After an ill Tuesday for me, battling the dreaded cold virus, the sun cut its holiday short and returned to London’s sky today. Without so much as a second spent contemplating another miserable day indoors I headed out for coffee, some reading and writing and then an impromptu viewing of the Man Ray exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. If you’re in London then please go see it. And if it comes to a city near you then go see it. It is wonderful. Man Ray was a master of composition with a good eye for drawing out character (or at least the appearance of it) and to think he did that on portraits and not say landscape – wow! And what a lucky man to have been living in Paris between the wars and after WWII and to have been part of that art scene along with the likes of Picasso, Dali, Miro, Virginia Woolf, Le Corbusier, Hemingway, Joyce and countless other writers, artists and poets. After the exhibition I walked to the South Bank with my new camera, the Fujifilm X100, for some practice and I snapped away thrilled to be amongst people. It was a mite chilly but it was crisp and fresh and the sight of so many other keen photographers snapping the fabulous evening lights of my home city was a delight. Ahh, I can’t wait for spring, then summer, then autumn!!!!!!
Light, Camera, Colour!!
Writing solely for one’s self is one extreme of a spectrum and is testosterone to the seductive myth of the toiling undiscovered genius. This is destined only for (a few) some but we all can’t be Van Gogh. I would aver that most of the greatest art in history was created with an audience, greater than one person, in mind: Michelangelo’s Sistine chapel; Rembrandt for his patrons; Shakespeare wrote for the people; Dickens serialised his novels in newspapers for the masses; the great tragedians of old, Sophocles and Euripides, wrote for the demos; the Impressionists came to public attention when they launched their own exhibition; Citizen Kane was made for an audience of 1+; it was for and to others that Astaire danced and Bessie sung (sang?) etc etc; and the greatest epic poem ever, The Iliad, was crafted and perfected by generations of poets over centuries in front of listening audiences before Homer wrote it down in his own breathtaking style.
Great artists and artistes put something of themselves into their works – that’s the part that can’t come from anyone else and is what makes their works unique. But what makes those works great is … only if I knew. JK Rowling may, supposedly, have written The Casual Vacancy for herself but even she, after the incredible success of the first Harry Potter novel, must have kept those millions of reading kids in mind as she spun out her tale to seven installments. It is therapeutic to just write and it is both healing and emancipatory to write for one’s self and from one’s own core; but it’s so orgasmic to connect to another human.
For of mortals there is no one who is happy.
If wealth flows in upon one, one may be perhaps
Luckier than one’s neighbour, but still not happy.
– Euripides, the play “Medea”, Univ of Chicago Press 1944
In the middle of Rome, probably the most monumental city ever built, is probably the most farcical city ever known, the Vatican City. A city run by a professional homosexual clergy to whom one billion straight catholics defer, cross their hearts and bow piously. The same catholics who, in secular mode, are quick to denounce homosexuals. I do ponder the sheer silliness of it all.
PS Raphael’s paintings in the Raphael Stanze and Michaelangelo’s in the Sistine Chapel are awe-mazing.
PPS Despite the clear signs in the Sistine Chapel not to take photos, flashlights went off continuously. I guess catholics are used to ignoring the Holy See.