Posts Tagged ‘Holy Motors’

Blackpaint 392 – Penis Gourds, Baobabs, and Marienbad

May 2, 2013

Alasdair Gray’s “Lanark”

In Blackpaint 386, I mentioned the similarities between Gray’s painter Thaw and Gulley Jimson in Joyce Cary’s “the Horse’s Mouth”, feeling smug to have noticed.  I’ve just got to the bit in the book where Lanark is conversing with God and Gray has a series of sidebars in which he points out all the instances of plagiarism in his own book.  Sure enough, Cary is one – but it sort of takes the shine off it for me; I thought I was being clever.  Lesson there – finish the book before commenting.

Last Year in Marienbad

I think I’ve got a handle on this, after watching it through again; there are alternative endings presented in the film.  In the first, the Woman is shot by her husband; the man is therefore pursuing a ghost throughout – or maybe it’s his memories; in the second, she finally decides to leave with the Man.  That’s my theory anyway.  Jump cutting still funny, and I checked – the people in the gardens do have shadows, whilst the shrubs do not.

Running the films on 4*

I’ve been watching DVDs speeded up, and with some of them, it doesn’t distract from your understanding much (if you’ve watched them before, of course).  Some of them seem to be improved as silent films, depending on the strength of the images.  So far, I’ve watched Holy Motors, The Tin Drum and the Werckmeister Harmonies like this.  Film directors would hate my methods of watching – 30 minutes, then take a break, maybe finish watching tomorrow, or do another 30; it makes some directors a lot more bearable.  Must try Tarkovsky; Solaris, say.  The big drawback of watching it on 4* is you don’t get the score, of course (obviously).

Saatchi Gallery – New British Artists

Only really two that struck me.  The first was Sara Brewer, who makes spindly metal structures like window frames or supports, that are slightly out of kilter and have traces of paint marks on them at random points, it appears; the second was Nicolas Deshayes, who had two panels painted a smooth and uniform blue, with smaller panels of white “blown”plastic set on, or in them, bulging slightly out from the blue plane.  Reminded me of the sort of thing that Billy Al Bengston and Craig Kaufman of the Ferus Gallery “Cool School” were doing in the 60s and which I’m reading about in the excellent Pacific Standard Time book (also see the film The Cool School, narrated by Jeff Bridges).  Deshayes also shows some large slices of white polystyrene, with curved grooves carved into them, like pieces of salt lake surface, scarred with ski marks and chopped out in great, flat chunks.

Sebastiao Salgado at the Natural History Museum

A huge exhibition, loads of big black and white photographs – the Southern Seas and islands, Africa, Amazonia, Alaska, Russia and Canada, the USA.

It reminded me strongly of Ansel Adams – I wonder if Salgado manipulates his pictures in development like Adams did?  Maybe with advances in technology, he doesn’t need to.  The pictures have that “closeness” that I first noticed in Balterman’s wartime pictures of German atrocities in the USSR  – also in McCullin’s shots of the coalfields (the woman with the pram.  I think it’s to do with the focus being sustained throughout the depth of field.  There’s a picture taken across a valley and bay with mountains  on the other side – they must be a few miles away, but they are as sharp as the range on the photographer’s side; everything seems to be upfront.

There’s a sort of National Geographic, timeless quality to the photos of indigenous peoples – “The last two girls in the world to wear lip plates” (Ethiopia), the New Guinea tribesmen with their penis gourds, the Amazonian tribal girls, beautiful and naked – apart from the bone “beard” they have pierced through the chin.

Wondrous photos, many taken from a helicopter, surely; but that marine iguana’s foot, the baobab trees, swollen tubers on their raised, circular island…

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Blackpaint – Window on the World

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Life Drawing

Blackpaint

2.05.13

Blackpaint 381- Cutting Edge Stuff

February 14, 2013

Photographers Gallery

Fittingly, with Schwitters on at the Tate Britain, the Photographers Gallery has three exhibitions on, all of which involve collage.

First, there is Laura Letinsky.  Large, pastel-tinged photos of halved fruits, cakes and pastries, spoons and forks, cut out and reassembled on large, thick sheets of knife-edged paper.  The effect, from a distance, is rather like those early drawings by Richard Hamilton, of household goods and machines on cream paper.

laura letinsky

Next, Geraldo de Barros.  A Brazilian art photographer, de Barros’ work, all in black and white, varies from shots of alleyways and doorways in sharp contrast of shadow and light, swarthy – textured walls, crumbling in decay – is “swarthy” the right word?  It has the right sound, like running your hand over rough plaster – to simple monochrome planes, crossed by what looks like masking tape, to make striking minimalist images.

de barros

This minimalist strand falls into the somewhat surprising Brazilian tradition of artists like Oiticica, making art from cardboard boxes, crates and other detritus.  Why surprising?  I suppose because it’s Brazilian – think jungle, sunlight, colour, effusion, exuberance, all that stereotypical stuff.  Beatriz Milhazes, maybe, does the sort of art I would expect from Brazil; effusive, exuberant, blinding colours – not cardboard boxes, black and white minimalism.. but she’s not in this exhibition.

milhazes

Milhazes

Finally, at the PG, there is a floor of other photographic collagists, one of whom is Anna Parkina, also showing recently at the Saatchi Russian exhibition.  I liked Parkina’s work, and the marine – themed collection spread out on the floor.  Had my fill of collage for a while now…

Pacific Standard Time; Los Angeles Art 1945 – 1980

Great Tate book, got it at TM in a sale recently.  It’s got stuff on the artists featured in “The Cool School” film; but I haven’t got to that yet.  I was interested in the row at Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1947; the director, James Byrnes, put on a show of local moderns, AbExes and others and the museum was picketed by hundreds of excluded “traditionalist” artists from the area.

Later, Byrnes was allowed to buy a small Pollock for the museum – on condition that he didn’t show it!  He ignored this condition, and was forced to resign, after refusing to sign a McCarthyite loyalty oath. Another artist, Rex Brandt, was investigated after someone discerned a hammer and sickle device on the sail of a yacht in his picture “First Lift of the Sea”.  Interesting to read about this identification of abstract and “modern” artists with communism, given the later connections made between the Abstract Expressionists and the CIA.

Holy Motors

I can see why the fuss; it’s wild, stylish, fast-moving, and with the feel of anarchy of something like Themroc (without the politics).  Leos Carax comes across as annoying, greying, punky git, which is fitting, of course.  I’d thought that the beautiful Modernist building where we first see Oscar was the Corbusier Villa Savoye; wrong, it turns out to be the Villa Paul Poiret, by Robert Mallet – Smith (1925).  Have a look at it online – the Corbusier as well.

The other building featured is the derelict Samaritaine store, where “Oscar” and Kylie meet.  And that cemetery – is it Pere Lachaise?

No doubt it’s full of film references; the only one I got was Les Yeux Sans Visage, when Edith Skob puts the mask on.  She starred in “Visage”, so it’s not much of a spot.  I  think I recognise Oscar’s wife from a recent documentary.

La Belle et la Bete

I’m watching Cocteau’s version of the story, in which the influence of Max Ernst seems clear to me – the Beast strongly resembles the massive, feathered, owl-or hawk-headed striding figures from his Surrealist paintings and collages.  So there we are, collages again; full circle.

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The Lake District

Blackpaint

14.02.13