Posts Tagged ‘David Lynch’

Blackpaint 684 – Psychopaths, Severed Ears, Alchemists – and Art

January 21, 2021

Ice Lines, Blackpaint

 

Crazy, not Insane – Sky Documentary (dir. Alex Gibney)

Ted Bundy and Arthur Shawcross

Staggering programme about Dorothy Otnow Lewis, a psychiatrist who has interviewed and analysed a number of America’s worst serial killers – are there any that are not all that bad? – including Arthur Shawcross and Theodore “Ted” Bundy.  She seems prone to finding that these persons are often in the grip of “multiple personality disorder”; that is, when they kill, it is some malign other personality that takes them over (and is therefore responsible for the crimes).  The doc contains film of her with Shawcross, who is “taken over” during the interview; it appears to me that Lewis must be one of the most gullible people on the planet, to be fooled by Shawcross’s pathetic charade.  Reminds me of James Randi, the conjuror and illusionist, who died recently ;he said repeatedly that he loved doing his stunts before scientists because they were the easiest people to fool.

Journey into Darkness – John Douglas

Read this book as an antidote to the above.  Douglas,  one of the founders of criminal profiling, and author of “Mindhunter” has unequaled experience of these types of murderers – Kemper, Manson, Bundy, Wayne Williams, dozens more – and demolishes the “multiple personality” nonsense roundly (in the case of multiple killers who develop these traits AFTER arrest and sometimes trial, that is)..  He makes an unanswerable case for the reform of the US legal system to render justice to the victims’ families, specifically in the area of multiple and/or specious appeals against executions.

Blue Velvet  (David Lynch, 1986) 

I finally got round to seeing this;  I expected a dream-like atmosphere and some difficulty in comprehending the plot – and yes, both expectations fulfilled –  but not TOO baffling.   The violence – Isabella Rosselini gets hit by Dennis Hopper’s psychopath, Frank Booth, several times – is nasty, but nowhere near as horrifying as that in, say, “The Killer Inside Me”.  The dream thing is exemplified for me in the exchange between Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) and Laura Dern’s policeman father, when Jeffrey shows him what he has found in the meadows; “Why yes,” says the policeman, “you’re right – it IS a human ear”… as if it were an interesting fungus species.

Great ending shot of a clearly mechanical bird with a large (mechanical?) insect in its bill, against the saturated colours of a suburban American garden.

I was going to write, the only Lynch film I understood all the way through was “Eraserhead” – although that’s wrong, because he did “the Elephant Man” and “The Straight Story ” too.  And “Wild at Heart”…

What Painting Is, James Elkins (Routledge 2019)

Back to art.  I was bought two art books for Christmas with these pleasingly symmetrical titles:  “What is Painting?” by Julian Bell and “What Painting Is”, by James Elkins.  The first is a fascinating, but reasonably conventional work on art history – more next time.  The second, by a professor of art history from Chicago, is a real surprise, to say the least.  It gets right down into the paint on the canvas, the marks, the pigments, the process.  The comparison is with alchemy and he goes into the subject in great detail.  I thought “Oh no, this is going to be tedious” – but I was wrong.  Elkins loves to be down in the sludge with the alchemists, trying to extract and separate; but then he’s there with Jackson Pollock, with the domestic enamels, hairs, cigarette ends, describing Pollock’s characteristic marks in detail.  Highly recommended.

New Paintings (and one collage)

Finally, I’ve got round to doing some work again – mostly re-working old pictures, with oil over acrylic.  Some examples below and at the top:

 

Catch the Wave

 

Swe Dea (Collage)

Happy New Year – no irony intended

Blackpaint

21st January 2021

 

 

Blackpaint 372 – It’s all about women, beaches and room 47

December 20, 2012

Tate Britain

They seem to be re-opening the galleries one or two at a time.  Went there a couple or three weeks ago and there were no 20th century rooms open; now several rooms have opened up – the Frank Bowlings are on view again and the early C20th room, with some new additions.  There is a Christopher Wood, “The Fisherman’s Farewell”, a nice little Alfred Wallis view of St.Ives and a beautiful, leaf green Dora Carrington of two tiny female figures in Edwardian white, gazing at a huge green hill which overhangs them.

There is  a Stanley Spencer Resurrection set in Cookham; in the middle of the graveyard, several African women – are they all women? – , one wearing a set of gold neck rings, are among those rising ; what’s the story there, I wonder?  Apparently, Spencer was unable to give a clear explanation, except that the picture was supposed to represent a sort of universality and some stuff about instinctiveness – also, he was interested in African art at the time.

In the same, or maybe the next room, several beautiful Gwen Johns, especially one called “the Invalid” or “The Convalescent”; it’s next to Harold Gilman’s “Mrs. Mounter”.  And there’s a great nude by Wilson Steer – I always thought he did landscapes.

wilson steer

I like to do that thing of standing in the middle of the room and scanning round with half-closed eyes – yes, you get curious glances – to see which paintings grab your attention.  Sometimes, of course, it’s the most garish ones, like the Francis Hodgkin one with the green faces; often, it works though, and you get the “best” pictures.  This time, it was the Whistler “Woman in White”, leaning on her mantlepiece, her head against the mirror (surely the reflection is a bit too low?)  and – maybe in an adjoining room – that Vanessa Bell from 1912, of the women on the beach with the sun hats and the bathing tent.  Simple but magic and very early.

whistler

vanessa bell

Turner

There is a whole roomful of mostly watercolour sketches, clouds, skies, beaches, that are so much more beautiful (to the modern eye) than the more conventional of his big, finished canvases.  One in particular, called “A Lay In”(?), like ripples across a sandy surface.  Among the bigger paintings, one should seek out the whaler boiling blubber – it has a much longer Turner title – and the Doge marrying the sea in Venice – where else?

Hidden and Inland Empire

Great Michael Haneke film with Binoche and Daniel Auteuil, in which the French media bourgeosie are threatened and made uneasy by guilt over their colonialist past, embodied by an impoverished North African and his son..  They deserve it for being very smug and irritating, completely unlike the British bourgeoisie, who, of course, are neither smug nor irritating and always behaved impeccably in the colonies.  

I happened to watch David Lynch’s “Inland Empire” immediately afterwards; there was an apparent coincidence.  In Hidden, a sudden suicide takes place in room 47 of an apartment block; in Empire, Laura Dern shoots someone and then runs into room 47.  In Empire, a leering face with blood pouring from mouth, appears straight after this; in Hidden, there are mystery drawings sent – of a face with blood pouring from mouth.  I thought I’d discovered something here – but no, someone in a Southern California university has already written a long piece on it.

La Regle du Jeu

Schumacher the gamekeeper was played by Gaston Modot, who, as I said last blog, was also “The Man” in “l’Age d’Or”; I should also have mentioned the beautiful Nora Gregor, the fatal femme Christine – a cross between Marlene Dietrich and Kristin Scott Thomas, I think.

Happy Christmas to my readers.  Log on to Paintlater’s blog to see some fantastic AbEx paintings.

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Oceanic Orpheus

Blackpaint

20.12.12