… an alliteration fail to signal Lillabullero‘s third cultural destination as featured in this post.
A brief sojourn in Bristol at the weekend and disappointment that the walls of the gents’ bogs in The Old Duke jazz pub – not exactly the marbled halls of the Philharmonic in Liverpool but still marvels in their own way of artistic distinction – have been scraped and whitewashed into blankness. I’ve been quietly pleased that photos of the varnished wall- and door-coverings – of layers of sheet music, newspaper cuttings and gig posters – have attracted some attention over the years here at Lillabullero (click here for a view) … and now it would appear they have achieved the status of historical document.
Still good music to be had of a Sunday lunchtime, though, from some spritely (shall we say) older geezers playing the jazz – from revivalist stylings through to Lou Donaldson – they’ve played all their lives, as renovation work continues. And in Banksy’s city, a neat piece of wall art on the brickwork outside:
Whenever New Adventures are in town I drag out the mantra, “I don’t do ballet, but I do do Matthew Bourne.” Well I did do ballet last week and while not actively regretting it I think I’ll be resuming that position. The publicity for English National Ballet‘s production of Le Corsaire promised much. Billed as “an epic pirate adventure“, Pirates of the Caribbean it was not. OK, I didn’t do my homework, but ballet as a narrative form left me confused, and I still don’t know who exactly the bare-chested bloke who stole the attention of the women I was with was, or what his function. The leads (he with le grand bulge, d’accords) were obviously a big deal – applause the first time they came on stage before they’d done anything – and could, well, dance rather well, and there were some lovely duets (is that the right word?).
The publicity promised “some of the most bravura male dancing in the ballet” and furthermore “a shipwreck which is one of the most breath-taking spectacles in ballet.” The stage effects of the latter were pretty good, indeed the staging and costumes were spectacular, borrowing from contemporary (to its inception) nineteenth century exotic east illustration (the book was loosely based on a long poem of Byron’s) and (I pinched this from a review I chanced upon) Bollywood, which some of the ensemble set routines seemed to borrow from too. Swashbuckling it was not, and nothing like the picture reproduced here was to be seen; indeed, very little time was spent at sea. The sword fight had a certain brio, I guess, but I was expecting spectacular. The music – 5 composers are listed – was all over the place, from oom-pah to Tchaikovsky (though he was not one of them). But what do I know? All around me Le Corsaire was received rapturously. No way am I saying it was an evening wasted – it was a visual treat, sometimes due to the dancing – but I’ve still got to catch up with the last episode of Peaky Blinders.
Peter Dreher at MK Gallery
An interesting exhibition in part at MK Gallery from the German artist Peter Dreher, who says:
I was always cautious about narrative pictures charged with meaning. But an individual painting loses its relationship with reality as soon as it is repeated. It is just painting. This is how I arrived at the idea of painting the same thing over and over again.
This is the rationale behind Everyday is a good day (in German the enticing Tag um tag guter tag). Again, from the MK Gallery’s printed Exhibition Guide:
… Dreher wanted to paint the simplest thing he could imagine, and paint it again and again. It had to be an object familiar to everyone and he decided on a glass, selecting one from his studio without thinking too much about it. Initially it was meant to be five or six paintings that proved as an artist you didn’t need to change your subject to be stimulated to paint. He then carried on, fascinated by the process, and now there are over 5,000. Each painting is created in the same conditions, in the same position and from the same perspective, in one sitting. It is methodical and obsessive, and loads the painting of the glass with further meaning for the artist and viewer; by producing thousands, the work becomes more abstract and conceptual and the tireless repetition of a motif questions and challenges representation in painting. At the same time, the ritual act of painting the same thing over and over again is meditative, and provides quiet and pace for the artist.
And 150 of them take up two walls in the Long Gallery allowing the visitor to partake in that old favourite of a picture game, Spot the difference. There are differences, but ultimately, so what? Elsewhere, however, there is stuff I could appreciate more.
In the Cube Gallery the installation of a series of many many skulls done in gouache opposite oil paintings of flowers – a staple juxtaposition of traditional still lifes – do set up an interesting still life experience. And yes, the varied angles and seeming expressions of the skulls make the observer feel … observed. You can see the skulls and a couple of glasses on the Gallery website (at http://www.mkgallery.org/exhibitions/peter_dreher/).
Three sides of the Middle Gallery are taken up by Beachcomber shores, a panoramic 52 paneled straight replication in oils – and framed by the wall spaces left for the sections of the room not painted – of three sides of a California motel room. This works for me as more of a zen thing than those bloody glasses. For what it’s worth, on the fourth wall is my favourite piece, frame and all – what is probably a self-portrait from 1948, when Dreher was 16.
Briefly, back to Bristol
As it happens the Sunday we were in Bristol was a Make Sundays Special Sunday. These are the brainwave of Bristol’s elected Mayor wherein once a month some city centre streets are closed off to traffic and given over to street artists and stallholders selling their various wares. Great idea. A regular buzzing mini-carnival no less.