Sunday, March 29, 2009

Philip Brooker 1977-1980

I have lived in a lot of places in my life. I have also lived in a few countries, but the place that will always be home sweet home is in my scull. What's not to like, its warm safe portable and there are so many things to play with. In other words I like it there (most would not). Last week I did something I have been putting off for many many years, I photographed my old work from when I lived in England. This was a lot of work and very physical (the canvasses are very large and heavy)It wasn't so much the actual work (even though it took me 16 hours to shoot) but the actual thinking about who and where I was at the time. Most young people are in there young prime at 21, I should have been doing what 21 year old men (boy) do.I should have been out and about drinking up all there was to offer.I chose dear readers to stay in my studio and paint. I chose dear readers to spend a tremendous amount of time in my head (home) Im not complaining, but as I looked at the enormous amount of work I produced in that period, I wonder what's more important in life. It's not that I really had a choice, but it could have been very very different.
So the image above is what was running through my head at the time.These were very complicated paintings, they are also very large. I have kept the hundreds of canvasses in a huge roll and carried them around with me for so long (my babies that never grew up) So now its time to air off the bodies and get them out there. Im glad I photographed them, Im glad I gave them a new lease on life , I'm glad I live in my head....What were you doing when you were twenty one? Living I hope.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Paris in Miami

When I started art school at 16 I thought the world was my oyster, or in my case the world was the biggest box of paints. I loved to paint paint paint paint (well you get the picture, or painting) So when I bumped into a very shady character who went by the name of Ronnie, my life was about to change (as in short change). Ronnie looked like he had just stepped out of the 50s and in fact he sort of did. He asked me if I knew anyone who would like to paint his amusement ride in his traveling fair. I of course jumped at the chance. ''I'll do it Ron '' I said, to which he replied ''its Ronnie'' So we struck a deal, one hundred pounds to design and paint the front of his ride called the 'Fun House' This of course was about to prove to be anything but fun.
I figured it would take a month to come up with a great colourful concept, draw it all out and paint it, maybe a month and a half tops. I of course figured wrong.
As I approached the ride, I realized it was much much much much much bigger than I had expected, and when I say MUCH! I mean MUCH MUCH BIGGER! Maybe 3 double decker buses bigger.Im going to cut this very long story sideways.I will tell you that over my many trips to the fairground which was never in the same location twice, I got to know fairground people very well, you might say a little too well. They are a different breed from most of us, they like to talk in a very strange accent (code ) they carry most of there money on them(they don't trust a soul) and they like to have sex as many times as is humanly possible and with as many different people they can (usually the local punters) I of course painted and painted and painted my way around this amazing education.
I'm now going to make the story even shorter (just so you all stay awake) It took me a year and a half to paint the bloody 'FUN HOUSE! ' When it came time to pay me, he (Ronnie) took me into his beautiful caravan and offered me a bacon sandwich made by his very sexy and somewhat dangerous wife. Then I think he offered her to me instead of paying me the hundred pounds (eeek!). I took the money (silly me) and ran for the hills. Which brings me to the photo above.This is a mural painted on to the side of a dry cleaners in Miami (Paris dry cleaners).It is badly painted but somehow has a charm most would dismiss. When ever I see badly painted murals I think of all the time and effort that went into creating it.There seem to be all kinds of things going on.The world trade center towers are still standing.The eiffel tower seems to be on a hill. I look at this mural and think I could have painted that in a week, but deep down I know it would have taken me 6 months maybe even 8. I wonder if the person was paid as much as me (HA!)

Sorry about the ugly photo but a nasty dog was snarling at me while I was snapping away. Or maybe it was the dog that was snapping away.I just got the 2 shots.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Un chien andalou (revisited)

Its not that I don't have enough projects at the moment (in fact I have 7, including 2 films) Its not that I really need my brain to be extended anymore than it already is.I'll explain. Some things just stay with you forever, like where you were when John Lennon was assassinated or when the world trade center was reduced to dust or when you first viewed 'Un chien andalou'. I saw this film when I was 16. I joined the art college cinema, which basically meant that you could walk into the small crappy room with a projector for free, which was fine since joining meant that you just show up. I saw this film in that small fug filled room with about 50 students all smelling of pot and sweat (it wasn't hot, they just didn't wash) I saw this film and I think I held my breath from the moment it started till the end, at least it felt that way. I held my breath not because of the student stench but because this film truly took my breath away and it never really came back until now.

The film opens with a title card reading "Once upon a time". What may be the film's conclusion unfolds; a middle-aged man, the "husband" (played by Luis Buñuel), sharpens his razor at his balcony door and tests the razor on his thumb. He then opens the door, and idly fingers the razor while gazing at the moon, about to be engulfed by a thin cloud, from his balcony. There is a cut to a close-up of a younger woman, the "wife" (Simone Mareuil), being held by the "husband" as she calmly stares straight ahead. Another cut occurs to the moon being overcome by the cloud as the "wife's" eye is slit by the "husband" with his razor.

The idea for the film actually began when Buñuel was working as an assistant director for Jean Epstein in France. Buñuel told Dalí at a restaurant one day about a dream in which a cloud sliced the moon in half "like a razor blade slicing through an eye". Dalí responded that he'd dreamed about a hand crawling with ants. They were fascinated by what the psyche could create, and decided to write a script based on the concept of suppressed human emotions.

The legendary shot of the cow's eye being slit by Luis Buñuel.
The eye that was actually sliced in the opening scene was that of a dead calf. Through intense lighting, Buñuel attempted to make the furred face of the animal appear as human skin. During the bicycle scene, the woman who is sitting on a chair, reading, throws the book aside when she notices the man who has fallen. The image it shows when it lays open is a reproduction of a painting by Vermeer. Vermeer was a Dutch painter greatly admired by Salvador Dalí, whom he referenced often in his own paintings. In Buñuel's original script, the last shot was to feature the corpses "consumed by swarms of flies". However, this special effect was left out due to budget limitations.
Given the general distaste for surrealism among the French public, Buñuel and Dalí carried sacks of rocks in their pockets on opening night as self-defense, expecting a negative response from the audience. They were disappointed when the audience enjoyed the film, making the evening "less exciting", according to Dali.
The movie contains several thematic references to Federico García Lorca (who was in love with Salvador Dalí) and other writers of that time. For example, the rotting donkeys are a reference to the popular children's novel "Platero y yo" by Juan Ramón Jiménez, which Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí hated.
Both of the leading actors of the film eventually committed suicide; Batcheff overdosed on Veronal on April 13, 1932 in a hotel in Paris and Mareuil committed self-immolation on October 24, 1954 by dousing herself in gasoline and burning herself to death in a public square in Perigueux, Dordogne.
Modern prints of the film feature a soundtrack consisting of excerpts from Richard Wagner's Liebestod, the concert version of the finale to his opera Tristan und Isolde, and a recording of the Argentinian tango "Ole guapa". This is the same soundtrack that Buñuel chose and played live on a phonograph during the original 1929 screening in Paris. They were first added to a print of the film in 1960 under Buñuel's supervision. The film here (part of it) has a modern awful soundtrack but its the only copy I could get at time of posting.

So why do I see this film as another project? Well, once I get my 2 films finished I will start on my version of this film. I have 2 books full of ideas and shots all mapped out. Ever since I was 16 I wanted to do something artistic as a response to this masterpiece.I have one small (gigantic) problem, who will play the leading lady....Im open for suggestions. I usually have an eye for this sort of thing, if you know what I mean. At least I can breath again, It's been a while.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

the colour of despair

When I was 16 I was thrust into the uncomfortable world of art school.It was a long way from my high school days in more ways than just geographical. I remember my first few months there very clearly.I remember them because at much as this very green student thought he knew it all, I simply didn't (what a shock). I learned a new way of thinking, a way that would shape my thinking till this day. I remember the first few projects the professors gave us. At first they seemed crazy and stupid and a total waste of time (because at 16 you simply didn't have time to whittle away..ha ha).I would go home at night after a very very long day at art school and work on something I called 'my work' till the very early hours of the morning. Later I figured out that all the work I did was MINE. So on that very cold 'northern English town' kind of morning I walked into my first real lesson and was presented with a box made out of wood.It was the size of a basketball only it was a cube.It was painted a flat black and looked very dull in a beautiful way. When I picked the box up and started to turn it, it made very strange noises.Sometimes a bell, then a spring, then a thud, then the sound of water, then the sound of rice or some sort of grains falling. The box never made the same sound in the same order.It was a complete mystery what was inside and a bigger mystery how it was made, even now I try to figure out how it was put together...
The lesson was to turn the box once and draw the sound. Then turn it again and draw that sound. The lesson was to record all the sounds in the box with an image. There were 25 sounds and we were only allowed to turn the box once a day, therefore producing an image a day, a 10 hour day. The project lasted 3 months and I produced a lot of very interesting images.I also taught my brain to think in a completely different way, or maybe it taught me. Which brings us to the image above. Sometimes between very large projects I like to go a different direction with my work (just as a mental exercise) and sometimes the result can be quite rewarding. I wanted to figure out what colour certain emotions were or places or smells or simply stuff. The colour of remorse, the colour of damp nylon sheets, fear, hurt, sadness, lies, pretense, nerves, talent, regret, failure and so on....I will spare you the process but I had 50 english beer bottle just laying around, so I thought this would be a perfect vehicle to present my new little project. I created this about 6 years ago.
So now I have to go into my studio and photograph 40 painting I did 30 years ago.It needs to be done , but I would sooner be working on my film.

I wonder what colour exhaustion is?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

hello dolly

I have a friend in Paris whose name is Blandine. She is a new friend. All I can tell you about her is that she has a passion for food. She also has a passion for life. She is a wonderful cook and a very talented food stylist. O.K. you now have the picture. Recently (actually last week) her mother passed away. She lived in the south of France. Blandine was very brave and very sad when she left for her mothers funeral.
Apart from cooking and styling, Blandine takes wonderful yet simple photos with her i-Phone. In fact, ever since I met her she has recorded her daily life in images.I know her better through her photos than I do in real life.. .These are not the best photos in the world and she would not call herself a photographer (although she could be).She just snaps away, little moments and also big.
So while she was in the south of France, she came across this doll in a field, and sent it too me. I loved the image at once.It had all the components that made me bristle with creative excitement. I felt a little strange asking her to bring the doll (my new model) back to Paris (remember she was there for her mothers funeral) But she did. Everyday Blandine sends me a photo of the doll eating something or visiting a church,or just being a doll. all very strange and yet all very funny...
So what does a grown man want with a plastic doll that has mange (the doll has mange not the grown man) Well you will have to wait for that answer.But when I get back to Paris I'm going to spend a whole day photographing the doll in my own slightly morbid strange style. If you give me a choice between a fashion model or this scary little doll, I would take the doll every time.
I'm glad I know Blandine. I'm glad she brought the doll back to her home. I'm glad she is feeling a little less sad. In a few weeks you will see the result of my shoot.I have so many ideas. I wonder if Blandine will let me set up a mini studio in her apartment. I also wonder is she will be cooking that day...HINT HINT

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

my left hand

One really cold winter I was playing in the snow with my brother and sister (fighting more like).It was one of those days that just didn't get light. The whole day was seeped in grey, murky under the water North sea light, or rather lack of light. I remember it being so bitterly cold. I remember that my fingers were numb to the bone, in fact my whole body was (what there was of it ). It didn't matter, I loved the cold , I loved the bleakness of winter, I always have and always will...I was 5.
I remember something that stayed with me forever, as things do that shock or scare us as children. My brother and sister and I were pelting each other with snow balls (more like ice balls) The darkness of the afternoon had almost turned its lights off completely .In fact it was dark...I just managed to grab one more clump of snow before heading back home. I knew something had gone wrong. I had picked up a broken piece of glass mixed in with snow and while squeezing it into a perfect sphere, I noticed a huge piece of glass coming out of my hand. It didn't feel like anything because I was already numb. It just felt like something very wrong. I could see the blood gushing out, the blood had no colour in the dim light (in fact I don't remember colour much in England except for grey and dark blue) I ran home as quickly as I could, still being attacked by snowballs (life can be so cruel) I was rushed to the family doctor (Dr.Brown) It was a friday night and I remember my father telling me to be brave. It was the first time I had a notion that you could stitch skin.I always thought a needle and thread was only employed with dressmaking. This really had me worried, I could't think how it worked. For a split second I thought the Dr might even run my hand through a sewing machine, not unlike my mothers old singer, only I wasn't singing. It all went well, I received my pocket money and also my first real injury.
I mention this because I just came across an old piece of art I made a few years ago.I hadn't thought about the snowball day when I had created this piece (above) Maybe all the hands in my art stem from that day. Maybe my obsession with anything medical comes from that day.
I sit here staring at my scar that nearly took my finger off on my left hand. I sit here in the warm glow of a perfect Miami day, full of light and colour....Womb-like safety.
God! I miss the cold. I miss the snow, I miss the grey. I miss me. Thank goodness I dont miss my finger.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I need help...Really!!!

I have this little problem I would like to share with you all today, because thats what friends are for. O.K. here goes. Everyday for the last 2 months (and when I say everyday , I sometimes mean twice a day) I have been going to ( to see a webcam picture of the Eiffel tower in all its static webcam glory. I know this is an illness and for the life of me I have been trying to figure out why I'm so addicted to this shot. Could it be because I want to see how the weather is? Could it be because I just need a quick Eiffel(eye-full) Could it be a nervous tick (or click) Whatever it is, Im getting worse. This webcam website offer other views of the Eiffel tower.I can see little people lining up in the rain to go to the top.I can see the traffic racing past the tower as if its not there. In fact I have quite a few camera angles that even Hitchcock might envy. When I first moved to Paris I would walk there everyday, so I know the area really well (maybe a little too well) I am starting to feel like a stalker, or a private eye staking out someone. It's not like I have time to look and ponder at this wonderful collection of steel bolted together with nuts and bolts. Well today I have decided to quit cold turkey, thats right, quit!! FINIS...Its not like I wont be going back or anything, So I will be able to see it up close and way too personal...So there it is, I have cured myself through the power of venting to all you dear readers by way of the blog..Ahhhhhhhhh What a relief...Really I feel like a burden has been lifted off my shoulders......WAIT!!!!!!!! Its nearly the top of the hour, and we all know what that means, YES!! The Eiffel tower twinkles for 10 minutes......Just this once. I promise it will be the last time.....Promise.

Just in case you might need another addiction, here is the address