Posts Tagged ‘Leviathan’

Blackpaint 568 – Terry and Julie, Little Fascists, Ghost Cities

September 12, 2016

Photographer’s Gallery – Terence Donovan and “Made you Look”

julie

In amongst the hard-faced young James Bond types in belted raincoats and beautiful, tubular, posing women, this captivating shot of Julie Christie, looking groomed but feral; there’s that smudge or graze near her elbow – bit more dirt and you could see it as a Don McCullin job.  This, and the famous close-up of Terence Stamp are the stand-outs, but it’s all good.

 

made-you-look

This is the other exhibition on at the PG; New York, London, Senegal; especially good, the ones of Senegal dandies in 1904.  The man on the poster in the plaid trousers is from New York in the 80s, I think.

Childhood of a Leader (dir. Brady Corbet, 2015)

leader

I expected the Omen after the trailer, with the ominous, crashing, pulsing electro-classical score (Scott Walker of the Walker Brothers – remember?); set in France or Belgium (filmed in Hungary) at the end of WWI, as the Treaty of Versailles was evolving.  It starts with footage of the fighting and the Versailles cavalcade – dozens of cars in convoy through the streets.  The countryside is dark, distressed, the trees and the chateaux and houses distressed and damaged; the winter landscape, black trees, black clothes, black cars – the lighting in the picture is typical.

The film is constructed in three “Tantrums” and an Epilogue, showing the boy as an adult dictator, reviewing his troops before cheering crowds.  There is a Sun emblem with wiggly rays, I think… Who is he supposed to represent?  It’s based on a combination of a Sartre short story of the same name with a section of John Fowles’ “The Magus”.  I haven’t got to the bit in the Magus yet, but the Sartre story has the boy growing up to be a member of a fascist group and taking part in the murder of a Jew.  Bit of a stretch to becoming a dictator.

There’s nothing here that shows any insight into how a dictator might gain – as opposed to inherit – power.  Where are we in the final section: America?  Central Europe?  The child is close by birth to influence and power, but nothing here really suggests an interest in it, beyond the exercise of his immediate will.  The tantrums are not that dramatic; chucking stones at churchgoers, self-starving, refusing to dress, manipulating servants, embarrassing Mother, defying Father… Next thing, he’s dictating…

The music and visuals promise much – lots of Metropolis, a circular dome against the sky, black coats, white blouses, distressed walls, Hammershoi, Manet, a desolate winter field with a figure in the distance – but the story is paper-thin.  The boy reminded me a little of Mark Lester in “Oliver” – but much more, the little girl in “Outnumbered”.

Behemoth (dir. Zhao Liang, 2015)

behemoth

 

behemoth-2

A nude, prone, rear view of a male torso against the grey/brown, scarred – too weak a word – devastated landscape of open cast mining, fields of green weeds before scores of massive, identical tower blocks.  In such shots, triangular, straight-sided layering as of glass panes.  Poetry read over shots.  Coal mines, steel works, quarries, “ghost cities”, truck ballets (nose to tail, as they crawl up slag heaps to vertiginous drops and shed their loads), fire dragons blasting through the air, sparks, puddles of molten metal and clinker in the foundries.  The lung patients in hospital and dying at home, the grey/black liquid from their chests filling jars.  The empty cities, apartment blocks all the same, no cars on the roads, but the traffic lights operating…

It’s a rare thing; an art film and social documentary interwoven perfectly.  Nearest thing I can think of would be “Leviathan”, the fishing doc.

 

 

Nicolas de Stael, Etel Adnan, Wim Oepts

No particular reason for linking these three, except that, at different times, in different places (France, Holland, Israel)  they seem to have seen the world similarly

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De Stael

 

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Oepts

 

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Adnan

 

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Holy Stone and Sand – WIP

Blackpaint

12.09.16

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Blackpaint 470 – Wet Paint and Whales, Sex Dolls, the Blues and Killers

November 21, 2014

Beware Wet Paint at the ICA

Upstairs at the ICA, a small exhibition of (mostly) big paintings, the best by the following three:

Korakrit Arunanondchai  He painted two big pictures, set fire to them, photographed the burning canvases, blew up the photos and used them as an underlay to the holed and charred originals – shades of Metzger and Miro also exhibited a few burned “remnant” paintings – or at least, the Hayward did, Miro being dead at the time.

korakrit

 

Parker Ito,  who had a huge, Manga-style effort which was built around a cartoon girl eating ice cream;

 

Christopher Wool; big grey swipes and washes, black enamel paint Marden lines, from which, here and there, the central pigment had been wiped, leaving “ghost” lines – lovely painting, see below.

christopher wool

 

Leviathan, Zvyagintsev 

The director who did “the Return” 12 0r so years ago.  Town in northern Russia on the Barents Sea, rocks, cliffs, fiords, smashing waves, bleached whale skeleton.  Central character locked in legal battle with corrupt local mayor and officials, semi – gangsters; mayor wants to annex his house and land to demolish it and build on.  House-owner brings in his old army mate, who is a Moscow lawyer and comparatively honest…

More drinking even than the average Bela Tarr – although vodka rather than palinka – and/or smoking and scoffing pickled herring, sometimes all three simultaneously.  And target shooting with AK47 (I think).  The odd, oblique,  swipe at Putin, more direct fun-poking at previous leaders, both Communist and post – Soviet (but not Stalin).  A glimpse of Pussy Riot on TV; Orthodox Church shown as natural allies of the new state gangsterism.  Good, but heavy-handed with the symbolism; the bleached whale bones made a couple of predictable appearances.

Kettles Yard, Cambridge

Rather reminded me of visiting Charleston recently, although here they let you sit on the chairs in the house.  A brilliant collection of Ben and Winifred Nicholson, Christopher Wood – easy to mistake for early Ben, or I did anyway – David Jones, some very unusual drawings, nothing like his usual, busy, spidery style, and Gaudier-Brjeska, who has a whole storey to himself.  There’s the Ezra Pound below, the curved fish, the broad-shouldered man…  In addition, there is a great sketch of a nude woman by Brancusi over the piano and to the left, an unusual monochrome Roger Hilton.

 

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Silent Partners, the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

This exhibition is about artists and their mannequins, used for artistic –  and other purposes in the case of Kokoschka and probably Bellmer – down through history.  Some highlights:

Janos Bortnyik, paintings of Adam and Eve, geometric buildings, natty man, pointy legs, tiny waist.

bortnyik1

 

Millais, the Black Brunswicker; look at that white satin dress – fantastic.  The one on the left is the Brunswicker.

millais the black brunswicker

 

Oscar Kokoschka, a selfie in garish tones with a painted life-size doll (not the Alma one).  Good likeness of Oscar, not flattering of either.  Also photos of him with the furry- legged Alma Mahler doll, and Bellmer’s sexy poupee dolls, legs splayed…

kokoschka silent partners

 

Also, a great Degas artist and mannequin, Burne-Jones Pygmalion and Galatea  – Galatea long body, bruised eyes, real Victorian beauty.

The permanent collection at the Fitzwilliam deserves some space so I’ll defer it to next blog.

The Blues and Killers

I imagine it’s a function of TV writers’and researchers’ record collections – blues and even folk music popping up all over.  In the first “Fall” series, the killer was listening to Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Help Me” and others; the paedophile (or he’s shaping up to be) played by Ken Stott in “Missing” listens to Robert Johnson.  Johnson again, as well as the Copper Family and Karen Dalton, in “Down Terrace”, the brilliant, funny and horrifying gangster film by Ben Wheatley (although that was made in 2009).  I don’t buy it really –  can’t see blues fans as killers; anorak seekers after authenticity, more like.

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For Derrida, Blackpaint

21.11.14

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 469 – Portraits of Ladies, Lust, Murder and Mayhem by Land and Sea

November 14, 2014

de Kooning

I have finally got hold of the great Phaidon DK book, written by Judith Zilczer and with a number of paintings that didn’t find their way into John Elderfield’s Retrospective published by Thames and Hudson a couple of years ago.  The illustrations are really high quality too.  I find the sheer density of the marks, in paintings like these below, amazing when you consider how he uses so many colours, and yet manages to keep them vivid and fresh.  I love those run-downs in “Two Figures” – dense and dirty – yet bright and seething, in some way.  Anyway, no point in trying to describe them; have a look and see if you agree.

de kooning woman

de Kooning “Woman” – now, that’s what I call a portrait!

 

de kooning two figs in a landscape

DK, “Two Figures in a Landscape”

 

Queen Elizabeth 1 painting,Tate Britain

There’s a fantastic full-length portrait of Elizabeth now on display in the Tate, by Van Der Meulen.  By way of contrast to the DK above, here’s an alternative approach to the full length female portrait.  Actually, it’s much more impressive “in the flesh” so to speak; the face in the actual painting looks like a Holbein (to me, that is).

van der meulen

 

Scene from The Beggar’s Opera, Hogarth, Tate Britain

A Scene from 'The Beggar's Opera' VI 1731 by William Hogarth 1697-1764

 

Also at TB, a roomful of Hogarths, the most striking of which is above.  From John Gay’s play, two women beg two men for MacHeath’s life.  That’s him in the middle, with the manly stance; his legs are chained.  On the left, the gaoler’s daughter pleads with her father; on the right, Polly Peachum pleads with the judge.  I like that colour sequence of the dresses and the drapes – red, blue, red, white, black, red.  I’ve got to say the perspective looks a little odd to me; the gate and barred window on the right look like something out of “Doctor Caligari” and the oval window and gate in the rear wall don’t look “right” either.  Hogarth as a forerunner of the C20th German Expressionists?

The Cowards, Joseph Skvoresky

Finally got round to reading this; I’ve had it for about 30 years in Penguin Modern Classics, with a great Dix cover.  Set in a Czech country town in the closing days of WW2, it covers the retreat of the Germans, mostly SS, and the arrival of the Russians on their “liberation” drive towards Berlin.  For most of the book, the tone reminded me of “Catcher in the Rye”; the narrator, a young middle-class jazz fan and amateur musician, spends time fantasising, getting himself into and out of scrapes with the Germans and the self-appointed Czech militias seeking to fill the space between the departing invaders and the coming Soviet troops; some of these are close to being collaborators, but Smirecky, the hero is only really interested in showing off to, and lusting after, Irene, his hopeless love-object and a handful of other attractive women in the town.  Then, right at the end, it takes a very dark turn into ambush, torture, mutilation and executions – but Smirecky takes this pretty in his stride, and the tone remains, well, cheerful and optimistic….

Autumn of the Patriarch,Gabriel Garcia Marquez

And, after several months, finished this.  No paragraphs, a full stop maybe every ten pages or so, constant switching of viewpoint within the same phrase.  Will Self is like Hemingway by comparison.  It’s magic realism, with the cannibalism, mutilation, mass murder, casual rape, prostitution, disease, parrots, jungles, tropical seas that often figure in the genre.  At times, it felt like a 200 page Dylan Thomas poem with extreme violence and a reference to “general, sir…” every other line.  Thoroughly enjoyable, in tiny doses – say two pages at a time.

Leviathan, Dir. Verena Paravel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor

This is a staggering documentary, filmed aboard a fishing vessel out of Massachusetts, in the North Atlantic fisheries.  God knows how they got some of the sequences – they must have lowered cameras down with the nets, shot from the mast straight down, hung a camera low over the bow so that it took a sort of “selfie” of the ship, plunging below the water line with the rise and fall.  Gulls flying upside-down from below the sea surface (?), dozens of starfish whirling about in the discarded debris as it swirled overboard.  Most of it shot by night, blinding spotlights, livid greens, orange, blues, reds…  Fish heads sliding across the deck like jewelled gargoyles, a horrible but fascinating sequence where two fishermen chopped skate “wings” from the fishes’ bodies – one held the fish, the other whacked a hook in to steady it and hacked the wings off with a machete with two or three swipes.  It had the most uninspiring little blurb on the TV – “Experimental documentary… contains scenes of fish processing”.  Hooks, nets, knives, chains, hatches, slippery debris underfoot – many ways to have a grisly accident, even if the ship stays afloat.

leviathan

 

 

Recent Life-class effort

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Beware of too much white acrylic on backside.

 

 

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Redleg

Blackpaint

14.11.14