Posts Tagged ‘Mark Z Danielewski’

Blackpaint 591 – Churches, Poetry, Photography and Zombies

March 21, 2017

My latest painting (below); I’ve gone back to putting the painting first, in case there are some visitors who move on straight away – unlikely, I know…

Moscow Connections



The Borderland, House of Leaves, Ash Wednesday

Wrote about the film “the Borderland” last week; a “found footage” film, in which a sort of Catholic psychic fraud squad  investigates dodgy claims of paranormal events in churches.  The investigators penetrate deep into the bowels of the church and become – absorbed – in their work.  I didn’t connect it last time, but it came to me that it strongly resembled Mark Danielewsky’s “House of Leaves”, although in “Leaves”, it’s not a church that is plumbed, but a house that is like the Tardis only more so; it goes deeper and deeper, darker and darker…  then, I came across this, in Eliot’s “Ash Wednesday”:

At the first turning of the second stair

I turned and saw below

The same shape twisted on the banister

Under the vapour in the fetid air

Struggling with the devil of the stairs who wears

The deceitful face of hope and despair.

At the second turning of the second stair

I left them twisting, turning below;

There were no more faces and the stair was dark,

Damp, jagged, like an old man’s mouth drivelling,

Beyond repair,

Or the toothed gullet of an aged shark.

The three (film, novel, poem) are not identical or even similar, I know, but they seemed to me to chime somehow.

Britain in Focus: A Photographic History (BBC4)

Brilliant images, especially those of the Sidney Street Siege and the soldiers’ own snapshots of life in the trenches; and Eamonn McCabe is a great photographer – but he’s not the most riveting presenter.  He’s a bit too diffident and self-effacing to hold your attention.  I was about to say that this might be a syndrome of photographers in general; then I thought of Norman Parkinson, Cecil Beaton, David Bailey and I realised how daft that is.

Just watched the last one in the series of three;  surprising images from the early 60’s of John Lennon and Paul McCartney taken by Jane Bown – they look completely different from usual, Lennon with a startled eye that is nothing like his default knowing, skeptical look.  She didn’t even use a light meter.  Then there were Martin Parr’s very funny colour “social” pictures and some fantastic colour pictures of young miners and pit ponies in mist, by John Bulmer.

I know now what it is with McCabe –  it’s his voice.  He’s like that priest in “Father Ted”, the one who nobody can understand because his voice is too boring to follow for more than a word or two.  Also, he nods too much at interviewees.  The programme makes a good case for the use of professional presenters.


Since I’ve been writing about a horror film and horror novel, I thought I’d finish with two life drawings that were supposed to be simple action poses, but which turned out to resemble – well, see for yourselves:







Blackpaint 495 – Political Art, Labyrinths and the Chimes at Midnight

May 18, 2015

Deutsche Borse Prize at Photographers Gallery

Three sets of photographs that are worth checking out:

  • Ponte Tower, Johannesburg, by Subotsky and Waterhouse;

MS 11


  • 80s Russian couples in bathing costumes, by Nikolai Bakharev (the Russian blokes all look really hard, even when acting silly and wearing comedy headgear);


  • South African lesbians, by Zanele Muholi – Remember seeing these startling photos at last Venice Biennale.

House of Leaves, Danielewsky (cont.)

So, it’s a house that expands, contracts, twists when you are inside, while remaining just an ordinary house on the outside.  It is pitch black, the corridors lead to an enormous staircase that falls to a colossal, cavernous chamber.  And so, the endless, interleaving, irritating footnotes are supposed to echo the labyrinthine nature of the corridors – you get lost in them – and the pages containing only a few lines of text, surrounded by white empty page echo the emptiness of the huge chamber at the foot of the staircase.  Maybe.

Chimes at Midnight, Orson Welles

This has just been released in UK as a DVD; I’m still using the Spanish version I got as a present some years back.  Welles is a brilliant Falstaff, although I think surpassed by Anthony Quayle in the old BBC Henrys.  I was surprised to notice that Welles softens Hal’s treatment of Falstaff by including the lines from Henry V, in which Henry orders the release of “the man who rail’d against our person” and making them apply to Falstaff. Granted, it’s too late; Falstaff is already dead.  Still, it softens the king, harmfully in my view.

Art Fair, Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore

A very small Adrian Heath, not much bigger than a postcard, on sale for £22, 000…

Other great paintings on view were early William Croziers; spiky, lots of black and fiery red, much better than his later, more colourful stuff;

Pierre-Francois Grimaldi, layered collages of old torn and tattered posters;




and Rose Hilton; glowing, warm, pink – well, rose, mostly.  Her son introduced himself to us; I wasn’t sure if he was Roger’s son, too – if so, quite a heritage.

“Bite Your Tongue” -Leon Golub at the Serpentine

Huge, dark cartoons of thuggish, armed US soldiers in Vietnam and thuggish, armed cops back home in USA, threatening and carrying out thuggish things on guerrillas and civilians.  I wasn’t greatly impressed.


Pascale Marthine Tayou at the Serpentine Gallery


Extraordinarily varied art – soft stuffed pieces (see above), neons, broken mirrors, a huge cloud of cotton with wooden stakes protruding, hanging above your head in a darkened tunnel – this artist from the Cameroons reminded me of Cildo Meireles, the Brazilian, who constructs elaborate tableaux out of historically and politically charged materials.  Like Meireles’, Tayou’s art is political; the materials and structures relate to the colonial and  post-colonial history and current problems of the country and continent generally.

None of this is apparent, however; you need to read the explanatory blurb on the walls.  Golub and Tayou thus represent two ways of doing political art:  the direct and the allusive.  My own way is a Third Way – an example is below (ignore the title).  The painting expresses my angst resulting from the failure of the Labour Party at the last election and the prospect of another five years of rule by the “party of working people”.



Between the Slates