Posts Tagged ‘Jane Austen’

Blackpaint 410 – Surprise at the Size; Sex, Death and Lemons

September 5, 2013

“Keep Your Timber Limber” at the ICA

When I saw this advertised as an exhibition of drawings, I assumed the timber in the title referred to a pencil.  Wrong; or perhaps metaphorically right. The first thing you see – hard to avoid double entendres here – is a drawing of a huge, hairy penis and balls across an entire wall, resembling a cannon and with “Moral Injury” along the shaft and “Fucked by Numbers” beneath it.  It’s by Judith Bernstein, and conflates the act of fucking and being fucked – ridiculous to use less direct vocabulary –  with the casualties and destruction of the Iraq and Afganistan (sic) wars, as well as Vietnam, to which it originally referred.

As a piece of visual propaganda, it’s pretty much dried out now and fails to carry a frisson beyond the initial surprise at the size; the two activities linked here – killing and having sex – seem to me, and hopefully to most people, to be not the same – mutually exclusive even (despite common parlance and psychoanalysis).

There are a number of small drawings in pretty inks by Margaret Harrison, depicting women in scanty clothing, rather like seaside postcards, one of whom is the filling in a sandwich and another of whom has a lemon between her legs (cf. Urs Fischer’s carrot, last blog).

Harrison

I found them rather erotic, but I don’t think that was reaction the artist intended.  I was reminded of the exhibition of feminist art since the 70s that I saw at the Pompidou Centre a couple of years ago (see previous Blackpaint); I found most of the works there erotic too.  A piece in the Guardian Review this week on Nora Ephron referred to her remark about her husband’s affairs; “He would have sex with a venetian blind”.  This was quoted as a brilliant put-down – but I can’t imagine many men being insulted.

The male input was rather more direct – Cary Kwok had three drawings showing a Hassidic Jew, a Buddhist monk and a Catholic priest dripping with semen from their own masturbatory efforts; Tom of Finland had his pictures of bikers engaged pleasurably in the act – strange how the genitalia on show were rather undersized; maybe copied from Greek and Renaissance sculpture?  Limber timber everywhere.

There were some great fashion plates by Antonio Lopez and a George Grosz cartoon – I have to say I agree with Adrian Searle, that none of the various elements seem to go with each other. They’re all drawings, arguably – but beyond that?

R Crumb

Actually, the Harrison pictures, and the Toms and Kwoks, reminded me faintly of Robert Crumb – but probably only because of the “transgressive” material and the drawing skill displayed.  Seeing Crumb’s work at the Guggenheim recently caused me to think of some literature I’d like to see illustrated by him; a collected works of Jane Austen, perhaps…

Sweet Tooth

Writing about this Ian McEwan novel in last blog, I was wondering how many other examples, there were, apart from Joyce’s Penelope in Ulysses, of male authors writing in the 1st person from a woman’s point of view.  I came up with Defoe’s Moll Flanders and on the net, found references to Richardson’s Clarissa and Allan Gurganus’ “Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All”.   Maybe also bits of Dracula.  Not many then; and I hadn’t finished “Sweet Tooth” when I last wrote – there’s a twist at the end which gives McEwan a safety net.

Visions of Light

Fantastic film about the history of cinematography, with one beautiful example after another, interspersed with interviews that actually give you some insight, rather than just slowing up the excerpts.  Fascinating to see Nestor Almendros (Malick’s “Days of Heaven”); he’s the image of Romolo Valli, the fussy hotelier in “Death in Venice”.

My current favourite cinematographer, or director of photography as they now appear to be called, is Ed Rutherford of “Archipelago” (director, Joanna Hogg); apparently, it was his first film.  Much more on this great film next blog – I’ve done it before (see Blackpaint 359) , but just bought and watched the DVD through twice.

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Blackpaint

Atlantic Bar

5.09.13

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Blackpaint 406 – Tarkovsky and porn, events in Jane Austen, My Old Paintings

July 25, 2013

Uzak (cont.)

It’s about alienation, of course – hence “Distant”, meaning of Uzak.  The distance between Yusuf and Mahmut, Mahmut and his ex-wife, Yusuf and the pretty girls he half-heartedly stalks, the distancing effect of the snow on Istanbul’s streets and buildings… you get the picture.  The country cousin Yusuf, with his hungover, hangdog expression, “sailor’s cigarettes” and childish laugh manages to generate some sympathy; the rat-faced Mahmut, drinking in trendy jazz cafes, watching Tarkovsky and porn, and resenting the lack of sophistication of his lumpish guest, is the more dislikeable of the two.

uzak2

Some great shots, as well as the snow scenes I mentioned last blog; one in particular, a silver fish flipping on the pavement, having fallen from the full creel; the camera pulls back and up to close-up of Yusuf, and then beyond him to the traffic that flows both ways across the screen, slightly out of focus against a leaden grey sky.  Hard to explain why so good – something to do with the closeness and the angle of shot, maybe.

Ceylan now my third favourite director, after Bela Tarr and Fellini – but then there’s Bunuel and Herzog and Sokurov and Ken Russell….and Visconti and Pasolini….

Simon of Sudbury

Sight of the week on TV was on BBC4 last night, in “Chivalry and Betrayal” :  the head of the above-named unfortunate, still with some skin clinging, kept in a wall safe at a church in Sudbury, having been chopped off 600 plus years ago by Wat Tyler’s followers in the Peasants’ Revolt.  Sudbury thought up the first poll tax – bad idea, as he was dragged out of the chapel in the White Tower and dispatched unceremoniously by the unimpressed taxees (is that a word?  It is now).

Simon of Sudbury

Jane Austen  (no, that’s Simon of Sudbury above)

Great that her face is going on banknotes; I once used to say that I would go to my grave without reading Jane Austen – now that I have made it to chapter 44 of “Sense and Sensibility”, I wish I’d stuck to that.  Event-free, is how I would describe it; things livened up a little when it looked as if Marianne was going to die – but she got better.  Maybe she’ll have a relapse in the last 6 chapters.  What I find really difficult is keeping up with who is related to who – who, for example, is Mrs. Jennings?  I can’t be bothered paging back through the Kindle; I’ll have to go to Wikipedia, I  suppose.

Some Old Work

I’ve not finished a new painting since last blog and latest is in no fit state to insert as a work-in-progress (must get rid of the lime green patch first) – so here is some old work that I’ve never used or not shown for ages:

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Sweet England

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Grey Landscape 

bushes-and-briars

Bushes and Briers

finsbury mud 1

Finsbury Mud

glass and fog

Fog and Glass

OK – enough old stuff for now.  I hope to have at least one new painting to show by next blog; depends on the lime green and its willingness or otherwise to go away.

Blackpaint

25.07.13