Posts Tagged ‘Godot’

Blackpaint 509 – Patti in Helsinki, Ray and Tobias, Hard to be a God

August 28, 2015

KIASMA – Helsinki Museum of Contemporary Art

Concrete ramps receding into the distance inside – a cross between the New York Guggenheim and the sets for “Caligari”.  There is a stunning Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition; the leathery penises on show I thought rather diminutive but the shots of Patti Smith were riveting.  When she was young, one of the most photogenic women I can think of – not beautiful; skinny, hairy legs. but still..

Patti Smith 1976 Robert Mapplethorpe 1946-1989 Accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax from the Estate of Barbara Lloyd and allocated to Tate 2009 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/P13083

patti2

As I’ve said before, a biopic needs to be made featuring Charlotte Gainsbourg, before she gets much older.

Other Mapplethorpe portraits of note – Keith Haring, Arnie, Gere, Burroughs, Capote, Sontag, Leibowitz, Rauschenberg, Hockney, Warhol of course.

Helsinki Design Museum

Interesting that Finland had an Arts and Crafts movement very like that in England driven by William Morris, about the same time too.  20th century stuff is arranged by decade.  Current catwalk designs below – far left rather like my current look.

design museum

Ray Carver and Tobias Wolff

Wolff’s stories are reminiscent of Carver’s – except that Wolff tells you what his people are thinking.  Carver mostly tells you what they do and you draw your own conclusions – unless they are talking straight to you over a coffee, say, and then they follow the conventions of the dialogue.  Wolff’s best stories: “Hunters in the Snow” and “Leviathan” – this week, anyway.  Carver’s?  All of them.

Hard to be a God, Aleksei German, 2013

Russian film, black and white.  set on another planet, on which it appears to be Brueghel/Bosch time; the knobbly, gap-toothed, beaky faces are Brueghel peasants or soldiers, the cartwheel gallows, corpses and infernal machinery of “The Triumph of Death” are all there.  The mud is Flanders 1917; everyone is caked with it and shit, the torrential rain is sticky, everyone treats everyone else with brutality throughout, dwarves abound, bowels slide forth, eyes are gouged, etcetera, etcetera.  Through the chaos wanders a “God” from Earth, who resembles Dave, of Chas and Dave, occasionally blowing an outlandish alto saxophone-thing, sub Albert Ayler.  There is some kind of sci-fi/Game of Thrones-type plot (it’s based on a novel, see Wikipedia for plot summary), but the dialogue is so fractured and disjointed, it seems designed to prevent understanding.

hard to be a god

 

Visual references abound: in addition to Brueghel, there is Goya (the conical hats of the Inquisition victims); Pozzo and Lucky from Godot; Fellini’s Satyricon; the Saragossa Manuscript (the gallows corpses); Tarkovsky’s Ivan Rublev (general look, and the use of a peasant’s head – still attached  – as a battering ram).  Unintentionally I’m sure, and probably for British audiences only, there is a strong odour of Monty Python and Blackadder.

The film is around 3 hours long and seems longer – as well as the impenetrable plot, there is the relentless use of close-up.  Most of the time, you are struggling to make out what is going on and when the camera draws back, you sigh with relief.  The actors keep peering and poking at the camera lens which is amusing, at first.  The sub-titles are occasionally adolescent – “zits”, for example – which adds to the Thrones/steampunk/video game feel. German, who died aged 75 in 2013, was no punk wunderkind, however; he never emigrated, but faced a constant struggle to get his films made and shown.

So, it’s probably a critique to some degree of Putin’s Russia and no doubt a masterpiece – I’ll get the DVD when it comes out and watch it in 30 minute bursts; might be bearable, or even brilliant like that.  At the last, beautiful, snowbound scene, I was getting that thing where you pray that nobody will come on or start the dialogue again, so that it can fade out.  Last had that in “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia”, which was definitely a masterpiece.  My advice is to read the Wiki plot summary a few times before you go, if you feel you really have to…

shoreham dog

Shoreham Dog

 

down by the river

Down by the River – rather Expressionist for me, but still.

Blackpaint 

28.08.15

 

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Blackpaint 167

July 15, 2010

Beckett

Read on a bit more in Ellmann and I found that Beckett denied any charge of optimism in his work and countered the “I’ll go on” ending in “The Unnameable” with “Nohow on” in a subsequent work.  Still, artists aren’t necessarily the best guides to their own work; I shall persist in detecting optimism in his work, particularly in the thoughtfulness and sympathy with which his characters often treat each other (Vladimir and Estragon in Godot, for example).

When you consider, optimism is a pre-condition of creating art anyway.  Even if you are saying that everything is pointless, purposeless, and painful, the fact that you are saying it gainsays you.

Jawlensky (1864-1941) and Van Dongen (1877-1868)

Another pair who show strong similarities.  Jawlensky was a colourist first, did unlikely landscapes as well, and  was an associate of Kandinsky.  If you look at his painting “Schokko”, you will see that he has used a strong outline round the head and shoulders.  His other works are also outlined, sometimes almost by scratches in the paint as much as lines of pigment.

Van Dongen’s “Portrait of Dolly” shows no such use of outline.  In other respects, however, the use of colour and approach to subject, the two are strikingly similar.  Different countries, movements and influences, however.  Jawlensky went further along the road to abstraction – see his “abstract heads” – but not so far as Kandinsky.

De Stael and Diebenkorn

This is probably totally fanciful, but if you take a picture of de Stael’s “Portrait of Anne”, done in 1953, and turn it upside-down or on its side, you have a pretty close approximation to a Diebenkorn abstract landscape.  Black and red maybe a bit more intense, but not much…  So what? You might ask – nothing of great import, except that it indicates the degree of abstraction in the de Stael and it reflects positively on both artists, to my thinking, anyway.  Why no TV profiles on them and their work?  list of further artist TV profiles to follow…

Tadeusz Kantor

Finally for now, Google the above artist and see at least three staggering (must stop this).. very interesting gestural/abstract paintings, amidst a host of pictures of his theatrical projects.  and that face – straight out of Expressionist cinema.  Actually, he looks just like Artaud; maybe it IS Artaud in one of Kantor’s productions.

Take this Hammer by Blackpaint.  An old image, used twice before I think.  Title nicked from Leadbelly.

Take this hammer, and carry it to the captain (*3)

You can tell him I’m gone, you can tell him I’m gone.

Blackpaint

15.07.10