Friday, 30 October 2015

On the National Gallery documentary film by Frederick Wiseman ...

Some months ago Mia and I were tempted to watch the National Gallery documentary film being exhibited at the Saldanha Cinema and the one reason that had me not to do so it was the fact that the film ran for three hours.
 Despite being an Art lover I felt it might have been too tiring for me to watch, particularly because I am a woman of details and enjoy the process of slowly pondering on certain paintings, which a documentary I cannot stop would not allow me to do.
I am particularly happy not to have watched it then and to have decided upon buying the film, which has just come out in Portugal once my initial instinct was right and I am now almost certain I wouldn't have liked it as much as I have now, given the possibility of stopping it as many times as I have felt it necessary to.



The documentary takes us inside the world of the National Gallery, allowing the Museum to talk for itself, whether by means of the loose displayed scenes of people and people's expressions in the exhibition halls, the guided lectures for the general public including specific ones for children, teenagers and blind people and even the rather boring (yet complementary) budgetery considerations brought out in filmed meetings.

I was equally impressed by the re-touching antique technique Art work that has been included in the documentary which provides an additional perspective as to what the "behind the scene" work connected to an Art gallery, such as this one, is really about.


I am not surprised it has been among the audience choice awarded films, together with having been nominated for several other awards ... and part of that excellency is owed to the film director.

"Meticulously crafted, intellectually intricate and touched with profundity. An invigorating portrait. A tribute to the wonder of creative expression." - Village Voice.
"Truly inspiring (...) it's like being lulled with intelligence." - The Telegraph.
"(...) There can be nothing ordinary about such an extraordinary place. Furthermore, Wiseman's special gift as a filmmaker has been to show how searching attention reveals that there is really no such thing as ordinariness." - The Boston Globe.


Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The latest book I have read ...

I can't help mentioning the fact that as a teenager Vincent Van Gogh's paintings didn't impress me that much and it wasn't until I fell upon his letters to Theo that I started getting a deeper insight as to who he was as a person and thus fell under his spell. From then on I started buying everything that came out about him, from biographies to different book editions that spoke about him or even slightly mentioned him. 
Jo Van Gogh-Bonger's short biography of Vincent is according to critics the closest one can come to Vincent the man, as seen and referred to by those who kwew him and I have to agree. I felt I wouldn't learn much more about him than what I had already been made aware of throughout these "study" years, but I was wrong and do praise his sister-in-law's efforts to have brought his works and him as a person into the public eye. 
Amidst several unknown (yet rather interesting) things I learnt a certain Mr. Mendes Costa (undoubtedly a Portuguese origin person), the best teacher in the Classical languages was Vincent's teacher from 1877 through to 1878, together with having come across some painting reproductions I had never seen before, dating back to 1884/87  and more specifically those made in Cuesnes and Asnières.
I believe any Van Gogh lover will be happy to read this 187 page book I have read in two consecutive nights.

"Vincent impresses me as somebody who stands in his own light." - Reverend Mr. Pietersen

"Vincent craved a deeper understanding of his innermost self."

Note: the last two pictures are not from Jo Van Gogh-Bonger's book.


Monday, 26 October 2015

The latest film I have watched ...

We, Mia and I, decided to sellect the Wolf Totem as the Saturday afternoon film based on its trailer and we must confess we were not disappointed ... as it did in fact exceed our expectations.
Based on a semi-autobiographical  award winning Cultural Revolution novel written by Lu Jiamin in the sixties and said to be the second most read book in China, it has been adapted to the cinema by the producer Jean-Jacques Annaud together with a Chinese crew from China Film Group, in a rather controversial turn of events, once he is considered a persona non grata in China and  his film Seven years in Tibet has been  and still is forbidden in there.

Set in inner Mongolia the film touches quite a few important issues which have to do with the advancing turmoil of the so called civilization as against the nomads' tradition, the ongoing fight and strategic approaches carrried out between humans and animals, in this particular case packs of marauding wolves, the co-habiting of residents and "invaders" ... acknowledging one's limits ...

It will be competing for the Foreign Language Film Oscar, so I heard, amidst what turned out to be another controversial issue. Without knowing the other competing films I'd say it has been well chosen and will certain please a much wider public than all of those who have already had the chance of watching it. 

The latest book I have read ...

I believe Albert Espinosa's books are almost always selected as good readings because they are inspiring and "down to earth" type of books, based on his personal experience as a cancer survivor, espite not being autobiographies. 
I have never come across any of his books in the original Language, having fallen upon a French version this time - Le Monde soleil, which I found to be rather interesting and "eye opening" at times. This particular book hints at different perspectives to see life and nourish oneself withthe lessons one may or should have learnt from both good and bad moments.
It made me go through some of my personal moments in retrospect and "analyse" them under a different light, not to mention to have a slightly "wiser" approach to those issues that still linger on.

I could have easily copied down a few extracts, though I have chosen to include a mere five, one of which (the one related to the solitary act of masturbation) may be misleading ... but any of them is "food for thought". 

"Dans la vie, le plus important c'est de savoir dire "non" et accepter les "non"."
"Pour se tromper, il faut oser; le résultat n'est que sécondaire."
"Trouve ce que tu aimes regarder et regarde le (...) ce qui est important, ce n'est pas tant ce qu'on regarde mais ce qu'on en retire."
" Ce qu'il faut retenir, c'est que la mort n'existe pas. Quand quelqu'un meurt, son souvenir demeure, (...) il ne faut jamais associer la mort à la douleur ou à la perte (...) c'est dificille, mais c'est possible."

"Nous ne sommes vraiment nous mêmes qu'après nous être masturbés."


Light effects - Adriano de Sousa Lopes - temporary exhibition at Museu do Chiado, Lisboa - The 25th of October 2015

Some years ago I came across a portrait painted by the Portuguese artist Sousa Lopes that really impressed me - The Blue blouse, and this is what has led me onto venturing out  to Museu do Chiado on a greyish and rainy day to finally be able to see a temporary exhibition on the ensemble of his oeuvres. 

Adriano de Sousa Lopes is known to have been a notable painter and one of the very few Portuguese artists to have experimented an impressionist type of approach in the numerable episodes of Portuguese history, the maritime and rural daily routines aa well as the reality and myths he dipicted in his canvases.
Having been the only offical artist pertaining to the Portuguese expeditionary Corps during the great world War some of his sketches and paintings provided a rather moving documentary of what happened in the trenches of Flanders, that wouldn't have otherwise been unveiled but in written form.
I was particularly impressed by the portraits, especially the ones of his wife, Margerite Gros, as well as the war picutres and those dedicated to the sea life and landscapes.

The lovers' alley (oil on canvas study) - 1908 (left). The Undines (Heine) - 1908 oil on canvas (right).

A 1909 oil on canvas Portrait of Mrs Hermine Landry (left). Portrait (pearls and violets) - oil on canvas -1909 (right).

Daffodils - 1909 oil on canvas (left). The effect of light - 1914 oil on canvas (right). 

The blue blouse - 1927 oil on canvas

Portrait of Mrs Sousa Lopes - 1927 oil on canvas (left). Malicious expression - 1920 carcoal on paper (right).

Homesick - 1917 watercolour on paper (left). Surrender (study) - 1918 oil on canvas (left).

Soldiers at Fauquissart - 1918 charcoal on paper.

Sails - 1927 oil on canvas (left).

Sea landscape - 1924-30 oil on canvas (left). Sea effect - 1922-26 oil on wood (right).

Algerian patio - 1925 oil on wood.

Definitely a worthwhile exhibition ...


Thursday, 22 October 2015

William Shakespeare's Henry V "live" from Stratford-upon-Avon by the Royal Shakespeare Company at Corte Inglês, Lisboa ...

I didn't exactly know what to expect, though I was almost sure it would be a performance not to forget, taking into account the fact that it would be by the well known Royal Shakespeare company made available to the Portuguese public through the live broadcast.
I was soon captivated by the actor performing the character of Chorus. Oliver Ford Davies was second to none in all of his short "inbetween" acts' intervening performances and more so after having realised he had also been a History lecturer at the University of Edimburgh. 

The play, which might have been slightly tiresome was well put together by its director Gregory Doran with a great deal of humour and some phantastic acting. I must confess Alex Hassel's Henry didn't impress me that much at the begining though I must admit I quite liked him during the second part and particularly at the end during his attempt at wining Princess Katherine and thus ensuring the linking of France and England through marriage.

On the English side (so to say) there were quite a few performances I felt were brilliant, some of them played by the same actor as in the case of the characters Bardolph and Fluelen, a Welsh officer played by Joshua Richards or the conspirator Earl of Cambridge and Jamy, a Scottish officer both performed by  Simon Yadoo, Nym (Christopher Midleton), the boy (Martin Bassindale), Pistol (Antony Byrne) and McMorris (Andrew Westfield), whilst on the French side I was only drawn to the King, Charles VI played by Simon Thorp and the Constable (Sam Marks) besides Katherine (Jennifer Kirby).


It was definitely worth having deviated my daily rotine way from the training Centre, which I wouldn't have had my daughter not insisted on it. I went to bed quite late as the performance started at around seven in the evening with a first half lasting 75 minutes with a 20 minute interval followed by a second half of 80 minutes but I do intend deviating any other time a live broadcast shall  (potentially) provide me with a three hour cultural enjoyment.

Note: Photos taken by Keith Pattinson