Posts Tagged ‘Elizabeth Peyton’

Blackpaint 661- Vampires, Volcanoes and False Confessions

January 1, 2020

Elizabeth Peyton, “Aire and Angels”, National Portrait Gallery until 5th January 2020

So not much time left to see these paintings, if you should want to – exhibition has been on since October, it seems, without entering my consciousness.  Mostly celebrities: Kurt Cobain, David Bowie, Liam Gallagher (whoever they might be), Napoleon….

Critics are somewhat split on the quality of these works: The Time Out critic, for example, thinks that the exhibition as a whole works, but that, individually, the paintings “stink”.  Bidisha in the Guardian is rapturous about this collection of beautiful (?) boys, and says that they smack of the “hot vampire”, which seems about right to me.

Strangely, none of the pieces I read, including the NPG’s own site, make any comparisons, or attempt to locate Peyton in any context.  I imagine Alistair Sooke does, in his Telegraph review, but since you have to subscribe to read it in its entirety,  I’ll never know.

Here, then, for what they’re worth, are my contributions.  First, Marlene Dumas – the flatness of texture, the graphic, cartoon-y nature of some of the portraits.  Then, German Expressionism, especially Oscar Kokoschka, in the entwined lovers below; finally, that woman with the flowers, against the green wall – a cross between Christian Schad and a Scottish Colourist like Peploe, maybe?

 

Quite unlike anything else in the exhibition – slightly blurred, I’m afraid, but definite Dumas touch, reinforced by the monochrome.

 

Vampire lovers…

 

Kokoschka crossed with Burne Jones?

 

Who’s this vampire boy?  No-one I know recognises him…

 

 

The exhibition is not confined to the rooms devoted to it; there are several portraits elsewhere in the galleries (although I didn’t see them).  It’s free, so definitely worth a walk through before it finishes on the 5th.

Erebus, The Story of a Ship – Michael Palin (Arrow Books, 2018)

John Hartnell, one of Franklin’s crew, buried in the 1840s and preserved by the ice

I got this book for Christmas and find it absorbing and beautifully written.  Erebus was the name of the ship which James Clark Ross sailed to the Antarctic on two expeditions in 1840 and 41 – and Lord Franklin took towards the other Pole in 1845; the voyage which led to his death and that of his entire crew and the disappearance of the ship.  The Erebus has now been located, sunk in shallow water; the bodies of some sailors discovered and exhumed (see above) – but I haven’t got that far yet; I’m still in Tasmania with Ross, just back from the first Antarctic “trip”.  I was interested to find that Mount Erebus, the active Antarctic volcano, was named after Clark’s ship, not the other way round.  Seems obvious now…

The Confession Killer and The Confession Tapes (both series on Netflix)

Henry Lee Lucas

I haven’t been to the cinema recently (apart from the latest Star Wars effort on Christmas Eve), but have been watching these two fascinating series on Netflix.  Lucas – you may remember the film “Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer” – confessed to around 600 murders when he was in the custody of the Texas Rangers, murders which had been carried out all over the USA, sometimes in different states simultaneously.  Police forces from numerous states queued up to clear their unsolved cases; Lucas, with his Texas Ranger “handlers” rarely let them down.  He was eventually convicted of one particular crime, the “Orange Socks”murder, which led to a death sentence – and it subsequently became clear that the confession was false.  I think I’m right in saying it was the only time that George W Bush ever granted an appeal against the death sentence.  Lucas died in prison in 2011 – no-one knows how many – if any – of his claims were true.

As to “The Confession Tapes” – there are two clear lessons to be learned.  NEVER falsely confess to a crime to relieve relentless pressure from interrogators, and NEVER agree to a plea bargain in Arkansas.

Anyway, I’ve finally been doing some proper painting again.  Latest efforts below:

 

Erebus

 

Night Visitor

 

New Years Eve

Happy New Year to all readers (for whom it IS new year, of course)

Blackpaint

January 1st, 2020