Friday 21st of June 2019

of arts, expressions and politics...

GG
In Australia, we cannot escape the richness of thoughts and the depth of feelings of Peter Sculthorpe’s music which describes the country’s best mysteries and landscapes, but a most popular Aussie song, especially in the bush, will be "the pub with no beer…"

Sculthorpe music is so thorough that one wishes one had lived through his evocative images and imagined real wild spaces. I have though. I have travelled through Australia in many instances through its silence and its stars — and under its unforgivable sun. I have seen many landscapes where the land generously give colours and rugged shapes, only to be taken home in our saturated mind. The music is the wind in the she-oaks, the thud of a mango falling from a tree and a dingo howling afar. Then the silence is like a scarf wrapping around us the caring warmth of the earth. The sky is popping up in a million stars above the bushes that go black between the darkening red dirt. Here, the dirt is noble. Venerable dirt. The need for food is satisfied by one of the elders who silently drives a fingernail through a bush-fruit to cut it in half and share. The inside is inedible, but the skin is sweet and soft like the best ice-cream in the world. One could cry of joy, but the silence has to reign, for the hidden illusions of the past to come forth peacefully out of the ground, up into our mind. 


When Jacques Perret wrote his satirical works (see: it's time for the king to shut up...), the Beatles had not been invented. The freedom of expression was somewhat still on the drawing boards of the elites, though a few undercurrents of change had shaken the establishment, at the beginning of the 19th century, following the French revolution of 1789.



Punk music could not ever be imagined by Perret, yet some changes had come along in our scientific understanding. Einstein rocked the boat in 1905 and sunk traditional physics in 1915. Relativity was a totally new way to see the universe. By 1927, the quantum theory had bloomed. Science and technological advances became welded at the hip through these two concepts. Between then and now, mighty technological advancements has taken place and challenge the best of us to keep up with.

In Russia the music of Shostakovich was shaking the State with cheekiness and irony, precisely, though it was still part of the momentum of classical music. 

In Germany, Arnold Franz Walter Schönberg changed the musical scales to Serialism by removing natural notes and adding new ones that were “out of tune” somehow. The result was seen as a-pack-of-cats-fighting-each-other-on-a-fence, chalk-on-a-blackboard, and such. One of the most important composers in history, still unknown in the mind of many people but one of my favourite for his “Lunatic Peter", Schönberg was forced to flee Europe facing the Nazi momentum. My personal view about his "American” period that followed is that he had to become more traditional, as concert halls would have been empty despite the American advertising know-how, and he could have died of hunger. His new works thus returned to tonality with serialist structural elements becoming secondary. Schönberg's Chamber Symphony Number 2 (1939) brings the rich harmonies of Romanticism with serialistic textures and the rhythmical spirit of American freedom (Jazz?). Some of his Americana works were based on Baroque models. Meanwhile, in the 1930s, Georg Ehrenfried Groß was drawing and painting cutting cartoons (see image above) about silly stupid people (the dumb masses that were slowly coming to accept naked fascism). 


In France the musical momentum that had switched from the Romanticism of Berlioz to Expressionism under Debussy and Ravel, evolved a bit further with a variety of styles, between some very sombre stuff like that of Olivier Eugène Prosper Charles Messiaen noted for his use of mystical and resurrecting religious themes (Quartet for the End of Time) and some deeply penetrating lightweight melodies like those of Eric Sati’s Gymnopedie. Meanwhile, Saint Saëns (the last “s” isn’t silent) straddled the lot with a popular style of serious famous music that gave us “The Carnival of the Animals” posthumously. Saint Saëns’s Organ Symphony played on the massive instrument of the Sydney Town Hall, one of the biggest Organs in the world, would blow your mind away with tonalities and power to make you cry with the joy of being-alive.

As well, in France, there was the development of the typical “chanson” populaire that had been always part of people’s traditional repertoire but became a bigger staple due to new inventions such as the “recording” and radio — both relying on nifty scientific discoveries.

In America, Jazz had become a proper musical style that “liberated” many people and gave them a new enslaving optimism, as well as simplifying some of the complexities of relationships: the moonlight, boys and girls, love and betrayal of love, hope forever, my heart is yours, happy, sad, etc… These themes had also been part of the repertoire of Romanticism in a more rigorous structure of emotional display before. 


Alfred de Musset“Romanticism is the abuse of adjectives”

Jazz was sometimes incorporated in compositions by French and Russian Composers, the latter being in trouble for doing such, during the Stalinist era.

These days, the most popular radio-transmitted music "that does not break the piano” is already 40 to 60 years old as the new inventions have had many difficult styles from punk, heavy metal and grunge — music that makes use of saturation of the sensory perceptions rather than provide tranquil, romantic or intellectual melodies — and to say the least do not live too well in  "bourgeois-minded countries” where money and advertising rule to make you buy stuff — not to destroy your senses senselessly… The establishment needs you. This is why there are TV shows like X-factor in search for news ways of doing the same old things, with massive vocal cords.
Add drugs to the metal/grunge mix in public concerts and people die early. In those “songs”, the revolutionary spirit faded long ago to be replace with a pseudo-nihilism-plus-abuse of the musical instruments and the early destruction of the hearing faculty of the listening/boozing public. We’re so in need of stronger and stronger distracting decimation of the mind to peel away from the lazy nothingness that has replaced our useless beliefs in gods. This is why we need sciences.


Classical music is now caught between repeats of the charming, the monumental, the regal, the classical past, versus the new noises which fewer and fewer aficionados listen to. Abstraction has its good and bad sides. Few composers have manage to stop the regression of public acceptance, such as Philip Glass, regarded as one of the most influential musicians of the late 20th century. His work is minimalist music. Other less well-known minimalist composers include La Monte Young, Steve Reich, and Terry Riley.

In all of this, it has to be seen that governments played a part in the management of appreciation and support given to the musicians, often in order to control the main stream of the “culture” and avoid breakaways. Publicity, movies and theatre were often part of the greater Hollywoodian dream, full of conflict resolutions, comedies alla Charlie Chaplin and exultation of the conquest of the West with the six-shooters, as a sub-shopfront of the CIA. 


Following later on in this article, are a few sayings by Alfred de Musset, from around 1830-1850… especially from Lorenzaccio, his play written in 1834. It is set in 16th-century Florence. Lorenzino de’ Medici kills the Duke Alessandro de' Medici, his cousin, because the Duke is a ruthless tyrant. Having engaged in dubious debaucheries to gain the Duke's confidence in order to kill him, Lorenzino thus loses the trust of the citizens of Florence, earning the insulting nickname of "Lorenzaccio". Lorenzino knows he can never return to the Florentine State — as opponents to the tyrant's regime fail to use Alessandro's death as a way to overthrow the ruling family and establish a republic. Lorenzo's action did not help the people's now uncertain future. This was a political allegory which is still current today, as most of us are fed bullshit through the main-stream media.

Written after the French July revolution of 1830, at the start of the July Monarchy, when King Louis Philippe the First came to power, the play contains many cynical comments on the lack of republican sentiments in the face of violent royalist machinations. It has been said that the play was inspired by a work of Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, otherwise known as George Sand. De Musset was one of George Sand’s lovers — lovers who also included Frederik Chopin.
As many Romantic tragedies, including plays by Victor Hugo, this was somehow influenced by William Shakespeare's Hamlet.


Sand was one of many notable 19th-century women who chose to wear male attire in public. The French police had issued in 1800, an order requiring women to apply for a permit in order to wear male clothing. Some women applied for health, occupational, or recreational reasons such as for horseback riding, but many women chose to wear male attire in public without a permit, for practical reasons, but often to subvert stereotypes.

Sand did not apply for a permit. She claimed male clothing was less expensive and sturdier than the typical dress of women at the time. Sand's male attire enabled her to move freely around Paris and gave her increased access to venues from which women were often excluded, even women of her social standing. 

It has to be said that George Sand's father, Maurice Dupin, was the grandson of the Marshal General of France, Maurice, Comte de Saxe, an illegitimate son of Augustus II the Strong, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony, and a cousin to the sixth degree of Kings Louis XVI, Louis XVIII and Charles X. She was also distantly related to King Louis Philippe of France through common ancestors from German and Danish ruling families. Sand's mother, Sophie-Victoire Delaborde, was a commoner.

Known to her friends and family as “Aurore” (Sunrise) – Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin was born in Paris and was raised for much of her childhood by her grandmother, Marie-Aurore de Saxe (also known as Madame Dupin de Francueil), at grandmother's own estate, Nohant, in the French province of Berry. Sand used the place’s setting in many of her novels. 

Sand smoked tobacco in public. This scandalous habit had not been sanctioned by the upper-crust, though Franz Liszt's squeeze, Marie d’Agoult, also smoked, especially large cigars. While there were many contemporary critics of Sand's public appearances, many people accepted her behaviour until they read the shocking subversive tone of her novels, precursors of D. H. Lawrence's work by a century for example. 

Those who loved her writing were not bothered by her rebellious elegant public behaviour. An impressed Victor Hugo commented, “George Sand cannot determine whether she is male or female. I entertain a high regard for all my colleagues, but it is not my place to decide whether she is my sister or my brother.

We had been fighting this controversy till the “marriage equality” vote settled it, late last year.

In 1822, at the age of eighteen, Sand married “François” Casimir Dudevant (1795–1871) illegitimate son of Baron Jean-François Dudevant. She and Dudevant had two children: Maurice (1823–1889) and Solange (1828–1899). In 1825 George Sand had an intense affair with a young lawyer. In early 1831, she left her husband and started a period of "romantic rebellion." By 1835, she was legally separated from Dudevant, and took custody of their children.

Sand had romantic affairs with Jules Sandeau, Prosper Mérimée, Alfred de Musset , Louis-Chrysostome Michel, Pierre-François Bocage, Charles Didier, Félicien Mallefille, Louis Blanc, and composer Frédéric Chopin. Later in her life, she corresponded with Gustave Flaubert (Madame Bovary), and they eventually became close friends. She then had an intimate friendship with actress Marie Dorval, which led to rumours of a lesbian affair.


"George Sand was an idea. She has a unique place in our age. Others are great men… she was a great woman.”                         Victor Hugo, eulogy to George Sand


So Alfred de Musset, though a devout Christian, was a keen realist observer of humanity’s foibles:

“There are temptations more attractive than angels. Liberty, Patriotism, the good of humanity – words like that are the silver scales of the Tempter’s flaming wings”. 


“Is it true that dictators never dream because they are able to change their smallest fantasies into realities if they want to?”



“Poets represent love as sculptors design beauty, as musicians create melody; that is to say, endowed with an exquisite nervous organization, they gather up with discerning ardor the purest elements of life, the most beautiful lines of matter, and the most harmonious voices of nature. There lived, it is said, at Athens a great number of beautiful girls; Praxiteles drew them all one after another; then from these diverse types of beauty, each one of which had its defects, he formed a single faultless beauty and created Venus. The man who first created a musical instrument, and who gave to harmony its rules and its laws, had for a long time listened to the murmuring of reeds and the singing of birds.

Thus the poets, who understand life, after knowing much of love, more or less transitory, after feeling that sublime exaltation which real passion can for the moment inspire, eliminating from human nature all that degrades it, created the mysterious names which through the ages fly from lip to lip: Daphnis and Chloe, Hero and Leander, Pyramus and Thisbe.

To try to find in real life such love as this, eternal and absolute, is but to seek on public squares a woman such as Venus, or to expect nightingales to sing the symphonies of Beethoven.”




“L'humanité souleva sa robe et me montra, comme à un adepte digne d'elle, sa monstrueuse nudité.”

Humanity lifted her dress, and showed me, as if I was a worthy follower, her monstrous nakedness

——————————


We cannot underestimate the power of music and art used in politics — all designed to give impressions of truth, power and rightfulness. 

A Republican and a Democrat conventions cannot happen without music nor balloons.  

Most of it is popular crass but still well-chosen average arts that entice the mood of the participants and is excitingly promoted by the bought-out media. As most of our general “culture” is like blancmange and burnt sausages at a lawn barbecue, we need to dig into the graves of those stylistic devious revolutionary such as Sand and de Musset, Schönberg and Groß, to take us away from the Laurel & Hardy routines who, instead of amusing us, have become our slapstick leaders into the future, with no idea but a dangerous joke that is turning to an interminable planetary tragedy…

This is why we need the arts, the comedies, the music to be subversive, as we have to know that the leading sausage of our political barbecue isn't full of sawdust, unless it is a dog turd picked up from the grass full of RoundUp.

Gus Leonisky
Your Local Literary agent orange...

subversive advertising arts...

Advertising has polluted culture beyond recognition, but it serves a purpose in pushing the aggressive conquest of the world as a counterpoint to ugly politics by the USA, down our throat, like the sugar coating of a bitter pill. Music is used in advertising to a powerful effect and one can become slave of the tunes. Who can forget Charlie, the jingle writer of Two and a Half Men, working on the crassest of tune to end up with an ever crasser one… 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2T44w2WOjLM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-CNOFFud9k

 

As Trump — and I mean Trump, not America — wages a trade war against China, the kind of “you buy my burgeredcocacolamcdonald’s culture or we slap a tariff on importing chopsticks”, we cannot forget that American “culture” — if we can call this often lowest denominator crappy artistic adventurism, a culture — has been a pollutant around the world, like the plastics of the Koch brothers in the Pacific Vortex. It’s enticing though and satisfyingly practical for those need of speed-food (fast-food is old hat), like throwaway drinking straws and foam cups. On the popular front of "belching" (singing is old hat), new artists and variation of shouting-in-a-mike performances, always come on the scene like soldiers of rabble, exposing their rotten lives in the women mags, to maintain popularity. It’s as annoying as reflux. It’s conquest by relentless waves of quantity of gooey fudge...



There was a bit of cross-culture though, such as Down and Out in Beverly Hills, the 1986 American comedy film based on the French play Boudu sauvé des eaux. The 1932 film directed by Jean Renoir, was based on a play by René Fauchois. it has been called, "not only a lovely fable about a bourgeois attempt to reform an early hippy (in 1932!)... but a … record of an earlier France.” I feel that the long lost purpose of the French revolution had gone soft and its belly has filled with errant residue.
Directed by Paul Mazursky, and starring Nick Nolte, Bette Midler and Richard Dreyfuss, the film is about a rich dysfunctional couple who save the life of a suicidal homeless man. Little Richard makes an appearance, with the song "Great Gosh a’Mighty” finishing off this now acquired exposé of American sweet decadence. The smart dog is the star of the show, of course. It was the first film released by Disney to receive an R-rating — I guess for showing barely covered G-strings butt-cracks on the females fallen into the swimming pool, though the morals left a lot to be desired as they say.


Another bit of cross-culture filum, lacking a bit from the original delivery, was the American remake of La Cage aux Folles, a 1978 Franco-Italian comedy film, the first film adaptation of Jean Poiret's 1973 play La Cage aux Folles.It was co-written and directed by Édouard Molinaro and stars Ugo Tognazzi and Michel Serrault (Poiret’s comic partner). The Birdcage (1996) was directed by Mike Nichols, written by Elaine May, and starring Robin Williams, Gene Hackman, Nathan Lane, and Dianne Wiest. 


But apart from these few exception, and the occasional French/German/Swedish/Danish Movie Festivals in Nouyorque, the Hollywoodian traffic has been one way especially on TV. As well, the American “pop” culture has jumped over its petri-dish, and has become a worldwide microbial bird flu. 

Here, in studying this disease, we should start with one of the best American crooner who, I have been told between two and a half empty glass of beer, was relegated to the back of the pack by “the Mafia” that openly supported Frank Sinatra instead. John Gary (John Gary Strader; November 29, 1932 – January 4, 1998) was considered by many to be much better than old Frankie, due to his extraordinary breath control and tonal quality of voice. Gary had an "exceptionally" wide range of three and 1/2 octaves, from robust baritone to a high sweet tenor often in the same song, in an intimate style.


Talking of exception, a short-lived invader of the American Kultur was Ivan Rebroff (31 July 1931 – 27 February 2008) — a singer who became sort of famous in Yankeeland. Born in Berlin as Hans-Rolf Rippert to German parents, he claimed mixed Russian-Jewish descent. He rose to prominence for his extensive vocal range of four and a half octaves (exceptional!), from the soprano to bass registers. Four days after his death, his elder brother Horst Rippert, who by his own unsubstantiated account had, during WW2, shot down Antoine de Saint Exupéry, claimed a big chunk of Rebroff's vast fortune. I will remind you that Saint-Ex is famous for The Little Prince where the narrator begins with a discussion on the nature of grown-ups and their inability to perceive important things. As a test to determine if a grown-up is as enlightened as a child, he shows them a picture he drew at age 6 of a snake which has eaten an elephant. The grown-ups always replied that the picture is that of a hat, so he knows to talk only of "reasonable" rather than imaginative things to them. 

Then came Demis Roussos as the caped cleanser.


Meanwhile, Francis Albert Sinatra (December 12, 1915 – May 14, 1998) was one of the best-selling music artists of all time, with more than 150 million records worldwide. Born to Italian immigrants in Hoboken, New Jersey, Sinatra began his musical career in the swing era with bandleaders Harry James and Tommy Dorsey. Sinatra found success as a solo artist after he signed with Columbia Records in 1943, becoming the idol of the "bobby soxers". His professional career stalled by the early 1950s, so he turned to Las Vegas, where he became one of its best known residency performers as part of The Rat Pack. In 1953, in From Here to Eternity, his performance won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor. 

A counterpoint to this world invading crooning rat pack poison, was Jacques Romain Georges Brel (born 8 April 1929) who died too soon in 1978.  He was a Belgian singer, songwriter, actor and director who composed and performed literate (rare feat in this day and age of pop music), thoughtful, and theatrical songs that generated a large, devoted following—initially in Belgium and France, later throughout the world. He is considered a master of the modern chanson. Although most of his songs were in French and occasionally in Dutch, he became an influence on English-speaking songwriters and performers, such as Scott Walker, David Bowie, Alex Harvey, Marc Almond and Rod McKuen. English translations of his songs were recorded by many performers, including: Bowie; Walker, Ray Charles; Judy Collins; John Denver; The Kingston Trio; Nina Simone; Frank Sinatra and Andy Williams.

Who can forget “If You go Away” (Ne Me Quitte Pas) ....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LbbyeM50xU   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zk2bVP9mxWA 


Another invasion of real European popular culture into the US psyche was "Autumn Leaves" — a popular song and jazz standard composed by Joseph Kosma with original lyrics by poet Jacques Prévert in French, and later by Johnny Mercer in English. Kosma was a Hungarian who was introduced to Prévert in Paris. They collaborated on the song ''Les Feuilles Mortes'' (The Dead Leaves) for the 1946 film Les portes de la nuit, where it was sung by Irène Joachim. Kosma was influenced by a piece of ballet music, "Rendez-vous" written for Roland Petit, which was itself borrowed partially from "Poème d'Octobre" by Jules Massenet. Johnny Mercer wrote English lyrics and gave it the title "Autumn Leaves".


But the American film music was also invaded by Europeans such as Erich Wolfgang Korngold (May 29, 1897 – November 29, 1957) — an Austrian-born composer and conductor. A child prodigy, he became one of the most important and influential composers in the history of Hollywood. He was a noted pianist and composer of classical music, and the first composer of international stature to write many Hollywood scores.


From England came John Barry Prendergast, OBE (3 November 1933 – 30 January 2011) who composed the scores for 11 of the James Bond films between 1963 and 1987, and also arranged and performed the "James Bond Theme" to the first film in the series, 1962's Dr. No. He wrote the Grammy- and Academy Award-winning scores to the films Dances with Wolves and Out of Africa, as well as the theme for the British television cult series The Persuaders!, In 1999, he was appointed OBE for services to music.
---------------------------

In many American ersatzTV series and B-grade movies, the music is often use as a set-the-emotion continuum to hide the blandness of the inane dialogues that follow a script predictably stacked like a McDonald hamburger that would not sustain any intellectual value but satisfy fat brain cells with cholesterolic stodge.

This cesspooled US culture is invading your brain like cancer… Some of it you can laugh about, some of it, you should make every effort to prevent it passing the front door. Especially the culture of war... and did I mention advertising — the cultural toilet. Our Scummo was a try-hard expert at that, but he failed and will fail hopefully.


Gus Leonisky
Former local advertising guru and bricklayer...

the revolution is now lonely...

On 28 December 1937, Maurice Ravel died, still mentioning that he had so much more music in his head. He was suffering from a brain disease, aphasia, an inability to comprehend or formulate language because of damage to specific brain regions. His condition had a pre-existing disposition, exacerbated by a blow to the head in a car accident. It minimised his functional communication and stopped him from writing music by 1933, though he said beforehand that “life is so beautiful, one is better alive, even if sick…”



His friend Colette, the famous French novelist, thought this short little man, Maurice Ravel, was so frail, he could dissolve on the spot without warning. He seemed to have been this way since his youth, mind you. He had been bypassed from joining the troops during the first world war, though he managed to become an army truck driver until he fell very ill. He composed "Le Tombeau de Couperin”, in honour of his mates who had fallen at the front.

The times, from mid 19th century till WW2 brought a full revolution of the arts. Imagination, thinking and emotions were being pushed beyond the traditional bourgeois comforts, that had been slowly carried to its deathbed by Wagnerian fanfares. 

Since this amazing period of massive creative visions, where Picasso, Dali and many other mad people such as Van Gogh and Gauguin made their marks, the arts have slipped back into zombieism of prettiness or complete absenteeism, bordering on the boring inane — and copied for commercial gains. Pop music and a multitude of lousing homely paintings by average navel-gazing artists have redefined our new bourgeoisie, where buying prissy trinkets and automated white goods has become the norm of shopping beyond buying bread. The revolution died with Joan Baez’s last song. The bourgeoisie has won the battle.

From then till now we have been entertained rather than being challenged. We like the predictable with a variation on the theme of languishing love tunes, driven by emotional trite rather than advanced thinking. We plod along and we are happy to be taken on the road of plodding, even if the 3,000 watts loud speakers pump rhythms of percussion and blares songs from microphonic kids in search of fame for cash, for having reinvented the trance and the erasing mind technique at a commercial level. The authorities love it, though they still make noises that this is “destroying” our youth away from becoming plumbers or slaves in general. The authorities know that soon the youth will come back to the fold of the bourgeoisie where making money and war are the centrepieces. The stock-traders still wallow in the smooth music of the 1960s. 

This is where we need to look at Dadaism — the early mirror of art pointing back percy at the porcelain of this polished bourgeoisie. But while Duchamp’s bicycle wheel and his pissoire adopted objects told us that art was a relative concept, others — especially in music — really placed steel bars through the wheels of comfort. Anton Webern had been a student of Schoenberg and he had pushed dodecaphonism to the destruction of “appreciation”. Our revolution was in good hand. Interned in a US prisoner of war camp, this now 59 year old "model" blond Aryan Austrian, was shot dead by an American soldier, who may have thought Webern was trying to escape. Webern was only lost in his own mind of great musical disturbances rather than thinking of fighting with dissonances the American new average easy music of dancing freedom, jazz, and the new pleasing bourgeois Appalachian sunsets. 

“Forget what you have been told at music school” said Hindemith or something like that to his student. "The notes do not matter. A piano is a percussion instrument. Rhythm is the key to music". 

Paul Hindemith, one of the principal German composers of the first half of the 20th century was a leading musical theorist who became chief conductor of the Frankfurt Symphony at the tender age of 20. Though he was in favour of rhythm, he also sought to revitalise tonality that was being challenged by many other composers such as Webern. Hindemith pioneered Gebrauchsmusik, “utility music,” compositions for everyday occasions, music to meet social need rather than composing to satisfy his own artistic spirit. As a teacher of composition he probably influenced composers of the next generation, but far less that Webern.


Here in Australia, we suffer from second rateism as a school of thoughts. The country is beaut, the politics are irrelevantly shonky and the arts are undervalued by the artists themselves who often wallow with a lack of challenges, apart from dreaming of the perfect surfing wave. The revolution isn’t going to happen. We live in the pelican harbour country. 

I am too harsh. There are many great artists, but very little appreciative crowds, as the criteria of artistic creation are given to commercial enterprises that sell loud and shows like X fucktor and Duncing with the stars...

When Ravel’s Bolero was first performed, a woman in the audience shouted: “mad, mad, MAD, this is MAD!”… Ravel commented afterwards that actually this woman had understood the music. Bolero became more famous when Torvill and Dean skated for a 10 to this mad trance…

Ravel wore impeccable tailored clothes that made some people accuse him of being a “dandy” to which he replied he was an “anarchist". The good man. Yet he was very precious about his music, not even allowing one note of improv. He was a joker as well, especially having fake famous paintings in his small abode to trick visitors. He could have afforded the real ones mind you. He encouraged other composers to find their own path to stardom. He also was a great admirer of Igor Stravinsky, the Russian composer of the Rite of Spring. Ravel went crying at the foot of the sick bed of this great Russian composer of many other revolutionary music that 100 years later are still revolutionary. We haven’t walked the walk. 

Most of this artistic revolution converged to Paris, from Russia, from Austria and many other countries, such as Holland, but some of this modern art also took place in Britain, through artists such as Benjamin Britten. This art was genuine in its desire to provide classy emotions and powerful thinking, and were not tainted by commercial gains.

Gauguin was an odd bod, who had made a fortune with his paintings, though his agent took the biggest cut. In short, when the “white man” died in Tahiti, the locals had no idea of his fame. I guess like it is custom in some countries of Africa, the possessions of the dead are either burned or sunk at sea, like ashes of memories. Crates of paintings by Gauguin were destroyed and by the time the word about his fame reached Tahiti, one person was really sorry for having buried Gauguin sculptures in the dirt. By the time he dug them out, they had rotted away — as they should have.

The Fauvist revolution would have gone commercial… Rather than disturbed the mind, the Gauguin paintings now only disturb the wallets with prices in the stratosphere. The destruction of the unseen canvasses in Tahiti might have protected Gauguin’s value on the open market, where “appreciation” is driven by galleries.

Same in Australia. A painting of the Mona Lisa by da Vinci himself would not make the Archibald cut. Peter Sculthorpe's music is now only understood or “appreciated” by a small crowd of devotees, possibly no larger like that of a mid-season game of AFL*. His revolution was quiet and I hope dedicated to shift the mind of shop-keepers and suited barristers, after dark.

We still need the revolution and the idiots who deface the trains with ugly tags, are nowhere near shaking the foundation of comforts of cash which they don’t have and war which they never have really known. 

We may need to create the revolution individually, while avoiding participation in the madness of ignorance which is now leading the planet of humans towards war, more war — like if it was a sport or a game of demented throng.

We can do better, but we have to start again, not to be different but to be inspired — and hopefully inspiring.

Note for overseas readers: AFL — Australian Footbal League — is a purely Australian game that can attract huge crowds especially in Melbourne up to 110,000 sports fans at a single SCG match.

Rest in Peace, Bob...

the beginning and end of the real revolution...

Impressionism painting was born accidentally. 


"Young man, you see life with too much black” said Narcisse Virgilio Díaz de la Peña to Renoir, who was painting in the middle of the forest of Fontainebleau. Some other people passing-by had mocked Renoir’s efforts. Diaz had chased them away with his cane. Diaz, with a wooden leg, was a famous traditionalist painter of the Barbizon school — an art movement of Realism in art, which arose as a counterpoint to the Romantic Movement of the time. The Barbizon school was active from 1830 through 1870. It is named after the village of Barbizon, France, near the Forest of Fontainebleau, where many of the Barbizon artists gathered. Renoir was at the beginning of his life, Diaz was at the end of his. “Paint nature as it appears to you, and don’t paint it like they tell you at the Beaux Art school…

Renoir had started his painting life as a porcelain illustrator — with pretty flowers on plates and bowls. Later on in his life, Renoir joked that Impressionism started when painters ran out of black on their palette and replace it with blue. But the encounter with Diaz was the most definitive moment. When he went home afterwards, Renoir’s forest had blue trunk trees and a lilac forest floor. He thought it was a weird idea. But his painting mates — Bazille, Sisley, Monet — thought it was sensational. They all indulged from then on in the “peinture claire”, before it was sarcastically defined as “impressionism” by a journalist, Leroy. These painters starved for a long time as no-one wanted to buy their paintings. Even Monet loaded his pockets with stale bread, in order to eat. Renoir often ate light soup at his mum, till eventually he got an order for a portrait of Mr Choquet. The rest is history.

Towards the end of his life in 1919, Renoir is brought in on a wheelchair after hours into the Louvre. Next to the famous classic paintings stands his now famous “Moulin de la Galette”. His hands are crippled with rheumatism and he cannot walk. But he can smile…

We are all passing by with our own ideas and visions... The revolution ends when we're accepted as main stream. We become wallpaper.


Gus Painteronsky

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