Posts Tagged ‘Stalker’

Blackpaint 508 – To the Finland Station

August 23, 2015

Amos Andersonin Taide Museo, Helsinki

The only art museum open on a Monday in Helsinki.  The exhibition was based on Work.  A number of OK paintings of tradesmen in a Realist style – I was going to say Socialist Realist, but that’s really anything but Realist, of course.  Blacksmiths, factory hands, supervisors, technicians, seal hunters, even two portraits of a famous conductor (orchestra, not bus) – but above all, log rollers.  A pretty big feature of the Finnish economy, log rolling, by the look of it.

My favourite exhibit was this group of workers, maybe a factory committee meeting, made of wood, each about 9 inches high:

workers

There was also a short film about an anxious young man starting work in a big factory somewhere in the 50s or 60s – a sort of “Look at Life” type thing for those who remember; he keeps getting reassuring smiles from older, experienced hands.  The result is like a sort of gay industrial promo, if there were such a thing.

Didrichsen Art Museum

A 20 minute bus ride from the centre, a Bauhaus-y building on a lake, set in a sculpture garden (Moore, Bernard Meadows), reminiscent of the Louisiana gallery outside Copenhagen, but much smaller.  Pictures by Finns painting from pre WW1, influenced by Fauves and Seurat, Symbolism and Expressionism.  Best were by Enckell, “the Awakening Faun” ( see below, rather like Duncan Grant, I think) – Ollila, “Four Women”, Ruokokoski, “Girl, 1911”, Sallinen, “Mirri” and “Landscape” and Makela, “Bridge Construction”.

Enckell 1

Enckell, The Awakening Faun

Additionally, there were paintings by the mysterious AW Finch, a painter and potter whose works showed up in several galleries and museums, but about whom there was no info.  turns out he was Belgian but of British extraction, and settled in Finland, pursuing a career first as painter, then potter, then painter again.  Here’s a Finch from the Didrichsen:

Finch

AW Finch

He normally works in short, diagonal strokes. top left to bottom right – unless he’s doing pointillism, of course.

There is also a great collection of Central and South American figures and artefacts, mostly Peruvian and Mexican – examples below:

mexicans

OK, enough Finland for today-  more next blog.

John Cheever and Raymond Carver and Tobias Wolff and Donald Barthelme

I wrote last time, or time before, about “The Swimmer”; both the Cheever story and the great film based on it, featuring Burt Lancaster.  Predictably, the short stories pulled me back in and I’m ploughing through the great 700 odd page brick of the collection again.  Not that it’s in any way a chore – they are brilliant little masterpieces, polished and elegant (but not twee), undercut by humour, tragedy – “The Hartleys”, for instance – and with frequent interjections from the author to remind you that these are works of fiction, after all, and he can take them anywhere he feels like going.

The problem is that I now have to read the different, but equally brilliant Carver stories again – the one about the boys who catch the fish and cut it in half so they can both take it home, or the one about the carpet cleaner salesman that was referenced in “Mad Men”… Then of course, there’s Tobias Wolff – closer to Carver than Cheever, but a voice of his own (why hasn’t he published more lately?)  And Donald Barthelme; I think I caught a whiff of Barthelme’s light mania in one or two of the Cheever stories.

Stalker

As for films, I’m back in the Zone again, with Tarkovsky’s nervous guide throwing his nuts around in a sling, as the water pours down in the tunnel and the great black dog watches, while the Writer disobeys instructions.  Half an hour at a time is the way to watch Tarkovsky.

 

bloody wakefield

Bloody Wakefield Revisited

 

spider's song

Spider’s Song Again

Blackpaint

23.08.15

 

Blackpaint 324 – Willem Working for the WPA; a New Deal for Bankers

February 11, 2012

De Kooning again

In the DK retrospective (Thames and Hudson 2011), that obsession with flat surface comes up again inevitably in the first essay, an overview of DK’s career by John Elderfield.  He points out that DK boasted of painting “on top” of the surface, going one better than the other AbExes to create a sort of 3D effect, I suppose.  You can see this quite clearly in the photo of Willem and Elaine standing in front of one of the “Woman” series; the painting looks like a sort of meringue, spilling out and over the edges of the painting.

Also fascinating to learn (for me, anyway) is that his late, post 1983 paintings, the ones that look like toy snakes writhing about on a clean white background, were not painted like that; when x-rayed, they show his usual tangled and overdrawn charcoal and paint strokes.  The difference is that he has painted over them in thick white, hiding the pentimenti, as I am told they are called, and giving that empty effect.  However they were produced, I still find them deeply depressing to look at, after the richness of the earlier work.

Richter and Oehlen

Similarities between these two painters, presumably the result of coincidence or the influence of the former over the latter:  the depth and layering effect of their abstracts, as if they were made of layers of glass with different marks, and space between each layer.  As Camille Morineau explains in the “Panorama” book on Richter, R often has cylindrical columns, originally from his “Candles” drawings; flat, geometric shapes of colour, green triangles for example; and the famous squeegee sweeps, which she describes as producing the effect of a brush sweep, blown up to big proportions.

Oehlen does his layers too – typically, computer generated images blown up, controlled paint “explosions” and often, a collaged element, the whole giving a hybrid effect of airbrush, painterly and collaged layers.

WPA

Returning to de Kooning for a moment, I was surprised to read that WPA artists had to produce a painting every six weeks and were paid the same as a construction worker on the East River Drive project – $23.86 a week!

Sounds good to me – pity there’s no enthusiasm for New Deal policies now.  What about training up a cohort of idealistic students and activists to run Lloyds and RBS for the taxpayer, for a good salary with no or minimal bonuses?  They could be like the FBI or the Untouchables. only trained in “ethical” banking practices (or at least, not screwing the customer) so that the shower we have now can take their expertise to Hong Kong or wherever, like they’re always promising to.

Martin Rowson

Best Rowson cartoon for a long while in the Guardian, Friday – caption “Eeeeeeeesing!”, Mervyn King pissing against a wall in Threadneedle Street, while a Fat Cat laps it up from the gutter, Osborne leaning against his fat flank.  But with Rowson, you have to be really well informed to get it all – what’s the tumbleweed, Martin?

I see that today’s compulsive grammatical tic is the use of inverted commas – will try to avoid in future.

Tarkovsky

Geoff Dyer has a new book, “Zona”, about the above’s film, “Stalker”; it was reviewed in Sunday’s Observer and I was pleased that the reviewer coupled Tarkovsky and my other favourite Bela Tarr, as the two most difficult and patience-trying directors.  I have to agree, I suppose; couldn’t really get through most of their films more than once in the cinema – but on DVD, no problem.  Tarkovsky or Bela for half an hour, stop DVD to watch Neighbours or Holby, back to Stalker or Satantango.

Life Drawing

I was told the shoulders were good in this one, but the body was “crap”  (not doing well with the inverted commas).

And here’s the proper painting – still in progress, it’s a big canvas for me, 60*40″.

Blackpaint

11.02.12