Posts Tagged ‘Jerusalem’

Blackpaint 300

October 18, 2011


Great to see in yesterday’s Guardian editorial, the following : “…the deep dream of Albion, from Arthur to Falstaff to Bunyan to Blake to Sandy Denny…” ; over the top maybe, but well done, whoever thought of linking her with this illustrious company.

Martin Rowson

At last, yesterday, an arse-licking cartoon – but who is it, Fox, Werritty, or a generic lobbyist tugging at the trousers of the banker pigs?  I guess Werritty, from the business cards scattered around.  And what is that in Haigh’s hand?

Proper blog to follow on Thursday – meanwhile, read yesterday’s, on Vertov and Cezanne.



Blackpaint 119

April 24, 2010

Raoul de Keyser and Prunella Clough

The second pair of artists in my “spurious connections” series (see Blackpaint 117).  What you have to do is to Google the artists, go to Images and be startled by how right my generalisations are.

De Keyser is Belgian, born in 1930 and living; Clough was British, born 1919 and died in 1999.  So what do they have in common?  First, a sort of “bittiness”.  They both tend to produce works of fragmented, often floating shapes and both use the periphery of the paper or canvas, sometimes with the objects drifting out of the picture.

They both use a variety of materials and methods; Clough’s images are usually more hard-edged, precise; De Keyser’s are often fuzzier, rougher, more brushy – his are perhaps more playful.

They both combine the abstract and the figurative and both use mundane, everyday things and scenes – de Keyser, football pitches (he was a sports writer), dogs; Clough, plastic carrier bags, barbed wire fences, corroded water tanks, canal banks).

Finally, many of their works are comparable in size and their pictures contain a lot of space.  That’s about it – read the rest of this, have a look on Google and most importantly, comment to point out what rubbish I’m writing.  I know it is already, because my partner, a big fan of both artists, has already done so.


Just to return to this play for a moment (see Blackpaint 118), I have to point out some amusing ironies.  First, we were sitting in the upper circle surrounded by teenage boys and girls from, I would guess, two different schools, very “well-spoken” and, as it turned out,  perfectly well-behaved. 

The play then proceeded to present a sympathetic, even heroic portrait of a middle-aged caravan dweller who supplied drugs and drink to teenagers – lines of cocaine were snorted, cannabis was smoked, acid was taken on stage – and allowed them to sleep at his site.  He boasted graphically of having had sex with most of their mothers in earlier days.  The word “cunt” must have been used at least ten times (invariably getting a laugh from the cultured audience).  The view was expressed that teenagers would drink, take drugs and have sex from adolescence onwards anyway – at least they would in Wiltshire.

I’m wondering what attitude the members of the audience would adopt, should such a person really park his caravan near to their homes.  I for one would sign the petition; or more likely, I’d refuse, safeguarding my libertarian values, hoping all the time that the neighbours’ signatures would be enough to do the trick. 

Listened to the New St. George by the Albion Country Band

“Freedom was your mother, fight for one another,

Leave the factory, leave the forge,

And dance to the new St.George”.

Rooster would agree.



Blackpaint 6

December 5, 2009

Where do you get titles?

So, following from yesterday, if the paintings only have a visual meaning, that’s to say, the shapes and colours don’t signify anything but themselves, how does one give them titles?  People need titles, if only for convenience.  If you have a load of pictures called “Untitled, no. 5” or whatever, it’s not easy to distinguish between them in your mind.

Actually, in yesterday’s piece, I wrote that people ask you, the “abstract” painter, what a painting means, but before or instead of that, they often ask you what it’s called.  When you tell them, they will often just nod, or say “Oh, right !”, as if that has made it all clear (which is pretty unlikely).  What they are doing is trying to work out why it’s called that; they are looking for pictures in the picture.

 Of course they are, it’s an unavoidable human reaction I think; I do it myself.  You finish a picture or and you realise it  looks like something: a room, a giant insect, a bull’s head, a human body, a head… If you come to this realisation during the painting, you may change course to avoid it – or you may choose to enhance the resemblance- but then, how abstract is it?

So, I often give my pictures titles based on some superficial resemblance.  I’ve got one which looks like a cross between a cow’s head and a heart so I called it “Beefheart”, to grab a musical connotation for middle-aged or older punters.  This process  isn’t unknown, even with world class painters; De Kooning once called an abstract  painting “Pirate” or “the Pirate” because it bore a slight resemblance to a pirate ship.

And then, with abstract pictures, you can always just call them anything which sounds good.  I tend to steal titles or lines from old blues songs for just that reason; it’s another example of cultural imperialism, of course – but a huge reservoir of great titles.  I suppose I’m hoping that, somehow, the beauty and integrity of the music will seep into the picture.  Now that I’ve written that, I feel guilty, so I’m going to change my ways in future. 

Well, there we are – I’m a person who thinks Beefheart and blues titles are “cool” – clearly, not recently out of art school!

What is art for?

last night, on Newsnight Review, Johan Hari said something about the purpose , or one of the purposes of art being to enable us better to engage with the world, or to understand the world in which we live; he was talking about an exhibition of art relating to the environment – but it made me wonder how my stuff could be said to do that.  I suppose my stuff is “Art for art’s sake” – I wonder how (or if) the two can be brought together?

Listening to: “Jerusalem” by Steve Earle and “Lover of the Bayou” bythe Byrds.

“Drank the blood from a rusty can;

Turned me into the Hunger Man,

I’m the Lover of the Bayou”

Blackpaint, 05.12.09