I think it’s really important to devour culture, to soak, immerse, pickle and rinse your self in the stuff! Here are a few things that have I have approached with fascination and interest. It all goes into the artistic mix; it feeds, nourishes and without it I shall wither!
Jean-Michel Basquiat – Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris
Ornamental Despair (Painting for Ian Curtis) – Julian Schnabel
Art Brut Japonais II – Halle Saint Pierre, Paris
Danse Macabre – Bernt Notke. St. Nicholas’ Church, Tallinn Estonia
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Fondation Louis Vuitton – Dieter Buchhart
Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
The Little Zen Companion – David Schiller
The Sick Bag Song – Nick Cave
Spacebound Apes – Neil Cowley Trio
Lodger (Tony Visconti remix) – David Bowie
Flowers of Romance – Public Image Ltd
“Kicking Against The Pricks” – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Wings Of Desire – Soundtrack
White Lunar – Nick Cave & Warren Ellis
Secrets of the Beehive – David Sylvian
Distortland – The Dandy Warhols
FILM / DOCUMENTARY
Stan & Ollie – Jon S. Baird
Tokyo Story – Yasujiro Ozu
Loving Vincent – Dorota Kobiela / Hugh Welchman
On Chesil Beach – Dominic Cooke
Strangers On A Train – Alfred Hitchcock
Wonderstruck – Todd Haynes
Pina – Wim Wenders
Boom For Real – Sara Driver
Winter light and winter cold
Black Medicine Coffee – Edinburgh
When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.
– John Lennon
Art is not what you see, but what you make others see. – Edgar Degas
The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something
― Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country
Two weeks ago I visited the Musée d’Orsay, Paris to see Orsay through the Eyes of Julian Schnabel (as well as the Van Gogh’s), as I quite like a lot of Schnabel’s work.
The gallery had asked Schnabel to give an interpretation of their collection, by presenting, in two of the museum’s historic rooms, a new scenography and a selection of works that had never previously been displayed together. More precisely, they asked him to juxtapose his paintings, sculptures and installations with the masterpieces of Impressionism. An interesting idea and a fascinating show.
However, one painting really resonated with me - Ornamental Despair (Painting for Ian Curtis) with its stark, monumental, monochromatic silence. It references Peter Saville’s cover for Joy Division’s second and final album, the deeply melancholic Closer.
It made me think . . .
I set off from Rue Victor Massé and walked west on Place de Clichy heading for the leafless trees of the Bois de Boulogne. After 2 hours of continuous walking I arrived at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in a state of feverish excitement!
I adore Basquiat’s work and have seen many exhibitions down the years including: Musée Maillol, Paris 2003, Brooklyn Museum 2005, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris 2010, Guggenheim Bilbao 2015 and Boom For Real at the Barbican Centre, London 2017 to name a few.
However, this experience was possibly the best. The sheer size and scale of the exhibition on 4 floors is staggering and overwhelming and the art on display is glorious. There is nothing like seeing the work in the ‘flesh’; it pulsates with colour and energy and is entrancing and teasing with riddles, intellect, word play, pathos and wonder in multiple layers of meaning. My response was both emotional (especially in front of Riding with Death) and enquiring; I was infected with passion and fascination.
On my second visit on Monday 7 January, my response was more analytical, searching the canvas surfaces for technique and hidden symbols, meaning and marks in the notions of society and self. It was an extraordinary experience; I sat at the feet to learn wisdom!
The exhibition includes works previously unseen in Europe, essential works such as Obnoxious Liberals (1982), In Italian (1983), and Riding with Death (1988), as well as paintings which have rarely been seen since their first presentations during the artist’s lifetime, such as Offensive Orange (1982), Untitled (Boxer) (1982), and Untitled (Yellow Tar and Feathers) (1982).
I feel privileged to have seen the exhibition. The exhibition ends on the 21 January.