Posts Tagged ‘James Joyce’

Blackpaint 561 – Yeats, Dante and the Four Horsemen

July 3, 2016

I’ve been reading Yeats and I thought I could usefully purloin a quote for a title…

slouching towards Bethlehem

Slouching Towards Bethlehem

 

wates2

Green Fuse and Canal in E&A Wates’ Showroom, 82-84 Mitcham Lane

My paintings there for the next couple of weeks as part of the Streatham Festival  @Art23_Streatham.  Green Fuse – nicked that from Dylan Thomas.

 

Painters’ Paintings, National Gallery

The idea behind this exhibition is to show paintings that were owned by famous painters (Freud, Degas, Lawrence, Watts, Van Dyke et al), presumably so that you can judge how that influenced their work, if at all.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take much notice of who owned what, so you’ll have to go yourself, if you’re interested.  What you should be aware of is that many of the paintings are in the NG’s possession and have recently been on the walls as part of the permanent collection.  This has been the case with several exhibitions lately; one good example is the Gauguin bowl of flowers, that was in the Delacroix exhibition.  And the Spartan boys, by Degas…

What I’ve done, then, is to pick out some favourites:

Blanche

Jacques – Emile Blanche, M. Poictevin (1887)

Great portrait, this – reminds me of that one by Strang in the National Portrait Gallery, of Thomas Hardy.  That one’s got a green background, not yellow like the one above; but they both somehow recall those medieval ones by Cranach and the like, and maybe even Holbein.  Blanche also did Joyce, below:

 

joyce

J-E Blanche, James Joyce – this one isn’t in the exhibition, but it is by Blanche; it’s in the NPG.  Very different to the Poictevin portrait – could easily be by Singer Sargent.

 

Again, two very different pictures by Ingres:

ingres dante

Ingres, Dante.  Never would have guessed Ingres, in a month of Sundays.

 

ingres norvins

Ingres, M. de Norvins

That’s more like the Ingres I would expect.  He only took a year or so over this one.

 

caracci woman

Caracci, A Woman Borne off by a Sea God

I picked the Caracci (which is huge) because of the hilarious contrast between the bodies and heads of the cherubic characters to the left and right of the god and the unfortunate woman.  Heads of children, bodies of Olympic weightlifters; compare Michelangelo, the Delphic Sybil from the Sistine Chapel.

cezanne bather

Cezanne, Bather with Outstretched Arm

Proof that brilliant painters sometimes do less than perfect drawings.   My partner says he meant it to be “inaccurate”; I’m not sure.

 

I love this Matisse:

matisse selfie

Matisse, Self-Portrait 1918

Perfect, I think.  Is that a suitcase between his legs, with an ashtray on top?

 

Come and See (Klimov, 1985)

Apocalyptic WW2 film, Bielorussia (Belarus) under German occupation in 1942; Klimov makes much use of Florya’s swollen, dried-out, blistered and horror-struck face, pushed close to the camera, as below, as he witnesses mass murders and rape.  The Nazi troops, with their ragbag of collaborating followers, rampage drunkenly around like tourists from hell, taking photographs of the slaughter to a soundtrack of nightmarish yodelling and marching songs.  I thought of the Tin Drum, Hard to be a God – and in the concentration on the facial close-up, maybe Laszlo Nemes’ Son of Saul – this just hearsay, though; I haven’t yet seen the Nemes (DVD out now).

come and see 1

 

come and see 2

SS Commander with his pet.  Maybe an echo of the Teutonic Knights in Eisenstein’s Alexander Nevsky.  And Glasha (if it is her who is raped – Wikipedia seems to be in some doubt) is Lavinia from Titus Andronicus…  You are tempted to think that Klimov has gone overboard on the brutality; no conscience-stricken, civilised good Germans here (cf. Cross of Iron, the Pianist); the closing titles point out that more than 600 villages in Bielorussia were destroyed and their inhabitants murdered in exactly the fashion shown here – and that Germans who were there as perpetrators have agreed that it is accurate.

Blackpaint

03.07.16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blackpaint 494 – House of Leaves, Murder in Moscow and Eric in Dulwich

May 10, 2015

Down Dog

Down Dog

I’m deeply traumatised by the election result and the prospect of 56 SNP-ers coming to take all our English money away and leave us defenceless against Russia et al, so tonight’s blog will be short and hurriedly written (no change there then, I’m tempted to write – but I won’t because I’m trying to avoid cliche).

House of Leaves, Mark Danielewsky

Now a hundred or so pages into this experimental horror(?) novel, with several hundred more to go – but since many of these pages are blank or nearly so, might just make it.  The experimentation, so far at least, consists of a labyrinthine structure of textual references, many obviously fictional, some probably real authors but fictional works, some probably the other way round.  There are “windows” of text which is reversed on the obverse page, as if the paper were transparent; some of the refs continue over numerous pages and are printed upside down.

At the core of this playfulness are two continuous narratives, one an intermittent commentary on the other, which can be read in a conventional way – so the “experimentation” forms a sort of packaging for the story and as such, can be more or less ignored – you still get the gist.  One of the narratives is rather flat and impersonal in tone, an “objective” report of events; the commentary is slangy, wild, peppered with expletives and full of graphic sexual and chemical encounters, real or imagined.  It reads a bit like the Stephen King of The Dark Half.

So, an experimental novel, rather like most of BS Johnson; odd- looking textual things going on, little jokes and metaphors dancing around – but a solid central narrative core provided by identifiable narrative voices (so far).

NOT Finnegans Wake, then; Joyce’s dream language retains the power to subvert, corrupt, or, at least, to flavour anything else you choose to read after putting Finnegan down.

Ravilious at Dulwich Picture Gallery

Went round this in half an hour, as the gallery was about to close; the pictures – and there are plenty of them – have a delicate beauty and cleanliness, but can be rather bloodless in bulk.  The best ones. I think, are those where he has used darker hues, obviously night ones like that below.  His other weakness, to my mind, is the human figure; his people tend to be stiff and cartoon-ish.  Great illustrator though, reminiscent of Paul Nash and maybe Ben and Winifred Nicolson.

ravilious

Force Majeure, Ruben Ostlund

A funny film, looking at the aftermath of an avalanche threatening (apparently) diners at a ski resort restaurant; how one’s behaviour stands up to examination when the danger has passed.  As is the convention, male behaviour is unheroic, selfish, foolhardy, self-justifying, self-obsessed, vain, pathetic and consequently very funny.  The women tend to be relaxed, responsible, caring, t0lerantly amused – perhaps stressed by the demands and insecurities of the men, but basically proper people.  The Scandinavian norm.

There is a terrifying sequence in which an incompetent (male) coach driver attempts to get his laden vehicle round hairpin bends above a chasm – couldn’t watch it.

force majeure

This is Moscow Speaking, Yuli Daniel

I first read this in 1970 at university and just re-read it; it’s fantastic – tough, poetic, fearless.  It’s 1960 in Moscow – the authorities announce August 10th to be Public Murder Day.  All citizens over 16 can kill who they choose, certain categories (police, prison officers) excepted…

It got Daniel 5 years in prison, along with Andrei Sinyavsky.  Alexander Ginzberg also got 5 years for protesting at the imprisonment – and eventually, Daniel’s wife got 4 years for opposing the invasion of Czechoslovakia.

Tate Modern, Painting After Technology

club foot

Club Foot, Amy Sillman

Great “new” works on display at Tate Modern, notably by Amy Sillman, Albert Oelhen, Christopher Wool and Mark Bradford.  And a most wonderful huge Sam Francis; see it through the arch, it looks much better from a distance.

And nearby, in the Geometric bit, two great Pasmores and a black-based, coloured Mary Martin sculpture.

 

port jackson

 Blackpaint

10.05.15

Blackpaint 438 – Hop Picking in Orwell, Sudden Death in Woolf, Lurking in Sprout

March 14, 2014

Orwell – A Clergyman’s Daughter

Re-read Burmese Days and of course, was immediately hooked again by Britain’s most readable author, journalist and writer in general; so now I’m on Clergyman’s Daughter, racing through.  Some terrible stereotypes and dodgy dialogue, it’s true; but the scenes in the hop-picking areas of Kent are memorable and visual and strike one as accurate.  The section in Trafalgar Square and the cafe in Charing Cross Road, which Orwell has done as a play is clearly inspired by the Night Town sequence in Ulysses; the character of Mr. Tallboys, the unfrocked parson, continually reciting and distorting biblical passages and prayers, for example, is very reminiscent of Joyce.  At one point, Orwell seems about to tip over into surreal fantasy like Night Town –  but draws back at the last moment, and turns it into a dream.

To the Lighthouse

Suddenly, after a hundred pages or so (maybe – I’m reading it on a Kindle, so can’t tell exactly), Woolf starts killing off the characters in a line or so each, as if bored with them; first, Mrs Ramsay, then Andrew (blown up by a shell on the Western Front), then Prue  (in childbirth)… all three within a few pages.  Reminded me oddly of BS Johnson’s Christy Malry – Johnson gives him cancer and kills him quite suddenly, ending the book in what feels like midstream.  Like real life, I suppose, which was Johnson’s point.  Now I think, sudden death has happened in all the Woolf books I’ve read so far – The Voyage Out, Jacob’s Room, Mrs Dalloway, Lighthouse – the only exception is Night and Day.

Bay Area Painters

I know I’ve written about them before, but must mention Frank Lobdell, Nathan Oliveira and Joan Brown, who took part in life drawing sessions with Diebenkorn in his figurative period.

oliveira

 

Oliveira

lobdell

 

Lobdell

Sprout Exhibition  

Haven’t been to any exhibitions for the last two weeks, having been stuck in the Sprout Gallery, trying to lure rare passers-by in to sell them paintings.  Sold three; here are two – can’t find photo of the other.

the young horseman

The Young Horseman

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Oxlade Nude

The Family Friend, Sorrentino

This film contains the most disgusting anti-hero in cinema – he’s an old gangster, money lender, hypochondriac, wears an anti-migraine bandage on his head, a dirty old plaster cast on one arm, gobbles chocolates greedily, lives in a dark, stinking flat with his incontinent, invalid mother; he forces himself on a beautiful young bride on her wedding day…. and she (apparently) becomes fixated on him and comes back asking for more…  Like all Sorrentino films, it features old men dancing; this time, country and western dancing, with big stetsons and fringed jackets.  All it lacks is Tony Servillo.

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And here’s the latest painting – Blackfriars to Nine Elms

Blackpaint

14.03.14

Blackpaint 422 – Painting and Guinness at the Tate, Woolf and Joyce about town

November 21, 2013

Tate Britain – Painting Now; Five Contemporary Painters

First, Tomma Abts.  Abstract shapes that resemble metallic strips, bent into shapes, gleaming and casting shadows. as if real; flat patterns and clouded surfaces too but the metallic ones are the ones that stick.  I want some texture, though.

Simon Ling does wonky East End buildings and shopfronts, corners of houses… he does a red/orange undercoat which shines through here and there like Poussin; heavy, livid Kippenburger colours.

simon ling

Catherine Storey paints odd, furniture-like, abstract structures; I liked the drawings of the shell chairs, on yellow baking paper.

Lucy McKenzie paints astonishing, trompe l’oeil “corkboards” with typed sheets and photographs apparently pinned to them – they’re paintings, but they fooled me at first.  What’s the point?  There is something in the leaflet about fascism and nazism, but I didn’t get it.  They have to be seen, though.

Finally, there is Gillian Carnegie.  Black cats lurking on dark staircases, black flowers in black paintings.

Alison Wilding

Her sculptures, no one anything like any of the others, are in the Tate hall.  The one that struck me is like a well head, made from alabaster blocks, broken at the top and “repaired” with poured black latex.  The alabaster is like giant blocks of Turkish Delight.. or the remains of Jacob and the Angel, the Epstein statue in another part of the gallery.

William Scott

The other new picture, in the room with the St.Ives painters, is called Composition in Orange, Black and Brown and looks as if it has a pint of Guinness embedded in it.

william scott

Refreshing image.

The New Staircase

The Tate’s new spiral staircase reminded me of the one photographed by Richard Pare in the Moscow Cheka  flats that I wrote about in Blackpaint 345. Curved steps shaped like orange segments – Fred and Ginger would look good on them, but maybe a bit narrow to dance down.

Chelsea Space

At this little gallery across the art school courtyard opposite Tate Britain, an exhibition of country music posters from Hatch Show Prints of Nashville.  Cash two tones, Nelson headband, Bill Monroe, Airstream, Corn Dogs…

Cash

 

Rescue Dawn

The Werner Herzog film about Dieter Dengler, US pilot shot down in Laos and his amazing escape through the jungle.  At one point, I thought I was back at Aguirre, Wrath of God – that whistling bird call.  Either the same species in Laos and the Amazon or there is a “jungle sounds” tape.  Then, there was a beheading with a machete; Aguirre again.  At the end, it turned into a cheerleader for the US, with the assembled crew of an aircraft carrier applauding Dengler – or maybe Herzog was being ironic.

The Act of Killing

Wrote about this disturbing film last week, directed by Joshua Oppenheimer; how did he pitch this film to the killers and get them to take part?  It must have been a sensitive task, to say the least – or maybe not.  Congo and his horrible mates seemed quite eager to co-operate and to let it all come out.  Proud, in fact.  they seemed to be on great terms with the director, frequently appealing to him on camera, as “Josh”.  Should be a documentary about the making, maybe.

Jacob’s Room, Dalloway, Woolf and Joyce

Interesting to read that Virginia Woolf had read the first few chapters of Ulysses by the time she wrote Jacob’s Room in 1918 and was reading it again while writing Mrs. Dalloway in 1922.  Both Jacob and Dalloway are reminiscent of Ulysses in the way that Woolf skips apparently at random from character to character (some merely one-line sketches) to build up a scene or sequence; Joyce does this, but it’s just one of a whole range of techniques he pioneers.  The sky writing plane in Dalloway reminds me a bit of the sandwich-board men, advertising Wisdom Hely’s in Ulysses.  Not suggesting she was plagiarising – she hated Joyce’s “indecency” and “board-school” showing off, as she termed it.  Fascinating that two such different authors should come up with the same thing at the same time.

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White Line Fever 2

Blackpaint

21.11.13

Blackpaint 417 – Size Matters; Big it Up

October 18, 2013

Paul Klee at Tate Britain 

Some of these are quite nice.  Not a ringing endorsement, I know, but my genuine reaction.  Klee is a techniques man ; his “oil transfer” drawings are an example – the method produces a yellow-brown, stained background on which the spidery lines of the drawing appear to be roughly scorched in.  Then, there are the dots; tiny, variegated blobs of colour that produce a tapestry or carpet effect – which is tasteful and nice.  There are the dark tiles of midnight blue and grey and black with a disc of bright yellow and a patch of orange; “Full moon and fire”, or some such title – no prize for spotting the moon…

klee1

There are a lot of fish, tastefully drawn and coloured; little imp figures that recall – or maybe prefigure – Victor Brauner and other surrealists; many of the pieces remind one of rock and cave drawings, thick black lines done with a scorched stick, maybe.  Hot air baloon heads, spider web drawings…, there’s a touch of those early Mondrians, with the interlocking lines before he moved on to squares.  And maybe a bit of Asger Jorn, without the texture…

klee2

What I really missed, however, was some size.  They are all small; after five or so rooms, you want to see something by some drunken American abstract expressionist who has crashed his car into the Tate front door, strode in trailing fag smoke and whisky fumes, and started to hurl paint over a five metre square canvas, stretched on the floor (canvas, not drunken ab-ex).

When you look at the catalogue, however, the pictures look beautiful – glowing and luminous.  That’s the way to see them, in a book.

Unrelated

Joanna Hogg’s 2007 film, I think it’s the first of a trilogy, with “Archipelago” and her latest film “Exhibition”, with Liam Gillick, Viv Albertine and Tom Hiddleston.  In “Unrelated”,   Kathryn Worth plays Anna, a middle -aged  woman on a Tuscan holiday with her best friend’s family, including Tom Hiddleston as the eldest son.  She tries to keep up with the “youngs”, swimming naked, smoking dope, fancying Hiddleston, and ultimately being politely rebuffed by him when she makes the offer.  Anna is taking time out from her partner but staying in touch with him by means of anguished mobile phone conversations at the top of hills – shades of Kiarostami’s “The Wind will Carry Us”.  Again, the acting is totally believable: Hiddleston and Worth are fantastic and excruciating.

The cinematographer is Owen Curtis, but the look is the same as “Archipelago”;  those doorway shots, light limning figures in bedsheets in dark rooms, Tuscan landscapes instead of the Scilly Isles, but that same Old Master quality of light on the skin in the close-ups.  The director of photography for “Archipelago” is Ed Rutherford, so I guess it must be Hogg herself who sets the look of the films.  Just great; can’t wait to see the latest film.

Jacob’s Room

I’m now on the third novel in Virginia Woolf’s collected works (NOT illustrated by R Crumb, more’s the pity), after “The Voyage Out” and “Night and Day” – for the first time, I realise how she could possibly be compared to James Joyce, in terms of narrative experimentation.  the first two were conventional; in “Jacob’s Room”, you have to wait for the next page to find out where you are (or more accurately, where Jacob is) and what’s going on.  Incredibly annoying, but I’m still reading.. no doubt, I’ll end up thinking she’s a genius.  Could be worse, could be Jane Austen.

Phil Chevron

Died recently – wrote “Thousands Are Sailing”, the Pogues classic, which if you never did anything else of note…..

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Meeting at Roissy

Blackpaint

18.10.13

Blackpaint 374 – Review of the Year (Yawn)

December 31, 2012

The Blackpaint Annual Review 

Exhibitions – went to about 40; these are the most memorable:

Bronze at the Royal Academy

That statue of the dancer that languished on the seabed; Praxiteles?  Maybe…

Also, the Etruscan smiley god and de Kooning’s Clamdigger.

Migrations – Tate Britain

The fantastic Schwitters collage and Singer Sargent’s Ena and Betty.

Burtynsky at the Photographers’ Gallery

Shipbreaking at Chittagong and the ship apparently set in a sea of coal.

Kusama at Tate Modern

The boat covered in fabric penises and, of course, the darkened room with mirrors, reflecting pinpoints of coloured light, with shallow water around the walkways.  Everything was interesting.

London Art Fair at the Royal College of Art

The beautiful Keith Vaughans.

Albert Irvin at Gimpel Fils

Blinding colours, stars, flowerheads, flak streams – he really does yellow well, not an easy thing.

Films

Once upon a Time in Anatolia – that apple bouncing down the stream bed in the night.

The Master – Dodd mincing about singing “We’ll go no more a-roving” to a room full of fawning acolytes – and suddenly, they’re all naked – or was it just the women?

Anna Karenina – the horse race, exploding over and out of the stage set.  Many disagree, apparently, but I think Keira Knightley is a really good actress.  Lately, it seems to me that male critics feel they can praise only the following actresses: Imelda Staunton, Tilda Swinton and especially, Anna Chancellor.

DVDs and TV Films

Where to start?  Ken Russell, of course –Women in Love,  The Devils, The Music Lovers, Gothic.  The last three fantastically over the top; Oliver Read tearing himself from a crucifix to couple with a swooning Vanessa Redgrave; how beautiful Glenda Jackson was as Gudrun Brangwen.

Red Desert (Antonioni) – those colours in the industrial landscape.. Monica Vitti…

The Gospel According to St.Matthew (Pasolini) – I had it on at Easter; one after another, my atheist children came in, fell silent, watched it through to the end.

Tree of Life (Malick)  – America’s Tarkovsky.  Beautiful, and like Tarkovsky, utterly devoid of humour.  These chaps know they are important.

Melancholia (Von Trier) – The opening sequence, that white horse falling backwards, Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg both riveting.

The Leopard (Visconti) – Burt and Claudia in the ballroom scene, prefiguring “Russian Ark”.

Swingtime – Fred and Ginger awesome in “Pick Yourself Up”, beauty and perfection in “Never Gonna Dance”.

The King of Marvin Gardens – Bruce Dern and Jack Nicholson, both staggeringly good.

Books

The Grass Arena by John Healy.  Unique, I think; boxer, fighter, drinker, criminal, rough sleeper, chess master, yoga practitioner, writer…

Ulysses, James Joyce.  6th time I think.  Still the most important work of fiction in English written in the 20th century; difficult to see how any fiction could supplant it.  Also really filthy, sexy and funny.  How could he have written like that when he did?

The Road and Everything Flows by Vassily Grossman.  Sort of fiction, but Grossman often strays into journalism; not a problem as he has stupendous stories to tell, about the war, the purges, the gulag…

And here’s my best painting this year – Happy New Year, to those for whom it is New Year.

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Cap Frehel

Blackpaint

31.12.12