Posts Tagged ‘Muddy Waters’

Blackpaint 101

April 1, 2010

An American in Paris

Here’s one I forgot to mention in my survey of films about art (see Blackpaint 64).  It’s actually on BBC4 at the moment.  1952, Gene Kelly as an impoverished American painter named Gerry Mulligan (!), pursuing Lesley Caron.  The music is Gershwin and therefore fantastic, but more disturbing is the “art”.  Kelly’s own pictures are rough old cityscapes but walking through Montmartre, he passes an abstract painter – and the paintings looked good, sort of a bit Miro-ish. 

This on its own might be an aberration, but a couple of nights ago, there was another film, a documentary this time, called: “My kid could do that”, about a little (4 year old, I think) American girl called Marla something, who was turning out abstract paintings – and again, I thought they looked great!  Turns out that her artist father was giving her a hand, a bit of instruction/advice here and there, but even so…

So, now I’m thinking I can’t tell a good painting from a mock-up for a 50s musical, or the creation of a little girl with a bit of input from the old man.  And so, back to Aphrodite at the Waterhole. 

The Vivisector

By Patrick White, getting a lot of publicity at the moment, as it was published in 1970 and was one of the “lost” Bookers: I’m reading it at the moment, very slowly, but its a great, lifelong portrait of an artist with a “vivisecting” eye; based apparently on a mixture of Nolan and Bacon.

Crap image, I know; but the lightburst actually enhances it a bit, I think.

Listening to the Delta anthem, “Walking Blues” by Muddy Waters – is it better even than Robert Johnson’s, or Son House’s? Yes, I think so – but going by the above, who am I to tell?

“I woke up this morning, feeling round for my shoes,

Know by that I got them ol’ walking blues…”



Blackpaint 94

March 24, 2010

Paul Nash at Dulwich Picture Gallery

Got to this today; four rooms, I think, of paintings, drawings, some photographs and two collages, one of photographs, the other of wood pieces.

There was “Totes Meer”, the sea of dead German planes, “Landscape of a Dream” ( the one with the hawk),  a trench painting, which I think was”We are Building a New World” –  familiar anyway – and “Solstice of a Sunflower”, the strangely still, yellow juggernaut. The rest of the stuff was new to me, which was a surprise.

I have to say that I found the washed-out, bleached colours and the thinly-applied, dry brush strokes with occasional patches and flecks of bare canvas a bit oppressive today.  The surface of “Sunflower” ,for instance, was arid and elsewhere the paint looked sticky and dragged-on, somehow.  “Farewell” (1944) was a crooked stick against an awful, sickly lemon yellow, but mostly chalk whites, thin sky blues, light greys with here and there, as in “Dream”, a splash of plum/raspberry.  There were several empty room interiors, waiting for something to happen, with an Ernstish feel and the several “Urne Buriall”s had surrealist stock lurking about – owls, dismembered arms, birds with faces.

There was the Dymchurch stuff, purling seas on shorelines, long, slender women in long, slender 20’s dresses (in distance, back turned to viewer).  There were two early (1911 – 13) pictures called “Wittesham Clumps”, one in watercolour, ink and chalk, the other pen and ink, I believe, that were very beautiful; tree circles, very distinct but tiny, flocks of birds above them.

Photographs – tennis ball (which cropped up again in a large painting, “Event on the Downs”), standing stone, cottage, ploughed land, again with painting nearby and “Monster Tree”, a typical Nash photograph of a strange-looking natural phenomenon.  It looked to me as though the fallen tree might have been shifted a little to create the desired effect, but no doubt I’m wrong.

There was some Nicolson-ish stuff from 30 – 31 – “Opening” and “Kinetic Features” and “Nest of the Siren”, which was unremarkable except that the colours were richer and more thickly applied than the others, highlighting the general thinness and dryness elsewhere.  Another nest, this one “Nest of Stones”, worked wonderfully, because the texture of the stones was perfectly reproduced by Nash’s approach.

In the last room, larger paintings, deeper colour at last!  In “Swan Song”, a huge fly agaric mushroom with its white spotted, red cap lies broken in a wood; next to it, “Chestnut Waters” – an avenue of trees reflected in the surface of a lake; and the giant tennis ball on the Downs.

The title of the exhibition is “Elements” – a fair amount of landscape, seashore, trees, flowers, I suppose; but really the exhibition is mostly his surrealist stuff.  I suppose on another day, in another place (atmosphere at Dulwich I find rather starchy), I would have enjoyed it more – today it was washed-out, bleached, chalky, dry and thin, the titles pretentious.  So there we are; a couple of weeks ago, I was criticising Laura Cumming for having a similar beam in her eye with regard to Henry Moore.  Sometimes – but not often – the “Britishness” is too much!

Listened to Muddy Waters, “Long- Distance Call”; great antidote to Dulwich.

“I hear my phone a-ringing, sounds like a long-distance call, (*2)

Pick up my receiver, party say “Another mule kickin’ in your stall”.