Christopher Fowler keeps me sane

Although, as a character, I suspect I wouldn’t survive until the end of one of his stories, I am taking great solace from Christopher Fowler’s short stories right now.

In a credit cruch world where “Wagner’s most accessible opera” has a couple of seats left at the possibly inaccessible rate of £230 a go, it’s nice to come across a writer who for 25 years has been subtly scaring the shit out of the comfortable middle class (of which I am just about one, hence why I’d almost certainly be eaten by a bat or somesuch).

I am currently reading The Devil In Me and had the strange sensation of reading about someone moving out to Amersham, at the end of the Met Line whilst boarding a commuter train into London from said Zone 9 wilderness.

At least it wasn’t Chesham – nobody writes about Chesham.

Gerhard Richter, National Portrait Gallery

“A portrait must not express anything of the sitter’s soul,” says Gerhard Richter in a quote from early in his retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery. He must be a blast at parties.

There’s an argument that Richter is the world’s most influential contemporary artist and in these days of forms and identities merging into each other it’s a compelling one. The book I mentioned elsewhere (this one) spends a long time pondering what is and isn’t a photograph – and it should be reasonably straightforward to say that a Richter painting isn’t one … but then it is a clearer photographic representation of reality than, say, this image that was part of the 2007 Photographic Portait Prize. Many of the images are paintings drawn from found or magazine photographs – some of famous people, some not. All are decontextualised and blurred.

In keeping with Richter’s cold eye, the exhibition is presented in stark, white rooms with minimal detail accompanying the images – your reaction is thus as Richter would want it to be: you don’t know who these people are until you read the brochure. It is also quite startling how up-to-the-minute the blurred black and whites feel – they look like CCTV surveillance pictures.

It is quite a small exhibition – 34 images and a collection of actual photographs arranged on the entrance escalator – but well worth visiting and one that I will be thinking about for a long time to come.

Incidentally there’s a whole lot of Gerhard and his painting here

All art is quite useless

according to Oscar Wilde.

Ujino Muneteru is in residence at Southbank Centre with a fun show on in The Hayward Project Space and an installation on the Riverside Terrace that’s drawing the crowds – and the photographers. On flickr, Jon Cartwright’s is the pick to my eye … but there are a bunch of them.

See my version large here. And see the video of Endless Art, one of the greatest songs ever ever ever, here.

(I even have More Endless Art somewhere.)

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