Posts Tagged ‘Ulysses’

Blackpaint 596 – Bigfoot, Ginger Man and Newfoundland

May 9, 2017

Willow Creek (2013, dir. Bobcat Goldthwaite)

This is a film that must have cost next to nothing to make, being a found-footage horror film about a pair of seekers after Bigfoot, or the Sasquatch as it is known by cryptozoologists.  Actually, it’s not a pair of seekers – Jim is the obsessive, Kelly his girlfriend is along for the ride.

Very cheap and pretty much like a spoof, until they get deep in the woods.  There is then a sequence where they cower in their tent in the night, while something “vocalises”, hits sticks together and bashes against the tent.  It goes on for about 20 minutes and is riveting – well, terrifying.  Probably if I saw it again, it would be nothing, but first time round…

The real thing.. no, really

I’m avoiding cliches again, so I’ll just say one meets a sticky end and the other a fate worse than death.  Watch it if it shows up again (the film, not Bigfoot); I wouldn’t have persisted with it if I hadn’t seen two documentaries on the Discovery channel about the Dyatlov Pass Incident in the Urals in 1959, which led to the unexplained violent deaths of nine Russian students.  Anyway, good film, not to be watched before you go camping in the woods.

The Ginger Man, JP Donleavy

I’ve written about this quite shocking book before and have just finished it.  It ends with another burst of violence against a woman who has the gall to be defiant to the disgusting “hero”, Sebastian Dangerfield; he slaps her repeatedly, threatens to use his boots on her and she of course submits, agreeing to give up her career as an actress and become a willing sex-slave to this thug, who can’t countenance  a woman of “his” having any independence.  Every woman in the book submits willingly to him, despite his constant drunken state, violence and dirty, bizarre clothing and behaviour.  It’s written in a sub-Joycean style – rip-off, really, from the vernacular sections of Ulysses – that was, surprisingly, highly praised.

Really, what shocks me about it is that I read it back in the 60s, maybe 1968 – and I thought it was hilarious.  So did most others of my age who read it then, male and female.  Or at least, they don’t remember the violence.  I remembered the drunken parade in the kangaroo suit as if it was the main event; it lasts a few pages and results in an unconvincing pub brawl, with KOs and injuries.

So, it’s a book “of its time” – tells you a lot about our attitudes then; not only teenagers like me, but grown-up literary critics regarded it as a sort of bawdy, joyous, drunken “romp” and Dangerfield as an incorrigible, lovable rogue.  I think there are certain similarities in the eccentricities and makeshift nature of the surroundings to Joyce Carey’s hugely superior “The Horse’s Mouth”.

Two new pictures to end with; I’ve given up trying to pretend my abstracts don’t look like landscapes.  Haven’t done any exhibitions, having been stuck in a gallery for two weeks, staring at my own paintings…

The Banks of Newfoundland

 

Panamatic Isthmus

Blackpaint

09/05/17

Blackpaint 477 – Stockings, Skeletons and Sharks

January 11, 2015

Bloomberg New Contemporaries at the ICA

Another great little exhibition of young artists, only on until 25th January; only a quid to get in.  I liked Athena Papadopoulos (below), with a blue-based collage of stained, spotted and holed fabrics…

athena papadopoulos

Athena Papadopoulos

…and Yi Dai, with the three pieces below.  Those are stretched stockings around the edges and there are tiny hairs in the centre cracks.  Strangely repellent and yet somehow erotic…  perhaps I should get out more, as they say.

yi dai

Yi Dai

Additionally, there was a piece painted on thick cardboard that had to do with meat being minced and obesity(?) – but I’ve lost my notes and can’t remember the artist’s name.  I’ll drop in the ICA tomorrow and check.

There’s a roomful of  videos constantly playing upstairs, one of which appears to be a man in a covered market, straining pints of  thick yellow liquid through a hanging linen bag and then drinking it.  I thought it was paint until he started to drink; my partner thinks it was mango juice.  Not sure of the message – which is not a worry for me, as long as the images are arresting.

Conflict Time Photography, Tate Modern

This is on until March.  Photographs from various war zones, taken at the time of the conflict, then maybe ten years, thirty years, fifty years later.  A huge exhibition; lots of conflicts:

  • Iraq Desert Storm, 1991 – aerial colour shots of the desert, the blitzed convoy remains of the famous “turkey shoot”, dead tanks, a child’s shoes, half-buried in sand..
  • nuclear test site in Kazakhstan, towers like those you get in fire stations for the firefighters to practise on, stairs to nowhere – reminiscent of the Kiefer towers..
  • Hiroshima – distorted bottle, shadow of the ladder man, skullbone fused in helmet, billowing fire and smoke cloud, radiation scars..
  • McCullin’s Berlin photos – US soldiers, standing like saints or angels in the empty statue alcoves of a church..
  • uprooted WW11 bunkers on the French coast (the photos taken by the Wilsons for “Ruin Lust”)..
  • Spain – skeletons disinterred from the Civil War, one with hands crossed over ribs, resembling a mediaeval plague pit; for me, the most powerful visual in the exhibition..
  • Congo, Vietnam, Nicaragua..
  • Nazi party headquarters, Berlin bunkers and the Wolf’s Lair (Rastenburg)
  • strange photos of little wooden model houses, that turn out to be “torture houses” of the Communist regime in Latvia or Lithuania..

skeletons

Nebraska, Alexander Payne (Dir)

My Christmas DVD, featuring the great Bruce Dern as an irascible old git convinced he has won millions in a lottery, who keeps setting out to travel to Nebraska from Montana to collect the prize.  The landscapes are bleak and beautiful; it looks a lot like the Last Picture Show.  It’s funny and not too sentimental and if there were still such a thing, it would make a great double bill with King of Marvin Gardens, in which Dern starred with Jack Nicholson back in the 70s; come to think of it, there are similarities between the young and the old Dern and the long-suffering, protective roles of Nicholson and Will Forte, respectively Dern’s brother in Marvin Gardens and son in Nebraska (if that all makes sense).

Shark, Will Self

Finished this and grew to love it by the end.  The last section, which is fragmented and seems to involve several different voices, smacks strongly of Ulysses – at first I thought of Molly’s bit, but that’s more coherent, so maybe the hospital sequence or the Ormond…  Anyway, got to read it again to try and sort it out…

phil2

 Phil Seated

 

phil1

 

Phil Again 

sonia2

 

Sonia Seated 

sonia1

Amanda’s Back

Blackpaint, 

11.01.15

Je Suis Charlie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackpaint 438 – Hop Picking in Orwell, Sudden Death in Woolf, Lurking in Sprout

March 14, 2014

Orwell – A Clergyman’s Daughter

Re-read Burmese Days and of course, was immediately hooked again by Britain’s most readable author, journalist and writer in general; so now I’m on Clergyman’s Daughter, racing through.  Some terrible stereotypes and dodgy dialogue, it’s true; but the scenes in the hop-picking areas of Kent are memorable and visual and strike one as accurate.  The section in Trafalgar Square and the cafe in Charing Cross Road, which Orwell has done as a play is clearly inspired by the Night Town sequence in Ulysses; the character of Mr. Tallboys, the unfrocked parson, continually reciting and distorting biblical passages and prayers, for example, is very reminiscent of Joyce.  At one point, Orwell seems about to tip over into surreal fantasy like Night Town –  but draws back at the last moment, and turns it into a dream.

To the Lighthouse

Suddenly, after a hundred pages or so (maybe – I’m reading it on a Kindle, so can’t tell exactly), Woolf starts killing off the characters in a line or so each, as if bored with them; first, Mrs Ramsay, then Andrew (blown up by a shell on the Western Front), then Prue  (in childbirth)… all three within a few pages.  Reminded me oddly of BS Johnson’s Christy Malry – Johnson gives him cancer and kills him quite suddenly, ending the book in what feels like midstream.  Like real life, I suppose, which was Johnson’s point.  Now I think, sudden death has happened in all the Woolf books I’ve read so far – The Voyage Out, Jacob’s Room, Mrs Dalloway, Lighthouse – the only exception is Night and Day.

Bay Area Painters

I know I’ve written about them before, but must mention Frank Lobdell, Nathan Oliveira and Joan Brown, who took part in life drawing sessions with Diebenkorn in his figurative period.

oliveira

 

Oliveira

lobdell

 

Lobdell

Sprout Exhibition  

Haven’t been to any exhibitions for the last two weeks, having been stuck in the Sprout Gallery, trying to lure rare passers-by in to sell them paintings.  Sold three; here are two – can’t find photo of the other.

the young horseman

The Young Horseman

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Oxlade Nude

The Family Friend, Sorrentino

This film contains the most disgusting anti-hero in cinema – he’s an old gangster, money lender, hypochondriac, wears an anti-migraine bandage on his head, a dirty old plaster cast on one arm, gobbles chocolates greedily, lives in a dark, stinking flat with his incontinent, invalid mother; he forces himself on a beautiful young bride on her wedding day…. and she (apparently) becomes fixated on him and comes back asking for more…  Like all Sorrentino films, it features old men dancing; this time, country and western dancing, with big stetsons and fringed jackets.  All it lacks is Tony Servillo.

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And here’s the latest painting – Blackfriars to Nine Elms

Blackpaint

14.03.14

Blackpaint 416 – “It’s Rather Like…”; Manet in Munich, Mrs. Pynchon in the Newsroom

October 15, 2013

Munich Marathon

Sorry about break in transmission – I’ve been in Germany, running in the above.  Didn’t get the chance to see much art, except for a brief visit to the Neue Pinakothek  (there are about five art museums, all in the same area; there is one with Warhols, Twomblys etc., but I missed that).

There were three pictures that stood out for me; two by Manet, one by Degas.  The first Manet was “Luncheon in the Studio” (1868), in which a young man, Manet’s stepson I think, gazes vacuously out at the viewer, wearing a comedy hat.  Lupin Pooter comes immediately to mind.  A servant attends in the background; the whole picture, execution and composition, made me think of Velasquez.

manet

Manet, Luncheon in the Studio

velazquez1

Velasquez. Las Meninas

Not sure, but the positioning of the table, the food, the picture and Christ in the neighbouring room,  the positioning of the figures and gaze of the principal… Wikipedia doesn’t mention Velasquez as an influence; it goes for Vermeer.

The other Manet that struck me was his portrait of Monet painting on the Seine.  The surface sketchiness and flickering brush strokes reminded me of Dufy.

manet2

The Degas I mentioned is a double portrait of two men, looking out at the viewer, at least one hatted.  Didn’t remind me of anything except other Degas and I can’t find it anywhere on the net.

The Pinakothek, like the art museum in Budapest that I wrote about; huge, imposing, echoing rooms, vast staircases, not many punters.

Butchers Crossing

Just finished this novel by John Williams, of “Stoner” fame;  It’s rather cliche – ridden, with sequences that bring back western novels and films of the 50s and 60s – Richard Boone maybe, as Miller, the obsessive buffalo hunter; a young Jeff Bridges, possibly, as Andrews. Perhaps it’s best thought of as a pint-sized Moby-Dick, with all the accompanying rambling left out.  I know that’s rather like Ulysses, without all the annoying thoughts of Bloom and Daedalus and Molly…

The Newsroom

Watching this last night, with it’s preposterous ending, I was taken back to “Lou Grant” in the 80s.  The proprietor, the one who looks like Jane Fonda (now), arrives to pass sentence after the latest fuck up (wrongly accusing US forces of using sarin gas in a raid in Afghanistan); she forgives them all, tells them she loves them, adds some uplifting sentiment…  It’s Mrs Pynchon again, before she morphed into Tony’s Soprano’s mother.  This sequence was, however, the only one in which the characters didn’t communicate at machine-gun speed, finishing each other’s thoughts, as if determined to exclude the chance of a casual viewer accidentally understanding what they are on about.

It’s Rather Like…

I am acutely aware that this blog has become little more than a string of comparisons between paintings, programmes, books, even museums.  I think a change of direction is needed, so I am considering a blog in which I discuss artworks which are NOT like each other in any respect.  So, here goes…

In the Neue Pinakothek, was this beautiful portrait by Wilhelm Leibl, “Girl With White Headscarf”:

Liebl

I was struck by how unlike it is to Turner’s “Snowstorm, Steamboat off a Harbour’s Mouth”, ..which is mostly water.

turner

 

 

More art works which are completely unlike each other in next blog.

marian platz

 

Marian Platz by Marion Jones

Blackpaint

15.10.13

Blackpaint 389 – The Squirrel and the Orang Utan in Art

April 11, 2013

Titian’s Actaeon Surprising Diana in the Bath – this week’s example of Validating Crapness

It’s a fantastic painting; composition, colour, movement, drama. all that and the rest.  However, there’s something wrong with Diana’s head – it’s too small and it looks as though there should be another one in the proper position atop the neck immediately behind it.  It’s VC rather than just crapness because it forms a sort of fossil shell-shaped point of focus in the painting – it draws my eye immediately every time I look at it.

titian vc

Holbein’s Lady with a Squirrel

By way of contrast, this (for me) is in the running for the superlative portrait of all time – but her right hand is wrong, it’s too fat.  The wrongness adds nothing to the picture, unlike Diana’s little head.

holbein

Fischli and Weiss

Two stones on top of one another – actually, I think that might be what it’s called – outside the Serpentine Gallery.  Despite its simplicity, I find it amusing and appealing.  From one angle, it looks to me like Snoopy from Peanuts.

Trockel

Forgot to mention the AbEx “paintings” of Tilda, the orang utan, in Trockel’s Serpentine exhibition; I liked them.  Also the disembodied black female legs, one left and one right, but different sizes (different exhibits, too).  Shades of surrealist fetishists and Bunuel.

Films this week –

Medea (Pasolini); Callas superb, odd headgear as always with P., strange Turkish rock formations, like white kilns in ranks.  The scenes like a series of tableaux almost, with little regard for connecting fore and aft, so familiarity with story helpful.  Great, nevertheless.

Confidence (Istvan Szabo); wartime Budapest, a young wife whose husband is arrested has to be hidden by the underground.  She has to move in with and pretend to be the wife of an activist who is also being hunted.  They respect each other’s privacy at first but the inevitable happens.  Predictable, but moving and erotic too.  Dreamlike shots of rain-slick cobbled streets and massive granite-grey buildings, almost empty of people…

The History of Violence (Cronenberg); the Guardian said this was “taut and brutal”- I knew it involved gangsters victimising an apparently ordinary American family, so I checked on Wikipedia to make sure the wife wasn’t raped.  I don’t like the way women are raped in films to justify an orgy of revenge violence (Straw Dogs said it all, 40 years ago).  Looked OK, so we watched it – but she WAS raped, by the husband.  That is, she gave in and enjoyed it, on the stairs, after putting up a token resistance.  I find this offensive, but for some reason,  Ken Russell’s Roman soldiers raping nuns don’t bother me.

Milo O’Shea 

Died earlier this month.  For me, he was the perfect Leopold Bloom, in Joseph Strick’s Ulysses, which critics always describe as flawed or unsatisfactory.  Like Anthony Quayle’s Falstaff for the BBC’s Henry IV in the 80s, he defined the part.  OK, Welles’ Falstaff in Chimes at Midnight was also iconic, but Quayle “inhabited” the part, as critics now like to say about Daniel Day Lewis in everything.

Bach and Brahms

I was intrigued, when listening to the 8th variation of Brahms’ Anthony Chorale (or Variations on a Theme by Haydn – which it apparently isn’t) to find it was almost the same in essence to Bach’s Matthew Passion, part 75: “Make thee clean my heart from sin”.  So what? Nothing, just noticed it.

The Funeral 

The woman who divided the British people more starkly than any other is being given a Princess Di -style send off by the Establishment, as if she somehow stands above politics.  Cameron, Osborne and the rest are giving two fingers to the plebs – no change there, then.

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Work in progress

Blackpaint

11.04.13

 

Blackpaint 311 – Fellini at Skegness, cont.

December 8, 2011

Butlin’s Folk Festival

Last blog, I was rambling on about the Fellini-esque nature of the views at Skegness Butlins – the white tent, the beach, the groups of wanderers – thinking that Butlins and Fellini would make a nice, incongruous pairing for a title.  Nothing incongruous about it at all, of course; Fellini’s films are full of popular entertainment, wandering show people, circus acts, clowns, brass bands…

City of Women

Mastroianni in the above, bewildered, harrassed, pushed downstairs by revolting (but mostly very attractive) women, a strong reminder of Milo O’Shea as Bloom in Ulysses; apologetic, trying to excuse the inexcusable, guilty by nature of his existence – just perfect.  Great scene in which the burly( but oddly alluring) stoker woman tries to have sex with him in the polytunnel and is prevented by the arrival of her mother.

Cara Dillon

I said last time that she was like a gutsier Alison Krauss – since then, I’ve bought some of her records, and only the last, Hill of Thieves, could be called gutsy in any shape or form; beautiful, but wistful.  But live, she’s a different, more powerful proposition. 

Albert Irvin

Strange how you suddenly “get eyes” for a picture, or a painter, if they pursue a distinctive style;  it’s happened to me with Irvin.  I used to think his bright, almost fluorescent colours and lack of “painterly” texture were somehow shallow and trivial.  Someone sent me a postcard of one of his pictures a year or so ago and it’s been on the mantelpiece all that time, slowly (it seems) sinking in – and now I love it.

Gesamtkunstwerk at Saatchi

Free exhibition at Saatchi Gallery in Kings Road; it’s so good, I’m going to take a couple of blogs over it.  First…

Andre Butzer

Like an angry child’s parody of Asger Jorn; the gnome-like faces with big ears, but crudely sketched on the surface, graffiti style, not scratched and sculpted out of the background, like Jorn.  Those flat, jarring colours, especially the green, like a Basquiat with no taste.  They’re huge, of course – great.  That’s three of them, then there were another three with beautiful, clotted, light grey surfaces, over and across which, he’d slid a black-laden brush in geometric shapes – slidey triangles, like Bram Van Velde, only more straight – and other colours too.  These ones were more conventionally beautiful.

Isa Genzken 

A panel made up of maybe four large mirrors, plastered across with fluorescent tape like repairs or crime scene tape; rusty red paint running down, photo-posters of a Leonardo painting and several Michelangelo sculptures stuck on it (photos, not sculptures).  Again, great, but I don’t know why; something to do with modern life and traditional culture, street v. salon, Baader – Meinhof in there somewhere, probably..

Her other exhibits were assemblages on little podia, the most memorable built round a big artificial palm plant, with a large beer glass wearing a hat.  It looked like a bizarre machine.  She often uses little toy soldiers and cowboys, dolls – one with a scorched face – as in horror film cliches, toys/children, vulnerable, innocent/sisnister somehow.

In fact, several of the artists use toys in their work.  As well as the innocent/sinister thing, there is the glamour of a brightly coloured plastic toy – it can set off a drab assemblage of diverse objects like Turner’s red spot on in the London Bridge painting.

This is how my De Kooning type painting is progressing (or not); see last blog.  Final version in next one – something for readers to look forward to.

Blackpaint

8th December 2011

Blackpaint 265

April 4, 2011

Cause Celebre

Interested on Friday night to hear Germaine Greer on the Review Show saying – I think – that there was doubt that Alma Rattenbury killed herself.  I remember from “60 Famous Trials” that Alma stabbed herself and jumped into a river within days of George Stoner’s death sentence.  I checked and that appears to be right; Stoner’s sentence was commuted to life imprisonment later.  I gather from the discussion that Terence Rattigan changed Stoner’s name in the play for some reason.  I was also interested to see Rattenbury’s entry in Wikipedia as a famous architect in British Columbia; sadly, he’s now much more famous in England as a murder victim.

While I’m on about “60 Famous Trials”, I must mention the poisoner Vaquier, a Belgian barman working in England,  who was in love with the landlord’s wife.  When he bought the poison, he used an assumed name that he thought the shopkeeper would not remember.  The name he chose was Mr. Wanker.

Ulysses and Madding Crowd

Jonathan Coe in the Guardian was on about unsuccessful film adaptations of classic novels.  He cited Joseph Strick’s 1967 “Ulysses” again – but why?  I found it a brilliant, funny rendering; Milo O’Shea was great in the brothel fantasy scenes, especially the trials and the humiliation by Bella Cohen.  The cast was wonderful – TP McKenna as Buck Mulligan, Milo as Bloom and Sheila O’ Sullivan as Molly, and Maurice Roeves made a fair stab at Stephen.  I’ve read the book six or seven times, so I know it pretty well; there was a lot left out (of course, and thank goodness), but what was left in was done brilliantly.

As for “Madding Crowd”, Coe thought it was OK, if a little “swinging 60’s”, presumably because Stamp and Christie were in it – hard to see how you could avoid this aspect, considering that it was made in the swinging 60’s; maybe use a different, less fashionable cast.  Nothing particularly swinging about it, to my way of thinking.

British Museum

In Prints and Drawings, some new old cartoons by  Heath.  He’s new to me anyway; some interesting surreal touches, notably Duke of Wellington with a lobster claw for a head.

Wellcome Trust

Has an exhibition about waste, dirt and disease.  For some reason, it has a great de Hooch on display, one of those red brick alleyways in Delft (or Leyden?) – these Dutch painters, de Hooch and Kalf and the like, the fore-runners of Super Realism.

Royal Academy

I took two paintings up for the handing-in day on Thursday – what’s the quote? “The triumph of hope over experience”?  I’m stuck in a groove at the moment, of St. Ives/60s style abstraction.  Surely there’s a retro market for this stuff?  Might have to start doing stylised frying pans or kitchen tables or ingredients in a pattern…  Seems to be a constant demand for that sort of thing,as long as it’s bright and well-executed.

Vincent’s letters

I’m getting a bit sick of VG’s eternal admonitions to his brother.  “Look Vincent,” Theo should have said, “just do me a few hanging frying pans, or kitchen scenes, or harbours and fishing boats in nice, bright colours, that I can shift.  Enoughof the muddy peasants and potatoes and dodgy portraits of yokels – just do something that people can look at and say, “It was just as if you were there – you could almost smell the grass…”.

Blackpaint

04.04.11