Posts Tagged ‘Bosch’

Blackpaint 535- It’s all there, at once; the Night Manager, Churchill and Llewyn.

March 6, 2016

George Blacklock – Colour and Abstraction (Crowood 2015)

Although I don’t agree with many (actually any) of the rules Blacklock sets out in his book, he makes the interesting observation that a painting differs from other art forms – literature, music, cinema, dance, theatre – in that you see the whole of a painting immediately.  With the others, the work unfolds, revealing itself to you gradually; the painting’s there straightaway, in its entirety.  Even with a sculpture, you often have to walk round it to get the full picture and, of course, you can’t see it all at the same time.

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Obviously, with paintings by, say, Bosch or Bruegel, you can spend ages taking in the dozens of little monsters lurking in the landscape, or the proverbs that the peasants are acting out in the village; you don’t take in a whole painting instantly – but you do get an overall impression.  I’m not sure I know where I’m going with this, so I leave the reader to consider the implications which I’m sure are interesting.

bruegel proverbs

By the way, the rules Blacklock outlines in his intro are as follows:

  • Make all marks with “absolute conviction”; hesitancy and doubt won’t do.
  • Make sure that your surface is smooth and able to take the paint; no bobbles.
  • Make sure you have enough of the right paint.
  • Make sure you use the right-sized brush – is it big enough?
  • Paint with conviction – no half measures!

I break all these rules, all the time, which is no doubt why I’m a shit painter.

The Night Manager, BBC

I think this is being way overpraised; Tom Hiddleston is unconvincing so far in the violent bits and the same goes for Olivia Colman, whose indignation about Roper and the “river boys” (MI6)  looks manufactured to me.  I don’t think it’s the fault of the actors – it’s just a really creaky book.

Churchill’s Secret, BBC

Gambon was brilliant but I can’t understand the point of having a fictional character (Romola Garai’s nurse) in there in a central role.  Annoying, this mix of fact and fiction, where a big chunk of make-believe is chucked in.  Gambon and Glenda Jackson looking alike these days, I noticed, when the latter was being fawned over by a woman guest presenter on a recent Artsnight (BBC2).  It’s ageing, I suppose, working on the basic structures to eliminate the individuality; depressing.

Inside Llewyn Davis, 2013

This Coen Brothers film on TV the other night I realised how good it was, apart from John Goodman’s hammy bit;  I love that flat stare that Oscar gives – disbelief, resignation, contempt, long-suffering, breaking point coming very close, very quickly – and a touch of ironic humour.  That’s pretty good, just for a stare.  The music was great too, spot on, especially “The Old (Auld?) Triangle”, Dominic Behan’s song, I think, delivered by a white-sweatered close harmony group – a sort of US college boy version of the Clancy Brothers.

Llewyn gives up trying – “That’s all I got” – and walks out of the club and “folk” music – as a young Bob Dylan sings in the background.

oscar-isaac

I’ve been stuck in a freezing gallery, watching passers-by pass by – but have managed to knock out this scruffy landscape-ish thing in between stints.  Bobbly surface, ran out of paint, used the wrong brush and was hesitant and tentative.

col blow, rainy night 4

Cold Blow, Rainy Night

Blackpaint

6th March 2016

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Blackpaint 517 – Venice Preserv’d

October 30, 2015

It’s preserved in brine.  No-one lives there, except for shopkeepers, hoteliers and gondoliers maybe; the average resident’s age is over 50.  Anyway, this is the pavilions blog.

Giardini (the Pavilions)

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Kerry James Marshall

This magnificent “mirror” picture is one of 5 or 6 both abstract and figurative pictures in the main pavilion, which houses individual artists, rather than national projects.

The British Pavilion

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Sarah Lucas

 

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Sarah Lucas

The British and Russian pavilions form, for me, the opposing poles of the national exhibitions; the Lucas sculptures are joyfully obscene and the great yellow phallus wags like a middle finger before the Gran Bretagna sign (see above).  Inside, a number of sculptures rest on piles of spam tins or plunge headlong into toilets with cigarettes poking out of their bumholes and vaginas.  Lacking in subtlety and pathos perhaps – but no denying the popularity with the punters.  Everybody was laughing and snapping away uproariously; four mature German women obviously very intellectually stimulated…

Romanian Pavilion

I loved the Romanian show again this year, because it contains some real paintings – and good ones at that.  I thought at first glance they were abstract, but was sharply informed by my two companions that they were not; “There’s a hand – and there’s a man in that one”.  True, but the thick paint, applied in swipes by a knife maybe, and the vivid colours make them look abstract.  They are collectively called “Darwin’s Room”, so there is a conceptual basis – but I liked the paintings too much to bother with that.  They remind me of Bosch, or Brueghel, or even the Matthias Grunewald.

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Adrian Ghenie

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Adrian Ghenie

Russian Pavilion

russian pavilion

Irina Nakhova has put together a rather oddly matched group of exhibits; the above is a hologram(?) of a pilot’s face peering anxiously out of a giant oxygen mask; amusing and memorable but… on the other hand, there is a very moving display of film and photographs on the lower floor, constantly playing through “windows”; unsmiling soldiers in uniform, sometimes with guns, scratchy old film of Russian people going about their lives, photos of victims of the NKVD, shot at a rifle range, people whose faces are scrawled over with a pen like the Rodchenko photos.  At one point, the walls appear to be closing in.  The faces, at an angle, look like stained glass windows.

To finish, two more Bellini paintings from the Accademia:  Note the similarity in the position of the dead Christ in the Pieta to that of the baby in the Virgin and Child.

pieta

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Giovanni Bellini

 

reflections 2

Mirror Portrait

Blackpaint

30.10.15

Blackpaint 150

June 13, 2010

So, the World Cup has started and knowing the close correlation between the love of football and that of art, especially abstract art, I am assuming a downturn in readership.  Nevertheless, I will continue to write to my usual high standards, even if no-one is reading.

Bruegel and Bosch 

Last time, I highlighted some of the similarities in their beasts and monsters; today, I’ll look at themes.  It’s easy-

  • Trickery
  • Knavery
  • Dishonesty
  • Foolishnesss
  • Proverbs
  • Scenes from the scriptures

All the above themes are touched on by Bosch in the Haywain and the Ship of Fools.  In the Conjuror, a foolish man is tricked by the conjuror into  thinking he has coughed up a frog, whilst a youngster in the little crowd cuts off the purse of an onlooker.  In the Stone Operation, a quack surgeon apparently removes, not a stone, but a tulip from the head of his patient (this operation was supposed to cure stupidity; tulips, for some reason, were symbolic of the same.  Bruegel also painted a stone op).  Then there is, of course, his Garden of the Earthly Delights, which is part of a triptych with paradise and hell as the wings, but very little in the way of religiosity in any of the three.  Those giant birds, the goldfinch, green woodpecker, kingfisher and robin (?) on the left look weirdly threatening and there are the giant strawberries, mussel shells (what’s going on in there? and under the transparent umbrella?), globes and Disney towers – and the impression of serial shagging, if not the actuality.  And in Paradise – an albino giraffe thing.

As for the scriptures, Bosch painted Epiphanies, two Ecce Homos, Christ carrying the cross, the feast at Cana (in which no-one is actually eating), Paradise, Hell, the Ascent of the blessed and the Fall of the damned several times each, Christ on the cross, Christ crowned with thorns, St Jerome and St.Anthony (although these latter appear to be an opportunity to do more feverish visions, rather than to inspire holy thoughts.

Turning to Bruegel, he did a whole series of works based on Flemish proverbs (which are, in most cases, the same as English ones), mostly  illustrating foolishness, greed and knavery.  Other works include the Magpie on the Gallows, in which a man takes a shit, and others dance at the foot of the gallows, the Peasant and the Birdnester, in which a peasant points and laughs at a boy falling out of a tree, just as he himself steps into a ditch – and the Parable of the Blind, in which the blind men are led by a blind man into a ditch.  In the Misanthrope, he has the world portrayed as a boy cutpurse in a glass globe.  In the Land of Cockaigne, he portrays gluttony in a way that reminds me of the old Tommy McClintock song, the Big Rock Candy Mountain (original version, very different to Burl Ives’, which few readers will remember).

The Triumph of Death is of special interest, in that it is untouched by any relief in the form of an Afterlife.  It is unique, I  think, to either artist’s work in this respect; a sheer, unmitigated nightmare vision without the possibility of salvation. 

Bruegel’s religious pictures differ from those of Bosch in that they take place in his contemporary Netherlands, in the villages, often in winter, with peasants being peasants.  They are portrayed naturalistically, eating feasts, playing, working, skating…  Furthermore, in his seasonal pictures (Hunters in the Snow, Haymaking, the Wedding Dance), he encompasses a much wider spectrum than Bosch.  Bosch’s characters are often – usually – grotesque; Bruegel’s always, give the impression of being true to life.  For that reason, I think he is the greater of the two.  Check out the codpieces on the bagpipe player and foreground male dancers in wedding Dance in the Open Air, by the way.

Listening to Willie Nelson, Whiskey River.

“Whiskey river, take my mind, don’t let my memories torture me;

Whiskey river, take my mind, you’re all I got, take care of me.

I’m drowning in a whiskey river….”

Blackpaint

13.06.10