Categories
Book Reviews

Neil Olson-The Black Painting Book Review

“A riveting psychological thriller, a serious dissection of a dysfunctional family and an exploration of the power of art to change lives.” —Associated Press
“A fast-paced psychological thriller with a fascinating set of characters. … A real page-turner.” -B.A. Shapiro, author of The Art Forger


An atmospheric literary mystery about an infamous painting rumored to be cursed—and the family torn apart by its disappearance.
There are four cousins in the Morse family: perfect Kenny, the preppy West Coast lawyer; James, the shy but brilliant medical student; his seductive, hard-drinking sister Audrey; and Teresa, youngest and most fragile, haunted by the fear that she has inherited the madness that possessed her father.


I love books dealing with art and I have to say, books dealing with art collectors are a strange lot. New York writer Neil Olson’s The Black Painting discusses a very spooky work by Francisco Goya that supposedly exerts powers that drive viewers bonkers — in this instance, various members of a wealthy East Coast family. “Black Painting” purportedly belongs to a series of gruesome works created by the Spanish genius near the end of his life.

  • The Black Paintings stand out in art history for their dark composition and themes.
  • The biggest mystery, though, is that Goya painted them directly onto the walls of his home and never told anybody about them.
  • By 1819, the painter Francisco Goya had been through quite a bit. He had witnessed the chaos of war when Napoleon invaded Spain and the chaos in Spain as its government bounced back and forth between a constitutional monarchy and an absolute monarchy. He had become deathly ill a number of times, occasionally fearing he was going mad. One of these illnesses had left him deaf. Increasingly bitter about humanity, afraid of death and madness, Goya withdrew into a villa outside of Madrid called la Quinta del Sordo, or the Deaf Man’s House.

Back to the book. Before its theft years earlier, the Goya painting had hung, shrouded, behind the desk of elderly collector Alfred Arthur Morse. When the four Morse cousins are unexpectedly summoned by their grandfather, they all show up: Kenny, the successful lawyer; James, the psychologically fragile medical student; Audrey, the wild divorcée; and Teresa, the shy art student subject to seizures. Complementing the cast are foggy pines, rocky cliffs, a crumbling estate and the ghost of a vanished painting.

 “Last night she dreamed of the house on Owl’s Point,” reads the first line, echoing Daphne du Maurier’s timeless thriller, Rebecca. “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Make way for strange happenings in a mansion on the sea, managed by a cold housekeeper with an agenda of her own.

Kenny tells Teresa about his meeting with their grandfather: “Go to the place that’s most private to you. Most humiliating. You know what I mean? That tender spot. That’s right where he would have put his finger.” Only Grandpa didn’t have the chance, since Teresa discovered his corpse when she arrived at Owl’s Point.

So, we have grandfather in the study, but who did it and why? If death came naturally, how to explain his horrified expression? Motives abound: money, family secrets, simmering hatreds. Luckily gloom takes a lighter turn with the arrival of P.I. Dave Webster, a latter-day Philip Marlowe. Hints that all will be resolved appear when Dave is hired to resume the poking around he began years before with the original theft. Get ready for a thrilling ride through the worlds of the unhappy rich, whose acquisitions can prove very dangerous indeed.

3/5

Categories
Book Reviews

Dexter by Design * Jeff Lindsay (Book 4)

Why bother inflicting enormous pain on yourself when sooner or later Life would certainly get around to doing it for you?

The book begins just after Dexter returns from his honeymoon in Paris. Having experienced the city of lights and romance, Dexter and Rita are ready to return home.. until they get invited to an exhibition called “Jennifer’s leg” which leaves them trembling and Dexter’s dark passenger riveting in excitement. Much like this interlude in gory art, the rest of the book focuses on the dark attraction between the unspoken and spoken art.

After witnessing this avant-garde display of bodies and dedication to a purpose, Dexter and Rita return home to their lives. Life is almost normal for Dexter Morgan. Married life seems to agree with him: he’s devoted to his bride, his stomach is full, and his homicidal hobbies are nicely under control.  The discovery of a corpse (artfully displayed as a sunbather relaxing on a Miami beach chair) naturally piques Dexter’s curiosity and Miami’s finest realize they’ve got a terrifying new serial killer on the loose. And Dexter, of course, is back in business.

Previous books:

Darkly Dreaming Dexter Dearly Devoted Dexter Dexter in the Dark
Darkly Dreaming Dexter Dearly Devoted Dexter  Dexter in the Dark 
Categories
Romance Books

Someday, Somewhere * Eileen Ramsay Book Review

I got this book in an attempt to escape horror novels for a while. You can guess that after a bit of Stephen King and a bit of Bentley Little I would need something else to clean my brain with. I got lucky! Eileen Ramsey wrote a book about a lost family secret and it was set in my favourite part of Scotland (in the vales near Glasgow). This was way better than Saskia’s Journey and it definitely made me want to get tickets to the opera (Especially Lohengrin from Richard Wagner).

Categories
Book Reviews

Wilderness Tips * Margaret Atwood

It’s been a while since I’ve read a bit or Margaret Atwood. Last book of hers I’ve devoured like this was Margaret Atwood * Moral Disorder Book review and that pretty much summed up in short stories what I love about Margaret Atwood. Stories about the existential depression of human life, about how love and sex don’t have to be related and the complicated relationships between men and women.

I, on the other hand, have a devious mind and little sense of guilt. My guilt is about other things.

Wilderness Tips was an absolute joy to read. Depressing in specific areas, funny in others, filled with despair and hope in other parts.  Each story exemplifies a split second in a person’s life that changes them forever. They grow from immature and naive to mature and harsh in just a few pages and all of the stories ended up being dark with themes of loss, missed chances, blunders, and sad comprehension.

Sex has been domesticated, stripped of the promised mystery, added to the category of the merely expected. It’s just what is done, mundane as hockey. It’s celibacy these days that would raise eyebrows.

turtlenecks-blackThe stories in this collection follow women and men in their journey through life. The women are artists, poets, word builders, painters. The men are pudgy, cheating, always going through a mid-life crisis or considering their next conquest. They are all a bit stereotypical but within the pages you can spot bits of the author and if you look close enough, bits of yourself. While the themes are all dark all ten of the stories had the same truth that rings true in every reader’s life. Time flies by quickly, changes occur, choices are made but in the end it is you that has to live with the consequences.

The melodrama tempts her, the idea of a revelation, a sensation, a neat ending. But it would not be an ending, it would only be the beginning of something else. In any case, the story itself seems to her outmoded. It’s an archaic story, a folk-tale, a mosaic artefact. It’s a story that would never happen now.

Categories
Art

The Twelfth Night * William Shakespeare (RSC Theatre)

I was well impressed a few nights ago when I went to see the cinema-distributed version of the Shakespearian Play “The Twelfth Night”. I have not seen it before and I must say the costumes were astounding and so was the acting. The main setting is purely Victorian, late 1890s, and lace and lush black clothes adorn one mistress and lovely Indian apparel the second.twelfth-night-production-photos_-2017_2017_photo-by-manuel-harlan-_c_-rsc_234366.tmb-img-1824.jpg

Categories
Art

About Lady Godiva and her nakedness

Lady Godiva is an 1897 painting by English artist John Collier, who worked in the style of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The portrayal of Lady Godiva and her well-known ride through Coventry, England, is held in Coventry’s Herbert Art Gallery and Museum.

Lady Godiva was bequeathed by social reformer Thomas Hancock Nunn. When he died in 1937, the painting was offered to the Corporation of Hampstead. He specified in his will that should his bequest be refused by Hampstead (presumably on grounds of propriety) the painting was then to be offered to Coventry

Categories
Poetry

Digging * SEAMUS HEANEY * Poetry

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.
Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down
Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.
The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.
By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.
My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.
The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.
Categories
Art

Looking forward to NT Live’s Frankenstein

Categories
Uncategorized

Music Quotes

Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch (which governs melody and harmony), rhythm (and its associated concepts tempo, meter, and articulation), dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. The word derives from Greek μ (mousike; “art of the Muses”).

Categories
Art Fanfiction

Marvel at one of the world’s most dynamic modern art spaces, Tate Modern, and its new extension

Tate Modern is an amazing story of redemption and reinvention. It resides Picasso to Anish Kapoor and Tacita Dean – you name ’em, they’ve got ’em. You could happily spend a day exploring them all, and also find time for the latest barnstorming exhibition.

The biggest, most audacious, installations are in the vast Turbine Hall . One of its most famous installations was Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds , where he covered the entire floor with millions of life-size handmade porcelain seeds – apparently identical yet unique.

the-unilever-series-ai-weiwei-sunflower-seeds-1
Ai Wei-Wei Sunflower Seeds

http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/unilever-series-ai-weiwei-sunflower-seeds

Current Exhibitions

THE EY EXHIBITION:WIFREDO LAM

Until 8 Jan 2017

HYUNDAI COMMISSION:PHILIPPE PARRENO: ANYWHEN

Until 2 Apr 2017

THE RADICAL EYE: MODERNIST PHOTOGRAPHY FROM THE SIR ELTON JOHN COLLECTION

Until 7 May 2017

ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG

Until 2 Apr 2017

The Material Gestures galleries on Level 3 feature an impressive offering of post-World War II painting and sculpture. Room 7 contains a breathtaking collection of Rothkos and Monets.

There are regular free 45-minute guided tours on each gallery.

A favourite among Londoners is the restaurant on Level 7, especially on Friday and Saturday late opening, with stunning views of the Thames and St Paul’s, opposite. But that’s now matched with the roof terrace on the Tate’s new extension, which opened in June 2015. This ten-storey twisted, pyramid-shaped building is the same height as the existing Tate’s chimneys, and has an extra 60 percent space for galleries, with live performance in the Tanks, in the basement.

Tate Modern, Bankside; tel: 020 7887 8888; www.tate.org.uk/modern ;

Sun–Thur 10am–6pm, Fri–Sat 10am–10pm; free;