Bit of a long time since any activity here, I know, and the projected new blog hasn't exactly taken off either! It is still in the pipeline, though, but I thought I should reawaken the monthly posts here so people don't start ignoring me entirely. It's been a good few months with some exciting gigs - plus I'm now the part-possessor of a bass that's going to live in Germany and has somehow ended up with the name of Hilda . . .
Anyway, just a couple of recommendations of things new to me. There's still three weeks left of the Cy Twombly exhibition at the Tate Modern. I finally managed to go this Wednesday. I actually have seen more of Twombly's work than most contemporary artists, now that I have seen the Tate show, because I also went to the exhibition of drawings at the Serpentine Gallery in 2004. I have long been impressed by the four large paintings based on the seasons that are in the Tate's permanent collection (and also in the current show), which are rich, beautiful and incredibly evocative of mood; I suppose if asked I would have listed Twombly as an artist I admire. But something hadn't quite clicked, for some reason. The same sensation continued walking around the Tate exhibition. Some of the earlier works are incredibly raw and sketchy; they interested me, but had someone challenged me to justify their reputation, I would have felt hard-pressed to do so. Then, later on in the exhibition are a series of green paintings that have almost the opposite problem, being so beautiful and accomplished they are almost decorative and facile. So I left the exhibition glad to have gone, interested and having seen some work I enjoyed, but untouched at a deeper level. And then, somehow, the next day reading the catalogue (I always like to buy the catalogue of art shows I've been to if I can afford it unless I really hate the work, ever since I didn't buy a Barnett Newman catalogue and then regretted it) somehow the click happened. Reading the essays and looking at the reproductions with the memory of the actual paintings and sculptures fresh in my mind, they suddenly made sense. I couldn't say exactly in what way; it has something to do with their mix of the imprecise and impetuous with the carefully considered. Also, maybe, that unlike much art related to Abstract Impressionism, they are somehow not very musical, but more about literature and the precise expression of emotion (which music may claim to be good at, but actually often fails to do). Whatever it was, it was a sudden moment, and quite a powerful experience - but really interesting, I thought, that it would happen not in the presence of the works, but afterwards. Now, of course, I want to go back and catch the show again before it finishes . . .
And speaking of literature, while in Germany earlier this month I finally got around to reading Italo Calvino's If On A Winter's Night A Traveller. I'm sure many of you have already read it, but if not I cannot recommend it highly enough. Sure, it's cerebral, but not only that, it's also moving and gripping - I found the experience of wondering how he was going to sustain his opening conceit as arresting as any crime novel. And suffice it to say that he does so beautifully throughout.