Posts Tagged ‘Dracula’

Blackpaint 627 – 20th Century Wars, Vampires and Top Shots

September 28, 2018

Cold War (dir. Pavel Pawlikowsky, 2018)

Polish film, black and white, concentrating on a love affair within a folk music collective in the early 50s.  The musical director starts to have sex with a young and talented performer and the affair deepens for both of them, as communist politics are increasingly imposed on the material and performances of the ensembles.  Folky tributes to comrade Stalin have to be performed to ensure the enterprise can continue.  MD defects in Paris, talented young performer stays.

The affair continues when she also defects a year or so later – but they row drunkenly and she swans off back to Poland in a huff.  And so it goes, through the 50s and on; can’t live apart, can’t live together.  At last, it’s resolved, in a way that recalls scenes from Bela Tarr’s “Satantango” and the end of Tarkovsky’s “Stalker”.  Not the resolution, that is, but the setting in which it takes place.

The music of the various ethnic groups heard in the film is fabulous and strange; there is some terrific jazz piano.  Sex is presumably problematic for #Me Too enthusiasts, since the girl is quite young at the beginning of the film, the man older and in a position of some authority – not that I’ve heard or read any adverse comment.  Foreign film, not lascivious, so presumably it’s OK.

Aerial Top Down Shots (cont.) –  

Tried to keep track of these as I said last time, but they are everywhere now – not only in the classy drama  and nature progs and adverts, but even in “The One Show”.  Almost obligatory.

The Night Porter (dir, Liliana Caviani, 1974)

Great transgressive film, big scandal at the time – Dirk Bogarde as a Nazi version of Aschenbach, Charlotte Rampling in braces, singing and posing for the camp guards and being rewarded with a severed head.  But even here, I find some unlikely similarities to “Cold War” (forbidden love, obsession, fascist/communist opposition to the couple, suicide).

Dracula, Bram Stoker.

Just reread this and I was surprised to find it was one of those books (Lord of the Rings, Stephen King’s “It”) where a sacred fellowship is formed to perform the impossible task of – saving the world, basically.   But,unbelievably, after losing poor Lucy to the Nosferatu and having to stake her through the heart and cut her head off to save her soul – they leave Mina to sleep alone, so that Dracula can get at her.  I see I have written “Unbelievably”…

Nevinson at British Museum, Print Room (room 90)

OK films over – now for the pictures on walls.  Nevinson was in a medical unit at or near at the front in WW1 for a few months.  He became one of the leading British war artists, along with the likes of William Orpen, and Paul Nash.  my favourites below.  the second is, of course, not a war scene, but a street in New York.  There’s a great view through a Paris window that’s just like  a Matisse…

 

 

Richard Smith at Tate Britain

This has reappeared on the wall at TB; meant to put it up last time but forgot.  I think of it as the lion’s mane.

I’ve finally done some painting again and the results are below.

 

Isthmus

 

Flayed 

 

Crashing Out

Blackpaint

28/09/18

 

 

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Blackpaint 468 – Widerberg’s Spacemen, Kirchner’s Women, Vampires and Incest

November 8, 2014

Frans Widerberg at Kings Place

Paintings that show elongated, naked humanoids with big feet, sometimes on horseback, in a circle holding hands, under the stars and heavenly lights; it’s a sort of world of aliens, faintly reminiscent of the Bowie spaceman in “the Man who Fell to Earth” (although I imagine Widerberg’s came first).  The palette is pretty much as shown below – primary, crude, a flat, poisonous yellow and violet blue the main colours.  The execution of the figures is also rough and intentionally (?) crude.

The blurb describes him as one of the most important Norwegian figurative painters since Munch – I can’t stand the colours and the spacemen, but then I hate Munch’s pictures too.  Maybe one or two might be OK, like a Kirkeby or Polke, as part of a bigger work, with a big dollop of irony (somehow, though, I don’t think Widerberg’s pictures have anything to do with irony); but dozens of them…

 

widerberg

Kirchner

I’ve said it before, but I think Kirchner’s long, elegant, insect-like women are beautiful.  I was reading the Hagens’ “What Great Paintings Say” (Taschen)  on Kirchner’s “Potsdamer Platz” and was intrigued to discover the reason for their sedate and dignified appearance: there was an ordinance in force in Berlin that prohibited prostitutes from displaying any untoward behaviour.  They could parade legally, provided they did it with decorum; presumably, the clients had to make the first move.

kirchner - berlin street scene

 

Ian McEwan – The Cement Garden and First Love, Last Rites 

Having read most of his recent books, I’ve got round to the earliest; a very different McEwan from the one who creates the middle-class professional characters of “Saturday” or “The Children Act”.  I was actually thinking  he might have trouble getting them published, if he were an unknown today.  Graphic – but not erotic –  scenes of incest and sexual abuse of a young girl by an older sibling in “Homegrown” (Last Rites)  might not make it into print, unless they were in a misery memoir.

Then I read about the attacks in the right-wing US media on Lena Dunham, for her description of examining her little sister’s vagina (as a child) and finding pebbles there.  It’s obviously supposed to be funny, but the critics call it sexual child abuse.  I wonder what they would make of McEwan’s early fiction.

Andrew Graham – Dixon’s The Art of Gothic, BBC4

AGD did Dracula this week; his thesis was that the vampire was a metaphor for burgeoning capitalism, sucking the blood of the workers of the world.  He quoted from Marx, describing capitalism in that way – but was unable to come up with a similar quotation from Bram Stoker, which might have helped his case.  He did link Stoker with the Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland, so Count Dracula in Transylvania, feeding parasitically on his peasant tenants, could be seen as kin to Anglo-Irish landlords – but I think this analysis is basically spurious.  AGD didn’t mention Dracula’s predilection for invading the bedrooms of young women and feasting on their blood – no, it’s not about sex, it’s about capitalism.  Not convinced.

Painting

Haven’t got a new painting to show, so a couple of life studies to go on with.

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 Sonia with a Big Ball 1 & 2

Blackpaint

8.11.14

Blackpaint 410 – Surprise at the Size; Sex, Death and Lemons

September 5, 2013

“Keep Your Timber Limber” at the ICA

When I saw this advertised as an exhibition of drawings, I assumed the timber in the title referred to a pencil.  Wrong; or perhaps metaphorically right. The first thing you see – hard to avoid double entendres here – is a drawing of a huge, hairy penis and balls across an entire wall, resembling a cannon and with “Moral Injury” along the shaft and “Fucked by Numbers” beneath it.  It’s by Judith Bernstein, and conflates the act of fucking and being fucked – ridiculous to use less direct vocabulary –  with the casualties and destruction of the Iraq and Afganistan (sic) wars, as well as Vietnam, to which it originally referred.

As a piece of visual propaganda, it’s pretty much dried out now and fails to carry a frisson beyond the initial surprise at the size; the two activities linked here – killing and having sex – seem to me, and hopefully to most people, to be not the same – mutually exclusive even (despite common parlance and psychoanalysis).

There are a number of small drawings in pretty inks by Margaret Harrison, depicting women in scanty clothing, rather like seaside postcards, one of whom is the filling in a sandwich and another of whom has a lemon between her legs (cf. Urs Fischer’s carrot, last blog).

Harrison

I found them rather erotic, but I don’t think that was reaction the artist intended.  I was reminded of the exhibition of feminist art since the 70s that I saw at the Pompidou Centre a couple of years ago (see previous Blackpaint); I found most of the works there erotic too.  A piece in the Guardian Review this week on Nora Ephron referred to her remark about her husband’s affairs; “He would have sex with a venetian blind”.  This was quoted as a brilliant put-down – but I can’t imagine many men being insulted.

The male input was rather more direct – Cary Kwok had three drawings showing a Hassidic Jew, a Buddhist monk and a Catholic priest dripping with semen from their own masturbatory efforts; Tom of Finland had his pictures of bikers engaged pleasurably in the act – strange how the genitalia on show were rather undersized; maybe copied from Greek and Renaissance sculpture?  Limber timber everywhere.

There were some great fashion plates by Antonio Lopez and a George Grosz cartoon – I have to say I agree with Adrian Searle, that none of the various elements seem to go with each other. They’re all drawings, arguably – but beyond that?

R Crumb

Actually, the Harrison pictures, and the Toms and Kwoks, reminded me faintly of Robert Crumb – but probably only because of the “transgressive” material and the drawing skill displayed.  Seeing Crumb’s work at the Guggenheim recently caused me to think of some literature I’d like to see illustrated by him; a collected works of Jane Austen, perhaps…

Sweet Tooth

Writing about this Ian McEwan novel in last blog, I was wondering how many other examples, there were, apart from Joyce’s Penelope in Ulysses, of male authors writing in the 1st person from a woman’s point of view.  I came up with Defoe’s Moll Flanders and on the net, found references to Richardson’s Clarissa and Allan Gurganus’ “Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All”.   Maybe also bits of Dracula.  Not many then; and I hadn’t finished “Sweet Tooth” when I last wrote – there’s a twist at the end which gives McEwan a safety net.

Visions of Light

Fantastic film about the history of cinematography, with one beautiful example after another, interspersed with interviews that actually give you some insight, rather than just slowing up the excerpts.  Fascinating to see Nestor Almendros (Malick’s “Days of Heaven”); he’s the image of Romolo Valli, the fussy hotelier in “Death in Venice”.

My current favourite cinematographer, or director of photography as they now appear to be called, is Ed Rutherford of “Archipelago” (director, Joanna Hogg); apparently, it was his first film.  Much more on this great film next blog – I’ve done it before (see Blackpaint 359) , but just bought and watched the DVD through twice.

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Blackpaint

Atlantic Bar

5.09.13