Ida Thought

Ida (Paweł Pawlikowski, 2013)

I somehow missed Pawlikowski’s Cold War (2018) by blinking at an inopportune moment, but  I remember enjoying his Margate-set, faintly post-apocalyptic immigrant drama Last Resort (2000) with Dina Korzun and Paddy Considine. There I might have reached for Ken Loach and Lindsay Anderson, but here there is a feel of Tarkovsky without quite so much striving for poetry, in glorious black and white. Continue reading →

Revolution in My Ears

Tangerine Dream – Revolution of Sound (Margarete Kreuzer, 2017)

I guess there’s always been a contradiction at the heart of appreciating bands which go through multiple line ups. I don’t hold to the school of thought that Pink Floyd stopped when Syd left — but I think I prefer a Yes with a Jon Anderson to one without, even if, say, Chris Squire drove the sound. For me the best Tangerine Dream albums are the Froese-Franke-Baumann ones, broadly speaking the Virgin years, but those with Schmoelling come close. And I like Klaus Schulze and Steve Joliffe’s solo works more than Franke or Baumann’s.

Are they always Tangerine Dream? Continue reading →

Amirite?

Ammonite (Francis Lee, 2020)

Women are often written out of science.

In the nineteenth century, Charlotte Murchison (1788–1869) collected fossils and was somewhat overshadowed by her husband, Roderick Impey Murchison, who used many of her ideas and illustrations in his books. On one journey, to Rome in 1816, she contracted malaria and this would impact on her health for the rest of her life.

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Wolves Do Not Eat Popcorn

Skriften på veggen ((The Writing on the Wall) Stefan Faldbakken, 2010)
Svarte får
((Black Sheep) Stephan Apelgren, 2011)
Dødens drabanter
((Consorts of Death) Stephan Apelgren, 2011)
I mørket er alle ulver grå
((At Night All Wolves Are Grey) Alexander Eik, 2011)
De døde har det godt
((The Dead Have It Easy) Erik Richter Strand, 2011)
Kalde hjerter
((Cold Hearts), Trond Espen Seim, 2012)

The first series left me with a degree of trepidation – would Hamre be back or has the series jumped the shark. The answer is – spoiler – he is back and so it was worth watching. The friendship gets closer, to the extent that I was expecting him to be written out. No spoilers here. But there is a growing sympathy, especially as Veum gets closer to a new girlfriend Karin (Lene Nystrøm), who appears in a different guise in the novels.

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On the Screen All Wolves are Silver

Bitre blomster ((Bitter Flowers) Ulrik Imtiaz Rolfsen, 2007)
Tornerose ((Sleeping Beauty) Erik Richter Strand, 2008)
Din til døden ((Yours Until Death) Erik Richter Strand, 2008)
Falne engler ((Fallen Angels) Morten Tyldum, 2008)
Kvinnen i kjøleskapet ((The Woman In The Fridge) Alexander Eik, 2008)
Begravde hunder ((Buried Dogs) Alexander Eik, 2008)

I had been aware that Bergen’s only (fictional) private detective, Varg Veum, had leapt from the books to the big and direct-to-DVD screens. A little searching found a boxset of the twelve titles, some based on books that have been translated, some on the short story collection.

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The Art of the State: 2020 Exhibitions Part Two

I got my money’s worth out of my Art Fund card, just about, and Tate membership and the RAA card make life a little easier, but you need to be fast to catch the members’ previews. I have a suspicion that my listing below is a little inaccurate for February — for example, and I think a saw a couple more things in St James/Mayfair.

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The Art of the State: 2020 Exhibitions Part One

I guess it’s unlikely (Tier 4) that I will see any more exhibitions before and so a year that began with Jarman and Freud didn’t continue with Van Eyck, Chagall and Astrup … but did manage to include Munch.

I got my money’s worth out of my Art Fund card, just about, and Tate membership and the RAA card makes life a little easier, but you need to be fast to catch the members’ previews.

I have a top ten which is — go figger — a) subjective and b) only mentions artists once.

The Tate was perhaps a little underwhelming — Blake works better on the page than the wall, Beardsley didn’t quite do it for me, Warhol is Warhol and Turner is showing us mostly what we ought to be able to see for free. Dora Maar just got edged out.

I also seem to be rubbish at writing exhibitions up.

2020 Exhaustive and Yet Probably Incomplete List Here / 2020 theatre here

The Top Ten

10 Tracey Emin / Edvard Munch: The Loneliness of the Soul (Royal Academy of Arts)

Say what you will about Emin, but her works make second rate Munch look fantastic. I must come back to this — the paintings weren’t all bad, but I got more Cy Twombly than Munch. You never know, I might get to see this again in Oslo.

9 Quentin Blake: We Live in Worrying Times (Hastings Contemporary)

The rebranded and presumably refunded Jerwood had a Burra et al exhibition I missed and I returned to see if I liked Victor Pasmore any more than last time (spoiler: no). At the heart of this exhibition is Blake’s Guernica — and, no, that isn’t meant to be a joke. I was in tears.

8 British Surrealism (Dulwich Picture Gallery)

Dulwich rather oddly twins twentieth-century exhibitions (mostly) with old masters and this brought together some familiar names and some people I’d never heard of. Endlessly fascinating, but shame about the other viewers. (Who say the same about me.)

7 Nicolaes Maes: Dutch Master of the Golden Age (National Gallery)

A talented pupil of Rembrandt, who goes in his own direction. I went back several times (it was hidden in the ground floor galleries) and later spent time with his work at the Wallace Collection, the Ashmolean and the Queen’s Gallery, Buck House.

6 Rembrandt’s Light (Dulwich Picture Gallery)

Dulwich sometimes ventures back pre-1900 and this was a stunning display of the ten years of Rembrandt climbing to his height. You could argue that Christ and St Mary Magdalen at the Tomb didn’t need buggering about with by adding a fake dawn lighting effect, or hold out and see it in much brighter light at the Queen’s Gallery. This just about edges out the Ashmolean Young Rembrandt and individual paintings at the Wallace Collection and National (London and Irish).

5 Leon Spilliaert (Royal Academy of Arts)

A stunning, overlooked, Belgian artist, whose work I must have seen in Brussels, and who would be worth a trip to Ostend for (where there are works by his crush James Ensor). I suspect overlooked because he did watercolours rather than oils.

4 Derek Jarman: Protest (IMMA)

I went to Dublin to see this — and nearly kicked myself as it was going to Manchester in April. Should have left it for the spring…. ha ha ha haha (etc.). They seemed unbothered that the catalogue had yet to be published, but having seen it I’m glad I didn’t have to carry it home. I spent a couple of hours going around it and returned a couple of days later. If I’m honest, he’s not a great artist, but he embraces multiple styles and is very moving at times. There was a small exhibition at The Garden Museum, with mainly late work and his gardening tools.

3 Bridget Riley (Hayward Gallery)

I think Riley was one of the first artists I saw, when I started going to see exhibitions more than twice a year and I was still wondering if actually I like design rather than art (see also: Ben Nicholson, Piet Mondrian.) This was a major retrospective, although I suspect I’ve seen most of them before. Like Rothko, she is an artist to surrender to. I can take or leave the spot paintings and, indeed, her colour work, but the stripes are the thing. However, I did like the cartoons — some of which were shown at one of the Mayfair Galleries.

2 Davie and Hockney: Early Works (Towner Gallery)

There was a retrospective of Hockney’s portraits at the National Portrait Gallery and some contemporary works at a Mayfair Gallery — although the Lightbox single room in Woking gave a better sense of his range. Indeed, I think you could easily do three or four major coherent surveys and only repeat some of the sixties works. But this Eastbourne exhibition edges ahead because, in a rare move, I was accompanied by a friend, and I’d assumed Hockney would wipe the floor with Alan Davie in the same way that Munch did with Emin. In fact, it was probably a score draw, and I almost got the sense that Jarman had tried not to be Hockney and ended up more like Davie.

1 Artemisia (National Gallery)

The exhibition that nearly wasn’t, thanks to COVID. One of the key early woman artists and it is easy to be drawn in by the horrors of her rape and the subsequent trial — but there is a solid career and a canny businesswoman at work. We were perhaps a little short changed by few portraits included — her bread and butter — and the altarpieces are a little off, but almost every picture is a masterpiece. I hope it reopens, but I fear not.

All the Stage’s a World: 2020 Theatre

So I managed a few theatre trips before lockdown — when I with the rest of the world switched to YouTube and National Theatre Live (some of which are chronicled here). The audiences at A Number and The Visit were notably thin, although bad reviews for the latter perhaps didn’t help. I also narrowly missed seeing the reworked A Dolls House, which was pulled as I arrived at Waterloo Station about two hours before curtain up.

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