20 February 2017


  Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 5 February, 2017, oil on canvas board, 21 X 26 cm

I am woefully negligent in keeping up this blog.
Hopefully I will get back to it on a regular basis.

I have been back working from Nature, specifically at the beach in front of an immense sky and not largely thick band of sea. It is a 'banal' vision of unordinary beauty. A beach and sky is all it is. And I use the word beauty with care because it is such an emotionally charged idea for so many post-modernists. However, beauty is a deeply personal concept, if one can call it that. It is certainly more than just a word even as highly over-used as it is. It is right up there with genius in its overuse. After all, John Keats did say in Ode to a Grecian Urn 'Beauty is truth, truth beauty'.
Obviously, being a romantic, I am from another planet when it comes to all this. But, I am a painter who, in front of Nature simply wishes to transmit an emotional feeling to another human being. But this is not the reason I paint. I paint because it makes life more real for me, and I live better each day as a result.

About a month ago I began a series of small studies done just as the sun has dropped back behind the earth's horizon. It is that time of day when Nature prepares for sleep commonly know as Twilight, or Dusk; both equally sensual in meaning and in sound. It's a time of day when I finally awaken. The French call it 'l'heure entre le chien et le loup' The hour between the dog and the wolf, otherwise known simply as 'the hour of the wolf'. But I am not really comfortable with this. For me it is a time when everything moves with delicious speed. The colours in Nature prepare for death it could be said, and felt. At the sea, with my back to the setting sun, I witness this moment when all colours in the sky correlate chromatically with those of the sea below. One has such a small window within which to operate. And, indeed I often feel like a kind of solitary surgeon desperately trying to keep a small painting alive as all hell break loose in front of me. It is for this reason that one works. Turner, for whom I have always felt an affinity, loved the wild and destructive force of the sea, and it is known that he had himself even attached to the mast of a ship during a storm at sea. 

In any case, at the end of a long day, painting these small things is a ritual of great importance for me.

More to be revealed.

09 October 2016

Rodin's hands

From Conversations with Stravinsky

"I made his (Rodin's) acquaintance in the Grand Hotel in Rome shortly after the beginning of the First World War. Diaghilev had organized a benefit concert there in which I conducted the Suite from Petrouschka.
I confess I was more interested in him because of his fame than because of his art for I did not share the enthusiasm of his numerous and serious admirers. I met him again, some time later at one of our ballet performances in Paris. He greeted me kindly, as though I were an old acquaintance, and at that moment I remembered the impression his fingers had made on me at our first handshaking. They were soft, quite the contrary of what I had expected, they did not seem to belong to a male hand. He had a long white beard that reached down to the navel of his long, buttoned-up surtout, and white hair covered his entire face. He sat reading a Ballet Russe programme though a pince-nez while people waited patiently for the great old artist to stand up as they passed in his row..."

26 September 2016

Stravinsky on Dylan Thomas, with whom he had hoped to work


I don't think you can say that the project ever got as far as having a subject, but Dylan had a very beautiful idea.

I first heard of Dylan Thomas from Auden, in New York, in February or March of 1950. Coming late to an appointment one day Auden excused himself saying that he had been busy helping to extricate an English poet from some sort of difficulty.

Then in May 1953, Boston University proposed to commission me to write an opera with Dylan. I was in Boston at the time and Dylan who was in New York or New Haven came to see me...  he was nervous, chain smoking the whole time, and he complained of severe gout pains...

His face and skin had the color and swelling of too much drinking. He was a shorter man than I expected, from his portraits, not more than five feet five or three, with a large protuberant behind and belly. His nose was a red bulb, and his eyes were glazed. He drank a glass of whisky with me and it seemed to put him at ease.

...As soon as I saw him I knew that the only thing to do was to love him...

23 September 2016

Igor Stravinsky on Eric Satie

He was certainly the oddest person I have ever known, but the most rare and consistently witty person, too. I had a great liking for him and he appreciated my friendliness, I think, and liked me in return. With his piece-nez, umbrella, and galoshes he looked a perfect schoolmaster, but he looked just as much like one without theses accoutrements. He spoke very softly, hardly opening his mouth, but he delivered each word in an inimitable, precise way. His handwriting recalls his speech to me: it is exact, drawn. His manuscripts were like him also, which is to say as the French say 'fin'. No one ever saw him wash, he had a horror of soap. Instead he was forever rubbing his fingers with pumice. He was always very poor, poor by conviction, I think. He lived in a poor section and his neighborhood seemed to appreciate his coming among them: He was greatly respected by them. His apartment was also very poor. It did not have a bed but only a hammock. In winter Satie would fill bottles of hot water and put them flat in a row underneath his hammock. It looked like some strange kind of Marimba I 
remember once when someone had promised him somme money he replied:
"Monsieur, what you have said did not fall a deaf". His sarcasm depended on French classic  usages. The first time I heard Socrate, at a séance where he played it for a few of us, he turned around at the end and said in perfect bourgeosie: "Voila, messieurs, dames."

15 April 2016

Oscar Murillo and the passport!


Oscar Murillo CreditGerard Julien/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images 

Was it art, protest — or both?
It’s still not entirely clear just what the Colombian artist Oscar Murillo was thinking last month when he flushed his British passport down a toilet, midflight to Sydney, as he headed toward an art biennale there.
Instead, he was detained for two days in Sydney — after which he was deported to Singapore and eventually returned to Britain. (Mr. Murillo also holds a Colombian passport.) On Monday, these events were confirmed by his gallery, David Zwirner. Now the artist is being asked to explain them.
On Tuesday in London, Mr. Murillo released a statement through Zwirner to The New York Times and acknowledged that he had not originally intended to stage a protest but that his action had become one. “Destroying my passport was a way of challenging the conditions in which I have the privilege of moving through the world, as a citizen,” he said in his statement. “The act creates a disruptive situation that has the real potential to engage different power structures in a complex society — my status as an artist, the state as an arbiter, and the question of mobility in general.”
According to ArtNews, Mr. Murillo decided four hours before landing in Sydney that the work he was taking to the Biennale of Sydney was not sufficient and destroyed the documentation that would have allowed him to enter Australia easily, creating a situation that may have been a comment “on his own geopolitical identity,” that publication wrote.
Subsequently, Judith Benhamou-Huet, a French journalist and curator, said on her blog that she ran into Mr. Murillo at Hong Kong Art Basel, where he talked further about his concerns with the Sydney Biennale.
Mr. Murillo, in one of the iPhone videos uploaded to Ms. Benhamou-Huet’s blog, said: “I gave a proposal, I went and made a proposal with a curator, and we were both really happy with it.” At the same time, he said, “there seemed to be a lot of conservative attitudes toward allowing an artist to be really freely expressive.”
In his statement on Tuesday, he noted that “a lot of curation today leads to the homogenization of emerging cultures — emerging from the perspective of the West — instead of forming collaborative exchanges with people that fall outside the dominant art world.” He added, “I was also trying to address the commodification of race and social practice in art.”
Called by his fans “the 21st-century Basquiat,” Mr. Murillo quickly went from cleaning office buildings to cover his expenses at the Royal College of Art in London to seeing his canvases sell at auction for more than $400,000.
More recently, however, his prices may have lost steam. Three Murillo works failed to sell over the last year at Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips.

18 March 2016

polka dots in the church

I cannot remember where I found this, probably the NYT. But in any even I liked it immediately. Its a church somewhere in Italy, certainly.

17 March 2016

Sara Bright, (ceramic and wash)

I fell upon these images while reading about Art in California. They are quite intriguing.

16 March 2016

"only the rich buy this"

David Hammons, at the Mnuchin Gallery

Reading about this new exhibit currently showing in New York, I couldn't help but wonder if it was not meant to mock the rich, effete and powerful white collecting class? Or, is it just effete itself? 

  1. affected, over-refined, and ineffectual.
    "effete trendies from art college"
    synonyms:affected, over-refined, ineffectualartificialstudiedpretentiouspreciouschichiflowerymanneredMore
    • no longer capable of effective action.
      "the authority of an effete aristocracy began to dwindle"
      synonyms:weakened, enfeebled, enervated, worn outexhaustedfinished, burnt out, played out, drained, spentpowerless
      "the whole fabric of society is becoming effete"
    • (of a man) weak or effeminate.
      "he chatted away, exercising his rather effete charm"

14 March 2016

Met Breuer

The old Whitney is now part of the Met. The New York Times sent in a photographer to see what it looked like empty. These three are gems from another era.

13 March 2016

Adelaide Biennial 2016

Tom Moore

This a great piece, not sure what it is, but its cohesive and all its parts make a whole.
This is something which I consider to be an essential part of a work of art.

08 March 2016

Phyllida Barlow

Usually not quite a fan of all the stacked chairs and mounted wooden debris which I have seen in London in various museums, I found myself enchanted by this wonderfully painted piece from the Arsenale in Venice a few years back. 

04 December 2015

Picasso, anecdotal evidence of a tough player

Luis Buñel writes in his clever memoir a story about the young Picasso on the verge of stardom.

On one occasion the Catalonian ceramist Artigas, one of his (Picasso's) close friends
went to Barcelona in 1934 with an art dealer to see Picasso's mother. She invited them to lunch, and during the meal, she told them that there was a trunk in the attic filled with drawings that her son had done when he was very young. When she took them upstairs and showed them the work, the dealer made an offer which she accepted, and he brought about thirty drawings back to Paris. When the exhibition opened in a gallery in St. Germain-des-Prés, Picasso arrived and went from drawing to drawing, reminiscing over each one and was clearly moved. Yet the minute he left, he went straight to the Police and denounced both Artigas and the dealer. Artigas had his photo in the newspaper under the headline "International Crook!"

29 October 2015

part 2. Sola Agustsson (some wise words from the front!)

1. Art collectors treat art as an investment.
For the most part, the only people who can afford to buy art in this economy are people who are not affected by this economy, the top 1 or 2 percent. Of course, rich people have always patronized the arts— Michelangelo would never have been able to produce his masterpieces without the Medici family— but today's billionaires aren’t just patronizing artists, they’re investing in and branding them. The top 10 billionaire art collectors have 18% of their net worth invested in art, though the average billionaire invests about .5% of their net worth in art. Investing in art can sometimes prove more lucrative than the stock market; a recent study shows that works by Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst have been appreciating at a higher rate than the S&P 500.
There is money to be made not just in selling art, but also in evaluating its worth. In the same way a financial advisor would help you make investment choices, there are art advisors who counsel your art purchases. “Appearing as if from nowhere, like a biblical swarm of locusts: The art advisors…. in the last few years, advisors have popped up literally everywhere and now outnumber collectors 2 to 1,” says financial writer Adam Lindermann. Many contemporary art collectors have no interest in the art itself, making priceless works of art nothing more than fetishized commodities.
Flipping, selling artworks immediately after purchasing them at exponential prices, is also a common practice among art collectors. Many financial advisors predict that continuing to inflate the value of works of art that are constantly turned over will soon cause the art bubble to burst. “The auction houses are experiencing a situation where every auction total is higher than the last and these vertiginous upward prices cannot be maintained forever. Someday the music is going to stop and somebody is going to be found without a chair to sit on,” says art expert and former Sotheby’s employee Todd Levin.
2. Art is a spectacle.
There are certain exhibitions, like James Turrell’s immersive light installation at the Guggenheim, when experiencing the art everyone is extoling is nearly impossible because there are so many viewers clamoring to see what the hype is about. I waited in line for nearly two hours to see Turrell’s Aten Reign, a “meditative spectacle” where I “may or may not see God” (according to New York Times critic Roberta Smith). Perhaps I would have seen God had not every New Yorker who had that day off been breathing down my neck, but mostly, the entire exhibit seemed like a subtle joke. There I was, standing in a line, shuffling up the steps like a prisoner, waiting to see this transformative work that no matter how spectacular would ultimately frustrate me. Perhaps I’m cynical, but the crowded wait only ruined the exhibit for me. I wondered if this wasn’t some kind of existential funhouse, a metaphor for the futility of human existence, ending in a disappointing light show.