Friday, July 02, 2004


Ben Watson reading from 'Denis Bales and the story of Flea Improvisation' accompanied by Simon H Fell on bass, Ray's Jazz Shop, 1 July 2004 Posted by Hello

Very surreal. On behalf of DP who has just had an op on his gammy knee, I went to the launch of the latest biography of Derek Bailey, experimental septuagenarian guitarist. Ben Watson jumped onto a chair and read from a pretend book by Watson's punk/poet alter ego Out To Lunch, Denis Bales and the Story of Flea Improvisation, whilst accompanied by Simon H Fell on bass violin, violently bowing with two bows, sliding across a small cymbal held across the bridge... Noisy. Experimental. A bit mental. I was pleased to leave and meet J et al for Canada day celebrations (also noisy, experimental, a bit mental).

Canada Day celebrations at the Maple Leaf, Covent Garden, London (photo by M.M.)Posted by Hello

Edward Hopper, Tate Modern
Some brief thoughts...
Edward Hopper's paintings highlight the power of loneliness. His work is surprisingly 'flat' - shape, form, light, shadow, colours are more important than human expression, perspective, proportion. Isolated figures are placed somewhere inbetween the foreground and background - they purposely become part of the architecture. Even where there is more than one figure in a painting, the sense of dissatisfied longing is so strong you just want to scream at the canvas, "Just talk to each other, will you??!!!". And yet the screaming is useless: Hopper has sufficiently distanced the protagonists from the viewer's gaze so that interaction between the viewer and the viewed is impossible. They look away, downwards, outwards, out and away in (empty?) private thought. In Cape Cod Evening (1939), even the dog doesn't want to play with the empty people, and instead looks off into the distance.

Favourite overheard:
Young couple walk towards Nighthawks. Male says to female in disgusted astonishment, "So, you honestly don't know that image???". The relationship is set for certain doom...


At 11:45 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re the Hopper exhibition: it is the first exhibition I have been to, when I would have been happier with less exhibits. Hopper's works demand to be viewed in isolation, perhaps because of their subject matter (alienation etc.) However his views of summer houses against a summer sky are stunning and worth seeing.

At 11:58 pm, Blogger s said...

Many thanks, indeed for the comment - yes, I think you're probably right that perhaps fewer paintings on display might have facilitated a more intense studying of Hopper's work and highlighted (even more) that sense of isolation. But even so, compared to recent other major exhibitions at the Tate, it was quite a small exhibition.

I quite agree that those paintings of the sharply defined summer houses with that striking sunlight are indeed wonderful. I think the only painting I remember that made me feel 'warm' (i.e. not lonely!) was 'Lighthouse Hill' (1927)...
[The colours from the painting 'in the flesh' look much better than on screen, of course]

P.S. I feel I already know you in real-non-web-life, dear anonymous blog commenter... Am I right??!

At 10:34 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes you do, unless I'm confused about who's putting your weblog together! I am getting up my courage to acquire a user-id,otherwise I wouldn't choose anonymity.

At 1:28 am, Blogger s said...

Hmmmmmmm: interesting... I hope you find the boldness within to name yourself online!


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