Posts Tagged ‘Rosso Fiorentino’

Blackpaint 272

May 8, 2011

Bela Tarr

A top shot, from a bridge maybe, of travellers disembarking with suitcases from a ferry and boarding an old dockside train; it’s twilight, puddles, cobbles, steam…  Yes, they’re still coming – how many is that?  A mournful, haunting accordion plays a slow melody, over and over.  We watch the back of a man’s head as HE watches through steamed-up glass…  Later, a violent incident happens away at the top of the screen, in the darkness, on the quay – something, or someone hits the water…  A violent argument takes place between the man and the proprietress of a grocery, in the shop itself.  As they scream and tussle,  a man emerges from the freezer room at the back with a giant fish on his shoulder, slaps it on a slab and starts to chop it up.  The fight ends, the two antagonists leave – and the camera lingers on the man chopping.  He chops the fish 47 times before the scene changes…  We watch, through the window of a shabby room, with another smoking man, cable cars going to and from a factory or colliery, across a smoke -stained landscape, many times.  Mournful music plays.  Outside a dingy neon-fronted bar, ferocious rain teems down and ferocious scavenging dogs scour the mud…

These are moments – all in black and white. and beautifully shot and recorded – from the fims of Bela Tarr, my current obsession.  More to follow.

Violence in paintings

Since last blog, or maybe the one before, I have come across a number of old paintings depicting violent incidents in surprising ways – or perhaps with surprising subjects.  I was writing about Caravaggio’s “Abraham and Isaac” in the Uffizi, how brutally realistic is the violence, even though the angel prevents the “sacrifice” before Abraham can use his knife.  In the Domenichino version of the same scene, the angel, flying across the picture, brushing against Abraham’s shoulder, and grabbing the knife in his hand.  It actually looks as if Abraham is doing a judo throw on him – a poorly executed Kata-Guruma.  Everyone, including the ram, looks skyward piously- Abraham mildly startled, though.

Bernardino Luini tackled “The Executioner presents John the Baptist’s head to Herod” around 1530.  The headsman holds it by the hair, as if scrutinising it for nits, while Salome, looking very like a Leonardo saint, turns her gently smiling face away with lowered eyes, too modest, it appears, to accept the gift (Herod not in my version – must be a detail).  Even John looks demure and thoughtful – politely, he refrains from bleeding, though there is  a basin, which Salome caresses.

Rosso Fiorentino – “Moses and the Daughters of Jethro”.  From 1523,  a near naked young Moses gets stuck in to the seven shepherds who are being mean to Jethro’s daughters.  In an amazing Mannerist triangular pile of flesh, he is putting a shoulder hold on one, while two more are already laid out on the ground.  Behind him, another shepherd appears to be hurling a bludgeon at a mildly alarmed daughter in the background, clad in a blue gown, revealing the right breast.  Luckily, it looks as if it will miss her – the bludgeon, I mean.

Domenichino is in the Prado; the other two are both in the Uffizi.  More violence next time.

Gregory Woods

Attended the launch reading of his new poetry book, “An Ordinary Dog” in Honor Oak last evening; brilliantly structured, very funny, moving, full of classical references and pretty explicit in several verses.  It reminded me of the best of Thom Gunn’s work.  On sale from next month and I did the painting on the cover – which, of course, has no bearing on my opinion of the work.

Blackpaint

08.05.11

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Blackpaint 242

January 16, 2011

Tate Modern

Dropped in the other day for a quick look; at first, same old pictures – although Jorn’s “Letters to my son” gone, and Dubuffet’s scraped pink picture there instead.  But there are a few new ones:

Shiramoto – “Holes”.  A grey and white abstract surface with holes bashed through – Shiramoto a member of Gutai, a movement that liked the tension and contrast of “delicacy and violence”, “destruction and creation” – very Japanese, that, chrysanthemums and samurai swords; it’s the delicacy bit.  Loads of others, The Austrians like Nitsch for instance, did the violence; not the delicacy, though.

Carol Schneeman – Video installation, bikini-clad girls slipping and sliding in a treacly substance – paint? Hard to tell, it’s black and white.  Engaging.

Francis Bacon – A big triptych; Dyer on the left panel, indistinct sexual wrestling in the centre, Francis on the right.  Dyer’s left leg is elided to a point, Bacon’s melting into a sheet of pink ectoplasm, echoing the disappearing lines of the Sarmantos in the adjoining room.

Beuys – His herd of sledges, loaded with felt and fat, escaping from the Volkswagen van – have escaped, and so has the van.  In their place, three or four new pieces: a photo of Beuys in his hat and long, heavy coat; “Campaign Bed”, institutional grey blankets with batteries(?) rolled underneath; “Accumulator”, a cell with wires attached to two clay balls, the source of power; and “Monument to a stag”, metal antlers, or rather some horn-like metal pipes and appendages.  The squad of red-brown turds by the girder are still there, though.

Lee Krasner – “Gothic Landscape”, dominated by crude black lanceolate blades, driving diagonally across canvas has little patches and touches of white, mint green and pink can be detected in the interstices.  Never noticed them before, which is why I’m mentioning this painting – it’s not a new, or newly-hung one.

Uffizi

Two strange paintings:

Pontormo – “The Supper at Emmaus”.  Floating above Christ’s head is a glowing pyramid, with an open eye in the centre of the outfacing plane.  The commentary says it is the symbol of the Trinity and was added later, but I think it is a Freemasonry symbol.  Presumably the Freemasons adopted it. On the floor, a skull-like dog face peers out, chewing in a bone and a couple of cats lurk amongst the human and table legs.

Rosso Fiorentino – “Madonna dello Spedalingo”.  The eyes of the Christ child and, to a lesser extent, those of all the surrounding figures, are large and sooty black – the effect, in reproduction, is as if someone had taken scissors to them.  The saint on the right looks like Death, from a Death and the Maiden.

Leonardo – The Fiorentino has to be the creepiest Christ child in Renaissance art – but the boy in “Madonna of the Carnation” must be the fleshiest (although Leonardo’s babies are always on the heavy side; see “Madonna Benois” or “The Virgin if the Rocks”).

Cezanne

A couple of Cezannes that you would never recognise as C’s if you didn’t know.  “The Orgy”, informed by Veronese’s “Wedding at Cana” – fleshy, writhing bodies round a white, tilted table against a cold, darkening blue sky; and “Temptation of St. Anthony”, more fleshy buttocks and bellies, poor St. Anthony accosted by a naked. writhing woman – the whole thing against a black background.

Listening to “Carrickfergus”, Van Morrison:

“I’m drunk today and I’m rarely sober;

A handsome rover from town to town,

Ah, but I am sick and my days are numbered,

So come all you young men and lay me down”.

Blackpaint

16.01.11