Posts Tagged ‘Walter Greaves’

Blackpaint 510 – Jodorowsky’s Dad, Albertine’s Trials, Captain Lee’s Toes

September 4, 2015

Dance of Reality, Alejandro Jodorowsky (2013) at the ICA

jodorowsky

A sort of fictional, magical realist biography of his father, set in a mining town in Chile.  Greek theatre – style masks on extras, his mother – huge breasts, low -cut dress – sings all her dialogue, opera style.  The film has a Technicolor feel; there are clowns, dwarves, rioting amputees (casualties from the mines); scenes of:

  • bullying and violence against a child (the Jodorowsky character);
  • forced sex between his parents;
  • mother urinating on father, to cure him of disease;
  • suicides by shooting and hanging;
  • mother and son, both naked, blacking each other up with shoe polish (don’t ask);
  • a live burial;
  • police attacking and beating amputee miners;
  • graphic torture scenes – hanging by the arms, electrical prongs attached to genitals.

All this and more, but the film was light, funny and – embarrassing term – uplifting at the end.  Obvious Fellini influence and similarities to Angelopoulos (departure on raft at the end).  The light is so different from the Greek films though; denser, thicker somehow.

The story is basically the trials of Jodo’s bullying, ultra-macho, Stalinist father; his “journey” from this authoritarianism to the acquisition of humanity and gentleness.  Brilliant film.

Little Pictures at Tate Britain

I thought I’d highlight some of the smaller paintings in the current display; the ones that glow at you across the galleries, overshadowed in many cases by huge narrative Victorian efforts.  No further comment required, I think.

tate b ludgate

Ludgate Circus, Jacques – Emile Blanche

 

tate b holman hunt

Cornfield at Ewell, Holman Hunt

tate b ford madox brown

The Hayfield, Ford Madox Brown

 

tate b3

Battersea Reach, Walter Greaves

 

tate b1

Top – Vollendam Holland, Elizabeth Forbes

Bottom – Mounts Bay, Norman Garstin

 

Captain Lee’s feet, Tate Britain

This very strange portrait – it always looks to me as if Lee is in one of those dreams where you’ve forgotten to put your trousers on – is actually a portrait of the whole man, not just his legs and feet.  But I happened to notice that the feet, or rather the toes, are rendered as if copied from a photograph.  They’re very long.  The feet, however. are small – too small, I think.

tate b2

Captain Lee, Geerhaerts

 

Imperial War Museum

Some “new” paintings at the museum; Ceri Richards, the great Leonard Rosoman, Ravilious; there’s a roomful of Peter Kennard’s collaged anti- missile missile posters and paintings. The most striking work, however, is Bruce McLean’s “Broadside”.  It’s the sinking of the Sheffield, I think – but I just like the colours, unreformed abstractionist that I am.

(c) Bruce McLean; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

 

Clothes Clothes Clothes, Music Music Music, Boys Boys Boys, by Viv Albertine

Last week, I was writing about “Hard to be A God”, the Russian film which is mostly shot in extreme close-up, making it difficult to get context.  Albertine’s book is similar in this respect; it’s episodic and written in present tense throughout, which must be hard to do, because you have to be thinking as you though then. So it often comes across as naive, portentous, and volatile- but it’s also really gripping.  I stormed through it and enjoyed it greatly.  She’s very candid, spends pages saying how shy and self-conscious and lacking in confidence she is – and then reveals things that you can’t imagine yourself doing.  Very brave and not ghosted, like lots of other music bios.  Halfway through a brutal attack by a lover, in which he has her on he knees, with her face pressed to the floor, she tells us she is wearing “a stripy blue-and -white sailor-style Sonia Rykiel cardigan with an appliqued red silk heart on it, knee-length red linen skirt cut on the bias…”; that’s devotion to fashion.

Two other reasons I liked it – Albertine featured in the brilliant Joanna Hogg’s last film “The Exhibition” and was great (as was Liam Gillick, who gets a bit of a rough ride in the book) – and she re-bought the Island sampler “Nice Enough to Eat” second hand – as did I, and very good it is too.

Synapse back

Synapse Back

Blackpaint

 

 

Blackpaint 452 – Folk Art, Song and Flowers of the Field

June 26, 2014

British Folk Art, at Tate Britain  

Now I have my membership card, I’m trying to make it pay for itself in a few weeks – so, back to Folk Art and Kenneth Clark again.  I didn’t mention Walter Greaves, the painter who Whistler discovered and apparently turned into a version of himself (see the result on display).  Before the Whistlerisation, Greaves had painted a picture of Hammersmith Bridge, with every precarious foot-or bum-hold occupied by a foot (or bum), watching the passage of the Boat Race crews on the river below.  Could it really be accurate?

Hammersmith Bridge on Boat-race Day c.1862 by Walter Greaves 1846-1930

 

Then, there is a dark brownish landscape with distorted trees and maybe horses, that’s just like some of the Ben Nicholsons at Dulwich, that I covered a blog or two ago.  There’s a field full of angry bulls in another picture and immense pigs in yet another.  I see my memory played me tricks when I described a couple of other things: the man taking a crap behind the tree is being stalked by men with muskets, not a pack of dogs as I said – and the elegant figurehead is wearing a brown, not blue hat.

Other new stuff at Tate B

Not new of course, but newly out of storage – or new to me, anyway:

Two great, sombre Bombergs – “Bomb Store” I believe.  Reminded me of Rouault.

There’s a whole room of Alan Davie, who died a few weeks ago.  Best pictures are “Fish God” (see previous blog, “Shark Penis of the Fish God”) and “Sacrifice”, a rough, dirty tangle on a great blue ground.

alan davie

That “Fauvist” portrait of a woman is by Fergusson, one of the Scottish Colourists – get the little book of SC postcards.

fergusson

There’s a beautiful bowl somewhere, by William Nicholson, Ben’s father.

And there’s that brilliantly coloured abstract in the same room as the Basil Beattie, which looks really crude close up – but absolutely beautiful from across the room.  Can’t remember the name – sounds North African to me – so can’t find a photo, but you will know what I mean when you see it.

Nineteen Eighty -Four

I’ve just got to the bit where Winston reads Goldstein’s book.  In it, Goldstein relates how the permanent state of war existing between Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia has had the effect of stabilising their economies by burning off surplus capital that would otherwise lead to crises of overproduction.  this seems just a whisker away from the “permanent arms economy” described – not sure if its his original idea – by Michael Kidron, in his old Pelican(?) paperback, “Western Capitalism Since the War”.  He’s writing about the Cold War and the constant renewal of military hardware, but still, pretty close.  Years since I read the Kidron and I’ve lost my copy, so maybe he mentions Orwell.

Flowers of the Field (to 13th July)

A  play by Kevin Mandry at the White Bear pub theatre in Kennington; it fits nicely with the British Folk Art exhibition, where the DVD, made by the British film Institute, entitled “Here’s a Health to the Barley Mow” is on sale.  The play, set in 1916,  concerns the efforts of a war-damaged British officer to collect folk songs in rural Sussex; he inadvertently walks into a drama to do with the ownership of a farm and the efforts of a young girl to avoid  forced marriage to a rapacious landowner.  The difficulties faced by the officer in getting the locals to come up with the real goods, as opposed to hymns, old music hall songs and ballads, make for some very funny scenes and echo real problems faced by the early collectors, like Cecil Sharp and Percy Grainger.

The second half is darker, concerned as it is with the question of the farm and the marriage.  The song which the officer eventually succeeds in recording, is a southern version of “I Once Loved a Lass”.  This is a Scottish variation, recorded among others by Sandy Denny.  Words different, but similar; tune pretty much the same in both versions.

I saw my love to the church go,

With brides and brides’ maidens, she made a fine show,

And I followed on with a heart full of woe,

For she’s gone to be wed to another.

As for the DVD, the High Spens Sword Dance group and the Britannia Coconut Dancers (not blacked up here) have to be seen.

Il Bidone

Fellini’s great film about con men in 50’s Italy, starring the monumental Broderick Crawford (he looked almost the same throughout his career, give or take a few white hairs).  Apparently Fellini used him for his presence – he didn’t act much, just did himself, according to the commentary.  I think he was effective across a fair range though – menace, dignity, vulnerability, pathos, cynicism – and he could really wear a big, shapeless suit.  The music, inevitably by Nino Rota, is very reminiscent of “Blackadder”.

??????????

 

Lizard Reunion

Blackpaint

26.06.14