Posts Tagged ‘Bob Dylan’

Blackpaint 281

June 21, 2011


Reading Terry Gilliam in the Observer, I observed the observation that he was the only one laughing – “uncontrollably” –  at the pictures at a Magritte exhibition; the other visitors went round, he says, in a “religious state of awe”.  If  the exhibition was in London, they were probably just being English; a slight, lightly contemptuous smirk is generally considered sufficient.

Noel Fielding, who is English, says almost the same thing as Gilliam, a bit further on in the article: “I find it ridiculous when you walk round a gallery and people are just looking at something obviously funny and stroking their chins.”

I’ve often found Magritte to be amusing, sometimes startling – but never funny enough to make me laugh uncontrollably. When you say that,  I think it’s just a way of saying “I got it – but none of those other idiots did”.

This all sounds snotty, I know, but I’m tired of Magritte’s little men in tight suits and bowler hats, doing cute, surprising little things; cloudy blue skies, easels, windows, apples, human rain, toes on shoes, eyes for tits, pipes that are not pipes, trains in the fireplace and so on.  It’s good, of course – how many other painters can you reel off the images like that? – but they can get wearing.  I’m in more of a Pollock/De Kooning/Mitchell mood at the moment.


The symphonies – how is it that the 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th and 9th are all majestic, hummable, full of hooks and themes and totally memorable (although you can mix them up) and the others, 1,2,4 and 8 are completely the opposite?  I can’t recall a single theme or line from any of them.  The contrast is staggering, to me anyway.  Is there a parallel in painting?

The Feis, Finsbury Park

I was at this on Saturday, to see Bob Dylan, Christy Moore, Shane McGowan, and Sharon Shannon.  Dylan’s set was like a blues rock pub gig with a great band; his “singing” now like a cross of Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart, with a bit of the younger Dylan in occasional lines.  You had to wait for a recognisable line to identify the song, but much better than recent reviews had led me to expect.

The crowd, some very boozed-up and rowdy, were notably good-natured; great to see groups of them dancing in abandon to Christy Moore’s song, Yellow Triangle (about concentration camps, murder of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals) and Viva la Quinta Brigada (a homage to the Irish dead of the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War).  No po-faced Respect shit.

Theo Angelopoulos – The Trilogy (Weeping Meadows)

Ethnic Greek refugees from Odessa come to Salonika; from the Russian Revolution to the Greek Civil War.  Reflections in the river, horses, the funeral on the raft with the coffin, black flags, the silent men (recalling the SS men crossing the lake in Visconti’s “The Damned”); it was operatic, somehow, especially the flood scene with all the boats in a flotilla.  The usual problem of history epics covering long periods – people keep telling each other what has happened to keep the audience up to date; the beach/jetty scenes with the dancing reminded me of that JackVettriano painting.  Turned a bit Mother Courage at the end – also a bit Bela Tarr (accordions, rain) and a bit Bo Widerberg (the white sheets stained with Nikos’ blood recalled the father’s shirt in Adalen 31).  Loved the film and the music.

Next entry, more art, less music and films.



Blackpaint 8

December 7, 2009

Madonna and Child

On the subject of abstract painting and giving titles based on vague resemblances to things in the “real” world:  I did a painting a while back, which, although abstract, bore a strong likeness (I thought) to a hare with a hole blasted in its guts, hanging up to age, awaiting the pot.

A prospective buyer, looking it over, said “I like that one; it’s a Madonna and Child, isn’t it?”  She had interpreted the large orange round shape in the middle, my buckshot wound, as the child’s head.  I was honest; no sale ensued.  Maybe if I’d agreed..

I noticed recently at the National Gallery that there are some decidedly dodgy bits to some of the most renowned paintings.  I’m thinking particularly of the Vendramin Family by Titian; the children depicted seem to me to be really badly painted, compared with the wonderful depiction of the adults – presumably the man himself did the adults and some apprentice did the children.  Same painter, Rest on the Flight into Egypt; correct me if I’m wrong but Joseph’s head is too big, surely? 

Generally, there are some extremely odd- looking babies on show in Renaissance and pre-Renaissance paintings; most of them look like little old men, and one, by Catena I think, has a head like a cannonball.  Lions are strange too; St.Jerome is usually depicted with a lion wandering around or sleeping in his (Jerome’s) study and none of them look right.  Especially the eyes- they look like human eyes, especially one by Durer.  Compare them with the fabulous Assyrian reliefs in the British Museum

I suppose the dodgy lions are explained by lack of familiarity; but what about the babies?  Probably showing my lack of education here – I expect several art historians have written papers on just this point.

I’ve just finished reading Ferlinghetti’s great poem “Autobiography”; echoes of Whitman, Eliot’s Prufrock, Bob Dylan, de Chirico and Joni Mitchell!  I was struck by how much the Beat poets, Corso, Ferlinghetti and Ginsberg remind me of the English poets in the Penguin “Poetry of the Thirties”, particularly O’Connor, Caudwell et al.

Listening to: “The Sun is Shining” by Elmore James and “Lowlands” trad., sung by Anne Briggs.

“The sun is shining, although it’s raining in my heart, (*2)

You know I love you baby,

But the best of friends must part.”