Posts Tagged ‘Werner Herzog’

Blackpaint 483 – War in Spain, the Auctioneer and the Dancing Chicken

February 21, 2015

Pallant House Gallery, Chichester

This gallery must be visited as a matter of urgency because there’s such a lot of really good paintings in it.  Go on Tuesday, when it’s half price.  What’s it got?  Well…

  • Terry Frost “Lorca” prints – a roomful.
  • Several fantastic, quite late, Ivon Hitchens, less..well,  oblong than usual and highly colourful;

pallant ivon hitchens

  • A sort of St.Ives room, with Heron, John Wells, Barnes-Graham, a nice John Tunnard (actually, he was elsewhere) and a great Ben Nicholson (see below);

pallant ben nicholson

  • There’s also a Ben panto horse in brown fields and some nice Winifred portraits;
  • Bomberg, two Rondas I think, and a corner of his disciples, Dorothy Mead, Crenfield etc.;
  • Then there’s a bunch of self-portraits by various, the most striking of which were by William Gear, the lines of which resembled burnt briars or maybe barbed wire (fascinating to learn he was connected to CoBrA) and the one below by Peter Coker, with a black outline on a narrow canvas in a corner;

pallant peter coker

  • A room of Kitaj, of whom more later.
  • Then there is the main gallery, with some lovely big pictures – Michael Andrews dark coastal painting with figures; a Bacon, two figures who look to be wrestling..possibly..; a great Keith Vaughan; a Colin Self pop art group with one of those women with bright lipstick – bit like Pauline Boty, I thought – and a Peter Blake with an uncharacteristically(?) rough, blurry finish, very effective.  A couple of paintings of domestic scenes by Victor Willing, Paula Rego’s late husband, which have that distorted, slightly monstrous quality of her work.
  • Finally,  there’s Spain; a special exhibition relating to the British role in the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War.  Great photo of the poet John Cornford and of Felicia Browne, the first British volunteer killed in the war, with a couple of her sketches – and very good they are too.  Banners of the British Battalion – 15th, was it? – with the battle names on it: Brunete, the Gandesa, Belchite, Teruel, the Ebro; lump in the throat time.

felicia browne

Felicia Browne


John Cornford and Ray Peters

Figures in a Landscape, Alexandropoulos

Two children, a girl of about twelve and her kid brother, run away from their Greek home to try to reach Germany, mostly by rail, sometimes by hitchhiking.  The Travelling Players show up on the way, having wandered in from another film.  There’s a scene in which they escape from a police station when it starts snowing – all the adults wander outside and freeze in a trance, looking up at the falling flakes.  So whimsical, you think – then the girl is raped in the back of a lorry by the driver, thankfully not on screen.  They press on and eventually arrive at the border; a shot sounds as they cross the river.  They run through the thick mist to embrace a tree on a hilltop – symbol of the father?  Are they dead?  End.

Stroszek, Werner Herzog

The great Bruno S. again (from Kaspar Hauser).  Three “vulnerable” Germans go to the USA to escape from their tormentors.  I think it’s a comedy, but there’s some sickening brutality towards Eva, the prostitute, in the early part of the film.  It must be seen, however, if only for the fastest auctioneer in the universe – he must be! – and for the dancing chicken and the fire truck rabbit.  Also a beautiful electric guitar instrumental version of “The Last Thing on my Mind”, which accompanies the driving scenes.  Don’t know who it is.

RB Kitaj

Got a cheapo catalogue of the above in the Pallant House, including two fantastic pictures; “The Rise of Fascism” and “the Architects” (see below).

(c) The estate of R. B. Kitaj; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation


 Marlene Dumas

Visited this again and found that the red faced-woman wasn’t in it (see last blog) – I’d seen it somewhere else.  Just as good – no, better – on second visit; look out for the Japanese Boy, the full-length portrait of Helena and the head of the dead young man, killed in the Chechnyan incident – or was it the Moscow theatre siege?  Beautifully painted, anyway.

Sprout Gallery, Moyser Road, Tooting SW16

If you are in London next week, visit the Sprout Gallery  and avail yourself of the opportunity to buy my paintings, and those of my partner, 11.00am – 6,00pm, any day but Monday.  Not the one below, however; it’s still wet.



Blue Crouch


Blue Crouch




Blackpaint 482 – Marlene, Noel, Numan and Nosferatu

February 15, 2015

Noel Gallagher in the Saturday Telegraph Magazine

Check out the cover (below right) without your glasses or your eyes narrowed – looks like an Auerbach, doesn’t it?  Photo by Nadav Kander.

auerbach gallagher gallagher telegraph


Marlene Dumas, The Image as Burden, Tate Modern

Where to start with this one?  Has to be the style, I think.  dark, crude, slippery brush sweeps,  apparent, but intentional clumsiness here and there, mask-like portraits, a photographic quality of “deadness” in the line and colour, and the occasional blurriness of the image – you can see similarities in Tuymans, Gerhard Richter, William Sasnal, Chantal Joffe, Tracy Emin’s drawings…  It’s become a sort of common style of drawing with paint or ink.  I  think her work at times strongly resembles Munch’s paintings, if the depressing colours were drained out of the latter.  Sounds as if I don’t like them, but I think most are brilliant.

It seems to me that, with many of her paintings, she reverses what Luc Tuymans and Richter have done:  they present the sinister (Tuyman’s Martin Bormann, Richter’s Uncle Otto) as banal – she presents the banal as sinister (the child with paint on hands, her self-portrait, the group “photo” of schoolgirls).  She paints from photos, not life, and you can see that sometimes in the way light reflects in the eyes.

dumas red

Almost like Larry Rivers, this one;


dumas self

Her “evil” self-portrait;


dumas child



For my money, the best pictures are in the room to the left, with the warning:

dumas shrimp

This one’s called “The Shrimp”, rather a shocking association somehow – but I love that staining technique.


A portrait from a surprising angle, that would be difficult to hold for a long time.

There are, of course, many works that deal with “darker” material (the porn stuff, Baader Meinhof, Bin Laden, dead people – i.e. corpses) but there is no coherent political line that I can make out; she has provided  a lot of commentary on the walls but it’s pretty inarticulate, like that of most artists.  I wondered if she’d had a negative reaction to her paintings of black people, apparently sexualised, or mask-like as they (the pictures) sometimes are; she is a white South African, after all – but apparently not.  Nothing in Wikipedia anyway.

A terrific exhibition; I’ll be going again, for sure.

Drawing Gallery, Courtauld

A room now dedicated to drawings from early Renaissance to relatively modern: a fabulous Rubens reclining nude, a Dutch windswept river bank, a Joshua Reynolds sketch of a dancing woman, and a Larry Rivers “map” sketch in ochre and green with tape on it.

rubens nude



The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, Werner Herzog

Brilliant performance by Bruno S, especially the scene where he burns his hand in the candle flame and tears start out from his eyes with no other change in his facial expression.

Nosferatu, Herzog

This alternates between brilliance and bathos throughout.  Kinski, as Dracula, strongly resembles a bald Gary Numan; Renfield’s giggling is way over the top; Dracula carts a coffin through a graveyard to a mausoleum and flinches at a cross on the wall – having passed half a dozen crosses in the graveyard.  The soundtrack, with the alpine horn, is fantastic; Isabelle Adjani as Lucie is a beautiful pre-Raphaelite tragic heroine; the cinematography is great.  There’s a shot of a carriage crossing a causeway over a lake, with the horses and carriage reflected – same thing in “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid” and, I think, in “Night of the Hunter”.  The feast scene with the plague victims is straight out of Brueghel.

kinski numan

Numan and Kinski

I alternated bits of Nosferatu with Dawn of the Dead (George Romero 1975), which I’d also recorded; the shoot-outs in the mall livened things up and I was able to return, refreshed, to Dracula’s castle, from zombies back to vampires.  It struck me that Dawn would make a great double with the original John Carpenter “Assault on Precinct 13”.  I’m sure Dawn was shot on a tight budget – I saw the same check-shirted, long-haired zombie get blasted at least three times.




Sonia’s Back, Blackpaint 

Blue Slide


Blue Slide, Blackpaint

Feb. 15th 2015



Blackpaint 422 – Painting and Guinness at the Tate, Woolf and Joyce about town

November 21, 2013

Tate Britain – Painting Now; Five Contemporary Painters

First, Tomma Abts.  Abstract shapes that resemble metallic strips, bent into shapes, gleaming and casting shadows. as if real; flat patterns and clouded surfaces too but the metallic ones are the ones that stick.  I want some texture, though.

Simon Ling does wonky East End buildings and shopfronts, corners of houses… he does a red/orange undercoat which shines through here and there like Poussin; heavy, livid Kippenburger colours.

simon ling

Catherine Storey paints odd, furniture-like, abstract structures; I liked the drawings of the shell chairs, on yellow baking paper.

Lucy McKenzie paints astonishing, trompe l’oeil “corkboards” with typed sheets and photographs apparently pinned to them – they’re paintings, but they fooled me at first.  What’s the point?  There is something in the leaflet about fascism and nazism, but I didn’t get it.  They have to be seen, though.

Finally, there is Gillian Carnegie.  Black cats lurking on dark staircases, black flowers in black paintings.

Alison Wilding

Her sculptures, no one anything like any of the others, are in the Tate hall.  The one that struck me is like a well head, made from alabaster blocks, broken at the top and “repaired” with poured black latex.  The alabaster is like giant blocks of Turkish Delight.. or the remains of Jacob and the Angel, the Epstein statue in another part of the gallery.

William Scott

The other new picture, in the room with the St.Ives painters, is called Composition in Orange, Black and Brown and looks as if it has a pint of Guinness embedded in it.

william scott

Refreshing image.

The New Staircase

The Tate’s new spiral staircase reminded me of the one photographed by Richard Pare in the Moscow Cheka  flats that I wrote about in Blackpaint 345. Curved steps shaped like orange segments – Fred and Ginger would look good on them, but maybe a bit narrow to dance down.

Chelsea Space

At this little gallery across the art school courtyard opposite Tate Britain, an exhibition of country music posters from Hatch Show Prints of Nashville.  Cash two tones, Nelson headband, Bill Monroe, Airstream, Corn Dogs…



Rescue Dawn

The Werner Herzog film about Dieter Dengler, US pilot shot down in Laos and his amazing escape through the jungle.  At one point, I thought I was back at Aguirre, Wrath of God – that whistling bird call.  Either the same species in Laos and the Amazon or there is a “jungle sounds” tape.  Then, there was a beheading with a machete; Aguirre again.  At the end, it turned into a cheerleader for the US, with the assembled crew of an aircraft carrier applauding Dengler – or maybe Herzog was being ironic.

The Act of Killing

Wrote about this disturbing film last week, directed by Joshua Oppenheimer; how did he pitch this film to the killers and get them to take part?  It must have been a sensitive task, to say the least – or maybe not.  Congo and his horrible mates seemed quite eager to co-operate and to let it all come out.  Proud, in fact.  they seemed to be on great terms with the director, frequently appealing to him on camera, as “Josh”.  Should be a documentary about the making, maybe.

Jacob’s Room, Dalloway, Woolf and Joyce

Interesting to read that Virginia Woolf had read the first few chapters of Ulysses by the time she wrote Jacob’s Room in 1918 and was reading it again while writing Mrs. Dalloway in 1922.  Both Jacob and Dalloway are reminiscent of Ulysses in the way that Woolf skips apparently at random from character to character (some merely one-line sketches) to build up a scene or sequence; Joyce does this, but it’s just one of a whole range of techniques he pioneers.  The sky writing plane in Dalloway reminds me a bit of the sandwich-board men, advertising Wisdom Hely’s in Ulysses.  Not suggesting she was plagiarising – she hated Joyce’s “indecency” and “board-school” showing off, as she termed it.  Fascinating that two such different authors should come up with the same thing at the same time.


White Line Fever 2




Blackpaint 270

May 1, 2011

Figures in profile

The convention for processions in profile; which culture adopted it first?  The Egyptians and Assyrians (of various kinds – Babylon, Nineveh, Nimrud, Tigrath-Pilaster – I can’t keep hold of the differences) both use the convention; I’m guessing the Egyptians, who presumably then influenced the Assyrians… and later the Greeks, of course.  Then again, maybe both the early cultures developed the convention independently, which would be more interesting.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Werner Herzog’s 3D documentary about the caves of Chauvet in the Ardeche region of France, discovered in the early 90s.  Staggeringly beautiful, powerful, animal images – the horse with its mouth slightly open, the clashing rhinos, the way the artists have incorporated the scoops and bulges of the cave walls, the cave lions in profile, the black pigment on scraped white walls.  There is only one human figure in the whole cave system, a woman’s back on a sort of tooth -shaped rock, poking down from the roof.  Littering the floors, bear skulls, covered in sparkling calcite, like round puddings under a layer of smooth sauce.

Some of the paintings were done 5000 years apart, the later artist having no compunction about adding to the earlier ones – how could s/he know how old they were.. and why care?

Lots of Hans Hass – style spiritual theorising from Herzog; amusing eccentrics (mostly French), dressed in Inuit furs or sniffing crevices, trying to discover new, unknown caverns, or clumsily demonstrating spear throwers.  Some impenetrable musing about albino crocodiles from the Eden-style project near the nuclear power site up the valley; would the crocs one day escape, get as far as the caves and wonder at the drawings?

For some reason, this brought to mind Aguirre, Klaus Kinski in his Conquistador helmet, floating down the Amazon on his log raft, surrounded by the corpses of his followers, monkeys overrunning the vessel – but still staring madly, baring his teeth at the endless green.

National Portrait Gallery

Larry Rivers’ portrait of David Sylvester, the style reminding me a bit of Jim Dine, a bit of Rauschenburg even, with the sweeps of ochre on the body.  Tony Bevan’s self portrait heads at odd angles, with the elongated necks, pipe-cleaner hair; done in strong, crude acrylic colours with thick charcoal strokes.

Ida Kar

Rumanian “Bohemian”, photo portraits of artists; Leger with his flat tweed cap, scowling out like a French peasant, Epstein like a Polish train driver in HIS forage cap, Bratby en famille with one of his paintings, outside a suitably curlicued terraced house; Piper with his paintings and Braque with loads of his – busy boy – Heron with a black squiggle, Helen Lessore looking hunched and rather gloomy and the best one, Foujita, with his Stanley Spencer hair and three of the creepiest dolls I’ve ever seen.  Great portraits, only £3.50 to get in.


Bought a square one for a change from my usual 30*40 inches, and I can’t believe the difficulty I’ve had painting it –  nothing fits right.  Suppose it’s good to get out of your usual ways, once on a while.  I’ve ended up with something like a big egg yolk in a bottle-green sea.

Ai Weiwei

On 28th April, Tate Modern’s website expressed dismay at Ai Weiwei’s detention and providid a link to a petition calling for his release.  Please go to same and sign it, when you have finished reading this.


Nice to see Nicholas Whitchell, Rowan Pelling, Martin Bashir and all the other members of the royal family being given plenty of air time.  Pity that they can’t just keep on going until the next royal event…


Mayday 2011