Posts Tagged ‘Archipelago’

Blackpaint 417 – Size Matters; Big it Up

October 18, 2013

Paul Klee at Tate Britain 

Some of these are quite nice.  Not a ringing endorsement, I know, but my genuine reaction.  Klee is a techniques man ; his “oil transfer” drawings are an example – the method produces a yellow-brown, stained background on which the spidery lines of the drawing appear to be roughly scorched in.  Then, there are the dots; tiny, variegated blobs of colour that produce a tapestry or carpet effect – which is tasteful and nice.  There are the dark tiles of midnight blue and grey and black with a disc of bright yellow and a patch of orange; “Full moon and fire”, or some such title – no prize for spotting the moon…

klee1

There are a lot of fish, tastefully drawn and coloured; little imp figures that recall – or maybe prefigure – Victor Brauner and other surrealists; many of the pieces remind one of rock and cave drawings, thick black lines done with a scorched stick, maybe.  Hot air baloon heads, spider web drawings…, there’s a touch of those early Mondrians, with the interlocking lines before he moved on to squares.  And maybe a bit of Asger Jorn, without the texture…

klee2

What I really missed, however, was some size.  They are all small; after five or so rooms, you want to see something by some drunken American abstract expressionist who has crashed his car into the Tate front door, strode in trailing fag smoke and whisky fumes, and started to hurl paint over a five metre square canvas, stretched on the floor (canvas, not drunken ab-ex).

When you look at the catalogue, however, the pictures look beautiful – glowing and luminous.  That’s the way to see them, in a book.

Unrelated

Joanna Hogg’s 2007 film, I think it’s the first of a trilogy, with “Archipelago” and her latest film “Exhibition”, with Liam Gillick, Viv Albertine and Tom Hiddleston.  In “Unrelated”,   Kathryn Worth plays Anna, a middle -aged  woman on a Tuscan holiday with her best friend’s family, including Tom Hiddleston as the eldest son.  She tries to keep up with the “youngs”, swimming naked, smoking dope, fancying Hiddleston, and ultimately being politely rebuffed by him when she makes the offer.  Anna is taking time out from her partner but staying in touch with him by means of anguished mobile phone conversations at the top of hills – shades of Kiarostami’s “The Wind will Carry Us”.  Again, the acting is totally believable: Hiddleston and Worth are fantastic and excruciating.

The cinematographer is Owen Curtis, but the look is the same as “Archipelago”;  those doorway shots, light limning figures in bedsheets in dark rooms, Tuscan landscapes instead of the Scilly Isles, but that same Old Master quality of light on the skin in the close-ups.  The director of photography for “Archipelago” is Ed Rutherford, so I guess it must be Hogg herself who sets the look of the films.  Just great; can’t wait to see the latest film.

Jacob’s Room

I’m now on the third novel in Virginia Woolf’s collected works (NOT illustrated by R Crumb, more’s the pity), after “The Voyage Out” and “Night and Day” – for the first time, I realise how she could possibly be compared to James Joyce, in terms of narrative experimentation.  the first two were conventional; in “Jacob’s Room”, you have to wait for the next page to find out where you are (or more accurately, where Jacob is) and what’s going on.  Incredibly annoying, but I’m still reading.. no doubt, I’ll end up thinking she’s a genius.  Could be worse, could be Jane Austen.

Phil Chevron

Died recently – wrote “Thousands Are Sailing”, the Pogues classic, which if you never did anything else of note…..

003

 

Meeting at Roissy

Blackpaint

18.10.13

Advertisements

Blackpaint 411 – Decorum Returns; Iron Man, Sky Walks and Erasure

September 13, 2013

Ray Howard Jones

I’m in Tenby, Pembrokeshire to support my son in the Iron Man Wales Triathlon.  At the local museum, an exhibition of this artist, who turns out to be a woman.

ray howard jones

Rather like a less washed out Paul Nash, maybe.  I mean “washed out” in a good way, of course.  Also in this great little museum, a David Jones,  A couple of John Pipers and some lovely Gwen and Augustus Johns – and Winifred, the other sister, of whom I had no knowledge.  Augustus and Gwen both draw beautifully. of course; but Gwen is the one with taste.  I love those melancholic portraits.

Marx Reichlich

Recently, re-visited the Courtauld in the Strand; there was a portrait by the above in there, as good as a Holbein.  He was Austrian, 1460 – 1520,  and his work is in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna – I wonder if Thomas Bernhard’s character Reger gets round to dismissing him as “kitsch” in “Old Masters”?

(c) The Courtauld Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

It’s fantastic isn’t it?  I think it’s called “Woman with Lily-of-the-Valley”.

Archipelago

I was on about this last week; Joanna Hogg’s masterpiece, set on Tresco in the Scilly Isles.  The cast is a mix of pros and amateurs – the painter Christopher Baker is just that, a painter not an actor – and that seems to have worked brilliantly in making the dialogue sound authentic; but the pro members, most notably Lydia Leonard as the passive-aggressive, uptight daughter are also great.

The most noticeable trope of the cinematography is the use of long framing shots, through windows, doorways, courtyards and particularly on a bend in the staircase, by the newel post.  when I say “long” though – there’s long and there’s Bela Tarr, so maybe these are medium long.  Some great shots – a beautiful, grey/blue granite cave, a laughing herm (I think that’s the term) in the tropical gardens.  I was gratified to hear on the voiceover extra that Hogg was influenced by Hammershoi interiors.

Man on Wire

It’s easy to see how Petit’s personality could overwhelm certain individuals and compel them to assist in his escapades; he seems rather like a dizzying drop himself – draws and repels.  What I found mystifying is how much relevant film footage was around from the planning stages of the WTC walk and the earlier stunts on Notre Dame and Sydney Harbour Bridge; it was as if it had been shot with a view to making “Man on Wire” about 35 years later.  And then, to have no moving footage of the actual walk…

Or rather, walks – he did it eight times, back and forth.

Butcher’s Crossing and Augustus

Reading both of these novels by John Williams, of “Stoner” fame.  They’re OK – Butcher’s Crossing is about a C19th buffalo hunt, Augustus an epistolatory novel about Augustus Caesar – but nothing whatever, so far as I can see, makes them identifiable as the work of Williams.  I can’t think of any other author whose work is so diverse.

Erasures

I did a couple of life classes recently; the results were depressingly poor.  Turned them into something that looked a bit more classy by smearing and rubbing out the duff bits and getting stuck in with oil pastels on the other bits.  Some results below.

??????????

??????????

Here’s a more conventional one to finish with – except it’s unfinished…

??????????

Blackpaint

Work in Progress

13.09.13

Blackpaint 410 – Surprise at the Size; Sex, Death and Lemons

September 5, 2013

“Keep Your Timber Limber” at the ICA

When I saw this advertised as an exhibition of drawings, I assumed the timber in the title referred to a pencil.  Wrong; or perhaps metaphorically right. The first thing you see – hard to avoid double entendres here – is a drawing of a huge, hairy penis and balls across an entire wall, resembling a cannon and with “Moral Injury” along the shaft and “Fucked by Numbers” beneath it.  It’s by Judith Bernstein, and conflates the act of fucking and being fucked – ridiculous to use less direct vocabulary –  with the casualties and destruction of the Iraq and Afganistan (sic) wars, as well as Vietnam, to which it originally referred.

As a piece of visual propaganda, it’s pretty much dried out now and fails to carry a frisson beyond the initial surprise at the size; the two activities linked here – killing and having sex – seem to me, and hopefully to most people, to be not the same – mutually exclusive even (despite common parlance and psychoanalysis).

There are a number of small drawings in pretty inks by Margaret Harrison, depicting women in scanty clothing, rather like seaside postcards, one of whom is the filling in a sandwich and another of whom has a lemon between her legs (cf. Urs Fischer’s carrot, last blog).

Harrison

I found them rather erotic, but I don’t think that was reaction the artist intended.  I was reminded of the exhibition of feminist art since the 70s that I saw at the Pompidou Centre a couple of years ago (see previous Blackpaint); I found most of the works there erotic too.  A piece in the Guardian Review this week on Nora Ephron referred to her remark about her husband’s affairs; “He would have sex with a venetian blind”.  This was quoted as a brilliant put-down – but I can’t imagine many men being insulted.

The male input was rather more direct – Cary Kwok had three drawings showing a Hassidic Jew, a Buddhist monk and a Catholic priest dripping with semen from their own masturbatory efforts; Tom of Finland had his pictures of bikers engaged pleasurably in the act – strange how the genitalia on show were rather undersized; maybe copied from Greek and Renaissance sculpture?  Limber timber everywhere.

There were some great fashion plates by Antonio Lopez and a George Grosz cartoon – I have to say I agree with Adrian Searle, that none of the various elements seem to go with each other. They’re all drawings, arguably – but beyond that?

R Crumb

Actually, the Harrison pictures, and the Toms and Kwoks, reminded me faintly of Robert Crumb – but probably only because of the “transgressive” material and the drawing skill displayed.  Seeing Crumb’s work at the Guggenheim recently caused me to think of some literature I’d like to see illustrated by him; a collected works of Jane Austen, perhaps…

Sweet Tooth

Writing about this Ian McEwan novel in last blog, I was wondering how many other examples, there were, apart from Joyce’s Penelope in Ulysses, of male authors writing in the 1st person from a woman’s point of view.  I came up with Defoe’s Moll Flanders and on the net, found references to Richardson’s Clarissa and Allan Gurganus’ “Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All”.   Maybe also bits of Dracula.  Not many then; and I hadn’t finished “Sweet Tooth” when I last wrote – there’s a twist at the end which gives McEwan a safety net.

Visions of Light

Fantastic film about the history of cinematography, with one beautiful example after another, interspersed with interviews that actually give you some insight, rather than just slowing up the excerpts.  Fascinating to see Nestor Almendros (Malick’s “Days of Heaven”); he’s the image of Romolo Valli, the fussy hotelier in “Death in Venice”.

My current favourite cinematographer, or director of photography as they now appear to be called, is Ed Rutherford of “Archipelago” (director, Joanna Hogg); apparently, it was his first film.  Much more on this great film next blog – I’ve done it before (see Blackpaint 359) , but just bought and watched the DVD through twice.

??????????

Blackpaint

Atlantic Bar

5.09.13

Blackpaint 359 – Pre-Raphs, Cardboard Dogs and Complaining in Restaurants

September 20, 2012

Deliberate mistakes last blog:  substituting Huguenots for Puritans in the Fitzcarraldo mention;  mistaking Patrick Keiller (artist) for Patrick Kielty (TV presenter and celeb).  Sorry, getting senile.

In last blog, did best use of music in film; should have added worst use – that of “stirring” music behind the Crispin’s Day speech in Branagh’s Henry V; corny, distracting, unnecessary.

Pre-Raphaelites at Tate Britain

Enough eye-churning detail to give you indigestion of the brain.  One or two or even five or six – but hundreds is too much, like eating a whole tiramisu for four on your own (yes, I did last week, as it happens).  There are some strikers – that sky (cobalt?) blue in “The Pretty Baa-Lambs”, by Ford Madox Brown; but the sentimentality… Aah, she’s blind, she can’t see the lambs…

There is, however, another magnificent back to add to my little collection – that of the naked young lady in Burne – Jones’ picture below: “The Doom Fulfilled”, Perseus killing the monster.

That is one beautiful back, but spoilt somewhat by the tasteful way her legs taper to slender ankles and the way she stands as if wearing heels on a catwalk.  He should have had her standing in a pool up to her thighs..

Even though they don’t excite me in any way, I find I can remember loads of Pre-Raph paintings – Ophelia, The Last of England, The Scapegoat, Work, Basil and the Pot of Isabella…  must be strong images or maybe just seen them too many times.  I can’t see how you could make a convincing case for them as “Avant Garde” – that just seems perverse.  They look back to mythology, mediaevalism, even the name of the movement – so Victorian.  Second worst exhibition after Munch.

South Korean Art at Saatchi

Some clever stuff here – dogs and furniture made out of cardboard and left half-finished in a tangle of torn and bent card.   Sprayed with a shiny brown “leather” varnish.  Globular pots, vases, china, sawn into portions and soldered together to make huge, sprawling, pustular monsters, prostrate on gallery floor.  Large, grey pictures of bare rooms in which people sink into the floors, light switches and fittings sag and slide down the walls.  Massive,Gursky-like composite photographs of stacks of long balconies with tiny people and piles of those capsule lifts that go up the outside of buildings..  Clever, as I said, but not really much more.  If you bought one and had it at home, would you see something new in it for very long?

Archipelago (Joanna Hogg)

Brilliant film on TV the other night.  Set on Tresco in Scilly Isles, a family at their holiday home.  Neurosis, awkward silences, blazing rows on the phone within earshot of everyone at dinner, embarrassing complaints about food at the restaurant…  it was fantastic.  Beautifully lit – sun through window on white sheets, wind in the lush, semi-tropical vegetation, the shore, the rocks – definite Scandinavian feel, or maybe even Tarkovsky, “the Sacrifice”.  There is one scene in which the brother and sister are talking in one of the bedrooms, in which the light on their faces makes them look like Michelangelo paintings.  There is a painter in it who turns out to be a real painter, i.e. not an actor.  He is called Christopher Baker, and if those are his landscapes in the film, then he is pretty good, to say the least.

Blackpaint

20.09.12