Posts Tagged ‘Philip K Dick’

Blackpaint 534 – Tom, Dick, Brussels and Sprout

February 26, 2016

Jessie Buckley as Marya Bolkonskaya (War and Peace)


The eyes, the hair, the frown – she’s straight out of a Giotto painting.



Now this terrific adaptation has run its course and been replaced by the altogether inferior “Night Manager”, an updated Le Carre novel.  Updated, but still very dated; all these seedy English ex-military types calling each other “dear heart”, clipped sentences, languid beauties lounging about, setting manly English hearts beating; Tom Hiddleston needs to get back to working with Joanna Hogg (Archipelago, Unrelated, The Exhibition) where he’ll be properly stretched – I think he’s too good for this.  Why would he want to appear in a prime time prestige TV serialisation, when he could be in obscure art films, showing at the Ritzy or the ICA?

The Brussels Town Museum (in the old square near Town Hall)

little men

Seen their cousins in a wood carving of the Death of the Virgin in the Victoria and Albert, London.


Bashful lion hiding his shield on stairway.


bruegel hoist

Where have I seen one of these before?  Bruegel’s “Big Babel”, below.


bruegel babel

See it?  Third storey up, on the right.


skinny knight

Skinny armour.

A Life of Philip K Dick – The Man who Remembered the Future (Anthony Peake)



I always thought that Dick wrote brilliant short stories and crap novels (with one or two exceptions); I would have said that his shorts were nearly up there with Ray Bradbury.  It seems from this fascinating book, however, that it wasn’t all imagination.  Many of his main themes – “precognition” (telling the future), simulacra, parallel universes and time flows, false memories, half – death, religious messiahs, government/corporate conspiracies – were extensions of his own beliefs; he thought it was all happening to him, often simultaneously.  Only the (outlandish) names are altered.  An example: “Horselover Fat” in Valis.  Horselover=Philhippus (Greek, sort of); Fat= Dick in German.  Maybe the thinness and rambling nature of his longer texts lend themselves in some way to film versions (Blade Runner, Total Recall, the Minority Report, and now the Man in the High Castle) – great bones, not too much flesh, allowing plenty of interpretive freedom.

My favourite Dick stories:  Pay for the Printer, The Days of Perky Pat.  Novel: Now Wait for Last Year.


Hockney museum

David Hockney, Man in a Museum (or You’re in the Wrong Movie). 1962

“Bare Life”, London Artists Working from Life, 1950 – 1980 (Hirmer, 2014)

This catalogue of a German exhibition in 2014, contains brilliant repros of works by Auerbach, Kossoff, Bacon, Hockney, Freud, Kitaj, Uglow, Coldstream, Michael Andrews, Hamilton, Allen Jones and Nigel Henderson.  There are several essays, one of which, by EJ Gillen, mentions the dispute in 1959 over the compulsory  drawing from nature classes at the Royal College of Art: “Ten unruly students were put on probation and eventually expelled.  Among these was Allen Jones, who argued in a 1968 satire entitled Life Class that drawing from nature had become obsolete since photography was able to reproduce human forms perfectly.”  I wonder what the state of play is now in the art colleges, as regards “drawing from nature”; can anyone tell me?


Frank Auerbach, Looking Towards Mornington Crescent Station, Night, 1972 – 3


If you’re in London during the next two weeks, visit – 



Angel 3 (again)







Blackpaint 529 – Dick, Ted, BS and the Angel

January 23, 2016

I’ve broken my laptop in fit of righteous anger – Outlook was acting up.  Writing this on a Kindle Fire and I don’t know how to upload pics from emails.  Normal blogging may resume on Tuesday when I get the laptop back I hope…


Philip K Dick, BS Johnson, Ted Hughes

What do these three have in common?  Answer: they all had visions (in Dick’s case, multiple ones).  PKD saw the sky open up and an “evil deity” like a machine with slotted eyes scan the earth, and Dick, below.

Johnson visited Kilpeck church in Herefordshire and saw the Sheela-Na-Gig,a female gargoyle which sits on the coping pulling open her vulva with both hands.  Driving back to Wales, he picked up a girl hitchhiker.  When he dropped her, she sat in the road and turned into the Sheela (don’t know about the vulva bit-Jonathan Coe doesn’t elaborate in his Johnson bio “Like a Fiery Elephant”).

Hughes. in the poem “Meeting”, describes how he saw a goat on a mountain ledge, and looking into the animal’s eyes, had a vision of a giant hand descending from the heavens, scooping him up to a giant eye and examining him.  Maybe he was being metaphorical; he was a dabbler in occult things, however, ouija boards and the like. ..

So what?  you might say – and you’d be right.  Interesting though..





Exterminating Angel





Blackpaint 348 – Hopping Through the Market and Swinging in the Trees

June 28, 2012

Chelsea Degree Show

The “plaques” of paint I enthused about in the last blog were made by Clare Travers.

Other Chelsea works I liked:

Jonathan Slaughter – droopy, wilting, tubular sculpture, called, I believe, “Pay for the Printer”, a title borrowed from a Philip K Dick story.  In this tale, human societies have become dependent on friendly aliens known as “printers”, who can reproduce goods and chattels that are described to them; then they get ill and start dying and their powers wane; the replications become ever poorer and fall to pieces or melt back into shapeless matter – time for humanity to shape up and get the tools out again. 

Minji Kim – fragile sculptures of joined rectangles and cubes, formed from thin sticks glued to each other (they don’t appear to interlink like Escher, but are rather glued together), hanging horizontally in front of a dark background.

Anne – Marie Kennedy – paintings of dark grey blocks, cut and slightly shifted by thick slices of white.  Painterly roughness, of course; I have to have some texture.

Don Gumbrell – big, cartoonish paintings with a slight George Condo feel; modern German Expressionist colours.  Like the colour and surface, not so much the image.

Tess Faria – videos, which I normally pass by en route to paintings; she’s plastering a whitewashed wall with black mud; she’s sitting in a big white box in the road; and in the last one, she’s hopping on one leg through a market (could be Deptford?)  – hopping and shopping, in fact.  One or two passers-by look back briefly.  Don’t know why, it sounds trivial and old hat, but it made me watch until she’d finished plastering the wall in one video and hopped out of the market in another, and cheered me up.

Anon – In the same room as Tess, a number of items of furniture, TV, wardrobe etc, beautifully made from chipboard.  Videos, too, but I liked the furniture.  Forgot the name and the work wasn’t in the catalogue.

Selma Dahhouki – more video; she’s swinging on a rope on a tree in the woods, she’s attempting unsuccessfully to slide up another tree trunk, she’s diving into the green waters of a river or lake.  And yes, she’s naked, as you would be, doing these “back to nature” type activities.  Fortunately, the task I have set myself is merely to describe, not to interpret – so I can enjoy the simple pleasures of just looking at art.

Also liked Joanna Stamford’s battered, torn, bronze arm bracelets and lumpy plaster chairs; Tommy Ramsay’s oils of brick walls and columns on grey/brown backgrounds; and Susan Collyer’s Richter-ish blur pictures – particularly the grey “plate” with the orange squares (since I’m looking at this in the catalogue, can’t make out whether it’s a painting or photograph).

Generally, lots more painting in Chelsea show now, mostly retro like my own stuff.  Lot of interesting abstract stuff on walls of TV programme sets too – Mad Men of course, but also Neighbours – don’t watch it myself, mind you – but so I’m told.  And even some advert, there’s a couple of good abstracts, not in some Bauhaus kitchen with beautiful people either.  Can’t remember the product, though.

David Bomberg  

The Sarah Rose collection of Bomberg and the Borough painters is open now at South Bank Uni in Borough High Street; fabulous, interesting painter, famously “uncompromising” (difficult personality).  I’m off there at earliest opportunity – see collection online at