Posts Tagged ‘Joni Mitchell’

Blackpaint 178

August 21, 2010

Joan Mitchell

Yes, she’s on in Edinburgh til October 3rd, and there’s no way I’m going to miss this, even though it’s just a few paintings – seven ,I think, and some pastel drawings.  Got a glimpse of three on the Culture Show, presented by  Alastair Sooke in a Sinatra hat with Coltrane in the background (I think – my ears need syringeing).  He mentioned some really important things;  for instance, she swore a lot and was alcoholic – unusual for an Abstract Expressionist.  He pretty much got the main things right, though, mentioning Monet and lyricism and colour, contrasting with the black, depressive, explosive stuff.

I think that Mitchell was one of the most distinctive, expressive and inspiring of a miraculous bunch and is up at the top with de Kooning, Pollock and Hoffman.  Sick of hearing how she was younger, second wave, not as innovative, etc., etc.  Look  at the pictures in Jane Livingstone’s book; they’ll make you gasp and sometimes even move the sensitive to tears (probably only when drunk at 2.00am, however).

I was interested in Sooke’s account – if he wrote it himself; maybe he was just reading the words –  of the dark, “depressive” stuff and the light, “lyrical” stuff, in terms of how long it takes a painter to complete.  if you are responding to moods and you start something doomy, what happens if you cheer up half way through?  And vice versa?

The answer must be that you respond to the needs of the painting – this idea that Ab Exes just painted their moods is surely bollocks.  I understood that depression stops you from working, so the “dark” paintings must be “recalled in tranquility” or whatever the quotation is.  All art is fiction, unless it’s about itself.

Sidney Nolan and Arthur Boyd

Since seeing that great Arthur Boyd painting in the Tate I’ve been looking at stuff by these two; the Ned Kellys, lost explorers, scapegoats, sunsets…  I was going to call it surreal, but I’ve got an idea that their paintings are a lot more “real” – maybe Australia really looks, or looked, like that…  The only other Australian painter that I’ve seen work by is Fred Williams, who did those fantastic landscapes and top shots that were in  the Tate Modern a couple of years ago.  Bit of an Australian Lanyon – or the other way round.  I’ll be looking at other Australian artists in blogs to come. 

Saw the Francis Alys at Tate Modern today – will write about it tomorrow.

Listening to Kris Kristofferson at Cambridge, doing “Me and Bobbie McGhee” – and of course, Bobbie  is a girl!  Obvious really, but only just realised – I knew Kris wrote it, and even saw him perform it to a totally unappreciative audience (he was booed) at the Isle of Wight.  Joni told us off, said it was nothing like Woodstock…

“Busted flat in Baton Rouge, waitin’ for a train,

Feelin’ near as faded as my jeans…”  

Janis did it better, but Kris wrote it.



Blackpaint 8

December 7, 2009

Madonna and Child

On the subject of abstract painting and giving titles based on vague resemblances to things in the “real” world:  I did a painting a while back, which, although abstract, bore a strong likeness (I thought) to a hare with a hole blasted in its guts, hanging up to age, awaiting the pot.

A prospective buyer, looking it over, said “I like that one; it’s a Madonna and Child, isn’t it?”  She had interpreted the large orange round shape in the middle, my buckshot wound, as the child’s head.  I was honest; no sale ensued.  Maybe if I’d agreed..

I noticed recently at the National Gallery that there are some decidedly dodgy bits to some of the most renowned paintings.  I’m thinking particularly of the Vendramin Family by Titian; the children depicted seem to me to be really badly painted, compared with the wonderful depiction of the adults – presumably the man himself did the adults and some apprentice did the children.  Same painter, Rest on the Flight into Egypt; correct me if I’m wrong but Joseph’s head is too big, surely? 

Generally, there are some extremely odd- looking babies on show in Renaissance and pre-Renaissance paintings; most of them look like little old men, and one, by Catena I think, has a head like a cannonball.  Lions are strange too; St.Jerome is usually depicted with a lion wandering around or sleeping in his (Jerome’s) study and none of them look right.  Especially the eyes- they look like human eyes, especially one by Durer.  Compare them with the fabulous Assyrian reliefs in the British Museum

I suppose the dodgy lions are explained by lack of familiarity; but what about the babies?  Probably showing my lack of education here – I expect several art historians have written papers on just this point.

I’ve just finished reading Ferlinghetti’s great poem “Autobiography”; echoes of Whitman, Eliot’s Prufrock, Bob Dylan, de Chirico and Joni Mitchell!  I was struck by how much the Beat poets, Corso, Ferlinghetti and Ginsberg remind me of the English poets in the Penguin “Poetry of the Thirties”, particularly O’Connor, Caudwell et al.

Listening to: “The Sun is Shining” by Elmore James and “Lowlands” trad., sung by Anne Briggs.

“The sun is shining, although it’s raining in my heart, (*2)

You know I love you baby,

But the best of friends must part.”