Posts Tagged ‘Faces in the Crowd’

Blackpaint 631 – Oceania, Klimt and Schiele – All in the Best Possible Taste

December 5, 2018

Oceania, RA – Closes 10th December!

Fantastic exhibition, this – above, canoe splashboards, on which the decoration is superficially, but noticeably similar to Celtic motifs.  Not what makes them good, of course, but just in passing.  Most of the exhibits are from Papua New Guinea, Hawaii, the Solomons, Tonga, Admiralty Islands, etc.; memorable ones are (deep breath):

canoes with carved animals and prostrate human figures, HUGE steering paddles, aforementioned Celtic- style splashboards, a totemic column (?) with figures climbing it, fantastic double- headed god carved in wood, Hawaiian heads with Teddy Boy hairstyles and huge, grimacing jaws, scowling, pop-eyed masks covered with tiny orange feathers, pearl shell eyes, dog’s teeth, the deity from the Empson poem (I think), encrusted with little figures, strip cartoon wooden gravings, one telling the story of a man with a penis long enough to bridge a lagoon, navigation maps composed of shells and string, triangular faces and breasts, women and men with Egyptian-style cylindrical beards (?), fearsome clubs, whale dentistry… and tons more, all done with consummate skill, imagination and taste as well as meeting specific practical and spiritual requirements.

Additionally, there is the enormous moving – diorama? – by Lisa Reihana, that was at last year’s Venice Biennale, depicting the arrival of the Europeans in a sort of composite Oceania – some great dancing by grass-skirted maidens and muscular young men, wrestling – no judo moves, I was interested to note – and a group of white-painted, naked male figures, surely Australian aboriginals, performing an emu dance… Had to leave at this point, so I missed the interaction with Captain Cook’s men, which was a pity as that was the political point of the whole thing.

I’m afraid that I have treated the whole thing as a series of beautiful objects that tickle my aesthetic tastebuds, devoid of their context, stripped of political, historical, cultural, social significance – but the reader can probably get that elsewhere, or work it out for… themself?  My advice is to see it soon – closes on 10th December

Klimt and Schiele Drawings, RA

This is upstairs from Oceania, in the Sackler Gallery of the RA.  When we went, it was absolutely packed, which goes some way toward explaining (but not excusing) the slightly blurred nature of the photos – had to take them fast, whilst being jostled.  Klimt: delicate, light but beautifully accurate, daring but tasteful poses… Schiele – not so much.  But I love them… On until 3rd February 2019.

Klimt

 

Klimt

 

Schiele

 

Schiele

 

Schiele

 

Some People, dir. Clive Donner (1962) on Talking Pictures Channel

Recently shown on my now favourite old films channel, I remember seeing this at the pictures – I must have been 13 or 14.  It’s a bit worthy, being a sort of advert for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, which the star, Kenneth More, was concerned with.  It has some great shots of Bristol in the 60’s but what I’d completely forgotten was a motorbiking sequence, resulting in a hair-raising accident involving a removals van.  Also starring Ray Brooks (Cathy Come Home) and David Hemmings again.

Ray Brooks and Angela Douglas – the black actor (I think his name in the film was Jimmy) isn’t in the Wikipedia cast list…

Faces in the Crowd

Wrote about this great Whitechapel show from 2005 last week; below, this astonishing photo of Rockwell, leading American Nazi, in uniform, with henchmen, surrounded by suited African-Americans.  I assume this extraordinary juxtaposition came about because the Black Muslims advocated a form of separation of the races…

Eve Arnold’s shot of Lincoln Rockwell at Black Muslim meeting

 

Below, my latest effort, based, as can be seen,  on a photo of the large police station just off the Strand…

 

Just Off the Strand

Blackpaint

5.12.18

 

 

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Blackpaint 630 – The Frenchman, the Sea Monster and the Swinging Light-Bulb

November 20, 2018

Edward Burne-Jones, Tate Britain

That glowing orange – red dress curving in its folds to the left is quite something….

….as is the fabulous female back in Perseus and Andromeda but spoilt, I think by the casual model-ish, stance, that makes her look a bit too pretty somehow; better if she’d been in water up to the thighs maybe.

 

Andromeda looks quite unconcerned as Perseus takes on the dragon, as if she doesn’t care who the victor will be.

Lots of well- muscled male buttocks on display in this huge exhibition of huge paintings; a little reminiscent of the recent Queer Art show, especially Duncan Grant’s swimmers.  Also, funny how these mythical maidens and warriors always carry Nazi associations for me – Wagner, Rhine maidens and all that, of course, but I think Ken Russell is also responsible.

Wonderfully skilled painter, great compositions, range of talents (tapestries, for instance)

Callan

My Christmas gift was box sets, in B&W initially, then colour, of the surviving episodes of this great series from the 60s.  It has the most haunting theme tune, played as a light bulb swings before the troubled eyes of Callan and then shatters as a bullet strikes it.

Callan left, Meres background

Callan is an ex-soldier and convict, brilliantly played by Edward Woodward, who is, reluctantly, employed by the Section, a very secret (illegal?) state security organisation, led by a series of toffs, each one codenamed “Hunter”.  “Hunters” are short-lived; there have been four so far, in the 12 episodes I’ve watched –  two of them killed, one by Callan himself.  The body count is high, male and female and the range of murderous agents Callan has had to take on is wide and interesting: old and new Nazis, KGB of course, Czechs, East Germans, OAS veterans (Algerian war) -even a British mercenary officer.  Callan operates in a constant state of barely controlled rage at his public school bosses and fellow agents.

My memory of the series was at fault in one very important aspect: I remembered Callan as a sort of semi-detached assassin, who was allotted a target, paid and was then on his own, especially if caught.  Actually, he is on the payroll and in fact, is the moral centre of the series; the others, especially Meres (Anthony Valentine) and Cross (Patrick Mower) are odious posh boys, lacking anything by way of a conscience.

One aspect of the series, peculiarly, reminded me of modern TV – Callan’s thoughts, like those of Mitchell and Webb in “Peep Show”, are often revealed in voice-over, as he searches a flat or lies in wait.

Faces in the Crowd,  2005, Whitechapel Gallery

Eduard Manet, Masked Ball at the Opera (detail)

I recently acquired the catalogue (above) for this terrific exhibition that I visited at the time but had completely forgotten.  It consisted of paintings, photographs and posters, including work by Manet, Picasso, Beckmann, Magritte, Kirchner, Sander, Walker Evans, Bomberg, Warhol, Bacon, Sickert, Giacometti…. and a hundred more.

Two fascinating facts I have learned from the catalogue: male harlequins are popularly supposed to be able to breastfeed – and Picasso apparently included harlequin figures in some of his sketches for “Guernica”.

Tony Joe White 

RIP.  See him on “Country Rock at the BBC”, tearing up “Polk Salad Annie” with a burning cigarette stuck on the end of one of his guitar strings; “Polk Salad Annie – the ‘gators got your Grannie (chomp, chomp)”…

Tony Joe also wrote “A Rainy Night in Georgia”; enough for one lifetime.  Honey-dripping voice, shit-eating grin.

 

The Frenchman

Blackpaint

20.11.18