Posts Tagged ‘Solaris’

Blackpaint 402 – Empty Streets, Kentish Fields and Decapitation

July 8, 2013

Lowry – last word

Forgot to say the most striking thing to me about the Tate Britain exhibition; how crowded the streets were!  Always kids and stray dogs hanging around, great swarms of people fleeing the factory gates or trudging resignedly towards them.  Now. most kids are at home on their computers or watching “Game of Thrones” box sets or porn, not hanging round the streets, having a normal childhood and  being a nuisance.  Bloody good job.

A Field in England

Got a terrible review from Catherine Shoard in the Observer, but she appears to be a lone voice; the others loved it.

I thought the tableaux at the beginning of scenes were great, as well as the black and white, overcast English countryside – just like the fields round Down and Knockholt in Kent; the  slow-motion emergence of Whitehead from the tent with a rope round his middle and a terrifying, beatific grin on his face (reminded me of “Jesus Wept!” in Hellraiser); and of course, the psychedelic scene (forerunners: The Colours in “2001”, The planet surface in “Solaris”, the exploding fridge in “Zabriskie Point”, the cemetery scene in “Easy Rider”) all great too, as was the song and the weaponry – those long pistols and the matchlock arquebus.  What wasn’t so good was some of the Pegg-Frost type dialogue – an association underlined by the presence of Tyres as the Master.  On the whole, brilliant and sent me back to my Fairport Cropredy records.

Life Drawing and Painting

Some time ago, I put some of my life drawings up and I’ve got some more, occasionally showing a hasty error that might prove instructive.  When I brought them back from Putney and set them all out in the front room to have a look, I was surprised when a visitor looked in and retreated, clearly embarrassed; not by the dodgy quality, but by the nakedness.  Museums and galleries have been full of nude paintings and sculptures for 100’s of years, but still people are shocked occasionally.  So – my apologies in advance for any distress caused by the following images.



Forgot to do face.



Head this time.



Forgot the feet.


Face again.



OK that’s it for now – proper blog on Thursday as usual.  Come and buy my paintings – the proper ones, not the botched ones above – at Urban Art, Josephine Avenue SW2 next weekend, Sat and Sun, 10.00am – 6.00pm



Blackpaint 392 – Penis Gourds, Baobabs, and Marienbad

May 2, 2013

Alasdair Gray’s “Lanark”

In Blackpaint 386, I mentioned the similarities between Gray’s painter Thaw and Gulley Jimson in Joyce Cary’s “the Horse’s Mouth”, feeling smug to have noticed.  I’ve just got to the bit in the book where Lanark is conversing with God and Gray has a series of sidebars in which he points out all the instances of plagiarism in his own book.  Sure enough, Cary is one – but it sort of takes the shine off it for me; I thought I was being clever.  Lesson there – finish the book before commenting.

Last Year in Marienbad

I think I’ve got a handle on this, after watching it through again; there are alternative endings presented in the film.  In the first, the Woman is shot by her husband; the man is therefore pursuing a ghost throughout – or maybe it’s his memories; in the second, she finally decides to leave with the Man.  That’s my theory anyway.  Jump cutting still funny, and I checked – the people in the gardens do have shadows, whilst the shrubs do not.

Running the films on 4*

I’ve been watching DVDs speeded up, and with some of them, it doesn’t distract from your understanding much (if you’ve watched them before, of course).  Some of them seem to be improved as silent films, depending on the strength of the images.  So far, I’ve watched Holy Motors, The Tin Drum and the Werckmeister Harmonies like this.  Film directors would hate my methods of watching – 30 minutes, then take a break, maybe finish watching tomorrow, or do another 30; it makes some directors a lot more bearable.  Must try Tarkovsky; Solaris, say.  The big drawback of watching it on 4* is you don’t get the score, of course (obviously).

Saatchi Gallery – New British Artists

Only really two that struck me.  The first was Sara Brewer, who makes spindly metal structures like window frames or supports, that are slightly out of kilter and have traces of paint marks on them at random points, it appears; the second was Nicolas Deshayes, who had two panels painted a smooth and uniform blue, with smaller panels of white “blown”plastic set on, or in them, bulging slightly out from the blue plane.  Reminded me of the sort of thing that Billy Al Bengston and Craig Kaufman of the Ferus Gallery “Cool School” were doing in the 60s and which I’m reading about in the excellent Pacific Standard Time book (also see the film The Cool School, narrated by Jeff Bridges).  Deshayes also shows some large slices of white polystyrene, with curved grooves carved into them, like pieces of salt lake surface, scarred with ski marks and chopped out in great, flat chunks.

Sebastiao Salgado at the Natural History Museum

A huge exhibition, loads of big black and white photographs – the Southern Seas and islands, Africa, Amazonia, Alaska, Russia and Canada, the USA.

It reminded me strongly of Ansel Adams – I wonder if Salgado manipulates his pictures in development like Adams did?  Maybe with advances in technology, he doesn’t need to.  The pictures have that “closeness” that I first noticed in Balterman’s wartime pictures of German atrocities in the USSR  – also in McCullin’s shots of the coalfields (the woman with the pram.  I think it’s to do with the focus being sustained throughout the depth of field.  There’s a picture taken across a valley and bay with mountains  on the other side – they must be a few miles away, but they are as sharp as the range on the photographer’s side; everything seems to be upfront.

There’s a sort of National Geographic, timeless quality to the photos of indigenous peoples – “The last two girls in the world to wear lip plates” (Ethiopia), the New Guinea tribesmen with their penis gourds, the Amazonian tribal girls, beautiful and naked – apart from the bone “beard” they have pierced through the chin.

Wondrous photos, many taken from a helicopter, surely; but that marine iguana’s foot, the baobab trees, swollen tubers on their raised, circular island…




Blackpaint – Window on the World



Life Drawing



Blackpaint 43

January 19, 2010

Andrei Rublev

Watching, in half hour chunks, this fantastic but incomprehensible film by Tarkovsky.  It seems to consist of stunning but unrelated scenes, unfolding at his famous “stately pace”; the hot-air balloon thing, the horse rolling on its back in slow motion, the annoying buffoon and childlike villagers, the soldiers, Kirill killing his dog…  So far, I’ve been reminded of that Breughel painting “the Triumph of Death”, because of the way that Andrei and Kirill, and the soldiers on their horses appear so tall and gaunt in their cloaks – and the horses, huge but with no fat on their flanks.  When I look at the painting though, no monks, no soldiers – gaunt horses, but ridden or driven by skeletons.

There is also the river scene, in which the riders appear on the skyline across the river, riding slowly.  Also in “Night of the Hunter” and, I think, in “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid”.  I wonder who did it first; Laughton’s film is by far the earliest of these three, but I bet Eisenstein or some other Russian did it.  Does anyone know?


As to Tarkovsky’s “stately pace”, I remember years ago, 68 or 69, watching his “Solaris” at the ICA, in a cinema empty except for myself and a couple of friends – the cleaners came in and started brushing and clanking about during a particularly slow, quiet bit.  Presumably, they thought the film was over.

Photographers Gallery

First visit since it moved from Newport Street to Ramillies Street, opposite HMV in Oxford Street.  Downstairs was an installation by Sara Remo, “Movable Planes”.  A projection showing a wardrobe stuffed to bursting with women’s clothes.  After a minute or two, some fell out. 

On the wall opposite, two “diptychs”; a clean, uncluttered bathroom and same populated with soaps, shampoos, et al; and a clean, uncluttered kitchen work surface and same populated with jars, packets, bottles et al.

Upstairs, colour photos by Jim Goldberg; “Open See”.  Bangladesh, Pakistan, Senegal, Congo; portraits, poverty, sickness, massacre accounts, horrific bullet scars.  Also Ukraine (b&w, I think), Albanians in Greece.  Small portraits of victims of exploitation, prostitution, forced labour, with faces scratched out and their stories written on them.


I’m trying something new; every time I walk past my current painting I have to make a mark – no longer than five minutes on it, then I have to go away.

Listening to Lake Michigan Blues by Yank Rachell;

“I went down to Lake Michigan, see my babe on the other side (*2)

I wanted to see my baby but it was so deep and wide”.

Watching Andrei Rublev for another two half hour chunks.  Went to Wikipedia and looked up plot – it was a flashback! Now, I understand.