Posts Tagged ‘The Port Jackson Painter’

Blackpaint 380 – Adams, Attenborough and Lady Chatterley

February 7, 2013

Schwitters again

As threatened, I have visited this exhibition at Tate Britain again.  Second visit confirmed my first opinions – paper and material collages brilliant, straight lines good, curves and circles bad (unless rubber or cardboard or metal rings glued on), human figures or faces pasted in detract from the collages, paintings not good, poetry great .  Here’s an example: “Fumms Bo Wo Tiu Ziu UU”… actually, I can’t do umlauts on my keyboard, so this must look ridiculous – but it gives you an idea of Schwitters’ verse.

My favourites were:  “Opened by Customs”, “Mask”, “The Nipple Picture”, “Pine Trees”, “Horizontal”, “Windswept”…  Well, go and see for yourself.  Collage sounds childish to some people; sticking bits of paper in primary school, we all did it.  But Schwitters actually makes abstract pictures, where others might just have random bits of stuff stuck on a sheet of paper.

Ansel Adams at the National Maritime Museum

You expect a nature photographer – THE nature photographer, maybe – but in a sense, he is something more than this.  As the film which accompanies the photos makes clear, Adams considered himself an expressionist artist.  The photographs were supposed to  convey mood and emotion; consequently, he spent hours developing versions of what he’d photographed, darkening or lightening skies, creating pictures that did NOT show the river or the mountain or the sky that had been in front of his camera, but an adapted variation.

What you notice is the sharp edge or “cut” of the prints, the dense blacks, the textures of the rocks.  There is one picture which resembles a samurai in a kimono, sitting on a bank of sand or gravel by a fast flowing, Alaskan (?) river, with a dense layer of black bringing it into relief.  Another, of a rock with limpets or mussels attached, like a curving human back or elephant’s head; another “Japanese” looking picture, with “rushes” piercing bleached-out water surface that are really submerged trees.

These are the ones that impressed me most; there are also the dramatic mountain- and skyscapes, storm clouds billowing in the gaps between the peaks – no doubt, enhanced in the darkroom.  No little people to give scale; as far as I remember, no animals either.

ansel

Interesting to compare this exhibition to the

Wildlife Photography Prize at the Natural History Museum 

These are of such staggering technical brilliance that you are awed – or you would be, if you didn’t watch Attenborough’s current “Africa” series and/or the last one, the title of which escapes me for the moment.  In fact, this exhibition is rather like a collection of Attenborough stills and enlargements.  In one way it is better – you don’t get that terrible, jaunty penguin music, or the polar bear cub tubas, or the waltz for the fighting giraffes…  I prefer to watch it with the sound down now – you don’t hear the commentary, but that’s also taken a dive lately, with Attenborough anthropomorphising, which he said he’d never do…

Whilst at the NHM, there is an exhibition of paintings and drawings by early 19th century naturalists and some gifted amateurs, some of which are very beautiful; the Audubons of course, the Bird of Paradise plant, the various sketch books (more staggering brilliance), and the renditions of native Australians and ships at sea by the anonymous group called “The Port Jackson Painter” – an echo of those medieval Masters of here and there in the British Museum.

Joan Mitchell

joanmitchell

A documentary on Sky Arts the other night sent me straight back to the Livingston book on JM:  the beautiful, cold freshness of the greens, blues and pinks in the early ones; the ones built of interlocking swipes of blue, white and black; the floating, black or grey masses in the midst of frenzied streamers of colour in the “depression” pictures early 60s.  Sometimes her pictures remind me of dyed and shredded paper.

Lady Chatterley

Watched  this French film, directed by Pascal Ferran, noticing some baffling differences to the famous book – notably, the priapic gamekeeper was called Parkin, not Mellors.  Then, I discovered on Wikipedia that it is based on an earlier version by Lawrence, entitled “John Thomas and Lady Jane.”  So, that cleared that up.  The naked romping in the forest in the rain and the garlanding of various body parts were present and correct, however.    Haven’t yet seen the English effort, made for TV in 1993, directed by Ken Russell –  the master of naked forest romping – with Sean Bean as Mellors and Joely Richardson as Lady C; I expect Ken, Sean and Joely do a better job – chauvinism on my part, no doubt.  But surely the definitive version would be that of Just Jaeckin, starring the late Sylvia Kristel.

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Blue Billboard

Blackpaint

07.02.13

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