Tuesday, 20 July 2010

And So To London Town

I adjourned to London for the weekend. There, Rebecca and myself went to see the Alice Neel exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery on Saturday.

Neel is not an artist I know. Read the details of her bio on Wiki: briefly, she lost both her daughters, one to diphtheria, the other, Isabetta, to her Cuban husband who absconded with his daughter when he returned to his homeland. These personal tragedies inevitably resulted in Neel spending time in a psychiatric unit. Later, she had two boys by different fathers, the first to Jose Santiago, a singer, the second to Sam Brody, the Communist intellectual.

Neel was a communist sympathiser and associated with many of those on the left, an inclination hardened by the suffering she witnessed during the depression.

She was not a fashionable artist in that she followed contemporary trends in her homeland but was drawn more to the work taking place in Europe.

This exhibition concentrates on her portraits. Simple, bordering at times on caricature, they are thoughtful studies of her subjects and reveal more of her sitters than they might have wished, her study of Andy Warhol post the assassination attempt on his life being a case in point.

Also included in the exhibition are a number of cityscapes reminiscent of Edward Hooper's work in their sense of isolation; though, where Hooper concentrates on the psychological isolation of the individual, Neel focuses on the physical, as well as spiritual, alienation as an outcome of poverty and the depression.

In the evening, we, with friends of Rebecca, went to see Christopher Nolan's Inception, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page among others.

Apparently there has been much noise heralding this film. Most of it as far as I was concerned was lost to the mew of gulls raiding the bins in Brighton. That said, whatever the hype, the film lives up to it. An intricate plot credible in its logic, faultless acting, seamless cinematography, everything slots into place. When I say everything, I do not include the cinema, Richmix on Bethnal Green Road. They should have issued us with jungle fatigues along with the tickets such was the heat and humidity in the packed auditorium.

The following day, I left Rebecca, who was going to the Grace Jones concert in Victoria Park, to make my way south to see Emily and the girls for a picnic in Morden Park. Several ducks and a shoal of fish have reported to the veterinary for extended stomachs due to a surfeit of bread.

(There was a moment of pure serendipity just before Rebecca and I parted company. We were having a coffee near Old Street tube station when I mentioned the fact the first person I knew from my circle to have made the move to East London was a friend from long ago, a former neighbour when we lived in Fulham, and work colleague, Rick Holmes. Almost on cue, Rebecca pointed over my shoulder and said, 'But there's Rick!' And so he was with son, Matthew. Rick has always had aspirations to be an author and over the years has had bits and pieces published, or so I believe. Now, I learn, he has finally completed his first novel, which is great news.)

Amy suffered a slight wobble the following day, Monday. Next school year, i.e. next term, she will be in Orange class - not Red, you understand, but Orange which is so unfair because her friend will be in Red while she'll be in Orange. I tried to point out the advantages of Orange, free tickets to the cinema on a Wednesday, but she would have nothing to do with my blatant distraction ploy and pretended she didn't understand what I was talking about.

The imminent dissolution of her physical association with her friend, however, was not the cause of the wobble. The cause of the wobble was meeting the new teacher, not just new as her form teacher, but new to the school, so a completely unknown entity. And teachers as unknown entities are frightening aliens when you are just five and a bit.

I called Emily to make sure Amy had not been eaten during the day and am happy to report she suffered not a nibble. I also have to report Katie was callously indifferent to her sister's trauma and glared in her normal manner throughout.

(For an alternative point of view regarding Inception read Mr. Palinode's pernicious piece. Warning: contains spoilers and may have been exposed to nuts.)


Girl On The Run said...

Sounds like a fab week-end (-: However, I think Edward Hooper (whoever he is) will be pretty perplexed by your comparison (-; xx

DOT said...

He was the guy on a bike with an easel in Easy Rider, no?

DOT said...

Or am I confusing the film with Easel Rider?

Stuart and Gabrielle said...

Gulls may mew but did you know that "mew" is also a noun for gull (from Germanic via Old English moew) which I guess makes it an onomatopoeia, n'est pas? Gull, par contre comes to us from Celtic via Middle English.
The word verification is "Cantona", how apt!