Keith Haring exhibition @ Liverpool Tate (7/7/19)

Went to a fantastic exhibition of Keith Haring’s work on Sunday which is currently on at Tate Liverpool. Haring is known for his iconic Aztec-tribal-age meets electric-age style art which he often drew spontaneously, famously on the advertising blackboards of the New York subways in the early 80s. He tragically died of Aids very young at just 31, but accomplished much in that short time. He collaborated with many of the icons of the 80s including Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat and William Burroughs. Below are a few of the works displayed at the show (nb. almost all of the works are untitled so I haven’t given them names or dates but they can be found elsewhere).

“When it is working, you completely go into another place, you’re tapping into things that are totally universal, completely beyond your ego and your own self. That’s what it’s all about” – Keith Haring

Bosch-Cronenberg vibes

… very different to Haring’s usual style of drawing

favourite piece at the exhibit – you could spend an hour just looking at the scenes all the way down the wall which is like reading an interconnected story almost

 

Haring comic art

this was another of my favourite things at the show – an ad for a charity art exhibit which is hand designed by an all-star cast. My eye was drawn first to the little scraps of paper and I immediately recognised the handwriting of Jean-Micel Basquiat. The umbrellas are by Warhol, the striped sky is Lichtenstein, the mini-men Haring, and the little footsteps are Yoko Ono. What an amazing piece of history in one small poster!

harriet in front of ‘3 people attempt to stop the assassination of John Lennon’
A piece by haring on the hood of a New York taxi
this one reminds me of the calligraphy works by Brion Gysin who Haring said was an influence
after the exhibit we went to the Cavern Club

bootiful Liverpool

***

Austria 2019

Vienna at night… what a city

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Vienna Vienna so pretty Vienna Tis a pity this city Was not mine forever!

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in the center of Klagenfurt
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theatre in Klagenfurt
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Klagenfurt am Worthersee

***

the undead Romantic

I lumbered lonely as a corpse

‘twixt desert halls and shopping malls

when all at once some blood-filled source

sent forth its screeching, desperate call!

the echo flitted all about

Sparking dreams of innards falling out

So vitalised by a world renewed

of eternal screams and crimson streams

from baser beasts I now eschewed

and went to find my human meat supreme!

thus ‘neath the stars I made my way

‘mongst visions bountiful with prey

***

a few sublime quotes by Emerson

“If a man would be alone, let him look to the stars. The rays that come from those heavenly worlds, will separate between him and what he touches. One might think the atmosphere was made transparent with this design, to give man, in the heavenly bodies, the perpetual presence of the sublime. Seen in the streets of cities, how great they are! If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

 

“There is a moment, in the history of every nation, when, proceeding out of this brute youth, the perceptive powers reach their ripeness, and have not yet become microscopic: so that man, at that instant, extends across the entire scale; and, with his feet still planted on the immense forces of night, converses, by his eyes and brain, with solar and stellar creation.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Plato or, The Philosopher

** featured image is Lieve Verschuier’s ‘the great comet of 1680 over Rotterdam’ (1680)**

Nietzsche channels Dionysus

Nietzsche was grinning wide and red wine spilled freely from the seems of his mouth. Around him were many of his friends, Schiller and Holderlin among them, and many other young budding philosophers. Some of them were admired and revered in their own right, but next to Nietzsche they seemed like mere shadows upon a cave wall. Sometimes he would play tunes for them in the great halls of the university, deep into the night. As his fingers danced accross the keys he would seem to lose himself somewhere. Later on, they rejoice and recite poetry on the grassy hills overlooking the campus. They lie under the sprawling stars and the moonlight shone brightly down on them like truth itself. Their conversations were wild and free, like wild horses streaming over the hilltops. On this night, there was a young man sat close to Nietzsche, wide-eyed and wide-eared, writing frantically with his quill, trying to catch every word that flew from Nietzsche’s mind. What seemed mere jocularity to him seemed of greatest importance to this young man. He felt he must capture it all, for in these moments of jest, in the red swill of wine, his mind seemed to dance at its Dionysian zenith. At one point, when a silence had fell on them whilst in quiet reverie, Nietzsche looked up to the stars, and to the circle of friends around him. As if on cue a comet streaked by like the flick of a quill. Then he whispered to no-one and to all: we need only gaze up into those vast nebulas, those abyssal straits, to find enough inspiration to fill a thousand lives with wonder… we need not hail God… simply the infinite unknown! They smiled and drank to that, and gazed up at the stars for a very long time.

***

A Weekend of Dali in London

This weekend I was lucky enough to go and see one of my favourite Salvador Dali paintings up close at the Freud museum in London. ‘The Metamorphosis of Narcissus’ (1937) is a painting I’ve written about many times, but it is only when you really see it up close, that you begin to take in the true depth and intricacy of the work. It is much smaller than I had imagined, as I had always thought it would be a few meters tall and wide, for only that could capture the scale of the myth and the events of the painting. But much like ‘The persistence of memory’, which is the size of a postcard, it is relatively small (perhaps a3 sized – see image below). Yet the depth and intricacy of such a small painting, the detail on each and every one of the figures – all fully formed and realized – is staggering. But there is also a dimension – and I’d never really considered this in the images I’d seen printed in books – through the way the paint spatters and oozes and circulates, perambulates in currents of colour making it even more dream-like and psychedelic in reality. With the epigraphs on the walls of the gallery wherein Dali speaks of inhabiting madness whilst painting, I was reminded of Kay Jamison’s book Touched With Fire, in which she writes about the circumambulatory consistencies in works by the great so-called ‘mad’ or manic-minded painters like Van Gogh and Edvard Munch. It seems as if Dali is somehow  tapping into these mentalities here.. The significance of the painting to The Freud museum also bears mentioning, for Dali, like most all the surrealists, worked at the aestheticisation of Freudian psychoanalysis, and so Freud was a hugely significant figure for his ideas. Dali had met Freud at his London house (the house where this very exhibition was held) on July 19th 1938, and Dali had brought this painting along with him. So this was a kind of symbolic return for the painting. Dali took artistic inspiration from their meeting, drawing many pictures of Freud, and even likening Freud’s cranium to the spiralling shell of a snail, using it thenceforth as a symbol for Freud in many subsequent works. Freud himself was taken aback by Dali, and later called him a ‘mad Spaniard’ (surely this brought major boasting rights to Dali considering the stature of some of Freud’s best known patients), but he too was nevertheless deeply impacted by their meeting. Freud later said: “I was inclined to look upon the surrealists, who have apparently chosen me as their patron saint, as absolute cranks. The young Spaniard, however, with his candid fanatical eyes and his undeniable technical mastery, has made me reconsider my opinion”. Not a bad legacy hey? To convince the very founder of psychoanalysis that just maybe there’s something to surrealism after all? Breton famously kicked Dali out of the movement, and yet it was Dali, not Breton, who convinced Freud of their significance. So anyway, to finish the weekend off, on the Saturday I presented a conference paper at Birkbeck university on Salvador Dali and the symbolism of death and decay within his work.

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me gazing on the Metamorphosis, beside which are the echoing, joyous words of Dali – “the only difference between myself and a madman, is that I am not mad!”

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“In classic paintings, I look for the unconscious – in a surrealist painting, for the conscious” – SIGMUND FREUD
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Freud’s spiralling, conical cranium
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a poem written by Dali to complement the painting
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Freud’s infamous couch and the office where many of the legendary unconscious plunders were undertaken…

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Freud’s totem collection. It is said he often held many of these figures as he spoke to patients, as if trying to draw some ancient, mythic significance from them… the ancient myths and the unconscious mind are seen as somehow deeply intertwined

***

“nitimur in vetitum: we strive for what is forbidden”

“Philosophy, as I have hitherto understood and lived it, is a voluntary living in ice and high mountains… from the lengthy experience afforded by such a wandering in the forbidden I learned to view the origins of morilizing and idealizing very differently from what might be desirable: the hidden history of the philosophers, the psychology of their great names came to light for me. How much truth can a spirit bear? How much truth can a spirit dare? Error, a belief in the ideal, is not blindness, but cowardice… Every acquisition and step forward in knowledge is the result of courage, of severity towards oneself… Nitimur in vetitum: in this sign my philosophy will one day conquer, for fundamentally what has hitherto been forbidden has never been anything but the truth”

Nietzsche – Ecce Homo

Continue reading ““nitimur in vetitum: we strive for what is forbidden””

A Condensed Rewrite of T. S. Eliot’s ‘Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock’

***

Let us go then, you and I,
While evening is spread about the sky
Through the half deserted streets
Like dreams of muttering retreats
Restless nights in cheap hotels
And restaurants and oyster shells
Streets flow on like tedious arguments
Then comes a question of intent
Oh, but don’t ask ‘what is it?’
For now is the time to make our visit
To where the women come and go
And talk of Michelangelo

On this October night
Yellow fog licks at windowpanes
Moonlight mirrored in flooded drains
Wisps of chimney soot leap and fall
So soon to answer Sleep’s soft call
There will be time for smoke to slide
Along the street but woe betide
There’s time to murder and create
There’s a question sitting on your plate
There’s time for you and time for me
But first the take of toast and tea
For there’s time yet for indecision
And ample more for this revision
And still the women come and go
Still mull on Michelangelo
There’s time to wonder ‘do I dare?’
And time to wander down the stair
Time to worry on my thinning hair
But do I dare, do I dare, disturb the universe?
Perhaps, for in mere moments can I reverse..

For I have already known them all:
Evenings, mornings, afternoons
All Measured out with coffee spoons
Beneath the music in a farther room
I hear voices, whispers draped in gloom
Or maybe this too do I presume?
Those eyes that fix you, pin you to the wall
How do you even begin to tell all?
How should I presume?

I have known those already, perhaps known them all,
Those that lie along table and wrap around shawl,
Arms which are braceleted, milky white and bare
But which under lamplight are downed with soft hair,
What is it that makes me so digress?
Perhaps it’s that perfume which clings to her dress…

Through the narrow streets at dusk
Lonely smokers shed their musk
And like the silence undersea
The evening sleeps so peacefully..
Is this a sign my greatness flickers?
And can I hear the Footman’s snickers?
In short, I admit, I was afraid
Would my efforts be repaid?

Beneath the sunset, sprinkled streets
where all these questions come to meet
Tis impossible to say just what I mean!
To alight my nerves as upon a screen
To violently cast off that silken shawl
“But that’s not what I meant at all!”
For I am no Hamlet nor meant to be
Rather an attendant of great levity
Progress swills as I advise
Play the Fool ’til my demise
I grow old… I grow old…
the bottoms of my trousers rolled
Should I part my hair and eat a peach?
Wear flannel trousers to the beach?
The mermaids singing each to each
will you sing to me I do beseech?
Riding seaward on the waves
deep chambers of the sea one craves
to dance with you in seaweed gown
till voices wake us, and we drown…

***

original poem by Eliot:

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes,
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair —
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin —
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? …

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet — and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it towards some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all;
That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.