Posts tagged art

The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner: Review

I think I have a problem with over-hyped books. Although the hype is never true, I always end up believing it, and come to a book with ridiculously high expectations that can never be satisfied. A similar thing happened a few years ago with The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. As I wrote then: I quite liked this book. I think that, perhaps, if I had come upon it by chance in a neglected corner of a bookshop and read it without any preconceptions, I would… Read More

Sea of Ink by Richard Weihe

The premise of this book is delightful: a novella in 51 short chapters, describing the life of famous 17th-century Chinese painter Bada Shanren, partly through his paintings themselves, which are reproduced in the book. The writing in places was quite beautiful, but as a novella it didn’t really work for me. I’ll attempt to explain why. Part of it, I think, is the difficulty of describing art in words. I had a similar problem with the descriptions of jazz in the Booker-shortlisted Half Blood Blues last year – I wrote then, “No… Read More

Cezanne at the Courtauld Gallery

Went to see an interesting exhibit recently at the Courtauld Gallery on the Strand. What I liked about it was that instead of just showing the paintings themselves, they built a whole exhibition around the artist’s process for these particular paintings, showing his preliminary sketches, talking about his ideas and motivations, etc. The permanent collection, too, was worth a visit. For a small museum it has some famous paintings, like Manet’s Bar at the Folies-Bergere and Van Gogh’s Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear. With the latter I was surprised when… Read More

Roelof Bakker, ‘Still’, Hornsey Town Hall

Just wanted to give a belated mention to a really good photography exhibition in Crouch End recently. It was a series of photographs of Hornsey Town Hall, an Art Deco listed building that has been minimally used for a long time now. After Hornsey was absorbed into the larger borough of Haringey in the 1960s, the town hall was no longer needed for its original purpose, and there has been a debate for ages about what to do with it. In the meantime, Roelof Bakker went in and photographed the… Read More