Sunday, May 30, 2010

Art Musings

The annual RHA debacle is upon us. Looking at the paucity of sales you might wonder are the RHA now making more money from the entry fees than they are from sales. And of course the vast majority of submissions are rejected every year - there being little room for everybody else in a show dominated by the Academy members' multiple submissions. The exhibits are the usual mix of the good, the bad and the truly mediocre. I am mortally affronted every year by the poor quality of the portraiture - dead eyes in dead faces, no animating presence. Send the lot of them off to the Prado to see how it's done. There were occasional good deeds: a mighty fine Gwen O'Dowd, an exquisite little Eilis O'Connell bronze, a moody Martin Gale featuring a line of cars at dusk heading into the ominous countryside, and a super urban landscape by Donald Teskey. And then there was a plastic bag of used clothes with a little photographic ID showing through - the title was "My Father's Portrait" . The bag contained the clothes and property handed over by the hospital after the poor man died. Poignant? No, bloody trite.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Peter Green at the Olympia

Rumours of Peter Green's terminal decline are greatly exaggerated. Backed by a solid chugging band (including standup bass) he put on a fine performance in the Olympia last Sunday. Sporting a bandana and bearded like Captain Birdseye he beamed out on the audience as if he was really enjoying himself. The show took a little time to get going, but after a couple of perfunctory workouts we were treated to that sharp soaring sound that make him a legend amongst blues guitarists. And the amiable growl of a voice worked well. He ran through some of his popular stuff like Black Magic Woman, and Albatross but a large proportion of the show harked back to his John Mayall days and obscure songs by Robert Parker and Willie Dixon. The highlights for me were a virtuoso version of Parker's Steal Your Heart Away and a lengthy exploration of Rainy Night in Georgia.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Donovan at Russbrough House

The last time I saw Donovan was in the old Arcadia Ballroom in Cork back in the Sixties. It was very early in his career and he was plainly at sea as a public performer. I remember a lot to time spent tuning his guitar before he got going. I quite liked some of his songs but regarded him a lightweight in comparison to Dylan. When I saw that he was opening an exhibition called Atlantis to Arcadia in Russborough House I saw it as an opportunity to kill three birds with one stone. Pay my first visit to Russborough House, support the excellent Cherrylane Gallery folk who were presenting the show, and see how the old hippy was looking these days. The show was very well attended but was over awed by its salubrious surroundings - why look at the decorative and insipid art when you can enjoy the glorious architecture and antique silverware. Donovan made a short and zany speech that seemed to suggest that Atlantis was located off the Kerry coast and told us how much he had in common with John Lennon. He is still flying his freak flag but these days it's topped by some circular decorative headwear - a la Richard Thompson. After the opening the crowd go downstairs for the promised performance by Donovan. This actually consists of Donovan declaiming rather than singing something dreadful called Atlantis while abusing a perfectly good guitar. After one song he mercifully hands us over to Chris de Burgh (an in-law of the artist) who sings a tuneful and perfectly acceptable version of Catch the Wind - by far Donovan's best song. A rum do all in all but we left well amused.