Posts Tagged ‘Joyce’

Blackpaint 576 – Coprophagia, Clowns and Coogan

November 25, 2016

Robert Motherwell, Bernard Jacobson Gallery

Sorry, done it again – last day today.  Great little exhibition though, opposite the rear of the RA.  These three are big ones – 177, 194 cms, that sort of order; “California” (1959) is a bit like a Frankenheimer and “The Studio” (1987) surely channels Matisse.

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The Mexican Window (1974)

 

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California (1959)

 

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The Studio (1987)

 

Intrigue – James Ensor, presented by Luc Tuymans, RA

Bowled over by this; he had two or three styles, like Kitaj.  Here, in this dark one, he’s like Sickert –  there, in that dark drawing room, like Vuillard.  You can see Van Gogh, Turner (the green stage one, very like the Petworth Turners), Goya’s witches and penitents, Brueghel, Moreau – even Munch, but better.  Apart from the dark rooms, there are the fantastic still lifes, the skate, the cabbage and flowers with their sizzling, fizzing background – you’ll see what I mean – and the masks, chinoiserie, clowns, processions, skeletons, satirical cartoons (the Bad Doctors, winding out the patient’s small intestine, like an early martyr) – and a group of critics round the table, eating shit; first coprophagic instance.

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The Drunkards

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The Bad Doctors

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Intrigue

 

Alan Davie, the Seventies, Gimpel Fils until 14th Jan.

A rather disappointing flatness to these – no texture, no roughness.  In the gallery’s photo, however, they look brilliant.

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Collections of symbols/motifs (fruit segment moons, stripey snakes, Ace of Clubs (cf. Diebenkorn), lips, crowns…  sometimes reminds me, superficially,  of Aboriginal art, or should that be first nation Australian?

Always on Sunday – Rousseau (Ken Russell, 1965) – DVD of 3 Russell films for Monitor and Omnibus.

The artist James Lloyd plays Douanier Rousseau with his own broad Yorkshire accent in this Russell film for Monitor; it works brilliantly, of course.  Russell has a woman, Annette Robertson (below) playing Alfred Jarry, the tiny anarchist playwright and revolver enthusiast, author of “Pere Ubu”, who befriends Rousseau.  At a perfrormance of Ubu, the bourgeoisie gobble a stew of faeces on stage; in case you miss it, an actor announces”shitter!”, twice, to the disgust and outrage of the audience – second coprophagic episode.

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Isadora Duncan, the Biggest Dancer in the World –  (Ken Russell, 1966)

Isadora (Vivian Pickles) and 500 children in floaty costumes ran down a hill at the Devil’s Punchbowl in Surrey, towards the cameras and Ken waiting at the bottom. Unfortunately, they all ran to the right instead of parting and flowing past Ken on both sides, so they had to go back up and do it again.  Brilliant TV film of course. but NOT the feature film that I remember; that was based on a different memoir and directed by Karel Reisz.  It starred Vanessa Redgrave and in one memorable montage sequence, showed Isadora arriving at “London” station.  I think Readers Digest funded it.

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Nomad, Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan)

Alan Partridge and James Joyce are similar, in that their respective styles penetrate and corrupt anything you read immediately afterwards.  I remarked before on how Finnegans Wake affects me; I tend to read a few pages at a time, then move on to another book – for a while, you think you are still reading “Wake” and you can’t properly take in the new text.  I had the exact same thing with Partridge and Proust.  Granted, Alan was discussing the way his excess fat tends to form on his back and Marcel was spending three pages or so describing milk boiling over…

Three small ones on wood panel and one (Seated Figure ) on canvas:

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Seated Figure

 

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Fleeing Figure

 

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Still Life with Orange and Banana

 

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Bridgehead 2

Blackpaint

25.11.16

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Blackpaint 538 – Saul Leiter, the Easter Rising, Pasolini and Friedrich..er

March 25, 2016

Saul Leiter, Photographers Gallery

I can’t praise this exhibition too highly – I’ve been twice in two days and wanted to download every image.  It’s singular, in that the colour photos are even better than the B&W ones; how often does that happen in street photography?  He does figures seen through condensation on windows, odd cropping, red umbrellas (lots of red, yellow and black), hats, snow, ads, car windows – all the usual props, but they’re somehow better.  See below:

 

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Like a Cheever story, somehow..

 

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Is that William Burroughs?

 

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He must have scouted the signs out and waited for the man in the hat and cigarette to walk into the frame..

 

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US Mail, coming through the snow..could be by Norman Rockwell.

In addition to the street photos, there are his great fashion pictures, pictures of the beautiful (and beautifully named) Soames Bantry – watch the video of Leiter talking about her and his art, He cites Eugene E Smith and Cartier Bresson as influences and some of their pictures are included in the video.  Finally, there are his gouaches on thin paper, brightly coloured, some abstract, some little portraits and nude photos coloured in, as it were.  It’s terrific and free before 12 0’clock.

The Easter Rising

Also in the Photographers Gallery is a collection of  photos relating to the Dublin rising against British rule in April 1916 – the events leading to it and following it.  It’s a bit more than the usual formal pictures of Pearse, Connelly and the other martyrs that I remember from museums in Irish towns – the desperate crew below are purportedly the “Cairo Gang” , British military intelligence officers, who were all murdered by the IRA on 21st November 1920.  On the same Bloody Sunday, the British “Black and Tan” auxiliaries opened fire on the crowd at Croke Park stadium, killing twelve spectators, as a reprisal.

There are also photos of two of the Invincibles, who carried out the Phoenix Park murders; shades of Skin the Goat, the Invincible (it’s rumoured) who runs the cabmen’s shelter in “Ulysses”, where Bloom takes Stephen after the NightTown episode.  And plenty more – hunger strikers, countryside evictions, street ambush, Countess Markievicz posing with a revolver…

 

cairo gang

The Cairo Gang – or perhaps not.

Wikipedia says that the photo more probably shows the Igoe Gang, RIC undercover agents, who succeeded the ill-fated British agents.

Friedrich Vordemberge – Gildewart ( Annely Juda Fine Art, Dering Street W1)

Yes I know, I can’t get the name into my head either – and the exhibition’s finished now anyway.  But the paintings and collages are great.  He was a member of de Stijl and the pictures remind me a little of Malevich, a little of Van Doesburg and one or two are like Prunella Clough.  Oh, and maybe a touch of Oiticica.  Little lopsided squares and wedges of colour, thin lines like spills tipped out on grey or blue or yellow.

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Here’s my partner, putting her image into a picture in a homage to the techniques of Saul Leiter, no doubt.

Pasolini

I’ve recently watched the DVDs of the Decameron and Oedipus Rex and, as well as Silvana Mangano and the brilliant thug Franco Citti, I noticed that Pasolini himself appeared in both, as the painter in Decameron and in Oedipus.  I’ll be checking on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew over Easter, to see if he shows in that too.

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Franco Citti (Oedipus)

Pier-Paolo-Pasolini

Pasolini as Giotto

And my latest painting:

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Jerome

Blackpaint

24.3.16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 530 – The Angels, the Superhighway and the Deer Hunter

January 31, 2016

London Art Fair, the Angel Islington

Finished last week, I’m afraid;  a great little “exhibition-within-the-exhibition” from the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings; my favourite was the “Winter Landscape” by Barns-Graham – tiny but good.

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Wilhelmina Barns-Graham

Other highlights below:

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Dorothy Mead 

A Bomberg disciple – but these are every bit as good as DB, in my view.

 

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Keith Vaughan

Very unusual Vaughan – touch of Bacon in the middle, possibly?

 

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Alan Davie

There were dozens of Davies (and Roger Hiltons and quite a few Hitchens); high quality ratio though, with his trademark symbols, lovely blues and yellows and rough surfaces.

Electronic Superhighway, Whitechapel Gallery

Private view of this on Thursday night; the usual roar and surge of the crowd to get to the free drinks before 7.00pm, after which time you have to pay.

The term was coined by Nam June Paik, whose exhibit was one of those – maybe the first one of those –  batteries of TVs, each showing a recurring series of visually explosive images too fast for you to grasp more than one at a time, with an accompaniment of cacophonous sound.  The theme of the exhibition is the effect of computers and the internet on art.  The theme was more evident in some pieces than others…

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Deathoknocko, Albert Oehlen

Combination of computerised inkjet and hand painting.

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Peter Sedgley

Light projection from 1970.

 

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Celia Hempton

These are screen-size paintings of images from the internet – some – ahem! – rather controversial, perhaps…

 

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Vera Molnar

Several printout works from 60s and 70s.

Rabelais and Joyce

As I get further into “Gargantua and Pantagruel”, the more I am struck by the similarities to “Finnegans Wake”.  The long list of books in the library of St. Victor with their ridiculous titles is only one small step back from Joyce, as are the encounters with the Limousin who speaks gibberish and Panurge,  who talks sense – but in a variety of languages, including Hebrew and Basque(!) that his interlocutors can’t understand.

I got quite excited about this “discovery”, wondering if there was a thesis knocking about on the subject in some European or US university – then I read the excellent translator’s introduction by JM Cohen.  There it all was, similarities of Rabelais and Joyce, written in 1954…..

However, I feel that there are sufficient grounds to advance another of my reincarnation propositions here (see previous Blackpaints, which prove that Shakespeare was the reincarnation of Michelangelo).  Both Rabelais (or Alcofribas Nasir, as he called himself – work it out) and Joyce did long lists; both spoke and used a variety of languages, some rather obscure, in their works; and both wrote passages – in Joyce’s case, hundreds of pages – of “nonsense”.  Case proven.

The Deer Hunter

I had one of those cinematic moments last night, when you’re in a noisy public place and suddenly everything goes sort of silent, or merges into an unspecific background drone and things go slow motion.  Could well be wrong, but I think it was “The Deer Hunter” – wedding scene maybe, Meryl Streep dancing and laughing – it’s a cliche, of course, probably used in loads of films by now.

Anyway, I was sitting in a packed and roaring Tooting pub, third pint of London Stout before me, celebrating my eldest son’s birthday and engagement.  I looked at the bar and there they were, the three brothers and their girlfriends, laughing and shouting to each other above the noise, eyes shining – and the Deer Hunter moment clocked in, inside my head, and lasted probably only a couple of seconds.  Then I was aware of it and it went.  First, I was happy and proud; then I had a moment of near dread; everything changes, it will never be like this again…

So those effects are cliches, melodramatic and worn out; but very effective, nonetheless.

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Exterminating Angel (work in prog)

Blackpaint

31/01/16

Blackpaint 515 – The Thicker the Better, Chaps.

October 19, 2015

Auerbach at Tate Britain

There are three fantastic modern painters of wildly different types on in London at the moment – John Hoyland at Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery, Peter Lanyon at the Courtauld and Frank Auerbach at Tate Britain.  I did Hoyland last week; now for Auerbach (the only one still living and, very much, still painting).

Below are two of my favourite paint “cakes”; the earlier paintings are REALLY thick, the paint in semi-detached curls in some cases.  The paint is built up almost into reliefs or sculptures on the canvas.  “Earls Court Road, Winter” (1953)  is brown, black, grey and almost green, a scabby mass of wrinkled oil like a chunk of mud excavated from the site and hung in the gallery.  The paint gets progressively thinner as the years pass, but it’s always oily, slippery, layered and brushed through other colours, picking them up on the way.

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EOW Nude on Bed (1959)

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EOW Half-Length Nude (1958)

The heads and portraits are pretty much all fabulous; some of the cityscapes, parks and buildings less so.  I found myself thinking the sacrilegious thought about the picture below: “I could have done that when I was 11”; and then three or four more times, with others, “Mornington Crescent Looking South” (1996) and “The House” (2011), for instance.  The point is, I didn’t and Auerbach did, although not at 11.  Auerbach invites this sort of random, outlaw thought by stating (on the wall, at the start)  that he wants us to consider each picture as a thing in itself, not an example of how he was painting in a given decade.

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Interior Vincent Terrace (1982 – 4)

As always with Auerbach exhibitions, we were plagued with those who stand for minutes, an inch away from the surface, sometimes delivering lectures to their girlfriends – it’s always men, I’m sorry to say – and blocking everyone else’s access to that picture.  It’s stupid of course, because the portraits mostly resolve into quite startlingly sharp images from about 12 feet away.  Up close, they are a mass of intricate, indecipherable whorls.  Sometimes, they are better like that, though.

I’ve lots more to say on this exhibition, but I’m going for the third time tomorrow, so I’ll save it for next time.

Lanyon, the “Glider”  Paintings, Courtauld Gallery

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Solo Flight

I reckon about 20 pieces of work in this exhibition, staggeringly beautiful images; blue curtains of rain or mist, vortexes, cloud, coastline, reproduced in his gestural swipes and sweeps, scrapings, splatters, dribbles and pools – no, oceans – of deep green/blue.  He’s painting the invisible air currents a lot of the time.  There are also several of his assemblages. incorporating thick bits of broken blue glass, scrawled with black paint.

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Cross Country

It was startling, then, to see two paintings,”Near Cloud” and “North East”,  both from 1964 (the year of his death, after a glider crash) which were “emptied out”, like late de Koonings.  They were flat, untextured, thinly painted, almost diagrammatic.  What happened there?

Sluice Art Fair, by the Oxo Tower

Lots of little art works, some very classy; photographic prints, collages, tiny drawings on blocks – but at gasp-inducing prices.  For example, a small square with some very attractive gestural lines and patterns sketched on it, by Kark Bielik, was priced at £800.00!  Clearly, the labour theory of value not operating in the art world at any level (obvious, I suppose).

One of those riveting and irritating films in which disparate images are flung before your eyes for less than a second before they are thrust out (images, not eyes) by another.  Your mind is always processing them in retrospect.  A lot of war images – there go some Russian attackers! Now it’s a mine going off! – in this one; I think we saw the prototype of this sort of film montage at the Biennale a couple of years ago, by Stan VanDerBeek  (Blackpaint 414).   This one’s by Laura Pawela.

Gargantua and Pantagruel and Finnegans Wake

No doubt someone has done a thesis on it, but reading these simultaneously – well, a bit of one after a bit of the other, as it were – I was struck again by the lists.  They both, Rabelais and Joyce, like a lovely long list of silly names, or disgusting objects, or what have you.  By long, I mean pages in Joyce’s case.  Sometimes funny – often irritating.

 

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Buff Tit,

Blackpaint

19.10.15

 

Blackpaint 506 – Light through the Thorns, Parrots in Boxes, Budgies in Trunks

August 8, 2015

William Gear – A Centenary Exhibition, Redfern Gallery, Cork Street W1

gear redfern 1

A couple of blogs ago (Blackpaint 502), I wrote about the Neil Stokoe exhibition at the Redfern, to which I’d gone. expecting William Gear.  Now the Gear is on, until September 5th and it’s well worth the trip to Green Park tube and the heat of Piccadilly to see it.

Gear exhibited with CoBra in 1949 – he and Stephen Gilbert were the only British artists – but I have to say, I don’t think he has a lot in common with painters like Appel; his work strikes me as much more like Adrian Heath, Bryan Wynter and even sometimes Patrick Heron, than the wilder, thicker, more gestural products of Appel and Jorn.  There is one painting, however, “Le Marche aux Fleurs” (1947), which could easily have been an early Jorn.

There are several recurring features of Gear’s work, the most prominent, perhaps, being the tangled bundle of jagged, hooked, thorn-like shapes he seemed to fling across his canvases, so that the patches of bright colour seem to peep out through a thicket of scrub.  The shapes are often, but not always, black.  Gear isn’t afraid of yellow; he uses a full spectrum, but it’s the yellow and black that stay with you after the Redfern.

Triangular grids are another feature, and there are a number of works like “Black Form on Red”(1957), that comprise two or three colours used in large, simple shapes, looking rather like sheets of thin leather or felt, collaged onto the canvas – Poliakoff, maybe, or Burri.  An influence that is suggested in the catalogue is that of Nicolas de Stael – I couldn’t see that, I have to say.

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Good exhibition, in association with the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne, where Gear was the curator in the 60s.  There was a great black, thorny self-portrait on show at the Pallant House in Chichester recently; maybe its still there.  made me think of Tony Bevan, a bit.

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Joseph Cornell at the RA

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This is an exhibition for those, and there are many of them apparently, who like quaint objects and photographs displayed in shallow boxes.  Inevitably, there is a large overlap with the likes of Max Ernst, Rene Magritte and other European surrealists; the difference being that, whereas Ernst, for example, also painted and sculpted, Cornell stuck to the box formula permanently.  Clearly, he had a thing for parrots and cockatoos; his work goes completely against the grain of North American art of the time (40s and 50s) in two ways – it’s small and it’s in boxes.  Although there were later, feminist, artists in the states who put things in drawers and boxes to display them – not parrots, though, as I recall….

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The Swimmer, Frank Perry (1968) DVD

I think John Cheever’s short story is a masterpiece of the form, one of the best of the 20th century; hard to think of others so perfect, maybe a couple of Joyce’s Dubliners or Margaret Atwood’s Serpent’s Egg.  The film is also a work of art, though very much of its era (Hamlisch’s lush theme music, coupled with jagged Johnny Staccato jazz riffs and some eye -watering psychedelic visuals).  Burt Lancaster is brilliant as the ageing playboy Ned Merrill, in his budgie smuggler trunks, swimming home across the county, by way of the “river” of swimming pools of his “friends”.  Lancaster is by turns genuinely creepy and strangely sympathetic, despite his insensitivity. The pools are not there for freeloading swimmers to propel their sweaty bodies through.

 

The Longest Journey, EM Forster

Even though I’m currently re-reading “Finnegans Wake”, Forster’s book is the strangest, most difficult novel I’ve struggled through for ages; I had to keep going back and reading bits over again to make sense of it.  the problem is twofold – the language: very arch, ironic, riddled with Edwardian Oxbridge phraseology and slang – and the concerns; “love children”, family disgrace, inheritance, the intellect v. the physical, the prosaic v.the poetic, genetic flaws, town and country, social class… Actually, that’s quite a lot and I’m sure I missed plenty.

I was interested to see that Forster kills his characters  in an even more offhand way than Virginia Woolf; a “hurt” at football, a drowning and a steam train across the knees- the last completely unsignalled (sorry) and dispassionate: “It is also a man’s duty to save his own life, and therefore he tried.  The train went over his knees.  He died up in Cadover, whispering “You have been right,” to Mrs Failing”.  That’s it.

 

finsbury mud 2

 

Finsbury Mud 2,

Blackpaint

08.08.15

 

Blackpaint 461- Pablo and Francis, Will and George and Gustav

September 7, 2014

Bacon and Picasso

It occurred to me while looking at Picasso in Tate Modern that the shapes of some of Bacon’s nudes are very much like those of Picasso – that is, you could paint out the flesh in the Bacons and substitute a matt cream, or light green or blue and you’d have a Picasso.. sort of…  Take a look below, to see what I mean:

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picasso nude 1

 

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You could “Picasso” the Bacons and “Bacon” the Picassos, so to speak.  So what? you might ask – and you’d be right.  Incidentally, if you Google “Bacon Nudes”, the selection of pictures you get is much more varied and interesting than “Picasso Nudes”…

Bright Lights, Brilliant Minds (BBC4)

I watched the James Fox prog on Vienna last night (on Catch Up); he mentioned the high suicide rate amongst young Viennese intellectuals in the pre-WW1 years – the programme centred on the year 1908 – which reminded me of the recent RA exhibition “Making Faces”, on the same place and general period.  Neither the exhibition, as I recall it, nor Fox, offered any explanation of this phenomenon, however.

One picture that cropped up in the Fox programme was the stupendous Klimt below:

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Portrait of Fritza Riedler, Gustav Klimt

Will Self on Orwell

I have to say I think Self is right about Orwell’s rules on good writing; they are ridiculously restrictive and would exclude Joyce, Woolf and DH Lawrence for a start.  Probably Self too, but I haven’t read anything of his, apart from a couple of articles in the Observer; I can’t be bothered to be looking up every tenth word.  Is Orwell’s writing “mediocre”?  Surely not; he’s always a positive pleasure to read (except for the Goldstein document in Nineteen Eighty-Four and a couple of other stretches of politics, in “Homage to Catalonia” for instance) and even where there are weaknesses, they don’t strike you while you are reading.  For my money, “Burmese Days” and “Coming up for Air” are excellent,”A Clergyman’s Daughter” and “Aspidistra” are at least very good, with brilliant bits (the hop picking in “Daughter”, for instance).  “Animal Farm” is just about perfect as allegory, notwithstanding TS Eliot’s remarks about the pigs; and “Nineteen Eighty-Four” is a tightly written, thrilling and absorbing novel, quite apart from its importance as a critique of totalitarianism.  I’ve read it three or four times, like all of Orwell’s published novels and essays, and still found it gripping.  I can’t say that for any other writers, except Joyce.

I referred to “Homage to Catalonia” – there’s a point in that book where Orwell says he’s about to launch into a chapter on the details of Spanish politics and tells the reader that he can skip to the next chapter if he wishes, without loss of continuity.  I realised with amusement that I read a similar directive years ago – in “The Ka of Gifford Hillary”, a supernatural thriller set in WW2, by Dennis Wheatley.  Wheatley does a 40 -or -so page  detour into the world of British Intelligence, telling the reader, like Orwell, to skip.  I think their politics differed more than slightly, however.

Far From the Madding Crowd (John Schlesinger, 1967)

I watched this again, over a couple of late nights, and I have to say, like Ken Russell’s “Women in Love”, it’s just about perfect; the cast (Stamp, Bates, Christie, Finch), location, adaptation, music, that staggering Dick Turpin performance in the circus ring…

 

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Derby Ram

Blackpaint,

7.09.14 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 166

July 13, 2010

Necrophilia

Sort of, but not quite; it makes an interesting heading though.  I’m referring to the plans to tour a mummy show through the USA over the next few years (see Blackpaint 162 on the likelihood of human bodies/pieces one day being displayed as art).  True, this is under the aegis of science – but really we’re talking at least three parts morbid curiosity to one part scientific interest, surely.  These bodies are however, dried out and hundreds (at least) years old – human necrotic art still awaits its Damien.

James Joyce

Richard Ellman, in an essay/lecture as part of his book “Four Dubliners”, relates how Joyce seemed to encourage Nora to go with other men, so that he could write about the experience of being cuckolded, like Bloom in Ulysses.  Apparently, he made advances to two separate women in Zurich, whilst writing his masterpiece, to inform the Gerty MacDowell sequence and Bloom’s dalliance with Martha Clifford.  Once he got what he wanted – material for the book – he pursued the women no further.  Clearly, a conscientious artist.  I feel another list coming on – artists who go to extraordinary lengths…

Beckett 

I’ll return to proper, visual art in a moment, but want to comment on something which has just struck me, but is no doubt a commonplace in literary circles – Beckett is an optimist at base.  I’d always thought of him as the ultimate “downer”, the artist with the view of life as meaningless – “They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more” (Godot) – brutal, funny in a cruel, pitiless way, vain.  Now, ploughing through “The Unnameable” after the increasing disintegration of Molloy and Malone Dies, I find that he can be read as a stoic; everything is shit in the worst possible way, I shit upon my surmises – literally, plop, plop, he writes – and yet, as the last line says, “I can’t go on I’ll go on”.  Stoic – which to my mind, is a sort of optimism…

Patrick Heron

That fantastic one in the Art Book, “Fourteen Discs; July 20, 1963” with the “sculpted” area of red/orange paint and the “scribbled” discs of red and yellow overlapping onto the green and the yellow scribble on the blue, creating a floating feel.

Diebenkorn and de Kooning

Strong similarities between Diebenkorn’s “Berkeley No.52”, painted in 1955 and de Kooning’s “4th July 1957”; the horizontal sections, the violet-blues, the yellow-to-oranges…. de K’s looks more slippery, greasy, splattered but they could easily be two parts of a diptych by the same painter.  They are both breath-stopping – sorry, no more superlative cliches, but it’s permissible in both cases here.  Diebenkorn’s is in the Phaidon “20th Century Art Book”, de Kooning’s in “Intensely Dutch”.  In both cases, these pictures alone justify the cost the book.

Art trial in Russia

Yesterday in Guardian, reported that Yuri Samodurov and Andrei Yerofeyev on trial in Moscow and verdict expected, for organising an exhibition in 2007 called Forbidden Art, satirising Christian images, specifically of Jesus.  Charges are fomenting religious and ethnic hatred (sounds familiar) and insulting human dignity.  No protest letters from British artists in Guardian, as far as I know.  One of the defendants was a head of contemporary art at the Tretyakov – bit like putting Serota on trial.

Oxydised Panel

Blackpaint

13th July 2010

Blackpaint 48

January 24, 2010

Abstract Expressionism

Following Friday night’s “automatic” painting session, tried it again last night; predictably, no success.  I remained very conscious of what I was trying to achieve throughout the night and the result was very disappointing.  A bluey-green, grey, white and very black mess of a picture, a sort of childlike imitation of what I got on Friday without the natural feel of it.  I’ll have to work on it in the normal way to try and make a fist of it.

Joycean Novels 

By chance, I’m reading three books at the moment which all claim influence from Joyce: Berlin Alexanderplatz by Doblin, Manhattan Transfer (which the blurb also compares to Berlin Alexanderplatz) by Dos Passos and At Swim-Two-Birds, by Flann O’Brien.  With the first two, so far, the influence seems manifest mostly in the use of portmanteau words and sections of newspapers, official reports and adverts.  O’Brien’s book is the closest to Joyce, the first 30 or so pages containing dialogue and prose style that could have come straight from the “Cyclops” and the “Oxen of the Sun” chapters of Ulysses. 

The Flann O’Brien is also the source of the best sentence I have read today: “Kelly then made a low noise and opened his mouth and covered the small man from shoulder to knee with a coating of unpleasant buff -coloured puke.”

Or I thought this the best, until reading the Observer, I found this, under the sub heading: “overweight Britons resort to liposuction”:  “During the same period the average amount of fat taken out (by liposuction) rose from 687ml in 2000 to 1.05  litres last year.  The 2000 litres of body fat removed in 2009 are the equivalent of what a typical chip shop uses in a year to fry its fish and chips.”

Surely, there’s an opportunity here for an enterprising conceptual artist to explore a new material, perhaps asking questions about body image, norms of beauty and so on.  Someone’s probably already done it.

Tate Britain

Went there this afternoon – some “new” sculpture in the main hall: Richard Deacon, a doughnut shaped bulb of pewter-like steel plates, squashed in, as if sat on by a giant; Rachel Whiteread, a set of what looked like concrete toasters, set up like dominoes; William Tucker, a long pipe twisted into improbable loops; Tony Cragg, a multi-shelved cabinet stocked with sand-blasted white bottles and vases; someone else’s long, thick rope, snaking through a chicane of tall, soft “traffic cones”.  In a side room, a giant rock which from a distance resembled honeycomb or Father Jack’s earwax – but, close up, turned out, (disappointingly) to be knitted wool.

St. Ives  

The Lanyons, Herons, Hiltons, Blow (only one- why?) looked as good as ever; when will the Tate have a big exhibition of St.Ives stuff, giving Sandra Blow and Barnes-Graham etc. their due?

Listening to “El Paso Blues” by Big Joe Williams;

“Didja get the letter I throwed in your backyard?

I’d a come home, baby, but your good man had me barred,

Oh babe, baby don’t you wanta go….”

Blackpaint

24.01.10