Posts Tagged ‘Gaston Modot’

Blackpaint 566 – Babes in the Wood

August 23, 2016

Bacon and Auden

I can never read Auden’s staggering poem “September 1st 1939” without remembering Bacon’s painting – and vice versa.  It’s the two men in hats, sitting in a bar(?) while the slaughtered body hovers to their left:

bacon crucifixion 1965

Bacon – Crucifixion 1965

Faces along the bar

Cling to their average day:

The lights must never go out,

The music must always play,

All the conventions conspire

To make this fort assume

The furniture of home;

Lest we should see where we are,

Lost in a haunted wood,

Children afraid of the night

Who have never been happy or good.

Actually, Bacon’s triptych suggests another Auden poem as well; “Musee des Beaux Arts”.  The theme of this is how normal life goes on while momentous and/or tragic events unfold “next door”; Auden refers to Bruegel’s Icarus picture (below), in which the ploughman goes on ploughing as Icarus’ legs – see them? – follow the rest of his body into the depths.  The barflies in the Bacon are sort of parallel to the ploughman.

 

icarus

Bruegel the Elder – Icarus

Interestingly, Auden excluded “September 1st 1939” from his Collected Poems; maybe he regretted being in the USA as Great Britain went to war; maybe he changed his mind about the politics; “Those to whom evil is done Do evil in return” might be represented as an excuse for the rise of Nazism.  Whatever the reason for its exclusion, it has to be one of the best poems on a political theme ever written.

Z, dir. Costa – Gavras, 1969

I fancied something political and unequivocally left-wing to watch, maybe to readjust my parameters a bit, so I turned to the DVD of “Z”; I guess “Battle for Algiers” would have served, or a Franco Rosi, but I haven’t got them.  The film is about the murder of the politician Gregory Lambrakis in 1963, carried out, allegedly, on the orders of local police and army chiefs.  Marcel Bozzuffi (left, below, with Jacques Perrin as an opportunistic journalist) is the assassin and a brilliantly malevolent one he makes; he went on to kill again in “The French Connection” and judging by the titles of many other films, in those too.

Z1

I think Costa -Gavras might face accusations of homophobia if he were making the film today, since Bozzuffi’s character is shown to be both gay and predatory , with arguably little relevance to the plot; presumably the film is historically accurate on this point.  Bozzuffi is a great villain, though, and joins two other of my cinema icons, the wild men Gaston Modot (l’Age D’Or, La Regle du Jeu) and Franco Citti (Oedipus Rex, Canterbury Tales).

franco citti

Citti

 

modot

Modot

 

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (dir.Mat Whitecross, 2010)

Watching Andy Serkis as Ian Dury the other night, composing, or rather throwing together the words to “Spasticus Autisticus” in a stream of consciousness, I was reminded of Finnegans Wake.  I’m sure this is a trite, pretentious observation, made by many commentators before – but I’ve never shied away from triteness and pretension in the past, so why start now?

lost in the wood 1

Lost in the Wood

Blackpaint

23.8.16

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Blackpaint 504 – Giving Birth, Kicking the Dog, Sucking the Toes…

July 21, 2015

UrbanArtBrixton

Here’s what our my pitch looked like, weekend before last –

urbanart1

 

urbanart2

Whitechapel Open, Whitechapel Gallery

It struck me as a sort of anti – RA Summer Exhibition.  There was a brick corner; a film of artists wrapping, with great difficulty, a huge sheet of gold leaf around the half-built top storey of a building; Stezaker-like collages of a woman’s leg appearing from fabric furniture;  some meticulously beautiful neo – Constructivist drawings:  very few paintings – my favourite was Karl Bielik (below).

bielik

Slice, Karl Bielik

I was lucky enough to go to the private view, the guest of art teachers; as the free drinks flowed, I stood at the edge of the gallery and took in a most impressive sound installation – the roar of several hundred lubricated arty types yelling into each other’s faces at close quarters; truly impressive.

Pangaea II, Saatchi Gallery

Art from Africa and Latin America; by turns, huge, colourful, sexual, grotesque – a woman beginning to saw a giant turtle in half – an image to make you wince – magical-realist (the trees) and graphically terrific (Abebe).

fedderico herrero

Federico Herrero

dawit abebe

Dawit Abebe

 

Ian McEwan

He seems to have difficulty with endings; McEwan is up there with Stephen King for keeping you reading, but he’s much better than the ending of Amsterdam indicates – he can’t seem to sort out whether it’s a thriller, a tragedy, a satire or a black comedy and goes for Roald Dahl to wind it up.  Solar, too, goes astray at the end, turning into Tom Sharpe.  Enduring Love (the balloon one) was brilliant throughout – until the end, when the hitch-hiking prof and his student girlfriend show up.  And the feuding hippy gangsters weren’t convincing, either.

Having just finished “A Child in Time” (1987), I read a couple of reviews from the time and was staggered to find that the prime minister in the book was supposed to be female.  McEwan avoided “sexing” the PM deliberately, but it must have seemed obvious to anybody reading at the time and living under the Thatcher regime.  In some respects, his near future is strangely old fashioned now, of course – telephone boxes that people use, typewriters, porters on railway stations – but, apart from the licensed beggars, the politics and the media stuff sounds pretty much the same.

There’s a detailed account – that makes it sound cool and detached; it’s not – of childbirth in the book; are there many others by male authors?  I don’t mean midwives calling for hot water, and screams from behind closed doors, but from the bedside, or even the bed (or wherever)?  I’ve found an article from the Wire and one by Alison Mercer in the Guardian – they mention Anna Karenina, The Handmaid’s Tale, Gone with the Wind and Tristram Shandy, but not McEwan.

L’Age d’Or

modot

The unfettered rage of the fabulous Gaston Modot, jacket smeared with mud (?), kicking dogs, knocking the blind man over, yelling abuse at innocent passers-by, slapping the matron who spills his drink – good for you, Gaston! – and Lya Lys, his unattainable object, sucking with increasing enthusiasm on the toes of the statue….  “Magganificent!” as Waldemar Januszczak would say.

lys

 

Judges 3, King James Bible – Ehud killeth Eglon

The most chilling description of an assassination I’ve read: “…And Ehud….took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly: And the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly; and the dirt came out.”  Vengeance, intolerance, massacre, rape, slavery – it’s all there, sanctioned – often, indeed, demanded – by God.

 

Megiddo

Megiddo (finished version)

Blackpaint

18.07.15