Posts Tagged ‘de Ribera’

Blackpaint 600 – “FOOD….AWLRIGHT?” Orange, Dogs and Prado

June 20, 2017

A Clockwork Orange, Kubrick (1971)

I was discussing High Rise (film of) recently with Paul Tickell and Phil Cairney, my director friends, and I compared it to Clockwork Orange.  No, they both said, check out the  theatricality of staging and acting in Orange, compared with High Rise (I paraphrase, of course; neither of them would say “check out”).  They were right, naturally.  The choreographed gut- kicking during the house invasion – “I’m SIINGING in the rain (thud)” – along with the cutting of Adrienne Corri’s cat suit, while Patrick Magee is forced to watch, and the attack on Dim to the Thieving Magpie music are theatre and opera, and I was going to say unique – then, of course, the attack by the nazis on the bouncer in  Cabaret, that’s to music, but not choreographed – and I suppose West Side Story…..  and  just about every Ken Russell music biopic has a sequence of classical music with violence, or sex, or sex and violence… so not unique then, or even rare.  But maybe uniquely malevolent and chilling.

For my money, the best line in the film is Magee’s; he is entertaining the hapless Alex and has come to realise that the youth he is sheltering was his main assailant:  “FOOD (bellowed suddenly)……. Awright? (strangled attempt to get voice under control).

Straw Dogs, Sam Peckinpah (1971) – now available on DVD

Invaluable for its accurate and touching portrait of Cornish country folk in the 70s – a giggling, knife-wielding ratcatcher, a teenage nymphomaniac, rustic rapists, a mentally challenged killer, a drunken malicious patriarch (Peter Vaughan, prefiguring Robert Shaw in Jaws).  Into the village to settle  come Dustin Hoffman, nerdy American maths genius and his wife, escaped local girl Amy (Susan George, in a tight white roll-necked sweater), who disports herself innocently before the depraved locals (with one of whom she has “history”).

The inevitable, in cinematic terms, happens; Hoffman’s character is enticed away and Amy’s old boyfriend turns up at the cottage; a double rape follows.  The furore about the film and its troubles with the censor arose from the fact that Amy appears to be enjoying and responding to the violent assault (the first one, by her old boyfriend, anyway).  Peckinpah has form in this elsewhere; see, for example, “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia”.

What I find interesting, watching it again after 45 years (!), is that Hoffman is apparently unaware of the attack on his wife (he must be both blind and stupid).  His defence of the cottage in the subsequent siege, his ruthless use of deadly violence, is motivated not by revenge, but by the territorial imperative.  “This is my house!” he asserts, as he chucks boiling water, bashes brains in and wields the huge mantrap.  Amy wants him to abandon the house and the mentally challenged killer (David Warner), who  he is ostensibly trying to protect.  She is VERY slow to blast the last assailant with a shotgun, when he attacks Hoffman from behind.  So, not a revenge movie; arguably, the Amy character could have been left out altogether and the story would have worked – although the atmospherics would have been less charged…  Unaccountably, Warner was uncredited in the cast, so I’ve made sure he gets a credit here.

More Prado

Impossible to go fully into the riches of the Prado (which I started last blog): so, two painters of whom I was aware, but only just, before seeing them here.  First, Joachim Patinir (Charon, St.Jerome, Temptation of Anthony Abbott) – blue, lowering skies, small, strange figures in a landscape, something of Georgione about him, maybe.

 

Patinir – Charon crossing the Styx

 

Patinir – St Jerome

Then, de Ribera – grey-white distorted bodies, sprawling across huge canvases. his Tityus lunging towards you across the gallery.  The obvious Caravaggio influence, coupled with a sort of dry abrasiveness of surface…

 

de Ribera – Tityus

 

de Ribera – Martyrdom of St Philip

Finally, Titian’s Andrians, having a fine old bacchanale, below; I like the little kid – is he/she about to urinate?   Hope not, for the “relaxed” lady’s sake.

Titian – Bacchanale of the Andrians

 

Lake District

Blackpaint

20.6.17

 

 

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Blackpaint 533 – Brussels; a Dog’s Breakfast and God on an Egg

February 21, 2016

Musee Des Beaux Arts (Museum of Ancient Art) Brussels

OK, a selection of the fantastic art in the above, starting, oddly, with the massive Alechinsky below – just like an Asger Jorn, lots of little animal and elf heads swirling around in it – but not exactly ancient.  It’s in the vast entrance hall, as is the Wappers below it.

 

alechinsky2

 

wappers

Scene from the 1830 revolution, this has got everything in it, all going on at once.  Even a dog in there, women with babies, drummer boy…  Reminds me a bit of that Copley in the Tate Britain, gates of St. Helier, death of some officer..?

christ on egg

Magnificent picture by??   God appears to have four legs, two of which are balanced daintily on a big egg.  Looks like a Last Judgement to me.

 

ribera

de Ribera – Apollo Flaying Marsyas.

Apollo is delicately stripping the skin from Marsyas’ leg as if it were a salmon steak.  And look – the raw flesh echoes Apollo’s lovely gown!  I’m sure M would appreciate that.

Now, a series of huge Rubens:

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Titian-like compo; and that cadmium red against the yellow ochre, against the blue…

 

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I think Lucian Freud did a painting looking down on a man in bed with his arm raised like that.  Look at the muscles in the shoulder and arm of the kneeling woman and the red dress of the fleshy angel on the left.

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The Martyrdom of Saint Livinus.  He’s had his tongue torn out; that’s it, in the pincers, being offered to the dog.

 

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A couple of the dozen or so Rubens sketches on show.

 

boy with bobbin

I don’t know who did this picture – the label was too blurred to read in our photo.  Look at the grubby left hand clutching the  – what is it? a bobbin, maybe? – whatever, its one of the great hands.  And the absorbed expression..

Kitaj, Marco Livingstone, (Phaidon, 2010)

kitaj cecil

Kitaj – Cecil Court

Consider this quotation from the end of Livingstone’s account of Kitaj’s life and work: “… he provided both clues to the meanings of his pictures and traps with which to ensnare the inattentive spectator.  The more knowledge one brings to his work, and the more prepared one is to follow up the references and the quotations…..the more one is rewarded.  Long after the artefacts made by many of his contemporaries have exhausted themselves and been drained of content, Kitaj’s paintings will continue to gnaw away at our curiosity and to yield their secrets.”

Or not.  Kitaj’s work is abstruse and impenetrable in many cases because it makes continual reference to his own reading, and his cultural, historical, political and sexual interests (obsessions).  Read the same books, live the same life – you might get it; but you might not, because he likes to be puzzling.  For me, the interesting information in the pictures concerns form, colour, line, composition, texture and a whole load of other things to do with painting that can’t easily be put into words.  That’s the point of painting pictures, figurative or non – figurative.  I don’t want to “follow up the references and the quotations” or avoid the “traps with which to ensnare the inattentive spectator” – PAY ATTENTION, you at the back there! – I just want to look at the pictures.

By the way, Cecil Court, above, is one of the few Kitaj pictures in which there’s any sense of perspective.  Most of his pictures  seem to press up against the “screen” of the front of the canvas.  Not a criticism, just an observation.

Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel

Fascinating explanation of the reason why miles (leagues) are shorter near to Paris and get longer as you head towards Brittany etc.  There’s a great deal to learn in this riveting old book.  I wonder why it was never made in a children’s version, the old Classics Illustrated for example.

wip2

WIP.  Seems to be a droopy charcoal penis in the left centre, on a pink background.  It has no significance to the picture, which is totally abstract.

blackpaint

Blackpaint 409 – Baroque Carrots, Bertolucci and Lautrec in the House

August 31, 2013

Guggenheim (Cont.) – Riotous Baroque

Concluding last week’s blog on Bilbao; “Riotous Baroque one of those exhibitions that mix modern works with 17th century and Renaissance paintings on “similar” themes (sex, death, supernatural, drunkenness, riot, religious transport, violent death etc., etc…)

The old paintings include Teniers animals aping men, drinking, spewing, fighting, wearing clothes; witches’ sabbaths, flying ghost ships, gaping-mouthed devils, drunken oglings and gropings in Dutch taverns, mythological figures tearing their own innards out – all good stuff.  There are three, big, beautiful paintings of saints in ecstasies on huge dark backgrounds, that could have been Caravaggios or Zurbarans – but turned out to be by de Ribera, de Piola and Jan van Bathurnen.  Never heard of the last two.

The modern stuff:  Jurgen Teller photographs of Charlotte Rampling and Raquel Zimmerman standing naked amidst white baroque statuary – rather like those Richard Hamilton pictures recently at the National Gallery, naked hoovering and the rest; Glenn Brown doing the usual thing of old-style pictures, swirly, sickly, layered paint, simulated decay; several simple, patchy paintings by Dana Schulz that recall Gary Hume; a painting by Urs Fischer of a woman in an Ingres dress, her face and body obscured by an enormous erect carrot, peeled, ridged and glistening – what could it represent?

fischer carrot

Actually, this is one of a number Fischer has done of portraits with face obscured by vegetable or fruits such as bananas and lemon slices, so perhaps I have misread any phallic significance.  Fischer, I find, is a man; I’d thought the Urs was short for Ursula, like a German friend of ours.

Finally, three large white Albert Oelhens.  Sprays and splashes and  swatches of delicious paint, mauve, mint green, crimson, over his beautifully applied CGI images – on one, a metallic, psychedelic starburst; on another, a big “per cent” sign.

albert Oelhen

Toulouse Lautrec Museum, Albi (Southern France)

Stunning town and so are the paintings in the TL museum.  Woman on a Divan,  Comtesse Adele de Toulouse Lautrec (1895) –  my partner says she has Cezanne hands – Carmen la Rousse, tousled hair, startled eyes;

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sketches for posters fabulous, with a depth that the posters don’t have; Caudieux the actor; the brothel pictures, women in chemises, lounging on divans, in bed together…

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The woman doing her hair – that white and black on brown board; it looks like pastel and charcoal, but it’s paint.

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Inspired me to try same; results at bottom.

The Conformist

Watched Bertolucci’s great film again, and found it more balletic and operatic – without the singing – than last time.  Trintignant’s gliding walk in the fedora and overcoat, Sanda’s Lady Penelope face, the dance of the two women, the Paris shops by night with the blue windows, the Caesar-esque assassination in the forest, Sanda’s face a blood mask…  great film.

The Dreamers

More Bertolucci; Paris 1968 this time.  Great scene where the three protagonists race through the museum in imitation of “Bande a Part”; the run is intercut with the original film, the runners interchanging, colour to b and w…

Sweet Tooth

Reading McEwan’s last book; marred only by too much local colour.  I’m sure that all the London pubs and bands mentioned are accurate – I know they are, I was there too – but they can be distracting.  BUT – the book is written from the point of view of a woman; I can’t think of any other male writer who has done this, apart from Joyce with the Molly Bloom bit at the end of Ulysses.

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Blackpaint

Life Drawings from Millman Street

31.08.13