Posts Tagged ‘The Devils’

Blackpaint 333 – Turkish corpses, frenzied nuns and tagliatelli

March 29, 2012

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan.  As the police, army, doctor and prosecutor search the Turkish countryside at night  for a murder victim, guided (!) by a suspect who can’t recognise the spot, they chat about yogurt (shades of Pulp Fiction and hamburgers);  winds get up that rustle the poplars (Padre Padrone) while the searchers take piss breaks, or peer into the searchlights, or land blows of frustration on the confused (or dissembling) captive.  Two more tiresome film buff references: the countryside resembles that of Iran in Kiarostami’s The Wind will Carry Us – and the interminable dictation of legalese and medicalese to typists by first, the prosecutor, then, the doctor, recalls the two secret police at the end of Tarr’s Satantango.  Three memorable images – a winding road through cornfields, laid out  like a thick straw mat; apples plopping into a fast- running stream and bounding downstream over the boulders; and a wind-blown Turkish homestead, made from the dry earth, it’s yellow lamps glimmering.

Perfect for DVD, I found it 30 minutes too long – I was waiting for the bit where the image would freeze and fade to music, but several of these images arrived and moved on into another sequence; arrival at the police station, post-mortem…

The Devils

I’d forgotten just how brilliant this film was and how many famous faces it contains; apart from Reed, Redgrave and Dudley Sutton, there’s Max Adrian and Brian Murphy from Man about the House (or was it Robin’s Nest?), as the two crazed physicians in leather masks.  They sort through the disgorged vomit of the crazed Ursuline nuns, seeking proof of Satanic practices – they find children’s organs, semen and – what’s this?  “A carrot”.  Louis XIII, shooting Protestants dressed as birds and released from giant cages to run across the king’s firing line, shoots one, who tumbles into a pond; as he sinks, the king says “Bye Bye… Blackbird”.  And music by Peter Maxwell Davies!

Joan Mitchell, Last Paintings, at Hauser and Wirth

Five huge canvases from her last decade; the familiar brushwork, like shredded paper, or wide strips tumbled together into a pile, or standing in glowing, superimposed stripes like trees (in “Trees”, 90-91), or multicoloured bundles of tagliatelli, in “Sunflowers”.  The burning, tangled colours a little more raw than usual, and some noticeable dry brush drags.  Upstairs, the Tondos, portholes looking out onto the Grande Vallee – I like the one with the glossy white at the top – and from the big ones, “Then, Last Time, No.4”, the tumbled together one, in dark blue and green.

Michael Raedecker

Also at Hauser and Wirth, at the gallery round the corner from the Mitchell (North Gallery).  His pictures are made with thread on large canvases painted in metallic greys and greens.  Wedding cakes, chandeliers, window and row of bungalows.  The bungalows are cut into panels and re-sorted amongst several canvases to create discontinuities. At the upper and lower edges of the canvases, white blobs that are reminiscent of Peter Doig.  The press release describes his work as “subtle and unsettling… enigmatic” – which seems fair enough.

Mary Heilmann

Finally, and also at Hauser and Wirth – all three of these exhibitions are free, by the way – the above; piercingly, blindingly vivid nursery colours on boxy chairs and small, biscuit-like paintings.  Irritating at first, but worth hanging around for 10 minutes until your eyes adjust.  One great picture in blues and greens of waves piling up – she uses an effect that makes the dark blues look like flattened tubes spouting diagonally across the little canvas; reminded me of that great Albert Irvin, “Flodden”,  I was writing about a few weeks ago – but that was huge; this is small.



Blackpaint 34

January 9, 2010

The Sacred and the Real

The show at the National is finishing on the 24th Jan.  It felt a bit like going round the old Chamber of Horrors in Tussauds when I was a kid.  There used to be an exhibit curtained off and labelled “not suitable for children under 13 years”, as I recall.  Behind the curtain, there was a figure hanging a few feet from the ground by a hook through the stomach.  There were also shelf loads of guillotined heads, mouths gaping, blood running down chins.

The lifelike crucifixions, whipped backs, broken and slashed knees, nailed hands and feet, expertly carved in wood but looking like wax, glued -on tears (Loyola) and even a severed head, the Baptist’s, with all the pipes and blood vessels accurate apparently – and the darkness, all recall Tussauds. 

The Magdalene model in her rough, plaited straw mat dress, staring at a crucifix in her hand – that reminded me of Ken Russell’s “The Devils”, the crazed abbess Vanessa Redgrave played, with her crucifix; see it if you haven’t, Redgrave, Oliver Reed and Dudley Sutton and Russell’s restrained and respectful direction – brilliant.

The strangest exhibit to my eyes is the painting of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, kneeling and receiving in his mouth, from a range of about 6 feet, a straight spurt of breast milk from the right(?) breast of a statue of the Virgin Mary; the Miracle of the Lactation, apparently.  It reminded me of the story set in the clinic, the punch line of which is “What? From here?”

There are also the magnificent, brooding, brown paintings of St. Francis in ecstatic trance by Zurbaran and a couple of Velazquezes – is that how you do the plural? – and a lovely painting of St.Luke, the painter’s saint, with his brushes and easel, looking at Christ on the cross.

The Hoerengracht 

Ed Kienholz’ version of Amsterdam’s red light area seems an apt accompaniment; more wax-like models (although less lifelike) more prostitutes, these ones still in business.  They are in characteristic poses in the shop windows, but they have glass boxes like fish tanks on their heads and shiny glue or semen like stuff running down them (I think – maybe they were just badly made).  It seemed to me much tattier than the red light area I remember walking through – with my family – 6 or so years ago.  This seemed tattier, more like a slum street somehow.

After these two shows, we did a quick tour of the early galleries upstairs, and the colours of the Duccio, the Titians, Van Eycks, Holbeins all seemed more vivid and fresh and uplifting after all that dark, exploited and tortured flesh.  Funny really, because these were often beheadings, crucifixions, whippings etc., as well.

Listened to “Tapiola”, Sibelius.

There are no words.