Posts Tagged ‘Costa – Gavras’

Blackpaint 566 – Babes in the Wood

August 23, 2016

Bacon and Auden

I can never read Auden’s staggering poem “September 1st 1939” without remembering Bacon’s painting – and vice versa.  It’s the two men in hats, sitting in a bar(?) while the slaughtered body hovers to their left:

bacon crucifixion 1965

Bacon – Crucifixion 1965

Faces along the bar

Cling to their average day:

The lights must never go out,

The music must always play,

All the conventions conspire

To make this fort assume

The furniture of home;

Lest we should see where we are,

Lost in a haunted wood,

Children afraid of the night

Who have never been happy or good.

Actually, Bacon’s triptych suggests another Auden poem as well; “Musee des Beaux Arts”.  The theme of this is how normal life goes on while momentous and/or tragic events unfold “next door”; Auden refers to Bruegel’s Icarus picture (below), in which the ploughman goes on ploughing as Icarus’ legs – see them? – follow the rest of his body into the depths.  The barflies in the Bacon are sort of parallel to the ploughman.

 

icarus

Bruegel the Elder – Icarus

Interestingly, Auden excluded “September 1st 1939” from his Collected Poems; maybe he regretted being in the USA as Great Britain went to war; maybe he changed his mind about the politics; “Those to whom evil is done Do evil in return” might be represented as an excuse for the rise of Nazism.  Whatever the reason for its exclusion, it has to be one of the best poems on a political theme ever written.

Z, dir. Costa – Gavras, 1969

I fancied something political and unequivocally left-wing to watch, maybe to readjust my parameters a bit, so I turned to the DVD of “Z”; I guess “Battle for Algiers” would have served, or a Franco Rosi, but I haven’t got them.  The film is about the murder of the politician Gregory Lambrakis in 1963, carried out, allegedly, on the orders of local police and army chiefs.  Marcel Bozzuffi (left, below, with Jacques Perrin as an opportunistic journalist) is the assassin and a brilliantly malevolent one he makes; he went on to kill again in “The French Connection” and judging by the titles of many other films, in those too.

Z1

I think Costa -Gavras might face accusations of homophobia if he were making the film today, since Bozzuffi’s character is shown to be both gay and predatory , with arguably little relevance to the plot; presumably the film is historically accurate on this point.  Bozzuffi is a great villain, though, and joins two other of my cinema icons, the wild men Gaston Modot (l’Age D’Or, La Regle du Jeu) and Franco Citti (Oedipus Rex, Canterbury Tales).

franco citti

Citti

 

modot

Modot

 

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (dir.Mat Whitecross, 2010)

Watching Andy Serkis as Ian Dury the other night, composing, or rather throwing together the words to “Spasticus Autisticus” in a stream of consciousness, I was reminded of Finnegans Wake.  I’m sure this is a trite, pretentious observation, made by many commentators before – but I’ve never shied away from triteness and pretension in the past, so why start now?

lost in the wood 1

Lost in the Wood

Blackpaint

23.8.16

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Blackpaint 323 – Dinosaurs, Members and Moustaches

February 4, 2012

 Z  Costa -Gavras

Brilliant sequence at the end of the film, where a succession of senior Greek army officers, charged with the murder of a leftist politician, leave the magistrate’s office and attempt to exit, desperately, by the same locked door, shaking and rattling it,  before their lawyers find the right way out.  In the book, they use dinosaurs as pseudonyms – “Mastodontodon”, I remember… but aren’t we all?  Dinosaurs I mean, not pseudonyms…

Migrations

Exhibition at the Tate Britain, which “explores how migration into this country has shaped the course of art in Britain over the last 500 years”, to quote the handout – which is a disappointing map of the rooms with blurb by some luminaries about what they think of the pics.   At the Whitechapel, you get a booklet with miniatures of all the paintings in the exhibition – and that’s for a free show; you have to pay for this one.

So – there are Dutch landscapists and portraitists, Canaletto (Horseguards Parade), Americans like Singer Sargent, and paintings by artists from migrant communities, Jewish, Afro-Caribbean and Asian.  The Singers are stupendous, of course; lovely, lively women in silks looking straight out at us (even if one appears to have a moustache and the hand of Betty Wertheimer seems to be in the wrong place on Ena’s waist – makes her arm too long).

A number of the works are familiar from the Tate’s permanent collection; the Bombergs, of course, “Mudbath” and the other one, Keith Piper’s series “Go West Young Man”. with  images of lynching and slavery, Mirza’s Crucifixion, with Christ like a giant holly leaf.  for my money, the Schwitters collage “picture of Spatial Growth; Picture of Two Dogs” was the best thing on show – from an angle and a distance, the surface evens out and it looks like an ochre and white painting.  Close to, it’s got a hank of black hair like a moustache (again!) in the middle.  Dates: 1920 – 1939!! Did he stick one bit on a year?

Other paintings I liked were Frank Bowling’s rough, yellow red and green take on Barnett Newman and Donald Rodney’s “How the West Was Won”, with that radioactive blue and child-like draughtsmanship – not the proper Coldstream, at all.

Life Drawing

As an English abstract painter, I suffer from that sneaking suspicion (on the part of myself, as well as others) that I do abstracts because I can’t do figurative, i.e.” proper”, painting.  Abstraction is a way of making pictures that can’t be properly tested; you can’t compare them to nature.  This mindset is very common amongst people in England who  consider themselves knowledgeable about art.  I’ve recounted in previous blogs how I heard a woman in the Tate Modern pointing out to her friend how Picasso’s early pre-cubism paintings were really good, “before he went all funny”.  Or watching visitors to Tate Britain recoiling with baffled shrugs from Turner’s more experimental paintings like  “Sea Monsters”.  And the Picassos and Turners are ,after all, figurative.  Real abstraction, Pollock or Stella, say, is blobs and squiggles or meaningless stripes and pretty colours.  Stella is better than Pollock because a child or an elephant with a brush held in its trunk can’t do a Stella – the lines are too straight.  I know I’m exaggerating a little, but not much.  The funny thing is that abstract paintings are old hat, retro, old fashioned – figurative painting is much more the vogue nowadays.

So, because of all this, but also because I enjoy it, I go to life drawing and painting classes.  Trouble is, the others in my class are too good and you come away each week thinking how rubbish you are – I know, it’s not a competition –  but it is, really.  Anyway, I thought I could use some of my life drawings to illustrate errors, as I’ve done in previous blogs.

Some pitfalls illustrated below:

1.  Don’t do the face and then rub it out.  In fact, don’t do the face at all – it usually looks crap.  On the other hand, it can divert the viewer’s attention from all the other little errors – like the left arm in second drawing.

2.  In a 5 minute drawing. don’t think you’ve finished with 10 seconds to go, and then discover you’ve left out the left arm completely (see second pic below).

3.  What about the package?  Do you render it faithfully, in which case it becomes the focal point – or do you suggest it in a sketchy, somehow more tasteful manner?  As can be seen, I’ve adopted the middle way by leaving the end off.  Hope I situated it correctly; looks a bit high up to me now.

And here’s a proper one that I did earlier:

“Baffled Shrug”

Blackpaint

04.02.12