Tag Archives: culture

Eugène Delacroix exhibition at The National Gallery – first thoughts


[Women of Algiers in their Apartment (French: Femmes d’Alger dans leur appartement)  1834 oil on canvas Eugène Delacroix; source Wikimedia Commons. Picture is in the Louvre]

The National Gallery’s Delacroix exhibition is billed as ‘Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art’ which means that there’s not as much Delacroix as one might like. It’s more focused on seeing the great “Romantic” painter as a profound influence on the ‘Modern’ artists, such as the Impressionists and post-Impressionists. There are some interesting relationships made, especially with Renoir, who seems to have learned a lot about colour from Delacroix but Renoir had more, new paints to have fun with, thanks to industrialization.

One thing s that is particularly intriguing is the linking of Delacroix to Kandinsky. The final picture in the show is Kandinsky’s ‘Study for Improvisation V’, painted in 1910. The fascinating thing that links these two artists is their development of ideas about colour (expressed in Delacroix’s Journals and in Kandinsky’s Concerning the Spiritual in Art). This would be a great show in its own right, but it’s not really discussed here. But I doubt that Delacroix specifically influenced Kandinsky at all. I mean, Kandinsky no doubt saw Delacroix’s work in Paris and no doubt was impressed but – so what?

I do have a big problem with the way Art History is often done, as a linear progression of “influences.” Influence happens all the time, and it’s not linear. People see (and hear) stuff and this finds its way into their work. Of course it happens, but sometimes I wonder if the art history approach (at least as it is offered up in exhibits like this) is a bit too reductionist.

I found myself really impressed with Delacroix’s paintings of North Africa. Painted (deliberately) long after he’d seen the places, these are vibrant with colour and movement. ‘Women of Algiers in their Apartment’ (above) is particularly glorious. Delacroix avoids the overt exoticisation seen in some of the works by his “Orientalist” followers, notably Theodor de Chasseriau, whose work is featured here.

This was just my first visit to the show, and I’ll go again so maybe I’ll have more thoughts. I want particularly to think about how Delacroix’s imagery is repurposed in cinema.

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Filed under art, Art-Related, cinema, thoughtful

David Bowie – Heroes



Berlin Remnants of the Cold War 2012

Like many people and all of my friends, I’m sad and upset and unsettled by the death of David Bowie.

I was not a ‘fan’ in the usual sense of the word, but I think in some sense we are all Bowie fans – those of us who value creativity, progressive ideas, humanity. His music expressed all of these and more.

I love many of his songs but the one that touches me most is Heroes. The sentiment of the song is wonderful – “We can be heroes, just for one day” – and indeed we can. The music is soaring and dramatic and makes me shiver.

But also, the song expresses for me what it was like to grow up in that strange time  called the Cold War. The song spoke to me then, as it does now, of living in the shadow of politics and folly yet being able to rise above it, and love and live.

The song (and his 3 Berlin albums, Low, Heroes and Lodger) are my favourites … but can you have favourites among such a stupendous output by such a mercurial, creative, restless genius?

In any case these albums made me want to go to Berlin, and in time I did and it stays one of my favourite cities. I suppose he kind of put the city on the map for someone like me, living  in the depths of Canada… it came in to my consciousness as a place… this was probably good for Berlin, for the people there not being forgotten.

I’ve had Heroes on loop for 2 days now.

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Filed under Art-Related, the city, thoughtful, Uncategorized

TAKING OVER THE KING’S LAND is now Officially Released

The street art documentary I made is now available to view online.


TAKING OVER THE KING’S LAND is now Officially Released online for free viewing. Go to http://film.kingslandmural.co.uk
Please share freely.


 “In a forgotten corner of East London, in the shadow of the Olympic site,  artist Nazir Tanbouli is battling weather, vandalism and lack of funds, to create a massive mural installation throughout a condemned housing estate.”

After doing the rounds of the festival circuit including Sheffield Docfest and Portobello Festival in London, as well as screenings all over the place as far afield as Hungary and Egypt, it’s time to make the film more widely available since the fact is not that many people actually go to film festivals 🙂

More info, including full crew list and lots of material about the film as well as my still photography,  is at http://kingslandmural.co.uk/

chld-02 estate-01

dual-wall rain2 wetwall

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I set up a VIMEO channel for a particular subgenre of  films I very much like, “city” films


It’s got some of my films on it and links to others.

Since its inception, cinema has engaged with the phenomenon of the modern city and the varied experience of urban life. Even the earliest films manage to show the freedom and energy of the city, such as Dziga Vertov’s ‘Man with a Movie Camera’. Cinema has also captured the city’s liminal zones, urban decay and human anxiety. Through film, we can follow each period’s key debates around architecture, urban planning and globalization.
This channel was create din the spirit of László Moholy-Nagy’s great unrealised film Dynamic of the Metropolis | (Sketch for a film) – 1921/1922
Moholy-Nagy’s ‘Gross-Stadt Zigeuner’ 1932 and ‘Impressionen vom alten Marseiller Hafen (Vieux Port)’ 1929 are also key moments in the “city film:” slices of life seen through the camera’s eye.
[NB: Moholy-Nagy’s films are FINALLY AVAILABLE – http://shop.moholy-nagy.org/%5D
Other significant city films of the silent era include “À propos de Nice” by Jean Vigo and “Études sur Paris” by André Sauvage and the stunning “Berlin Symphony of a Great City” by Walther Ruttmann.
Later narrative films also embody the “city film” ethos – Jim Jarmusch’s early “Permanent Vacation” is one example. Need I mention the brilliant Julian Temple’s “Detroit Requiem” and “London the Modern Babylon”, or St Etienne’s “Finisterre.”
The purpose of this channel is to collect and showcase “city films” as part of my ongoing research and development of this peculiar and particular film sub-genre.


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another circus of the elite – or, the whitewashing of a nation’s culture

“I asked myself if it’s fair to ask the arts to deliver more on the diversity front than business or politics or journalism – sectors where the situation is still pretty grim.  … Why does any of this matter? Because it is through the media, through movies, TV and games that we see the world and we see ourselves. Or would like to”.

Suzanne Moore on the BAFTA awards and the ‘whitewashing’ of British culture


what Suzanne says here chimes with what I have been saying about the art world. it’s as if culture is being redefined solely in the image of the elite and the rest of us are passively accepting it. That we want to enjoy entertainment made by rich white folk and that’s all. Is that true??

viz: my recent blog posts

> diet tip#1 regurgitatye breakfast

> art and invisibility

> Dis-membered from the art world

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Filed under Art-Related, rants + outrages

Hating hipsters (and worst cup of coffee, ever)

Hating hipsters

It has come to my attention that one of the key urban trends these days is “hating hipsters”.
This phenomenon is caused by the disgust felt when whole swathes of neighborhoods suddenly experience an explosion of the following:

tattoo parlours
expensive “gourmet” coffee shops
ostensibly organic “natural” supermarkets
Cool Bars with “art galleries” attached
energetic hyper-networking 20-30 somethings with substantial parentally-derived incomes, talking loudly about postmodern drivel

followed shortly afterwards by a viral nuclear level explosion in the rents of shops, studios, flats and pavement inches.

Now, I can’t say that I personally hate hipsters. In fact I find the very word itself to be suspiciously retro enough that the hipsters themselves no doubt revel in it. I suppose the only difference between me and then is that my parents don’t support me at all and never have and I am too old to give a crap about being trendy. In fact even when I was not too old I took a sheer delight in being off trend.

I digress. What I wanted to show you was a photo of the worst cup of coffee, ever. I had it in a hipster joint on Mare St near to Space Studios. It was weak and cold. I complained and was told it was supposed to be that way as it was a gourmet blend. It cost me £3.50 /$5.74 US / 4.24 euros

I have lived in this hood for quite  awhile and I remember the days when you could not get a coffee for love or money (only Nescafe from workers caffs – till about 3 pm in the afternoon). I don’t wax nostalgic for those days. They were actually shit. But there is a limit and we have hit it….

I do hate postmodernism though., But that’s a whole other blog post.


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January 18, 2014 · 5:43 pm

a little walk in Soho

Today I was walking around in London going from Oxford St to the Prince Charles Cinema off Leicester Square (to see Melancholia, which is a great film) and I walked through Soho which I hadn’t done for quite a while. Usually my route goes through Covent Garden but today I made a change.

Soho used to be a big part of my life; when I was at film school I used to hang out there a lot. After that I worked there off and on and at all kinds of production houses (the good, the bad and the ugly). I used to eat there, drink there party there. From about the mid 2000s I went less and less. Today as I wandered through with a bit of time to spare I noticed how much of Soho has been sanitized, stripped of its traditional louche character. I don’t mean I feel nostalgia for prostitution and “vice” etc. (though as I never had anything to do with all that maybe I’m not the one suitable to pronounce on on it), I just mean the dodgy but somehow charming little bars that used to exist in hidden alleys and up – or down – dark staricases.

To the eye the principal visual manifestation is notably the presence of chains. Mainly cafes and bar chains replacing the old cafes and bars that used to be there. (I have no issue with chains that sell useful things like Ryness!) I started to take snaps of them. I was glad to see that some things, like Bar Italia and the Lorelei are all still there. I didn’t stop for coffee this time but I waxed nostalgic to come back and do just that next time I come for a movie.

Chinatown has really improved a lot from the days when I used to eat regularly at the old Wong Kei (and was never treated rudely, despite its reputation). It’s bursting with colour. I don’t eat Chinese food anymore, but it was nice to hang out here and bathe in the lights.

This building is odd though, so sparse. It looks like it could exist anywhere on the planet, any Chinatown:

This vending machine is intriguing:

This is what I love in Soho, newspapers from all over the world.

This is what I don’t like. Betting shops:

Such hives of depressingness. Ugly, their livery unmistakeable and soul destroying on every single street in the nation. Oh, probably not in Chelsea…

This photo is a bit fun, the one fellow in cricket outfit (!?) the other in his chef’s togs.

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