The following sketches, and the ones I’m going to put in the next three blog posts, were all drawn at lightening speed – just a few seconds each – trying to capture the thrill of seeing Tacita Dean’s film “Antigone” that was being shown at the Royal Academy in London. Screen shots – a moment in time.
Somehow I do like the chemistry between people. If it exists. Sometimes. Perhaps.
When he was talking about his sculpture “The Walking Man,” Rodin comes up with the wonderful quote: “It is not my Walking Man in himself that interests me, but rather the thought of how far he has come, and how far he has yet to cover.”
“The Burghers of Calais” being paraded before the public.
This quote I feel applies both to the recent British Museum exhibition “Rodin and the art of ancient Greece,” which examines the influence of the sculptures from antiquity, in particular the Parthenon, on Rodin, and also Rodin’s own philosophy that enjoyed the effect that time has on sculptures (the lack of limbs, heads and general knocks that they have taken over the millennia), and makes a feature of it in his own work.
The Elgin marbles in the British Museum never really grabbed my attention before, but this exhibition made me have a truly great respect and admiration for the sculpture created by Pheidias. The man was a genius in how he could transform and manipulate the cold hard and heavy marble into living flesh, and to make it look as if it weighed hardly anything.
Apart from the drawing at the top of Rodin’s “The Burghers of Calais”, for which I found a convenient seat, it was too crowded in the exhibition to be able to draw anything comfortably, so I took myself off to the Parthenon Gallery within the British Museum to view the remnants that didn’t make it to the exhibition, and here I managed to draw this horses head, originally one of four that was pulling a god’s chariot from out of the waves.
I feel another series of sketches beginning…
Jumping out at Russell Square tube station, I noticed these doors at the end of the platform and was immediately drawn in by the arrangement of the security seal tape, and it’s constant removal and replacement along the vertical openings of the doors.
There is something paradoxical that the seals have been put in place and removed so many times. The cabinets being broken into, and then taped over again and again, as if some drama, a crime thriller is taking place with the repeat button firmly pushed down.
The vertical arrangement also reminds me strongly of the “Hanging Soap Women, 2000” sculpture by the Polish artist Miroslav Balka, of which, I believe, half of it is in the Tate Modern collection, and half of it is at the White Cube Gallery, after the original length was cut in two. This beautiful sculpture made of a large quantity of used bars of soap in lots of different colours and strung up along a metal cable is well worth hunting down to have a look at. It does have an underlying message as well, which has got absolutely nothing to do with what is going on in Russell Square, but perhaps you can see the connection.
Back to the mystery of what is going on behind these doors!
What makes it so worthwhile for somebody to break in so many times, risking capture, torture, possibly even death, and yet still persist?
We went to see the excellent play called “Red” by John Logan, on Friday evening, up in the West End. Set in Mark Rothko’s Bowery studio in Manhattan, during the late 1950’s, when he was in the process of creating the Seagram murals for the Four Seasons Restaurant. A project that was abandoned1959-60, with the Tate Gallery in London being the beneficiary of a decade or so later.
The play has just 2 actors, Alfred Molina as Rothko, and Alfred Enoch as his assistant, Ken, with no interval and intense dialogue (you have to admire the actors), the thought processes going on in the painters head are well developed with Ken being the innocent simple foil against the complexities of Rothko.
There is, at the end, just a hint that the tide had turned with Ken moving on, and Rothko in a slight mental knot which may have led to the pulling of the plug on the commission, and eventually into the drinking and depression that followed through the 1960’s.
This play has left me wanting to read and find out more on Rothko, and his thinking. Leaves me to say, thank you Jane for taking me.
Waiting room at Charing Cross station.
I’m sure that there are plenty of comedy acts about putting up deckchairs and failing. It seems to me an equally impossible job to draw them successfully. Perhaps I haven’t the patience.
In London’s Green Park (or “Brown Park”, or “Straw-coloured Park”, as the heat-wave seems to have repainted it) the deckchairs have already been put up for you, but as I was idly drinking my coffee, I could see a game of Cat and Mouse going on, as people dodged around trying to avoid paying the attendant with his ticket machine.
When you are trying to draw or paint them, the deckchairs always seem to have too many bits of wood, or frames, and does this interlock with this, or that? Do they go in front or behind the canvas seat?
And what about the stripes? Deckchairs always seem to be striped. Yet more lines to get entangled with when drawing! Always a mess, but fun to draw all the same.
Deckchairs are never that comfortable to sit in anyway I find, and there is always that fear of imminent collapse as you sink into one, and the difficulty of getting out in a hurry as the deckchair attendant draws near… – “OK you win, here is you £2.80 for an hour…”
Personally, I prefer to sit or lay on the grass anyway. So much less hassle. I like the easy life, although I do think I need to set myself the challenge of drawing, or painting, deckchairs again sometime – keep going with my attempts until I can get the hang of it…
Not there yet!
Yesterday evening we went to the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall to enjoy an evening of culture with, amongst others, Mendelsohn and Schumann. I arrive slightly early, and whilst waiting for Jane, I sat on a wall and pulled out my little sketchbook to do some sketching of the promenaders as they began to appear.
5 pencil drawings in total (including the above, done in double quick time…
Jumping off the wall, Humpty Dumpty nearly had a great fall, and narrowly avoided landing in the picnic laid out between two young ladies. It was a close thing between me, a delicious looking brie, and some crackers! Emerged unscathed, but abashed.
I took the train up to London on Saturday, and for a fleeting moment, as we sped past an allotment, I saw this shed and hastened to do a sketch of it whilst it was still fresh in my mind.
I thought it kind of appropriate (as England were playing Belgium for 3rd place in the football world cup that day), and somehow quintessentially English, to have attached the St George’s flag to a garden shed in the middle of an idle allotment, somewhere in the south east of England, as the sun shone brightly.
At least one thing I could be sure of drawing this person – he couldn’t see that I was drawing him!
The nose seemed quite alert though…