CULTURE

  • The painter uncovering portraiture’s dirty laundry – in pictures
    by Kathryn Bromwich on May 28, 2022 at 4:00 pm

    During lockdown, New Hampshire-based artist Shawn Huckins began creating small abstract paintings based on the bold, plaid patterns in his wardrobe. Before long, he started juxtaposing piles of contemporary fabrics and 18th- and 19th-century portraiture in his series Dirty Laundry. ‘We use cloth to conceal,’ he says, ‘but also to express.’ For each portrait, Huckins puts a studio mannequin in the exact position of the sitter in the original, then builds layers of fabric over it and paints the final result. ‘The work is about self-discovery and identity, but also the secrets we keep,’ he says. ‘We all have dirty laundry, literally and figuratively.’See more on Instagram: @shawn_huckins Continue reading…

  • The Boys: the explosive superhero show that’s become as thrilling as Game of Thrones
    by Joel Golby on May 28, 2022 at 8:00 am

    It’s taken a while, but this gory, swear-packed series about costumed crusaders is now so visceral it’s like a spiritual successor to the brutal shenanigans of WesterosBig year for the TV penis. There was Euphoria, and the big hog at the centre of And Just Like That. There was the talking penis in Pam & Tommy, which frankly deserved more airtime, and the dick-puppeteering that opened Jackass Forever. And then there’s a penis in episode one of the new series of The Boys (from Friday, Amazon Prime Video), which … well, even if I could tell you what happens with and to the penis, I don’t think I could in the word count I have. It has drastically made me rethink my relationship with my own penis. Let’s just leave it at that. I don’t want to talk about my penis any more before six to eight weeks of therapy.It is probably time for us to confront the idea that The Boys is good. I know, I didn’t see this coming either. The first series – a dark-in-a-juvenile-way show where superheroes exist, are celebrities, but also have hidden horrors – had a number of great set-pieces, a decent enough eight-episode storyline, and really relied on Karl Urban growling the C-word every few minutes. It was fine. This could be as much about the platform as the content: one thing Prime seems to have struggled with is nailing a series premise, and The Boys looked as if it might go in the bin marked “Hunters”. The Man in the High Castle had its fans, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel is probably the best thing they’ve done, and The Grand Tour will always have a rabid, jeans-and-sheux viewership, but while Netflix can alchemise a hit series simply by putting it on its homepage and making the algorithm convince you that you need to watch it immediately (“You must watch the entirety of Nailed It! before everyone else alive, for some reason!”), Prime has lagged behind. Continue reading…

  • Books by women that every man should read: chosen by Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie, Richard Curtis and more
    by Mary Ann Sieghart on May 28, 2022 at 8:00 am

    Studies show men avoid female authors. Ahead of the Women’s prize for fiction, chair of judges Mary Ann Sieghart finds out why – and we ask male authors to redress the balanceThe film-maker Richard Curtis realised during the first lockdown that he would at last have time to immerse himself in books. More specifically books by women, “to compensate for 63 years of male bias”, he explains. “It’s been an amazing two years: the glory of Anne Tyler, Ann Patchett, Ali Smith, Zadie Smith, Daphne du Maurier, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and so many others.”Now, 32 books later, he has become positively evangelical. When a male friend had a birthday recently, Curtis gave him four novels by female writers. “I have given away more copies of Olive Kitteridge [by Elizabeth Strout] than you can imagine,” he says. “I spend my whole time romping through bookshops saying: ‘Why haven’t you got more Anne Tyler novels on your shelves?’ I’ve had a genuine epiphany in terms of the novels that I read.” Continue reading…

  • Twenty photographs of the week
    by Jim Powell on May 27, 2022 at 9:09 pm

    The school shooting in Uvalde, mortar explosions in Lysychansk, protests in the Philippines, the Australian election and Boris Johnson reacting to the Sue Gray report: the most striking images from around the world this week Continue reading…

  • Hamlet Within: why are we so obsessed with Shakespeare’s dithering prince?
    by Michael Billington on May 27, 2022 at 12:30 pm

    A provocative new film at Cannes featuring Ian McKellen attempts to de-romanticise the Dane but lags behind what theatre productions have been telling us for decadesTS Eliot called Hamlet “the Mona Lisa of literature”. Like Leonardo’s enigmatic portrait, Shakespeare’s prince and the play in which he appears have stimulated countless poets, novelists and creative artists. The latest in the field is Ken McMullen, who has written and directed a dreamlike movie, Hamlet Within, subtitled Five Acts in Search of a Murderous Prince and screened at Cannes. It is an attempt to de-romanticise the dithering Dane and is duly stimulating even if I sometimes felt it was pushing at an open door.You get the idea in the prologue when Claudius is described by John Shrapnel as “an unhappy king killed by his nephew because of some whimsical speculation”. The idea is later advanced that the Ghost represents Hamlet’s unconscious: a notion confirmed by having Ian McKellen, memorably pensive, reading the dead king’s speech in a recording studio as if to suggest he is a projection of his son’s imagination. After a section on Shakespeare’s debt to other writers, including an interview with Jacques Derrida on plagiarism, we then get to a crucial discussion of Hamlet’s character in which the tone is set by the Shakespeare scholar Richard Wilson. Continue reading…

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