Posts Tagged ‘Gabriel Garcia Marquez’

Blackpaint 469 – Portraits of Ladies, Lust, Murder and Mayhem by Land and Sea

November 14, 2014

de Kooning

I have finally got hold of the great Phaidon DK book, written by Judith Zilczer and with a number of paintings that didn’t find their way into John Elderfield’s Retrospective published by Thames and Hudson a couple of years ago.  The illustrations are really high quality too.  I find the sheer density of the marks, in paintings like these below, amazing when you consider how he uses so many colours, and yet manages to keep them vivid and fresh.  I love those run-downs in “Two Figures” – dense and dirty – yet bright and seething, in some way.  Anyway, no point in trying to describe them; have a look and see if you agree.

de kooning woman

de Kooning “Woman” – now, that’s what I call a portrait!

 

de kooning two figs in a landscape

DK, “Two Figures in a Landscape”

 

Queen Elizabeth 1 painting,Tate Britain

There’s a fantastic full-length portrait of Elizabeth now on display in the Tate, by Van Der Meulen.  By way of contrast to the DK above, here’s an alternative approach to the full length female portrait.  Actually, it’s much more impressive “in the flesh” so to speak; the face in the actual painting looks like a Holbein (to me, that is).

van der meulen

 

Scene from The Beggar’s Opera, Hogarth, Tate Britain

A Scene from 'The Beggar's Opera' VI 1731 by William Hogarth 1697-1764

 

Also at TB, a roomful of Hogarths, the most striking of which is above.  From John Gay’s play, two women beg two men for MacHeath’s life.  That’s him in the middle, with the manly stance; his legs are chained.  On the left, the gaoler’s daughter pleads with her father; on the right, Polly Peachum pleads with the judge.  I like that colour sequence of the dresses and the drapes – red, blue, red, white, black, red.  I’ve got to say the perspective looks a little odd to me; the gate and barred window on the right look like something out of “Doctor Caligari” and the oval window and gate in the rear wall don’t look “right” either.  Hogarth as a forerunner of the C20th German Expressionists?

The Cowards, Joseph Skvoresky

Finally got round to reading this; I’ve had it for about 30 years in Penguin Modern Classics, with a great Dix cover.  Set in a Czech country town in the closing days of WW2, it covers the retreat of the Germans, mostly SS, and the arrival of the Russians on their “liberation” drive towards Berlin.  For most of the book, the tone reminded me of “Catcher in the Rye”; the narrator, a young middle-class jazz fan and amateur musician, spends time fantasising, getting himself into and out of scrapes with the Germans and the self-appointed Czech militias seeking to fill the space between the departing invaders and the coming Soviet troops; some of these are close to being collaborators, but Smirecky, the hero is only really interested in showing off to, and lusting after, Irene, his hopeless love-object and a handful of other attractive women in the town.  Then, right at the end, it takes a very dark turn into ambush, torture, mutilation and executions – but Smirecky takes this pretty in his stride, and the tone remains, well, cheerful and optimistic….

Autumn of the Patriarch,Gabriel Garcia Marquez

And, after several months, finished this.  No paragraphs, a full stop maybe every ten pages or so, constant switching of viewpoint within the same phrase.  Will Self is like Hemingway by comparison.  It’s magic realism, with the cannibalism, mutilation, mass murder, casual rape, prostitution, disease, parrots, jungles, tropical seas that often figure in the genre.  At times, it felt like a 200 page Dylan Thomas poem with extreme violence and a reference to “general, sir…” every other line.  Thoroughly enjoyable, in tiny doses – say two pages at a time.

Leviathan, Dir. Verena Paravel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor

This is a staggering documentary, filmed aboard a fishing vessel out of Massachusetts, in the North Atlantic fisheries.  God knows how they got some of the sequences – they must have lowered cameras down with the nets, shot from the mast straight down, hung a camera low over the bow so that it took a sort of “selfie” of the ship, plunging below the water line with the rise and fall.  Gulls flying upside-down from below the sea surface (?), dozens of starfish whirling about in the discarded debris as it swirled overboard.  Most of it shot by night, blinding spotlights, livid greens, orange, blues, reds…  Fish heads sliding across the deck like jewelled gargoyles, a horrible but fascinating sequence where two fishermen chopped skate “wings” from the fishes’ bodies – one held the fish, the other whacked a hook in to steady it and hacked the wings off with a machete with two or three swipes.  It had the most uninspiring little blurb on the TV – “Experimental documentary… contains scenes of fish processing”.  Hooks, nets, knives, chains, hatches, slippery debris underfoot – many ways to have a grisly accident, even if the ship stays afloat.

leviathan

 

 

Recent Life-class effort

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Beware of too much white acrylic on backside.

 

 

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Redleg

Blackpaint

14.11.14

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Blackpaint 446 – Poured Paint, Pigs, Saddam and Crocodiles

May 16, 2014

Helen Frankenthaler and Turner at Margate

A fantastic exhibition at Margate, unfortunately just finished.  I thought the comparisons between the two artists were totally fortuitous, but this didn’t matter at all, given the quality of work on show.  The Turners were all well known, I think; my favourites as always were the  watercolour sketches – and of the paintings, “Evening Star” and “Calais Sands at Low Water; Poissards Collecting Bait”.

The Frankenthalers were a revelation; the earlier ones from the 50s and 60s were oils, the later acrylics.  there was a wonderful film playing of her producing a painting by pouring thinned paint on a canvas on the floor and pushing the puddles around with sponges and mops.  A few below:

frank lorelei

Lorelei

frank 2 cromagnon

Hotel Cro-Magnon 

frank 1

 For E.M. (Eduard Manet)

Frank mountains-and-sea-1962

Mountains and Sea

This last one wasn’t in the exhibition; I include it because it was her famous “breakthrough” picture, painted (or poured and painted) in 1952.  In the literature, there is, as with several other abstract expressionists, a degree of dispute over representation and abstraction.  No problem here, though; it’s clearly a green rhino with blue feet and a body made of flowers, charging towards the sea.

Orwell – Animal Farm

Must be the sixth or seventh time I’ve read this, but I found I had tears in my eyes after the first of the massacres, when the dogs that Napoleon has been rearing in secret rip the throats out of the pigs who have been “assisting Snowball”, in his sabotage activities.  Robert Colls, in his “George Orwell:  English Rebel”, describes how Orwell was criticised for implying there was something inherently bad about the pigs (the Communist Party) in the book; there is no “mechanism” to explain why they behave as they do.  In reality, the revolutionaries in Russia came from a long tradition of clandestine, disciplined activity against the Tsars, involving terror and counter-terror, assassination, ruthless self-sacrifice and a readiness to use violence to further their ends.  This must surely go some way towards explaining the way events developed under Lenin and Stalin; you can’t blame Orwell for leaving this out – the book’s an allegory, not a history.

It brought back to me that appalling film of Saddam Hussein addressing a meeting of his Ba’athist party, while secret police tapped a succession of unfortunate members of the audience on the shoulder and led them out of the meeting to be shot.

As Orwell’s allegory stands, of course,  it seems that the pigs, under Napoleon, take over leadership and exploit the other animals because they are the most intelligent and organised and this leads to corruption – eventually, they are indistinguishable from the humans.  It’s unlikely that Orwell would have thought this an adequate explanation – to that extent, the criticisms are justified, to my mind.  Still one of the greatest works of the 20th century, though.

Autumn of the Patriarch, Marquez 

The author’s recent death sent me back to this book to finish it, after 20+years; should be easy, since it’s full of colourful sex and violence, skinning alive, feeding to crocodiles, assassinations and terrible revenges – but it’s hard going, there being no paragraphs and only one full stop every 5 – 10 pages.  I thought Krasnahorkai was tough going.  Makes Conrad seem like Stephen King…

Exhibition (again)

Re-visited Joanna Hogg’s new film at the ICA (see previous) and some new thoughts; the “trouble”, whatever it is, depression maybe, is his, not hers.  I’d forgotten the scenes in which she is obviously afraid for him when he’s locked in the toilet or bathroom and when she is so afraid that something has happened to him in the street that she runs out of the house in her underwear, barefoot.  The artspeak is good –  “Yeah, she’s totally into what I do…” – and the excruciating little exchanges on the intercom – “Do you still love me?”  “I’m cold”  “Do you want me to turn the heating up?” (pause) “Wouldn’t mind…”

I mentioned the “crazing” on the window pane in some of the shots – this was actually the reflection of thick, small shrubbery on the glass.

I’m really struggling with my latest canvas, which is a raucous blast of blood red, black and grey at the moment, so an old one to be going on with…

001

Blackpaint

16.05.14