Bit slow off the mark with this one, but I’ve recently come across this guy.. and boy is he a talented individual..
Olly Moss is a young British Graphic Designer who, from his subject choice obviously has a tendency towards geekdom (no bad thing in my book) but who is obviously destined for huge things…
There’s a link to his web site here and his Flickr pages are here and they are both full of witty, clever and beautifully produced work that is simple and phenomenally effective. Makes you want to give up really, it’s so bloody good…
These reimagined Star Wars film posters are my current favourite..
But then there are all these Films in Black & Red…
And some Shoot the Baddies Targets…
And some classic video games as penguin book covers
Despite his worldwide fame and the astonishing value of his work (in 2008 his life size work “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping”, sold at auction for £17.2m setting a new record for a work by a living artist) Freud was a reclusive and withdrawn man, and I thought it very telling that in the various TV news articles reporting his death, there was hardly any actual footage of him, just some stills and the usual platitudes from a collection of talking heads.
Freud’s mature style is immediately recognisable; heavy swathes of layered paint and a strong use and understanding of shadows, depict with an apparently uncanny ability, the very essence of his sitter.
Freud was renown for making his sitters (almost always people he knew) sit for extraordinary periods of time. I have come across this story which suggests that Freud and his female model spent a staggering 16 months producing the painting below. Between April 2006 and August 2007, they met seven nights a week for about five hours each night, taking only four evenings off throughout this whole period. This represents a total of about 2400 hours work, which quite frankly is crazy… who on earth has got that much time to lie naked on a couch…
Never one to shy away from painting exactly how he saw his model, the portrait of the Queen is a typical case in point, and although time and familiarity have softened its effect to some degree, it is still a very striking and original work, and one that was not particularly appreciated by Her Majesty (I wonder how long she sat patiently for Mr. Freud.. I can’t imagine it was as long as he would have liked…)
Quite rightly regarded as one of the greatest British Artists of all time, he was also one of the last of the great figurative painters, someone for whom craft and effort were always more important than financial reward and fame.
My dad loves the internet. Not when it doesn’t work, obviously, that makes him cross, but he seems to appreciate the vastness of it all and enjoys sending me little clips and montages of images/ films that have presumably gone viral in the world of him and his mates…..
Most of the stuff he sends has a tendency to the cringe worthy (funny animals and scantily clad women are obviously popular amongst 75 year olds) but every now and then, my interest in piqued ……
This one of a market on a train line is particularly excellent. Watch it until the end and see how the the tracks almost completely disappear..
The second one is of Boyanka Angelova, a Bulgarian gymnast performing a routine with a ball that really is remarkable in its grace and perfect execution. Filmed in 2008 at a tournament in Italy, I can only imagine how good she must be now, three years later, and I suspect we will hear more of her in the lead up to the 2012 Olympics.
I like the bit at about 1 minute when she does a forward roll and flicks the ball into the air with her foot… how long would you have to practice that, so that the ball went where it was supposed too…
Watch out at the very end when Boyanka catches the ball with her feet whilst lying down and the woman in the background bounces around, she knows how good the routine was….
There’s much in the papers at the moment about the American Chess Grand Master Booby Fischer. This publicity has been generated by a new film called Bobby Fischer Against the World that sounds like it’s well worth seeing.
In the pieces I’ve read, Fischer comes across as a paranoid, complicated and ultimately selfish character, with the adjectives genius and loony seemingly used in equal measure (as is so often the case).
Rather than just write up his life story, I thought I would list my favourite top 10 “Fischer Facts” (in roughly chronological order) and then you can make up you own mind as to his sanity and his place in history….
1. Robert James Fischer was born in Chicago in March 1943. His father left when he was two and, as his communist leaning mother struggled to bring him up, he immersed himself in chess, memorizing huge numbers of famous games and finishes.
2. He became a Grand Master at the age 15, the youngest ever up till that time (1958)
3. As his reputation grew, so did his ego. Even if the organisers could get him to show up at a tournament due to his ever growing list of demands, once he was there, constant complaints about the audience, the lighting, the cameras etc, caused many to question his sportsmanship and accuse him of trying to psyche his opponents out. Fischer always denied this stating that he didn’t need to resort to mind games as he could beat them all anyway.
4.In what was generally seen by the US as a Cold War Victory, Fischer beat the Russian Grand Master Boris Spassky in 1972. The tournament was held in Iceland, one of the few countries that was acceptable to both the Americans and the Russians.
5. After issuing the World Chess Federation with a list of 179 demands which had to all be met before he would compete, he famously didn’t defend his 1972 World Champion title when all but one were agreed. The single sticking point was Fischer’s demand that should the contest be a draw, he be allowed to keep his title and split the prize money.
6. In the early 1980′s he was mistakenly arrested for being a bank robber, and later published a document accusing the Police of torture.
7. He supposedly had all the metal fillings from his teeth removed in the 1980′s so that the CIA couldn’t control his mind.
8. In 1992 after 30 years as a recluse, he finally agreed to replay Boris Spassky (apparently for a £3m+ fee). The location chosen however was Yugoslavia, at that time under UN sanctions due to the Bosnian War, and the US Govt. issued Fischer with a warning that if he played, he would not be allowed back into the US. He won the match but lost the right to return home, and lived the rest of his life on the move, finally ending up in Iceland where he died in January 2008.
9. As if his naturally abrasive personality wasn’t enough, his views got more extreme with age, and he is on record both as a holocaust denier and as a celebrant of the 9/11 attacks on America, claiming he wanted to see the US “wiped out”.
10. Even after his death the intrigue continued, when in July 2010, Fischer’s remains were exhumed in order to settle a paternity claim. Fischer left an estimated fortune of about $2m which the Phillipino American Marilyn Young, claimed her daughter, Jinky was entitled to. DNA tests however proved that she wasn’t, but it was only in March this year that his millions were awarded to a Japanese woman, Miyoko Watai who was legally declared his widow by an Icelandic Court. Relatives of Fischer are (unsurprisingly) disputing this and appealing the decision, dragging the man’s influence on even longer, something he’d probably appreciate.
The number of musicians and artists that have died at the age of 27 is truly remarkable, a who’s who of unquestionable and precocious ability that was just too unruly and ultimately came with too high a price or too many strings attached for its owner to keep on top of it all….
Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Pete de Freitas, Kurt Cobain, Richey Edwards, and now Amy Winehouse all sadly checked out in their own way at the tender age of 27.
I don’t think there’s anything significant about the age of 27, or that any of these deaths are in any way connected, although it would appear that most of them died in either controversial or unexplained circumstances, and mostly related to drugs and excess (which in itself could tell us something about what it takes to be a genius). There are obviously thousands of very talented people who don’t die at 27, so I think that it’s more one of those strange coincidences that anything else.
I wont lie to you, I’ve never been a fan of Amy Winehouse. It’s sad that someone who obviously had talent, couldn’t seem to cope with the successes that it offered, but it would be hypocritical of me to put her picture up on my blog. Hence the rather excellent photos of Messrs Hendrix, Cobain and Basquiat.
I’m a big Tom Waits fan, the man is obviously a bona fide genius.
You may argue (as my partner does) that his appeal is something akin to Marmite, in that it’s either outright love or overwhelming hate. The middle ground does not seem to exist for Mr. Waits’s extraordinary and unique sound. Perhaps not unsurprisingly though, I love Marmite, so I’m sticking with genius…
Anyway, on a recent flight, I put on his truly fantastic 1976 album Small Change (possibly my favourite of all his records) and so enjoyed hearing “Step Right Up” again, that I ended up repeating it 5 times.
It’s a surprisingly up-tempo song for Waits, with a walking bass riff and a meandering sax, filling in behind Waits’s street seller\hawker\ con man, who’s trying to rustle up interest in the stuff he’s got for sale. He may or may not be wearing a big old coat, a beaten up hat and be holding a cane, but he’s obviously a silver tongued charmer from the old school, covering almost every possible angle of every possible item, for every possible punter… Something indeed for everyone.
Not surprisingly, some loony on the web has written out every single one of Tom’s wonderful words, which I of course have then stolen (and corrected in a couple of places) and pasted in after the YouTube link….
So if you don’t know if you like Tom Waits or not, sit back, click the link and enjoy the gravelly voice and verbal dexterity of one of the greatest poets alive today.
I give you Mr Marmite himself, Tom Waits….
Step right up, step right up, step right up,
Everyone’s a winner, bargains galore
That’s right, you too can be the proud owner
of the quality that goes in before the name goes on
One-tenth of a dollar, one-tenth of a dollar, we got service after sales
How ’bout perfume? we got perfume, how ’bout an engagement ring?
Something for the little lady, something for the little lady,
Something for the little lady, hmm
Three for a dollar
We got a year-end clearance, we got a white sale
And a smoke-damaged furniture, you can drive it away today
Act now, act now, and receive as our gift, our gift to you
They come in all colours, one size fits all
No muss, no fuss, no spills, you’re tired of kitchen drudgery
Everything must go, going out of business, going out of business
Going out of business sale
Fifty percent off original retail price, skip the middle man
Don’t settle for less
How do we do it? how do we do it?
Volume, volume, turn up the volume
Now you’ve heard it advertised, don’t hesitate
Don’t be caught with your drawers down,
Don’t be caught with your drawers down
You can step right up, step right up
That’s right, it fellates, it chops, it dices, slices,
Never stops, lasts a lifetime, mows your lawn
And it mows your lawn and it picks up the kids from school
It gets rid of unwanted facial hair, it gets rid of embarrassing age spots,
It delivers a pizza, and it lengthens, and it strengthens
And it finds that slipper that’s been at large
under the chaise lounge for several weeks
And it plays a mean Rhythm Master,
It makes excuses for unwanted lipstick on your collar
And it’s only a dollar, step right up, it’s only a dollar, step right up
‘Cause it forges your signature
If not completely satisfied, mail back unused portion of product
For complete refund of price of purchase
Step right up
Please allow thirty days for delivery, don’t be fooled by cheap imitations
You can live in it, live in it, laugh in it, love in it
Swim in it, sleep in it,
Live in it, swim in it, laugh in it, love in it
Removes embarrassing stains from Condo sheets, that’s right
And it entertains visiting relatives, it turns a sandwich into a banquet
Tired of being the life of the party?
Change your shorts, change your life, change your life
Change into a nine year old Hindu boy, and get rid of your wife,
And it walks your dog, and it doubles on sax
Doubles on sax, you can jump back Jack, see you later alligator
See you later alligator
And it steals your car
It gets rid of your gambling debts, it quits smoking
It’s a friend, and it’s a companion,
And it’s the only product you will ever need
Follow these easy assembly instructions it never needs ironing
Well it takes weights off hips, bust, thighs, chin, midriff,
Gives you dandruff, and it finds you a job, it is a job
And it strips the phone company free take ten for five exchange,
And it gives you denture breath
And you know it’s a friend, and it’s a companion
And it gets rid of your traveller’s checks
It’s new, it’s improved, it’s old-fashioned
Well it takes care of business, never needs winding,
Never needs winding, never needs winding
Gets rid of blackheads, heartbreak and psoriasis,
Christ, you don’t know the meaning of heartbreak buddy,
C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon
‘Cause it’s effective, it’s defective, it creates household odours,
It disinfects, it sanitizes for your protection
It gives you an erection, it wins the election
Why put up with painful corns any longer?
It’s a redeemable coupon, no obligation, no salesman will visit your home
We got a jackpot, jackpot, jackpot, prizes, prizes, prizes, all work guaranteed
How do we do it, how do we do it, how do we do it, how do we do it
We need your business, we’re going out of business
We’ll give you the business
Get on the business end of our going-out-of-business sale
Receive our free brochure, free brochure
Read the easy-to-follow assembly instructions, batteries not included
Send before midnight tomorrow, terms available,
Step right up, step right up, step right up
You got it buddy: the large print giveth, and the small print taketh away
Step right up, you can step right up, you can step right up
C’mon step right up
(Get away from me kid, you bothering me…)
Step right up, step right up, step right up, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon
Step right up, you can step right up, c’mon and step right up,
C’mon and step right up
I had some spare time yesterday so I had a little look around the Vimeo site, a place where film makers can upload their projects for the world to see. There are some amazingly talented people around making some wonderful things…
I particularly like these two…
Project: Desert Colossus, by Reginald Emvula and Joaquin Ardiles is a stunning flight of fantasy in which two men with huge hands and tiny legs, jump, fall and fly through an endless space, landing on large stone-like flying creatures that are moving inexorably toward some unknown horizon… and all set to a big guitar tune that I can’t quite put my finger on, but I think is the mighty Long Distance Calling
I really like the use of the limited colour palette, beautiful lighting and the seemingly continuous movement of the point of view, spinning and rotating, looking up, looking down, sometimes out of focus and at other times pinpointed on a sharply imagined detail..
The 3rd and the 7th by Alex Roman is a very different animal, but equally absorbing. Its a longer piece involving what looks like an amazingly choreographed sequence of both filmed and digitally created spaces referencing a number of famous buildings, including Mies’s Barcelona Pavilion, Khan’s Exeter Library and Ghery’s Guggenheim Museum.
Having said that, it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that it was all created digitally.. the construction and rendering of the images is so brilliantly realised that, until odd things start to happen that can only be digital (check out the peeling roof at 9.30 mins) it looks like it’s all been artfully shot on film. As you can tell, I have no idea how it’s been done, if it’s real or CGI or both, and in many ways it doesn’t matter, as the overall effect is visually so arresting…
Whilst the opening sequences with the camera are pretty good and the whole film is well worth watching, try skipping forward to about 2.00 mins when the architecture starts… that’s when the soundtrack and the imagery combine to create something very lovely indeed..
First performed in 1980, this amazing operatic work (the title translates as “Insistence of Truth”) tells the story of MK Ghandi’s early years in South Africa as he developed his theories of non violent protest. Each of the three acts imagines a conversation with an influential figure of the time; namely Tolstoy, the Indian poet Tagore and finally Martin Luther King.
Glass’s style is usually described as Minimalist, and although Satyagraha makes good use of his trademark repetition with minor modifications to notes and phrases as the piece develops, I would argue that it is anything but minimal, creating instead a rich and completely mesmerising sound that is wholly complemented by Constance de Jong’s Sanskrit lyrics.
I first came across Satyagraha when I was doing my degree in Leeds in the mid/late 80′s and have loved it ever since. I’m not really a classical music fan, but to me, Glass’s work transcends the basic violin and cello stuff that makes up the vast majority of this sort of music. Glass is also not afraid to use electronic sounds and keyboards (which of course can only be a good thing…)
Me & A were lucky enough to get to see a performance of Satyagraha at the English National Opera in April 2007. Produced by the Improbable Company (director Phelim McDermott & designer Julian Crouch) it is without doubt one of the most visually amazing things I have ever had the pleasure to see.
I’m probably giving too much away here, but I was so moved by the first act, that I was actually crying at one point… The huge papier-mache puppets, the clever references to and use of newspaper print, the unbelievably brilliant and inspired use of rolls of Sellotape stretched across the stage and then wound up together, the projections onto the corrugated iron backdrop and the subtly understated choreography all worked together to create an almost perfect experience. If only all opera could be that good….
Truly a magical night, and truly a wonderful piece of music…
(I don’t know this version on Spotify, but I’m guessing it must be pretty similar)
We came across a wonderful little garden over the weekend. Nestled alongside the railway on a disused site in Union Street, Southwark is the Urban Physic Garden…
Organised and set up by a collective of designers, growers and volunteers, this very un-prepossessing site has been transformed into a city garden rich with a much needed splash of colour and life in this rather overlooked and forgotten corner of London.
As a Physic Garden, it contains plants and herbs that all have a medicinal use and the garden itself has been divided up into four wards: Dermatology, Gastroenterology, Cardiology and Psychiatry with each ward having a variety of displays, planting and other things that encourage visitors to interact and find out more.
There are poisonous plants, edible plants, a wormery, complicated see saws, an adopt a wayward plant scheme, a green cross made of moss, an old ambulance acting as a cafe and my personal favourite, a ping pong table fitted perfectly into a skip…
It’s only open for a limited time over the summer (June 11 – August 15, Tuesday – Sunday, 11am-6pm) but if you’re in the area, I would say it’s definitely worth a visit…
I think the illustration used on all the PR stuff is rather fine too. Produced by Alison Moffett, it’s in a faux naive style that works well with the home-made, DIY ethic of the project.
I came across the work of Chuck Close recently, whilst watching an extraordinary TV programme about Oliver Sacks and face blindness. Chuck Close (who paradoxically for a portrait artist also suffers from face blindness) is an American who made his name in the late 60′s, early 70′s painting huge hyper-realistic portraits, that are so unbelievably lifelike, that the image I’ve used here on the left (Big Self Portrait from 1969) simply looks like a photo, when in reality it’s a canvas about 1.5x 2m, with every hair, smoke curl and skin mark painted with a brush…
Despite suffering a collapsed spinal artery in 1988 that left him paralysed and wheelchair bound (what he now refers to as “The Event”) he has continued to paint. His condition has meant that, unable to paint in the very detailed styles that made his name, he has had to adapt, and has developed a very beautiful and unique approach to portraiture.
Photographs of his subject are divided by his assistants into a diagonal grid, which Close then translates, square by square, with a paint brush tied to his hand, into truly stunning images. His use of block colour and shapes, in small controlled areas, maximises his limited physical ability and has undoubtably allowed a genuinely remarkable gift to develop.
His work, always on a large scale, is produced and exhibited through a variety of mediums including his brush painted canvases, fingerprint painted canvases, daguerroetype and photogravure photographs and tapestries.
What I think shines through, especially in his more recent self portraits is the sparkle in his eye, the feeling that despite his unimaginably difficult condition, he his a man at peace with himself and absolutely at the top of his game…
Quite by coincidence, Wikipedia tells me that it’s his 71st birthday in three days time, so Happy Birthday Chuck, I think you are one amazing human being…