An Artist's Eyes

 

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A portrait of an artist as a young man.

 
Artist's Eyes, An

 

The French director Henri-Georges Clouzot was best known for such classic works of tension as The Wages of Fear and Les Diaboliques but in 1956 he gave us a documentary under the title The Picasso Mystery which showed us the great painter at work. I was reminded of that by the opening sequence of Jack Bond's film about the British painter Chris Moon because it starts with a sequence in which a possible painting transforms on the canvas as various ideas are tried out and then adapted, a procedure reminiscent of what we see in Clouzot's film.

 

In Bond's piece, which unlike much of his earlier work was designed for cinema rather than television, Moon is given the floor. He provides the crucial voice over and allows the camera to follow him on his travels. Consequently, a film that begins in his studio in King's Cross and also shows him in another studio in Essex soon takes us to New York. In responding to that city, Moon explains how for him the people there quickly became the centre of his focus whereas in London he had found that it was the setting which dominated. However, in addition to speaking generally of how his art both charges him and drains him, Moon does stress that as he moves on from place to place it is indeed the distinctive features of each spot which inspire his work, albeit that the paintings which are balanced between figuration and abstraction seem to be moving towards the latter becoming the more prominent.

 

The best reason for seeing An Artist's Eyes in the cinema stems from the fact that Moon doesn't emerge as the only artist whose work is on view here. Building on Moon's emphasis on places, the colour photography by Peter Sinclair and Mary Rose Storey is outstandingly vivid and atmospheric in its own right. A further source of appeal lies in the music track so admirably fitted to the mood of the visuals and including songs composed by Gabriel Bruce. Bond has done well here, but the whole of the second half of the film is devoted to Moon travelling by car in Southern Spain with photojournalist Ian Morrison. The material continues to be well presented and it has memorable moments, but on the whole this journey comes across as an anticlimax: it is amiable enough but seems full of minor details rather than anything more telling. Life itself may be the culprit here but, in so far as it fades away when it should build up, An Artist's Eyes makes for agreeable viewing rather than anything deeply satisfying.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Featuring  Chris Moon, Ian Morrison, Mick Rock, Liam West, Knight Landesman.

 

Dir Jack Bond, Pro Jack Bond, Mary Rose Storey and Liam West, Ph Peter Sinclair and Mary Rose Storey, Ed Gabriela Miranda-Rodriguez, Music Gabriel Bruce.

 

J W Productions London/West Contemporary-Sunrise Pictures.
77 mins. UK. 2018. Rel: 2 November 2018. No cert.