Posts Tagged ‘Pasolini’

Blackpaint 572 – Kentridge and Kafka, Kooning and Kline

October 17, 2016

William Kentridge, the Whitechapel Gallery

Four or was it five, distinct rooms, each with films showing, one at least with other things to look at:

  • Wooden machine, like a loom maybe, or to me, reminiscent of the execution machine in Kafka’s “In the Penal Colony” – the one on which the prisoner lies on his back and needles write the nature of his crime on his body, deeper and deeper until he is pierced through.  B&W films showing dancer in whirling white robes, doing a sort of dervish dance.
  • Flickbooks – great flick portraits of Kentridge pacing, stroking his chin, looking thoughtfully down at the floor, on book pages, I think.

kentridge-1

  • DaDa film – colour film starting with sliding panels rather like Schwitters collages – a bit – then actors in costume, one in those boxy cardboard assemblages that Oscar Schlemmer made for Bauhaus productions.  Can’t remember what they are doing – something DaDa probably.
  • A surround room of moving images, more WK selfies, moving ink sketches of repeated images, a coffeepot, a typewriter…

kentridge-2

Sounds underwhelming, I know, but definitely worth seeing, if only for the flickbooks.

 

Abstract Expressionism at the RA (again)

Straight to the de Koonings, which are really stupendous, and went all over the red 1955 “Composition” with my eye, bit by bit, instead of just standing in front and absorbing the whole thing in one go, as I usually do; I love the dirty bits, the chunky, scabby black and white squirls, the jagged patch of turquoise – just fantastic.  The catalogue, though generally good, gives you no real idea of the clarity and impact.

dk-at-ra

“Whose Name was Writ on Water” again – the spatters indicating how DK turned the canvas during painting.  The dullness of the dirty crimson against the washed-out blue – I used to think it was “Ok, but..” – not now, it’s great.

The red one next to “Water” – the paint screams at you,  At the top it looks to be still wet; in fact, there is a big chunk of what looks like wet marmalade, right up the top.

Mitchell’s “Salut Tom” – the brushwork on it is great, an indescribable quality to it – of course, or there would be no point in painting it…

There are two lovely Gorkys, the grey-green and white ones, painted in the same year – it looks as if they were done with the same paint.  Similarly with two of the smaller Pollocks, painted in 1945.

I was a little less impressed with Pollock’s “Mural” this time – the colours under the green were crude, fairground colours; not sure if this is a good or bad thing.  For contrast, look at Mitchell; the colours are cold, pure, clear, deep.

Clyfford Still – several of the paintings have a Barnett-like line down them.

Klines – swimming pool ladders, bridges, scaffolding, in stark, rough black and white – one swirling black foggy one, different to the others, rather like a Lanyon in black.

kline-at-ra

Arabian Nights, Pasolini, 1974

paso1

The last of P’s trilogy of films based on ancient tales (Canterbury Tales and the Decameron are the other two); as with the others, it has a patchy, disjointed feel here and there, awkward segues, loads of explicit, .but very static sex by today’s standards – then, you realise how memorable the combination of music and scenarios is and how Pasolini’s images stay with you.  In this one there is a surprise live dismemberment.

Brexit

In these tempestuous and exciting times, two contrasting songs to suit the more radical of the pro- and anti- factions; they are:

“Hawkwood’s Army” by Fairport Convention

“Peppers and Tomatoes” by Ralph McTell

cobalt-window-2

Cobalt Window

Blackpaint

17.10.16

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Blackpaint 542 – The Milk Jug, the Swan and the Devil’s Arse

April 23, 2016

Rijksmuseum

vermeer milkjug

Distant view over the heads of dozens of Dutch school students of the fabulous milk jug Vermeer and a number of Rembrandts, notably the turbaned self portrait and the young self portrait with the wiry hair and round eyes – and of course, the Night Watch, guns at the ready, about to accidentally shoot each other if not careful.  Also the Jewish Wedding and several others – fabulous, if you can get near them.

 

Rembrandt turban

From these galleries, only the huge swan taking off straight at you grabbed my attention.

swan

Jan Asselijn

There was a great exhibition of Breitners, however (see Blackpaint 341), picture after picture of Geesje Kwak, androgynous figure in a series of lush kimonos and in the nude.  He was clearly seriously obsessed.

breitner kimono

breitner nude

Little like Uglow, this one, I think.

In the 1100 – 1600 bit, there were these two highlights:

gerini

Altarpiece by Gerini – the reds and orange with that gold.

terracotta girl

Terracotta Girl – could be the BVM but no halo – maybe a saint,  couldn’t find a label so I don’t know.

And, tucked away upstairs, some lovely Appels, this one in particular:

Appel rijks

Stadelijk Museum

Stunning discovery for me – two favourite de Koonings and a huge, trickled – down Asger Jorn all in the same room:

asger jorn

Asger Jorn – didn’t get the title; something about swan’s wings beating, I think (that swan again…)

 

dk rosy

Rosy Fingered Dawn at Louse Point, de Kooning

dk north

North Atlantic Light, de Kooning

 

 

beanery

The Beanery, Ed Keinholz

The notice over the bar warns “Fagots” to keep out; all the customers (slumped over tables, propped up at the bar) have clock heads; a soundtrack of “Macnamara’s Band” with a hubbub of voices plays on a loop (Keinholz recorded it at the bar).  It’s funny, grubby and creepy and you queue to go in one at a time, admitted by a solemn museum guard.

The Canterbury Tales, dir. Pasolini (1972)

Cruder, but to my mind, every bit as good as Pasolini’s “Decameron”.  Several well-known British character actors in there – Hugh Griffiths as a lecherous old Sir January to Josephine Chaplin’s beautiful and – to put it mildly – disengaged May; Robin Askwith, in a break from the “Confessions” series, screwing away upstairs in a brothel and emerging to piss liberally over the amused clientele below.  In one scene, there as many naked women as there are on the cover of the celebrated Jimi Hendrix LP.  Pasolini smiling thinly to himself as Chaucer, recording the stories ( the one where the friars emerge from the Devil’s arse in Hell is perhaps the best).  And a great soundtrack mainly from Topic Records, especially Frank McPeak’s “The Auld Piper” from the “Jack of All Trades ” LP.

devils arse

Devil’s Arse with emerging friar – actually, maybe it’s a demon’s arse , because the Devil is played by the great, menacing Pasolini actor Franco Citti and he is showing the new arrival around Hell.

Also making a brief appearance at the start of the film is the wrestler Adrian Street, familiar from Jeremy Deller’s work.

Next time, CoBrA in Amstelveen and Delacroix at the National Gallery.

wip1

Work in Progress – St. George, of course (who else could it be, today?  Shakespeare, I suppose…)

Blackpaint

23.04.16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 538 – Saul Leiter, the Easter Rising, Pasolini and Friedrich..er

March 25, 2016

Saul Leiter, Photographers Gallery

I can’t praise this exhibition too highly – I’ve been twice in two days and wanted to download every image.  It’s singular, in that the colour photos are even better than the B&W ones; how often does that happen in street photography?  He does figures seen through condensation on windows, odd cropping, red umbrellas (lots of red, yellow and black), hats, snow, ads, car windows – all the usual props, but they’re somehow better.  See below:

 

saul foot

Like a Cheever story, somehow..

 

saul canopy 2

Is that William Burroughs?

 

saul black man

He must have scouted the signs out and waited for the man in the hat and cigarette to walk into the frame..

 

saul postmen

US Mail, coming through the snow..could be by Norman Rockwell.

In addition to the street photos, there are his great fashion pictures, pictures of the beautiful (and beautifully named) Soames Bantry – watch the video of Leiter talking about her and his art, He cites Eugene E Smith and Cartier Bresson as influences and some of their pictures are included in the video.  Finally, there are his gouaches on thin paper, brightly coloured, some abstract, some little portraits and nude photos coloured in, as it were.  It’s terrific and free before 12 0’clock.

The Easter Rising

Also in the Photographers Gallery is a collection of  photos relating to the Dublin rising against British rule in April 1916 – the events leading to it and following it.  It’s a bit more than the usual formal pictures of Pearse, Connelly and the other martyrs that I remember from museums in Irish towns – the desperate crew below are purportedly the “Cairo Gang” , British military intelligence officers, who were all murdered by the IRA on 21st November 1920.  On the same Bloody Sunday, the British “Black and Tan” auxiliaries opened fire on the crowd at Croke Park stadium, killing twelve spectators, as a reprisal.

There are also photos of two of the Invincibles, who carried out the Phoenix Park murders; shades of Skin the Goat, the Invincible (it’s rumoured) who runs the cabmen’s shelter in “Ulysses”, where Bloom takes Stephen after the NightTown episode.  And plenty more – hunger strikers, countryside evictions, street ambush, Countess Markievicz posing with a revolver…

 

cairo gang

The Cairo Gang – or perhaps not.

Wikipedia says that the photo more probably shows the Igoe Gang, RIC undercover agents, who succeeded the ill-fated British agents.

Friedrich Vordemberge – Gildewart ( Annely Juda Fine Art, Dering Street W1)

Yes I know, I can’t get the name into my head either – and the exhibition’s finished now anyway.  But the paintings and collages are great.  He was a member of de Stijl and the pictures remind me a little of Malevich, a little of Van Doesburg and one or two are like Prunella Clough.  Oh, and maybe a touch of Oiticica.  Little lopsided squares and wedges of colour, thin lines like spills tipped out on grey or blue or yellow.

fred

 

fred2

Here’s my partner, putting her image into a picture in a homage to the techniques of Saul Leiter, no doubt.

Pasolini

I’ve recently watched the DVDs of the Decameron and Oedipus Rex and, as well as Silvana Mangano and the brilliant thug Franco Citti, I noticed that Pasolini himself appeared in both, as the painter in Decameron and in Oedipus.  I’ll be checking on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew over Easter, to see if he shows in that too.

franco citti

Franco Citti (Oedipus)

Pier-Paolo-Pasolini

Pasolini as Giotto

And my latest painting:

St.Jerome 2

Jerome

Blackpaint

24.3.16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 512 – Walker Gallery, Pasolini, Andrei and two Enricos

September 20, 2015

Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

Excellent collections, notably of previous John Moores winners; the Roger Hilton is still the best for my money, but then I’m a fleabitten retro.

hilton moores

 

Other treasures, ancient and modern, below:

Gillian Ayres, Aeolus

gillian ayres aeolus

Fantastic; texture, colour, control – but not too much…

Allen Jones, Hermaphrodite

allen jones hermaphrodite

This Jones reminded me of the Chagall below, which is in the Pompidou Centre collection.  Not a serious comparison, just the panel shape and the shape of the images, somehow…

 

chagall pomp

 

Attributed to Nicholas Hilliard, Elizabeth I

hilliard

Hilliard is known as a miniaturist, of course, but this is full size.  It’s still has that jewel-like intensity of the miniatures.

 

roscoe

These “two pictures” in the Roscoe Collection were bought separately but were part of the same altarpiece (see pattern on dress).

Nostalgia, Tarkovsky

domiziana giordano

Poor Eugenia (Domiziana Giordano, above); she’s desperate to sleep with Andrei, the Russian poet she is translating for, but he, understandably, is more interested in the mentally ill man who is trying to save the world by walking through the water of a spa baths with a lighted candle.  The ending is still harrowing, as Domenico (the mad man) sets fire to himself and crawls, screaming, in flames, through the Roman square.  The very last scene has the poet in a Russian(?) landscape with horses, his family and that of Domenico’s looking on in silence – the whole landscape enclosed by the cloistering walls of a gigantic abbey.  Stunning, but what does it mean? Something mystical, probably, but what does it matter?

Pasolini, Abel Ferrara 

Not really a biopic, this is concerned with the period leading up to Pasolini’s murder in a seaside carpark in 1975, beaten and run over with his own car – opportunistic, homophobic or political (inevitable conspiracy theories).  It should be said, though of no interest to me, that there’s some spectacular close-up oral sex (male on rent boy) and more sex in a fantasy sequence from the film that Pasolini never got made; beautiful lesbians and gays copulating in a one-night-only festival to “propagate the species”; spectacular sex, spectacular fireworks.

William Dafoe is made for the part and brings his usual intensity (today’s word) to the role – but not much is made of the director’s  rather interesting politics.  I understand that Pasolini, a Marxist, was unusual – unique? – among European left intellectuals in NOT supporting the student movement in 1968; he saw the students as bourgeois and the police fighting them as members of the working class.  There is some socio-political chat, not terribly clear , and some spectacular images, notably of the Fascist building and statuary in Rome, the Palazzo della Civilta Italiana.

fascist palace

Midnight Cowboy, John Schlesinger, 1969

Bought the DVD for relief from Tarkovsky, put it on late Friday night and forced myself to turn it off at 2.00am.  Then hadto start it again last night and watch it straight through.  Voigt and Dustin Hoffman are brilliant of course, and Sylvia Miles and Brenda Vaccaro – I love the switching from colour to sepia –  although not new, maybe it was in Hollywood.  Voigt’s buckskin jacket getting greasier as he walks the mean streets, Enrico’s filthy apartment. the sweat on his feverish face as he lights yet another butt.  Then, just for a second, I thought I saw Bob Odenkirk’s  Saul in Hoffman.  I don’t know, really.

midnight Cowboy

Caruso

The other Enrico.  I’ve got a collection of his singles on cassette – most of them recorded over 100 years ago!  Fantastic, creaky orchestras, crackly, dramatic delivery, sobbing, soaring, sometimes surprisingly sweet – “Vesti la Giubba”,  “E lucevan le stelle”, Handel’s Largo. Brings tears to the eyes, still.

Grongar Hill

I love these lines from Dyer’s “Grongar Hill” ; similar sentiment to Shelley’s “Ozymandias”:

“A little Rule, little Sway,

A Sun-beam in a Winter’s day

Is all the Proud and Mighty have,

Between the Cradle and the Grave.”

RIP Brian.

sidelined

Work Still in Progress

Blackpaint

20.09.15

 

 

 

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 374 – Review of the Year (Yawn)

December 31, 2012

The Blackpaint Annual Review 

Exhibitions – went to about 40; these are the most memorable:

Bronze at the Royal Academy

That statue of the dancer that languished on the seabed; Praxiteles?  Maybe…

Also, the Etruscan smiley god and de Kooning’s Clamdigger.

Migrations – Tate Britain

The fantastic Schwitters collage and Singer Sargent’s Ena and Betty.

Burtynsky at the Photographers’ Gallery

Shipbreaking at Chittagong and the ship apparently set in a sea of coal.

Kusama at Tate Modern

The boat covered in fabric penises and, of course, the darkened room with mirrors, reflecting pinpoints of coloured light, with shallow water around the walkways.  Everything was interesting.

London Art Fair at the Royal College of Art

The beautiful Keith Vaughans.

Albert Irvin at Gimpel Fils

Blinding colours, stars, flowerheads, flak streams – he really does yellow well, not an easy thing.

Films

Once upon a Time in Anatolia – that apple bouncing down the stream bed in the night.

The Master – Dodd mincing about singing “We’ll go no more a-roving” to a room full of fawning acolytes – and suddenly, they’re all naked – or was it just the women?

Anna Karenina – the horse race, exploding over and out of the stage set.  Many disagree, apparently, but I think Keira Knightley is a really good actress.  Lately, it seems to me that male critics feel they can praise only the following actresses: Imelda Staunton, Tilda Swinton and especially, Anna Chancellor.

DVDs and TV Films

Where to start?  Ken Russell, of course –Women in Love,  The Devils, The Music Lovers, Gothic.  The last three fantastically over the top; Oliver Read tearing himself from a crucifix to couple with a swooning Vanessa Redgrave; how beautiful Glenda Jackson was as Gudrun Brangwen.

Red Desert (Antonioni) – those colours in the industrial landscape.. Monica Vitti…

The Gospel According to St.Matthew (Pasolini) – I had it on at Easter; one after another, my atheist children came in, fell silent, watched it through to the end.

Tree of Life (Malick)  – America’s Tarkovsky.  Beautiful, and like Tarkovsky, utterly devoid of humour.  These chaps know they are important.

Melancholia (Von Trier) – The opening sequence, that white horse falling backwards, Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg both riveting.

The Leopard (Visconti) – Burt and Claudia in the ballroom scene, prefiguring “Russian Ark”.

Swingtime – Fred and Ginger awesome in “Pick Yourself Up”, beauty and perfection in “Never Gonna Dance”.

The King of Marvin Gardens – Bruce Dern and Jack Nicholson, both staggeringly good.

Books

The Grass Arena by John Healy.  Unique, I think; boxer, fighter, drinker, criminal, rough sleeper, chess master, yoga practitioner, writer…

Ulysses, James Joyce.  6th time I think.  Still the most important work of fiction in English written in the 20th century; difficult to see how any fiction could supplant it.  Also really filthy, sexy and funny.  How could he have written like that when he did?

The Road and Everything Flows by Vassily Grossman.  Sort of fiction, but Grossman often strays into journalism; not a problem as he has stupendous stories to tell, about the war, the purges, the gulag…

And here’s my best painting this year – Happy New Year, to those for whom it is New Year.

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Cap Frehel

Blackpaint

31.12.12

Blackpaint 373 – Orpheus, Oedipus and Human Nature

December 27, 2012

Through the Looking Glass

A strange confluence of coincidence this week.  First, I watched Cocteau’s “Orphee”, in which Death (in the form of de Cacares) leads her slaves and victims through mirrors into the Underworld or back; then, in the Russian “Master and Margarita”, currently showing on Sky Arts TV, a character takes the same route into a room.

Later in the same episode, a writer, taken forcibly to a psychiatric hospital, attempts to escape by jumping through a closed window – splat!! – reinforced glass.  And, to complete the parallels, the repeat of the Christmas “Father Ted” (lingerie department, Golden Cleric, Father Tod Unctious) Father Jack does the window exit, to meet the Plexiglass Ted has installed.  Strange forces definitely at work.

“Orphee” special effects still impressive to me, compared to the sophisticated stuff around now; I suppose because they have a dreamlike atmosphere that comes mostly from their simplicity – maybe the ramshackle, improvised feel corresponds to my typical dream landscape; shabby, disintegrating, dimly lit, soiled….  I was interested to hear that the proto Bohemian crowd of poets and artists in the opening cafe and brawl scenes were genuine Left Bankers, recruited by Juliette Greco for Cocteau.  They look anything but genuine.

Oedipus Rex

Pasolini masterpiece that I saw decades ago at university; blinding North African colours – although it may have been filmed in Italy – the outlandish helmets and crowns, and above all, the wild music at the wedding scene.  Fantastic contrast to “Orphee” – I recommend watching the two DVDs at one session.

The Hunt

A film actually on release, that you can see at a cinema, rather than on DVD at home.  By Thomas Vinterberg, of Dogme fame (with Von Trier).  Vinterberg made “Festen”, the brilliant black comedy(?)about a celebration of the birthday of an incestuous patriarch.  His son exposes him as a rapist in a speech; the assembled family members rally behind the father.  Unfortunately, Vinterberg spoils it at the end; when notes from his dead daughter prove the patriarch guilty, the people turn away from him in disgust.  It would have been better, more sour, more “true”, if they’d stuck to him to preserve respectability.

“The Hunt” also deals with child abuse. A teacher is falsely accused; the community, all his friends, turn against him with no proof offered.  He is ostracised, attacked, victimised in a number of ways.  At the end, however, the community accepts his innocence, welcomes him back into the fold – and he is also prepared, outwardly at least, to go back to “how things were”.

This, I think, doesn’t ring true; when people find out they are wrong and have treated someone unjustly, they don’t apologise, or even “forgive and forget” – they resent the victim for being innocent and putting them in the wrong.  They’ll find a reason why it was his fault.  And after all, “No smoke without fire”, so he was probably guilty anyway.  Is this a pessimistic view of human nature?  Possibly…

Adrian Heath

Reading the Jane Rye book on this British artist and I have to say his work is magnificent; the colours are  great, not something I necessarily expected from reading about his cerebral and considered approach to painting; also the painterly surfaces, the contrast of rough and smooth.  I recommend you check him out if you don’t know his work.

My Review of the Year in next blog.

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Blackpaint

Saint’s Head

27.12.12

Blackpaint 358 – Bach, Charcoal, Chalk and Tracer

September 13, 2012

As Promised:

Top 10 uses of music in films (excluding musicals – to come later):

1.  The Gospel According to St. Matthew (Pasolini) – Blind Willie Johnson, Missa Luba and the last movement of the Matthew Passion; no contest for no.1, I think –

UNLESS it is 2.  Satantango (Bela Tarr) – that sobbing, throbbing accordion across the darkening plain;

3. 2001 (Kubrick) – Also Sprach Zarathustra, as awareness glimmers in the hominid’s eye, and he begins crushing the skull with the bone (could also have the jazz crooner over the still of Nicholson at the end of The Shining, or Beethoven’s 9th in The Clockwork Orange);

4.  Any Fellini film with Nino Rota music, but especially La Strada and the parade music at the end of 81/2 (eight and a half – don’t know how to do halves on laptop) – also the Godfather, of course;

5.  Russian Ark (Sokurov) – the Glinka mazurka;

6.  Death in Venice (Visconti) – the Mahler, 5th I think, when he decides to return to the hotel and is smirking to himself in the gondola;

7.  Performance (Roeg) – Sympathy with the Devil sequence;

8.  The Wicker Man (Robin Hardy) – naked Britt slapping the wall, driving poor Edward crazy and singing that gauche “folk” song; also the Summerisle population doing Sumer is a-coming in while Edward is roaring out his defiant Prot hymn as the flames climb higher….

9.  Fitzcarraldo (Herzog) – Caruso belting out of the gramophone on the boat, into the Amazon jungle; Kinsky with his cigar clenched in his teeth, serenaded by the chorus of I Puritani, as the boat sails back into Iquitos;

10.  Gallipoli (Peter Weir) – another boat, this time the troopship – the abrupt shift from patriotic song to Albinoni, as the ship glides in to the embattled beach, shells and tracer sailing overhead in the night sky…

Albert Irvin

I’ve bought a book of his stunning prints and was pleased to read that he thinks his flying experience contributes to his work.  He was a navigator and rear gunner in RAF  Bomber Command during the war and says that the awareness of motion and speed feeds in – I’d thought that some of the marks he makes resemble bomb bursts and tracer bullets, as well as the general coloration of the pieces – but no doubt that’s pushing it too far.

Kings Place, Sculptors’ Drawings

A huge, fantastic and free exhibition, with some brilliant drawings.  I especially liked Michael Kenney’s for the way he drives chalk marks into the charcoal, Alison Wilding’s lovely, messy ink storm, the beautiful head by Glyn Williams and Anthony Caro’s great nude – look at that right knee!

P:atrick Kieller at the Tate B (Robinson exhibit)

There’s a Kieller photograph of a gate below Graham Sutherland’s “Entrance to a Lane”; the deep, louring, black/blue of the sky is stunning and it looks just like a little painting.  Also at the Tate, I noticed for the first time how Lanyon’s “Porthleven” has been positioned with the Reg Butler insect woman and the Graham Sutherland biomorphic shapes to its left; all three pieces echoing each other visually.

Figure drawing

Bray Dunes

Blackpaint

12/09/12

Blackpaint 357 – Art Film Sex for the Older Fan; Perfect Illusions

September 7, 2012

As promised, my top five – or maybe six or seven – films with sex scenes, since last weeks had none and I don’t want my public to think I live a sheltered life…

Last Tango in Paris (Bertolucci) – Francis Bacon paintings in the credits, jazz saxophone, and a fabulous shot across/along that bridge; also the first meeting in the empty flat when Marlon takes Maria’s hat out of her hand…

The Night Porter (Taviani) – they are holed up together, hiding out; Charlotte takes Dirk in hand…

Belle de Jour (Bunuel) – there’s hardly any actual sex in it; maybe just the presence of Catherine Deneuve is sufficient.  Best scenes are her dreams of the carriage ride and the coffin going up and down as she lies in it, puzzled at what he’s doing underneath…

Diary of a Shinjuku Thief  (Oshima) – Saw this forty – odd years ago, so don’t remember much except that it made me rather unsettled;

Ai No Corrida – (Oshima) –  Ouch!!  Similar – actually, worse – moment in Antichrist;

Emmanuelle – the boxing match and after; strongly realist storyline – a beautiful young French woman gives herself to an old, authoritarian, aristocratic roue to learn about sexual fulfilment; her husband seems quite OK with this.  Happens all the time in Thailand.  Directed by the appropriately named Just Jaeckin

The Sheltering Sky – fun with the sheikh in the desert; Debra Winger is shut up in a wicker hut for visitations by her Arab master.  Another Bertolucci film. 

Greatest disappointment – Caligula.  Why did director (Tinto Brass) use such tiny prostheses in the fellatio scenes?

Next blog: best use of music in film.

Tate Britain

A roomful of Howard Hodgkin, maybe six or seven paintings, from various points in his career, all oil on wood.  I like “Clean Sheets” best; a small landscape panel of rough wood, dark brown centre with a bright acidy green “window frame” painted in free sweeps around it.  Inside, another swatch of green – a sheet, maybe- and a red/pink tongue of fire licking at the left- hand corner.

“Porlock”, from this year, is on smoothed wood, with swatches of purple, I think, “stacked” in the centre – border is unpainted.  There are lines of interruption in the swatches; maybe that explains the title.

“Come into the garden Maud” ; swirling masses of green and red blotches, like Impressionist shapes – a Seurat extract magnified a few thousand times.

Anna Barribal

She has a pencil drawing of a brick wall, thickly painted (wall, not drawing) and with natural flaws, bobbles, holes in paint layer, light reflected off it – and it is absolutely a perfect illusion of wallness.  I had to lean against the real wall and look from the side to see the flaws disappear, before I was convinced it was a drawing.  Opposite, there is a large roll of paper, covered completely with ink, sagging against the wall – it’s by the same artist.  I half expected the roll to disappear when I looked at it from the side, as if it were a hologram.

In the same room there are perfect drawn copies of tiny snapshots, a perfect drawn representation of an aerial view of Dresden from the internet, and several perfect drawn representations of – drawings, with folds and wrinkles in paper; these last by David Musgrave.

The skills and resources of patience required for the production of these works are unimaginable to me and they are completely successful in representing the reality of one form in another – perfect illusions, from the front anyway.  There’s a humour there too, when the objects are mundane (brick wall) – I’m reminded of Fischli and Weiss.  Is there more than that?  Not sure.

Leghorn

Blackpaint

7.09.12

Blackpaint 337 – Orgreave, Iscariot and “The F-Word”

April 16, 2012

Jeremy Deller at the Hayward

Collection of his various projects in which he has played the role of interviewer or organiser or visionary – a term not too strong for the “Battle of Orgreave” re-enactment.  The exhibits include:

the flattened car from Iraq that was previously exhibited in the Imperial War Museum (see earlier Blackpaints) and was toured through the States;

Adrian Street, the “flamboyant” Welsh wrestler, his costumes, fights on video and struggles with machismo in the Valleys;

Deller’s “Open Bedroom”, with jokes copied from the walls of the British Library toilets;

The reproduction of Valerie’s Snack Bar, open and functioning, in which the customers looked like living sculpture exhibits the day I went.  Maybe they were particularly theatrically clothed (very arty crowd that day) – or maybe that’s always the effect.

Overshadowing, or maybe drowning out everything else. however, was the Orgreave video and photos that went with it.  Somehow, he got redundant miners who were there, together with military re-enactment groups and at least one policeman, interviewed on film, to reconstruct the “battle” – more a mounted assault, really – and won the 2004 Turner Prize with the filmed record.  Staggeringly realistic and powerful to those who remember the events, now back in the news, linked to the Hillsborough disaster.  The South Yorkshire force was responsible for order on both occasions and lawyers for the families of the Hillsborough dead allege similar tactics of lying and cover-up.

The film of Thatcher at the end, in tight-lipped, glaring, defiant mode brought back vividly her stance at the time; black and white, all or nothing, strikers were the “enemy within”.  She clearly knew nothing about, and cared nothing for the mining communities involved in the strike and this was her great asset – “Ignorance is Strength” (1984, Orwell).

David Shrigley (also at Hayward)

The Orgreave exhibit totally wiped out the David Shrigley exhibition for me – couldn’t be bothered with the little jokes, cartoons, insects with cannons, stuffed dogs…  Very unfair, of course; the leisure centre made me laugh out loud and so did a couple of other things, but the miners’ strike sucks the emotional oxygen out of the surroundings every time for me.

Damien Hirst

On TV Friday night, I glimpsed a shot of a young Hirst in front of his first dot painting, (the one that had run), hung or maybe painted direct onto a scabby, disintegrating, white tiled wall (shades of Deep End).  It looked great and revealed to me what was missing from his show – textural grime. 

Sounds odd, considering the rotting cow’s head, the blood, the massed dead flies, the stink, the disgusting fluid streaks down the walls in the butterfly room… but yet, it’s all too cleanly encased and clinical and glassed in.  Even the huge, black, circular cake of dead flies was neat and tidy.  For some reason, everything looks more exciting to me when it’s half-destroyed – for instance, those giant imitation stained glass windows, made from butterfly wings; destroy the pattern, leave it intact only here and there, bring a bit of entropy in – I think it would look better, might say more.  Then again, he’s the millionaire (billionaire?)…

Incidentally, on the same programme  (the Review Show, BBC2), the presenter Martha Kearney was clearly uncomfortable when one of the reviewers used the word “farking” , quoting Irvine Welsh’s take on how the English say “fucking” – she also panicked when another guest referred to some incident in Welsh’s new book; it was clearly deemed not fit to be repeated.  This is on a cultural review on BBC2, going out after 11.00pm.  Nursery school?  I hate all the bleeping you get on TV and especially the use of the formulation “The C-word”, “The F-word” and “The N-word”.

Kings Place – “Abstract Critical – Newcomer Awards”

Five lovely canvases by Iain Robertson, white base, faux-clumsy, slapdash figures, sweeps, circles, triangles, crosses in glowing, burning colours – a lot of Gillian Ayres, more than a touch of Albert Irvin, CoBrA peering through…

A couple of huge (and hugely priced) colourful, feathery swatches and tangles like Albert Oehlen by Gary Wragg. both entitled “Rue Gambetta”, one of them a cool 40 grand.

These were the selectors, however – of the selectees, it was Dan Roach’s pictures in oil and wax on paper that stood out, recalling Clough and Ian McKeever, somewhat.

National Gallery

Some random observations:

Only the Constable sketches look good to me – the wagons and little boys and rainbows spoil the finished paintings.

Guido Reni – “Europa”; what a duff painting.  The bull is terrible and so is the cherub.

The Veronese “back” in “Unfaithfulness” – fantastic.  Also Veronese – the size of that horse in the right of the picture of Alexander!  Maybe it’s on a step?  Also the big heads on the left and the “ghosts” wafting about in the centre.

The Titian Vendramins – the figure on the left has a head just like a French soldier at the time of the Dreyfus case.

The Campin Virgin with the improbably long, straight nose and the Van der Weyden Virgin – those fabric folds!

The Duccio pinks and the Giotto Pentecost legs, like spindly insect legs under the square bodies.

A grey-bodied Jesus as the Man of Sorrows, with massive chest and shoulders like a body builder.

Tree of Man and Pasolini

I was a bit hard on this the other day – called the beginning and the end “crap”.  Not so – it was the air of religiosity that I found unbearable, all that holy, churchy choir stuff and white floating linenLast weekend, I watched “The Gospel According to St. Matthew” by Pasolini – that’s the way to do religion on soundtrack; Bach, Blind Willie Johnson, Congo Mass; and the faces, particularly the young and old Marys and Judas Iscariot (Pasolini look-alike?), and the angry, intense, studenty Jesus.

Work in Progress (I know – too much brown).

Blackpaint

16/04/12