world like a mad dog.  The poison affects us all… No-one escapes… So shall it be- Therefore let us be happy while we are happy…”  How true.

For a more typical Bergman film – almost a two hander, with Liv Ullman and Bibi Andersson, cooped up together as nurse and mute patient in a house on the seashore, see “Persona” from 1966.  It must have been an influence on Roeg’s “Performance”, with the interplay between Mick Jagger’s rock star and James Fox’s gangster.

Persona, dir.Ingmar Bergman (1966)

Not done much painting lately, due to evil breaking loose and running through the world – but here’s the last one I finished:

 

Den of Thieves

Blackpaint 

10.04.18

 

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Blackpaint 380 – Adams, Attenborough and Lady Chatterley

February 7, 2013

Schwitters again

As threatened, I have visited this exhibition at Tate Britain again.  Second visit confirmed my first opinions – paper and material collages brilliant, straight lines good, curves and circles bad (unless rubber or cardboard or metal rings glued on), human figures or faces pasted in detract from the collages, paintings not good, poetry great .  Here’s an example: “Fumms Bo Wo Tiu Ziu UU”… actually, I can’t do umlauts on my keyboard, so this must look ridiculous – but it gives you an idea of Schwitters’ verse.

My favourites were:  “Opened by Customs”, “Mask”, “The Nipple Picture”, “Pine Trees”, “Horizontal”, “Windswept”…  Well, go and see for yourself.  Collage sounds childish to some people; sticking bits of paper in primary school, we all did it.  But Schwitters actually makes abstract pictures, where others might just have random bits of stuff stuck on a sheet of paper.

Ansel Adams at the National Maritime Museum

You expect a nature photographer – THE nature photographer, maybe – but in a sense, he is something more than this.  As the film which accompanies the photos makes clear, Adams considered himself an expressionist artist.  The photographs were supposed to  convey mood and emotion; consequently, he spent hours developing versions of what he’d photographed, darkening or lightening skies, creating pictures that did NOT show the river or the mountain or the sky that had been in front of his camera, but an adapted variation.

What you notice is the sharp edge or “cut” of the prints, the dense blacks, the textures of the rocks.  There is one picture which resembles a samurai in a kimono, sitting on a bank of sand or gravel by a fast flowing, Alaskan (?) river, with a dense layer of black bringing it into relief.  Another, of a rock with limpets or mussels attached, like a curving human back or elephant’s head; another “Japanese” looking picture, with “rushes” piercing bleached-out water surface that are really submerged trees.

These are the ones that impressed me most; there are also the dramatic mountain- and skyscapes, storm clouds billowing in the gaps between the peaks – no doubt, enhanced in the darkroom.  No little people to give scale; as far as I remember, no animals either.

ansel

Interesting to compare this exhibition to the

Wildlife Photography Prize at the Natural History Museum 

These are of such staggering technical brilliance that you are awed – or you would be, if you didn’t watch Attenborough’s current “Africa” series and/or the last one, the title of which escapes me for the moment.  In fact, this exhibition is rather like a collection of Attenborough stills and enlargements.  In one way it is better – you don’t get that terrible, jaunty penguin music, or the polar bear cub tubas, or the waltz for the fighting giraffes…  I prefer to watch it with the sound down now – you don’t hear the commentary, but that’s also taken a dive lately, with Attenborough anthropomorphising, which he said he’d never do…

Whilst at the NHM, there is an exhibition of paintings and drawings by early 19th century naturalists and some gifted amateurs, some of which are very beautiful; the Audubons of course, the Bird of Paradise plant, the various sketch books (more staggering brilliance), and the renditions of native Australians and ships at sea by the anonymous group called “The Port Jackson Painter” – an echo of those medieval Masters of here and there in the British Museum.

Joan Mitchell

joanmitchell

A documentary on Sky Arts the other night sent me straight back to the Livingston book on JM:  the beautiful, cold freshness of the greens, blues and pinks in the early ones; the ones built of interlocking swipes of blue, white and black; the floating, black or grey masses in the midst of frenzied streamers of colour in the “depression” pictures early 60s.  Sometimes her pictures remind me of dyed and shredded paper.

Lady Chatterley

Watched  this French film, directed by Pascal Ferran, noticing some baffling differences to the famous book – notably, the priapic gamekeeper was called Parkin, not Mellors.  Then, I discovered on Wikipedia that it is based on an earlier version by Lawrence, entitled “John Thomas and Lady Jane.”  So, that cleared that up.  The naked romping in the forest in the rain and the garlanding of various body parts were present and correct, however.    Haven’t yet seen the English effort, made for TV in 1993, directed by Ken Russell –  the master of naked forest romping – with Sean Bean as Mellors and Joely Richardson as Lady C; I expect Ken, Sean and Joely do a better job – chauvinism on my part, no doubt.  But surely the definitive version would be that of Just Jaeckin, starring the late Sylvia Kristel.

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Blue Billboard

Blackpaint

07.02.13