Posts Tagged ‘Milo O’Shea’

Blackpaint 602- Surreal Women, Spitfires and Sandymount Strand

August 1, 2017

Dreamers Awake, White Cube 

Fifty Surrealist women – or rather, their works – on display at the Bermondsey gallery.  Big names here; Lee Miller, Bourgeois, Carrington, Tanning, Agar, Fini et al.  The earliest dated work is Lee Miller’s ” Untitled (Severed breast from radical surgery in a place setting 1 & 2)”, from 1929. Lots of the usual surrealist stuff; nakedness, masks, flowers used as masks (Linder Sterling in particular, her very provocatively posed women wearing huge blooms over various parts), sculptures of anatomical bits (Helen Chadwick’s ribbed courgette pricks with fur collars, entitled “I Thee Wed”, a series of cloths printed with archival dyes by Louise Bourgeois and Tracey Emin, which resemble Marlene Dumas’ “porn” pictures – big human- shaped blots of colour with sexual appendages and forthright titles (When my cunt stopped living; A million ways to cum), conglomerations of white biomorphic shapes with limbs and, inevitably, penises emerging here and there.

All great stuff, of course, but two artists in particular I enjoyed:  firstly, Nevine Mahmoud, with this luscious split peach of a sculpture, which looks like alabaster, but is listed as calcite, marble and steel –

 

Miss Her (Peach), Nevine Mahmoud, 2017 – see also her “Bosom”, which is a breast in pink and ice alabaster –

and Shana Moulton, with this video display piece.  A wriggling woman trapped or framed in a sort of display cabinet, various anatomical bits, most notably a big hand with a talking face on the palm, to the right and on the floor.  The cabinet transforms into a bath and fills with water, the woman turning into a Bonnard nude with touches of Klimt in the surround.  Very funny; loved it.

My Life as an INFJ, Shana Moulton, 2015 – 2016

INFJ?  Any ideas?

 

Dunkirk, dir. Christopher Nolan (2017)

Very loud and “intense” (the word that everyone who has seen it uses); the explosions and bullet strikes as stunning as “Private Ryan”, but the horrors far more muted, for the 12 certificate, maybe – I was surprised to see two young children with their mother in front of me.  The performances were strangely stilted, in the case of the older characters, especially Branagh – as if delivering immortal words at all times.  The throttling-back seemed appropriate in the case of Mark Rylance – quiet and thoughtful, gentle heroism sort of thing.

Bit too much “nick-of-time”ism, maybe; the cockpit, the stuck wheels, the multiple escapes from sinking ships; I wondered if based on personal accounts, strung together.  The scene where the soldier wakes on the Mole and is hurried onto the last boat with the officers struck me as someone’s personal anecdote.

Although I love and revere it, I could have done without the chords from “Nimrod”, designed to tickle the tear ducts (unsuccessfully, I’m proud to say).  The beautiful, tiny Spitfires are the absolute stars of the film, despite the controversy about their numbers over the beaches; I hope they weren’t CGI…

On balance, good, but not as good, I think, as the portrayal of Dunkirk in “Atonement”- much as it pains me to praise anything to do with Ian McEwan, after his recent pronouncements.  Great to see a straight, patriotic British film at this time though; I wonder if it will escape criticism for “Anglocentrism” or some such…

Ulysses, dir. Joseph Strick (1967)

I’ve finally finished Finnegans Wake, so I thought I’d go back to the easy one.  I got up to the scene in the Ormond and  decided to check the film out again to see what a job Strick had made of it – the answer is, not half bad at all.  You won’t know what’s going on if you haven’t read the novel; there are great chunks missing (the library sequence, the cabman’s hut) but Night Town is good, especially Bella Cohen’s, and some of the casting is brilliant.  Milo O’Shea will always be Bloom for me; Barbara Jefford as Molly looks wrong at first but grows into it; Joe Lynch is just right as Blazes Boylan and Martin Dempsey as Simon Dedalus too.  TP McKenna’s Buck Mulligan is spot on and Maurice Roeves, again, like Jefford, looks wrong at first, but convinces you in the end.  And Sandymount Strand looks great (shot by the great Wolfgang Suschitsky) so keep your eyes open…

Bill Viola (again)

In the last blog, I did Viola at the Guggenheim, Bilbao; I knew this piece reminded me of something – it’s this Panther paperback cover from the early 60s.

 

Viola

Panther Paperback Cover

Haven’t done much big abstract stuff lately, so two old ones to finish with:

Water Engine 2

 

Eastertide

Blackpaint

1/08/17

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Blackpaint 389 – The Squirrel and the Orang Utan in Art

April 11, 2013

Titian’s Actaeon Surprising Diana in the Bath – this week’s example of Validating Crapness

It’s a fantastic painting; composition, colour, movement, drama. all that and the rest.  However, there’s something wrong with Diana’s head – it’s too small and it looks as though there should be another one in the proper position atop the neck immediately behind it.  It’s VC rather than just crapness because it forms a sort of fossil shell-shaped point of focus in the painting – it draws my eye immediately every time I look at it.

titian vc

Holbein’s Lady with a Squirrel

By way of contrast, this (for me) is in the running for the superlative portrait of all time – but her right hand is wrong, it’s too fat.  The wrongness adds nothing to the picture, unlike Diana’s little head.

holbein

Fischli and Weiss

Two stones on top of one another – actually, I think that might be what it’s called – outside the Serpentine Gallery.  Despite its simplicity, I find it amusing and appealing.  From one angle, it looks to me like Snoopy from Peanuts.

Trockel

Forgot to mention the AbEx “paintings” of Tilda, the orang utan, in Trockel’s Serpentine exhibition; I liked them.  Also the disembodied black female legs, one left and one right, but different sizes (different exhibits, too).  Shades of surrealist fetishists and Bunuel.

Films this week –

Medea (Pasolini); Callas superb, odd headgear as always with P., strange Turkish rock formations, like white kilns in ranks.  The scenes like a series of tableaux almost, with little regard for connecting fore and aft, so familiarity with story helpful.  Great, nevertheless.

Confidence (Istvan Szabo); wartime Budapest, a young wife whose husband is arrested has to be hidden by the underground.  She has to move in with and pretend to be the wife of an activist who is also being hunted.  They respect each other’s privacy at first but the inevitable happens.  Predictable, but moving and erotic too.  Dreamlike shots of rain-slick cobbled streets and massive granite-grey buildings, almost empty of people…

The History of Violence (Cronenberg); the Guardian said this was “taut and brutal”- I knew it involved gangsters victimising an apparently ordinary American family, so I checked on Wikipedia to make sure the wife wasn’t raped.  I don’t like the way women are raped in films to justify an orgy of revenge violence (Straw Dogs said it all, 40 years ago).  Looked OK, so we watched it – but she WAS raped, by the husband.  That is, she gave in and enjoyed it, on the stairs, after putting up a token resistance.  I find this offensive, but for some reason,  Ken Russell’s Roman soldiers raping nuns don’t bother me.

Milo O’Shea 

Died earlier this month.  For me, he was the perfect Leopold Bloom, in Joseph Strick’s Ulysses, which critics always describe as flawed or unsatisfactory.  Like Anthony Quayle’s Falstaff for the BBC’s Henry IV in the 80s, he defined the part.  OK, Welles’ Falstaff in Chimes at Midnight was also iconic, but Quayle “inhabited” the part, as critics now like to say about Daniel Day Lewis in everything.

Bach and Brahms

I was intrigued, when listening to the 8th variation of Brahms’ Anthony Chorale (or Variations on a Theme by Haydn – which it apparently isn’t) to find it was almost the same in essence to Bach’s Matthew Passion, part 75: “Make thee clean my heart from sin”.  So what? Nothing, just noticed it.

The Funeral 

The woman who divided the British people more starkly than any other is being given a Princess Di -style send off by the Establishment, as if she somehow stands above politics.  Cameron, Osborne and the rest are giving two fingers to the plebs – no change there, then.

??????????S

 

Work in progress

Blackpaint

11.04.13

 

Blackpaint 311 – Fellini at Skegness, cont.

December 8, 2011

Butlin’s Folk Festival

Last blog, I was rambling on about the Fellini-esque nature of the views at Skegness Butlins – the white tent, the beach, the groups of wanderers – thinking that Butlins and Fellini would make a nice, incongruous pairing for a title.  Nothing incongruous about it at all, of course; Fellini’s films are full of popular entertainment, wandering show people, circus acts, clowns, brass bands…

City of Women

Mastroianni in the above, bewildered, harrassed, pushed downstairs by revolting (but mostly very attractive) women, a strong reminder of Milo O’Shea as Bloom in Ulysses; apologetic, trying to excuse the inexcusable, guilty by nature of his existence – just perfect.  Great scene in which the burly( but oddly alluring) stoker woman tries to have sex with him in the polytunnel and is prevented by the arrival of her mother.

Cara Dillon

I said last time that she was like a gutsier Alison Krauss – since then, I’ve bought some of her records, and only the last, Hill of Thieves, could be called gutsy in any shape or form; beautiful, but wistful.  But live, she’s a different, more powerful proposition. 

Albert Irvin

Strange how you suddenly “get eyes” for a picture, or a painter, if they pursue a distinctive style;  it’s happened to me with Irvin.  I used to think his bright, almost fluorescent colours and lack of “painterly” texture were somehow shallow and trivial.  Someone sent me a postcard of one of his pictures a year or so ago and it’s been on the mantelpiece all that time, slowly (it seems) sinking in – and now I love it.

Gesamtkunstwerk at Saatchi

Free exhibition at Saatchi Gallery in Kings Road; it’s so good, I’m going to take a couple of blogs over it.  First…

Andre Butzer

Like an angry child’s parody of Asger Jorn; the gnome-like faces with big ears, but crudely sketched on the surface, graffiti style, not scratched and sculpted out of the background, like Jorn.  Those flat, jarring colours, especially the green, like a Basquiat with no taste.  They’re huge, of course – great.  That’s three of them, then there were another three with beautiful, clotted, light grey surfaces, over and across which, he’d slid a black-laden brush in geometric shapes – slidey triangles, like Bram Van Velde, only more straight – and other colours too.  These ones were more conventionally beautiful.

Isa Genzken 

A panel made up of maybe four large mirrors, plastered across with fluorescent tape like repairs or crime scene tape; rusty red paint running down, photo-posters of a Leonardo painting and several Michelangelo sculptures stuck on it (photos, not sculptures).  Again, great, but I don’t know why; something to do with modern life and traditional culture, street v. salon, Baader – Meinhof in there somewhere, probably..

Her other exhibits were assemblages on little podia, the most memorable built round a big artificial palm plant, with a large beer glass wearing a hat.  It looked like a bizarre machine.  She often uses little toy soldiers and cowboys, dolls – one with a scorched face – as in horror film cliches, toys/children, vulnerable, innocent/sisnister somehow.

In fact, several of the artists use toys in their work.  As well as the innocent/sinister thing, there is the glamour of a brightly coloured plastic toy – it can set off a drab assemblage of diverse objects like Turner’s red spot on in the London Bridge painting.

This is how my De Kooning type painting is progressing (or not); see last blog.  Final version in next one – something for readers to look forward to.

Blackpaint

8th December 2011