Posts Tagged ‘Richard Hamilton’

Blackpaint 562 – O’Keefe, Caine, Keitel and Maradona

July 14, 2016

Georgia O’Keefe, Tate Modern

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Autumn Tree – the Maple

I’ve been to the O’Keefe exhibition and wasn’t keen, on the whole.  I think the trouble is with two things: firstly, the surfaces of her paintings – they’re too flat and dry, no texture.  They would do equally well as prints, it seems to me (I remember, we felt the same about Hopper).  Surface like Lempicka, even.  That’s a matter of taste, I suppose, and so is the other problem, which is really the subject matter.

As with “American Sublime” a few years back and a Samuel Palmer in the watercolour exhibition, I think some things aren’t meant to be painted.  Glorious sunsets, weird desert effects, they’re great in nature but mostly horrible on canvas.  Like those garish postcards that olden days people used to send home from Thailand or wherever they’d been on holiday, they don’t convey the real thing.  An exception is –

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The Mountain, New Mexico

Same thing goes for antelope skulls – the real things are fantastic objects in themselves; why turn them into detailed, accurate drawings (except to provide an accurate scientific record)?  Same thing should go for the flowers, but for some reason, I like those.

Anyway, I got “echoes” of a whole range of artists going round, some of them surprising:

Richard Hamilton – there were a couple of sheets of parchment-like paper, reminiscent of Hamilton’s early drawings of car fronts and fridges.

Luc Tuymans – grey/white sheets, tied or folded in the middle.

Marc/Macke – Lake George, Coat and Red (below)

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Black Mesa Landscape (below) reminded me of Lawren Harris, who paints mountains like distant white blancmanges.

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Generally,  I thought of Nolan’s and other Australian’s  renditions of landscape, Ayer’s Rock/Uluru for example.

Again generally, I got Mexican muralists for some reason.  The picture I liked best was Winter Road (below) – hardly typical.

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Youth, Sorrentino (2015) DVD

What is Sorrentino doing?  He seems to be imitating the style of Terence Malick in the Tree of Life – but not doing it very well.  The only memorable image is that of the enormously-bellied hotel guest on the tennis court, propelling the ball into the air time and again with a sort of nimble, fat athleticism.  He’s supposed to be Maradona, apparently.

youth1

Fellini said that he’d chosen Donald Sutherland to play Casanova because the actor was wooden – Sorrentino perhaps chose Michael Caine for the same reason.  Caine never seems to be acting in anything I’ve seen him in; he just says his lines, with an occasional slight gesture towards emotion – anger, or grief, say – as an indication of what his character might be feeling.  He’s Michael Caine; why bother?  He does look a lot like Sorrentino regular Tony Servillo in this, though.  Harvey Keitel’s exit is hilarious.  The music – Simple Songs, was it? – is terrible.

It got excellent reviews and won some prizes; must take another look to see what I missed.

So, nothing good this week (including the “change” of government).  Stood all weekend in a Brixton street art fair with a bunch of my paintings and didn’t sell a single one.  Then I turned out this pinkish affair, which I include only to have something new in the blog.

wip

Work (not) in progress,

Blackpaint

14.7.16

 

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Blackpaint 475 – Blackpaint’s Best and Worst Exhibitions of 2014

December 29, 2014

My Ten Best Exhibitions of 2014

I know, I’m sorry, but lists are really easy and I already have all the pictures ready.

Nicolas de Stael, le Havre

Mostly landscapes and sea views, with a few fantastic abstracts, from the latter part of his career.

de Stael big red

Martial Raysse, Pompidou Centre

I’d never heard of him, but he’s France’s most expensive living painter (not that that means he’s good – but he is).  Comparable, I think, to Richard Hamilton as an ideas man.

raysse1

Malevich, Tate Modern

Stupendous exhibition, both in the nature of the work on show and its historical interest and importance.  How did he manage to avoid being shot?  I think he probably died of natural causes just in time…

Malevich,-The-Woodcutter,-1912_original

Georges Braque, Guggenheim Bilba0

To be truthful, I’d thought of him as Picasso’s more boring collaborator in Cubism, so I was excited to see the beautiful works on dark backgrounds here.

braque red tablecloth

Cezanne and the Modern, Ashmolean 

Cezanne, Manet, VG, Degas and the revelation of those Soutine Expressionist townscapes and portraits.  Soutine was a favourite of De Kooning, so he’s good enough for me…

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Soutine

Richard Deacon, Tate Britain

Twisting, tortured, beautiful shapes in twisted, tortured materials.  And, mostly, huge…

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Veronese, National Gallery

Huge compositions, luscious colours, dramatic gestures, fabulous flesh – and some crap, insipid  Jesuses to offset the brilliance…

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Kenneth Clark Collection, Tate B

Pretty good stuff, Ken, even though you ploughed a particular furrow and had a “firm” (distorting?) hold on British modern art.  I loved the Pasmores, Sutherlands, Moores, Trevor Bell…

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Graham Sutherland

Egon Schiele, Courtauld

Once seen never forgotten, these scrawny, distorted, perfectly drawn figures and faces.  How would he have developed, had he lived a longer life?

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Frankenthaler/ Turner, Margate

Bit tenuous, the link between the two; basically, hers look like landscapes and they both do washes – but some beautiful works from both.  Knew the Turners but not the Helens…

frank 2 cromagnon

 

Also great, but not quite…

Matisse Cut-Outs – I loved them, but it needed a few paintings to beef it up.

Silent Partners, Fitzwilliam, Cambridge – the mannikins exhibition; some beautiful pictures, notably Millais’ Black Brunswicker..

millais the black brunswicker

Richard Hamilton. Tate Britain – bursting with ideas, but cold, somehow..

Modern Art and St. Ives, International Exchanges 1915 – 65; Tate St.Ives – this one full of  brilliant art, but I knew most of them so it didn’t make the top ten.  Actually now I come to think, this was my real number two after de Stael.

winifred nicholson

 

 

Winifred Nicholson

And the Turner Prize was pretty good this year, even though it was nearly all video and the wrong one won.

So, having done the best, here’s My Worst Exhibitions of 2014:

Franz Widerberg, at the Kings Place.  Alien spacemen in horrible colours.

Richard Tuttle at the Whitechapel – mostly ticky-tacky.

Gerhard Richter at the Goodman Gallery – great artist, playing about.

Making Colour, National Gallery – not as exciting as it could have been.

Ruin Lust, Tate Britain – ditto.

OK, that’s enough; maybe I’ll do films and books tomorrow.  If not, Happy New Year from all at blackpaint.wordpress.com.  Bye!

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watercolour2

 Life Drawings

Blackpaint

29.12.14

 

 

Blackpaint 459 – Martial, Andre and Oscar at the Pompidou

August 22, 2014

Martial Raysse at the Pompidou Centre

I’d never heard of this artist until now; I suppose he’s a sort of Richard Hamilton – pop art, ideas man, always changing, cutting edge.  His early stuff is a combination of the matt face portraits along the lines of Warhol, often combined with neon bits (see below).  He also did a lot of neon sculptures;   A painting with the corner missing, replaced with a piece of neon that makes a corner frame.  the colours are vivid, the pictures striking and witty.

Then, paintings with additions, such as a set of antlers, becoming more extensive, until at least half sculpture – Stella, or maybe Bill Woodrow.

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raysse3

Later, he did massive canvases, peopled by partying mobs of strange, incongruous people in bright, almost painfully bright colours.  This phase reminds me of the sort of paintings that appeared in the recent Saatchi exhibition; strange groups doing strange, suggestive things (see previous Blackpaint).  A completely bonkers short film called “Jesus Cola”, in which a professor is a sort of quiz contestant, answering questions, usually with an emphatic “NON!”  Cut to youths playing at cowboys, one “shooting” all the others with a toy pistol, to what sounded like Dylan’s “Oxford Town” speeded up to the Nth degree.

raysse4

Some ceramics, mobiles made from clothes pegs etc., like sinister charms hung from trees in “Blair Witch” or “True Detective” and the odd painting of banal, everyday articles like the basket of fruit above.  And then the stranger and stranger ensemble paintings in vile colours.

He’s the most expensive French living artist, apparently; a real find for me.

Pompidou permanent collection

Some real beauties in the permanent collection –   my favourites are:

Andre Kertesz photos of New York

kertesz1

That’s a pigeon taking off.

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Reminds me of Brueghel.

Marc Chagall’s bride and groom.

chagall pomp

Asger Jorn (of course)

jorn pomp

 

Karel Appel (of course)

appel pomp

 

And this fantastic portrait of Brancusi by Kokoschka.

kok pomp

 

OK, enough Pompidou for now; more next blog.

A Separation (cont.)

I was halfway through when I wrote about this film last week; it got even better in the second half, with a potential murder accusation (of an unborn child, under Iranian law).  Ended inconclusively, I think without a taking of sides; could be wrong though – I’d need a rigorous feminist analysis to be sure.

Like Someone in Love

Kiarostami film, set in Japan, concerning an odd triangle of young student/prostitute, elderly professor/client and boyfriend/mechanic/thug.  The last is unaware of his girlfriend’s job; the film concerns the attempts of the girl and the client to keep it that way.  Like “a Separation”, it ends inconclusively – but no other similarities, apart from the nationality of the directors.

The tone of the film is indeterminate; at times, I thought I was watching a gentle comedy – the elderly client is a benign grandfatherly type, who only wants company for dinner and someone to listen to Ella Fitzgerald with him.  He eschews the opportunity to sleep with the girl.   Then it gets darker as he loses control of the situation with the boyfriend.

The night scenes from a taxi in the Japanese city – Tokyo? – are beautifully photographed but it’s not breathtaking, like “The Wind Will Carry Us”, for example; the only other Kiarostami film I know.  Reminded me of “I’m in the Mood for Love”, maybe, but probably its just the use of a torch song title.

 

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Theory Split 2

 

 

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Theory Split 2 

Blackpaint, 22.08.14

 

 

 

Blackpaint 435 – Hamilton, Richter, Baselitz, Andrex and the Phuncbot…

February 20, 2014

Richard Hamilton at Tate Modern

richard hamilton 2

Surprising how much ground he covered in his ideas and work.   It starts with shapes and forms from D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson; then those parchment-coloured, fragmented, “technical” drawings – car grids and headlights, electric toasters, commercial hairdriers, collages using plates of reflective silver material; a room based on Hamilton’s reconstructions of “Bride Stripped Bare”; blurred photographs, recalling (prefiguring?) Richter – anonymous blobs on crowded beaches, the Jagger-Fraser handcuffs picture, the Kent State victim, echoed in Richter’s Baader Meinhof pics; the flower pictures (Richter again); the political stuff – Treatment Room, with Thatcher holding forth (silently) on screen over bed (touch of Hirst here); Blair as a two gun cowboy, the Christ -like Dirty Protester in his cell, British soldier in Belfast street, Orange Order bowler hat man, maps showing expansion of Israeli occupied territory…

There are a couple of pictures containing Andrex toilet paper; not adverts, but semi-abstract paintings – and a trendy 60’s model girl, squatting fully dressed (paisley, I think) and taking a little curly shit on the floor – clearly where Martin Creed got the image; then there are the empty, mirrored hotel lobbies and stately naked models hoovering and hovering; the “Richard” (Ricard) parody logo that recalls Ed Ruscha’ s work; the electric toothbrush with denture plate attached and parody advert with Lorraine Chase- and, of course, “What is it that Makes Today’s Homes..” – this is so small that I missed it first time round and had to go back through to find it.

richard hamilton1

So, rich mix of ideas, startling originality, immaculate execution, with an underlying coldness and disengagement, even in the political work.

Philemon (Bible)

A short letter from Paul; but the interesting thing is that this letter, to Philemon, asking him to take back his former slave Onesimus, a runaway, demonstrates that slavery was not incompatible with Christianity – or, at least, with the Bible.  I suppose this should be obvious – nothing against slavery in the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount, for example – yet you tend to forget, because of the Christian influence in the anti-slavery movements in the 19th century.  I wonder if the other great religions condemn slavery explicitly?

Memphis Tennessee

I’ve been listening to this for 50 odd years – not continuously, of course – and have always wondered who “took the message and he wrote it on the wall”.  It sounds like “the phuncbot” to me.  So I finally looked it up on the net and it’s “My uncle”.  One version gives “Cos my uncle…”.  I’m still not convinced and prefer phuncbot.

The Travelling Players

travelling players

Theo Angelopoulos’ masterpiece; an ever dwindling, forlorn band of actors trudging and training through 20th century Greek history, putting on the same classic play in village halls, as war, murder, treachery and tragedy surround and wash over them.  It has that sort of tableau vivant style, interspersed with chunks of history spoken straight to camera by actors, like narrators in a play.  This sounds dreary, but isn’t; there is staggering mountain scenery, grotesque violence, partisan politics in both senses – and classical references, in that the players correspond to the tragedy of Agamemnon – Electra, Orestes etc.  And music – beautiful, haunting songs and American dance tunes.  Suitcases, shabby suits and coats, umbrellas, railway stations, mountain roads in the snow.  Long, but fantastic.

Baselitz, Richter, Penck at the British Museum

Powerful and dramatic woodcuts and drawings from Baselitz.   In 1967, he began to turn everything upside down; seated figures, eagles, trees, the lot.  The info on the wall explains that he was trying to empty the pictures of their figurative content, to abstractify them in some way. He succeeds sometimes, but mostly you think this is a seated man upside down; I wonder why.  Great, Seurat-like portrait woodcut from Penck and spirally, scribbly abstracts from Richter.

Burmese Days

I’ve been looking at Orwell’s writing on Forster and Passage to India; mainly favourable, as you would expect.  He does say that Forster’s characters sometimes die for no real reason – and that the Germans broadcast Passage in the war as anti-British propaganda.  This was not a criticism; rather, it showed how powerful Forster’s novel was as a critique of British imperialism in India.  I imagine they would have broadcast Burmese Days too, had Orwell been as distinguished a novelist as Forster at the time.  It’s much more vehement than the earlier novel.

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Flowerpot

Blackpaint

20.02.14

Blackpaint 363 – Naked Smoking and Hoovering; watch where you drop the ash.

October 18, 2012

Richard Hamilton at the National Gallery

Paintings – although they mostly look like giant photographs – done with laser colour sprays on canvas, controlled by computer program.  Colour gradations, especially flesh tones of the young naked women who inhabit the pictures, are so perfect.  The naked women make telephone calls, hoover, wander around or take part in tableaux that rehearse famous historical paintings – Annunciation (Leonardo? Lippi?), Sanraedan’s cavernous Dutch church interiors, Nude descending a Staircase, The Bride Stripped Bare.  The “action” takes place in hotel lobbies, or Hamilton’s various homes – one at Cadaques, I was interested to see.  The main exhibit consists of three pictures, in various media and states, of a nude woman lying on a couch in a position reminiscent of a Titian nude, overlooked by portraits of Courbet, Titian and, I think, Rubens.   Here and there are areas of blurring that recall Richter.  The disengagement of the nude women suggest Delvaux’s dream women, to me at least.  The tones are mostly subdued greys and pinks.

Technically brilliant, I found them flat, uninspiring and  lifeless.  Why do people keep re-doing the Old Masters?

Before leaving Hamilton, I should mention Jonathan Jones’ review of same last week in Guardian:  “What a dude!” he was moved to exclaim.  Compare with Rachel Cooke’s comments on Conrad Shawcross (gorgeous) and Ed Ruscha (also gorgeous) in recent-ish reviews.  Good to see journalistic standards are being maintained in the broadsheets; that’s what distinguishes them from  bloggers.

Kitaj

Unfortunately, after the sarcasm, I have to admit to an inaccuracy myself.  I cited the Kitaj back as one of the great backs in art (which it is), but totally failed to notice that the model is smoking.  This is somewhat important, as the picture is called Matryka Smoking.  This compounds the error, since I said I thought it was Kitaj’s wife, Sandra.  So that’s that sorted.  My obsession with backs comes from my usual spot in the life drawing session – behind the model.

  Howl

Saw the film on Ginsberg on TV last night; great poetry, terrible animations.  Far too literal – spirit-like hipsters swooping about the night sky transparently, like Peter Pan.  The obscenity trial was good though, based on the actual transcripts.

Lemming

Much better was this French “black comedy thriller” with Charlottes Gainsbourg and Rampling.  The latter adopts a chilling deadpan expression, bringing to mind Robert Shaw’s great Jaws description of sharks’ dead, black, doll-like eyes.  Charlotte Gainsbourg, a bit like Keira Knightly, has one of those faces that shift from beautiful to ugly, vulnerable to contemptuous in an instant.  great film, very highly recommended.

Vija Celmins

At Tate Britain, small charcoal and graphite drawings and lithographs, mostly of galaxies and spiders’ webs.  the question, as with Anna Barribal (see  Blackpaint 358) is: how does she do it?  Surely she doesn’t put the black in, leaving thousands of tiny, blurred, round, white star spaces?  This again is an example of art which painstakingly – no, the word is not strong enough – obsessively, fanatically reproduces that which a photograph could, perhaps, also reproduce.  It’s fascinating. but is it any more than that?  No doubt it is,and someone will comment to tell me how.

A couple of other things from the Tate – a new Turner, “Venice, the Doge marrying the sea” or some such title; look at it from the archway, it’s brilliant from a distance, less effective close up.  Also the Yass wire walker film – if you watch it through the archways from the other end of the galleries, it looks great, painterly, especially the tower block.  The Keiller exhibition was being dismantled while I was there; huge crates labelled “H. Moore” standing around in the main hall; but I did have a good look at the Lowry, and noticed how weird his perspectives are; they seem to start again at the end of every street going away from you, like a mediaeval painter maybe.

Harris Savides

Obit in Guardian of the above, cinematographer on David Fincher’s “Zodiac” and so responsible for that great yellowish look that the film had – I don’t know how better to describe it, but it fitted the period and the theme perfectly – as did Donovan’s Hurdy Gurdy Man; what a sinister song.

Dinosaur Walk

Blackpaint

18.10.12

Blackpaint 225

November 30, 2010

Hans Holbein

I’m intrigued at the difference between the realism or naturalism of the famous portraits and the highly stylised portrayal of characters in his religious/historical paintings; they look as if they were done by different artists.  The staggering portraits – Thomas Cromwell, Ellyot, More and that lady with the squirrel – could have been done yesterday, except maybe that no-one nowadays would do those beautiful coloured backgrounds (that green-blue in the lady).  But look at “Noli me Tangere” for example; the drama of the poses and the portrayal  of Christ with his big head and long face (like Wirtz, “The Miraculous Draught  of fishes”) in that karate master posture – you would never think  that was a Holbein, surely. 

Albrecht Durer

It seems to me that there is no such dichotomy with Durer, except for one portrait:  that of his father, aged 70.  In  this portrait alone, he approaches Holbein’s naturalism and the painting could be taken for one  by the younger artist.  Check them out on Google.

The painting which caught my attention today, however, was Durer’s “Christ as the Man of Sorrows” of 1493.  There is the usual display of torture instruments: the crown of thorns, a whip and a bundle of birch twigs.  Christ bleeds from numerous wounds.  What is strange is his pose and his expression – he rests one cheek on his hand, the other hand lies open on a bench at the fromt of the picture and he has on knee raised as if on a box.  The pose is casual.  His face displays boredom, not agony or exaltation – I can see him as  Tony Hancock in that famous radio sketch about a boring Sunday afternoon in 50’s Britain.

The Man of Sorrows theme has produced other oddities – see Fra Angelico’s  version, for example, with  a disembodied head spitting into Christ’s face.

Last Suppers

 Saw Andrew Graham Dixon’s programme on German art last night and there was yet another “round table” Last Supper; this one by Lucas Cranach the Elder, in Wittenberg Cathedral, I think. 

The Gospel according to Saint Matthew

By Pasolini, of course; wonderful film, fantastic music, Blind Willie Johnson, Bach, Mozart, Missa Luba…  And  those faces: Peter, Thomas the doubter, Judas, the soldier with the spear and sponge.  All the way through, I had this nagging feeling I’d seen Jesus’ face before (the Jesus in the film, that is – haven’t just had a conversion) and then I realised what it was – Richard Hamilton’s picture of “The Citizen”, wrapped in a blanket in the H Blocks, his own shit smeared all  over the walls of the cell.  I looked it up on Wikipedia where it said the portrait was of Hugh Rooney, one of the hunger strikers; another source said it was modelled by Hamilton’s son.  Whichever source is right, he is the image of Pasolini’s Christ (a 19 year old Spanish student, in fact – P. used non actors).

Bridget Riley

I’d remembered Riley’s spot picture as a disc; I was wrong – its a square, set on a point like a diamond.  And I was wrong about “Escape 3”; it DOES divide in the centre, so that the bottom half appears to fold out – or in.

Blackpaint

30.11.10

Blackpaint 197

September 21, 2010

Michelangelo and the Sistine Ceiling

The more I read about this, the more incredible M’s achievement seems to me.  I saw Tim Marlow on TV the other day asserting that he had assistants and to have completed the task without help in four years does seem a tall order (cliche – what’s that from?).  Ross King, who has written a book on this, “Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling”, asserts he had up to a dozen helpers, doing painting as well as plastering and labouring and that signs of their brushwork can be discerned throughout.  I haven’t read the book yet, so I don’t know what evidence he offers.

He does say, however, that after the first section (Noah and the Flood, presumably), he increasingly tended to do the work himself .  Other works, the Taschen by Gilles Neret for example, say that helpers did no more than plastering and fetching and carrying, and that he did all the painting himself.  What makes the job even more staggering is that he knew nothing about fresco painting when he started, thinking of himself as a sculptor rather than a painter.

The Flood

Some strange things going on in the Flood, which are not in Genesis: a woman in a boatful of survivors is about to clobber a man with a stump of wood.  It looks as if he has just hauled himself aboard, still having one foot in the water, maybe overloading the boat – or another mouth to feed.  A bit of artistic licence, presumably, bit of violence to sex things up; but similar things going on on the Ark too.  A young man, one of Noah’s sons, is about to hack at a man with an axe; the victim is being assisted onto the boat by another son, as the attack looms.  Elsewhere on the Ark, another son helps another survivor.  I don’t remember any survivors, other than Noah’s family – maybe they died, or were chucked back overboard.

Alphabetical Juxtapositions (see Blackpaint 190)

Again, from the Phaidon Art Book, Richard Hamilton and Hammershoi.  On the left page, Hamilton’s famous “Just What is it that Makes Today’s Homes so Different, so Appealing?”  Its yellows and reds, patterns and clutter of artefacts contrast beautifully with Hammershoi’s “Interior with Girl at Clavier” on the opposite page; cool, spare, still greys, whites and browns, echoing the black and white figure of the past in the wall photograph in Hamilton’s work.

Then there is the Hepworth and the Heron.  Barbara Hepworth’s polished form in guaraca wood, like a head with huge eyes, echoed in Heron’s coloured shapes in “Fourteen Discs”.  Not a surprise, I suppose, given their period and place; but I’d never noticed the similarity before.

Politics

Tried to keep politics out so as not to offend any readers, but I am unable not to comment on the insufferable little prick of a Lib Dem MP on TV last night, who kept referring to “Grown Up Politics”, as if anyone not backing the “coalition” (that is, Tory government) is being childish.  Come on, Martin Rowson – time to stop doing clever, dark, ambiguous cartoons of sinister fairgrounds; I want Lib Dem tongues up Tory arses.  Might as well be childish, if we’re not “grown up”.

Spider’s song, take 2

21.09.10