Tuesday, 26 March 2013

A poet (Tony Conran) at a painter's funeral (Victor Neep)

When I was a student, I knew Vic Neep a little; liked him a lot, greatly admired his directness and clarity, and his guitar playing (40s-style jazz on a Spanish guitar, gentle, melodic and swinging) - oh, and of course - his strong, sometimes enigmatic paintings. 

Vic died far too soon, in 1979.

Tony Conran died in January, and I've already posted in his honour:


Looking through some things written by Tony recently, I found this, about Vic's funeral, in a magazine, "Blithe Spirit," volume 15 no. 3 

"Haibun - The Funeral

Victor Neep (d.1979), painter of derelict industrial Gwynedd, lit by the moon; of abstract still life, portraits of jagged sculpture-like forms; shaper of terror and wit; sculptor of savage birds and warriors from the detritus of machinery and slate.

All the riffraff of Caernarfon and Waunfawr, painters and jazz-guitarists, poets, spongers for a drink, an eisteddfod bard, even a solicitor who'd bought some paintings once - we were all at his funeral that cold January day. I threw my clod of cold earth and heard it rattle on the coffin. There was reassurance in the ordinariness of the sound - minimal, but enough to make me almost cry out loud, "O my man, my man." We wandered around the graveyard trying to be near to each other, but at the last minute avoiding contact. Many of us were old acquaintances because we'd loved him, but now we'd probably never see each other again, or be awkward and unsure if we did.

    Under the silver sky
         Ghost of a half-moon - 
              A hall-mark."

I think - I hope - I realised at the time how fortunate I was to know these men.

Here's Vic quoted in a reference in "Zones of Contention," by Carol Becker:

"If pressed on the subject of the political significance of certain types of art, philosopher Herbert Marcuse often recounted an anecdote that pleased him a great deal. It was about the painter Victor Neep, who, when challenged to explain the alleged element of protest in Cézanne's "A Still Life With Apples," responded, "It is a protest against sloppy thinking."

O my man, my men. Such integrity, such dedication. 

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