Posts Tagged ‘La Dolce Vita’

Blackpaint 441 – Giants and their Weapons, Orwell and the Sweet Life

April 11, 2014

Future Map, ual (University of the Arts London)

This was an exhibition at SPACE, Mare Street in Hackney, showing (to quote the booklet) “the finest emerging visual arts from  University of the Arts London. Now in its 16th year, Future Map has a well-earned reputation for exhibiting the next generation of artists who will define our visual landscape”; I went last week, meaning to write it up but got bogged down with Orwell et al – and now the exhibition’s finished.  Still, these were the the works that I found memorable:

  • Jack Wilkinson (the winner) – “Untitled”, an assemblage of marked and spattered off-white boards, recalling those early panels of Richard Hamilton, interspersed with black, upright rectangles.
  • Sean Lavelle – “Glassrack Green and Orange”; a wooden framework, draped with a transparent green plastic fabric, drawn on to resemble green bricks, and with snake- like forms writhing across it.  I thought of it as “worms on a frame”.

lavelle

  • Han Byul Kang – “Dawn”; several objects, one a halved rocking chair, inverted, an occasional table and a giant cotton reel – or maybe, one of those big spools around which cable is wound, all of which were highly decorated in brightly coloured designs.

Kang

  • Bethe Bronson – “Hidden Exposure”; a video installation, in which a solemn, seated woman stares out at the viewer, whilst a younger, teenage(?) girl stands at her side; both in Victorian dress.  The girl, at first still, moves her head and eyes towards the older woman and then away from her, in a series of stop-time movements.

bronson

  • Abigail Booth – sculptures, one a large silver splat! of mercurial molten metal, which turns out to be “Chrome”, not mercury; the other, a block of granite, its surface marked in quarters, titled “Quartered Granite”.

These are the works that stuck in my memory, not necessarily because they were great…  The booklet, however, is superbly produced by the University of the Arts London.  It’s huge and makes all the works look fantastic.

Ian Hislop, “the Olden Days” BBC

Hislop’s first prog in the series happened to include a “prehistoric” stone circle that had actually been made in the 1850s, copied or inspired by the genuine stone ring at Avebury.  This led to a mild dispute with a friend about the Long Man of Wilmington in Sussex, who I thought was Bronze Age and he thought was Victorian.  Turns out the best guess is 16th or 17th century.   So, of course, I had to look up all the other chalk horses and the  Cerne Abbas giant – and only the Uffington horse in Oxfordshire, by the Ridgeway, is genuinely Bronze Age or earlier.

wilmington

Wilmington

cerne abbas

Cerne Abbas – also 17th century (spot the difference – yes, that’s right, the weapon)

uffington

Uffington – the real thing, and also the most beautiful by far.

Orwell and anti-semitism

Still ploughing on through the collected works and the biographies; finished “Coming up for Air” and well into “Down and Out in Paris and London” (started with the novels; that’s why I’m out of synch).  I have to say that there are a number of very dubious references to Jews peppered throughout the works – he makes no outright anti-semitic statements, but the portraits and anecdotes involving Jews are always derogatory.  Flory, in “Burmese Days”, opines that the British Empire is run in the interests of the Jews and the Scots.  Flory is a fiction, and not necessarily the bearer of the author’s own opinions, but you feel it chimes with the prejudices of the Orwell of the period.  I think he probably changed as his political views developed, and I’ll be interested to see if I remember right as I drive on through to Nineteen Eighty Four.  I think the anti-Jewish prejudice was pretty typical of Orwell’s social background and education – but you expect better of someone as questioning and self-examining and fair minded as Orwell.

La Dolce Vita

Watched this again to see if I recognised the Rome I ran in the other week to Fellini’s Rome; and no, it looked completely different (except for the Trevi fountain and St. Peters).  I’m sure the image of the little boy in the raincoat and hood in the “miracle” sequence popped up years later in another film set in Italy – Venice this time; “Don’t Look Now”.

Sue Townsend

Sad news about the above – I took Adrian Mole’s diary as a style template for this blog.

 

??????????

 

Work (still) in “progress”

Blackpaint

11.04.14

Blackpaint 248

February 3, 2011

Exterminating Angel

For those not familiar with this (fantastic) Bunuel film, it concerns a collection of bourgeois dinner guests who find themselves unable to leave the mansion of their host at the end of the evening – they just can’t seem to get out of the dining room, something stops them, a sort of force field that manifests itself through their own fears, reluctance and prevarication.  It’s arguably his most surreal film, apart from l’Age d’Or and Un Chien Andalou, from the collaboration with Dali in the 20s and 30s; sheep (and a bear) wander in to the mansion, a woman has a dead chicken in her purse – that sort of thing.  Great title; I wonder why he called it that.

La Dolce Vita

Before leaving cinema, and whilst pondering unanswerable questions, what does the big, dead fish signify at the end?  Looking up at Mastroianni from those huge, glassy eyes… seeing through the emptiness of his life, maybe – no, far too glib…

Bronzino

Surprised to see (in the Uffizi catalogue again) a most beautiful dress, on the “Eleonora di Toledo”.  I usually associate him with the breast-squeezing teaser in the National Gallery, but he could do clothes too, it seems.  It reminds me of that great dress on the landlady in the Ingres painting, also NG I think – the one that took him 11 years to finish.

Parmigianino and El Greco

This is probably crass, but I see a similarity between these two; not only the obvious one of the elongation of figures, but also in the coloration and lighting of their pictures.  El Greco far more expressionistic in his landscaping, of course, but still..

Van Gogh

I could never quite see the fuss over VG’s famous sunflowers; I find them dowdy and brown.  However, I’ve just seen some of the sunflowers he did in 1887, in that “Cut Sunflowers” series, especially the ones against the blue background, and they are fantastic in repro – would love to see them in the “flesh”.  Also that “Trees and Undergrowth” from the same summer, the one with the dark green foliage and the medallions of yellow sunlight piercing through.

Painting

I’m still getting that thing where the same structure, or very similar, seems to emerge every time – different colours and textures, but same shapes.  Sometimes  only see it when I invert the painting, but its there.   Even when I plan not to do it and do something else entirely, I look at it when it’s “finished” and think, no, that’s no good – and start to paint it over and improvise; and there it is again.  It’s the Exterminating Angel, maybe!

Blackpaint

03.02.11