A series of paintings «Jazz portraits» depicts my favorite musicians in the creative process together with the energy that manifests itself in interaction with their music.
All the paintings of this series were drawn while listening to the music of these musicians. Portraits of Billy Holiday, Lester Young and Jerry Mulligan made from the video recording of song «Fine and mellow» in 1957, where they all participate. Portraits of Marcus Miller and Paco de Lucia were painted in a more expressive style reflecting my impressions received at their concerts.
Fluorescent pigments were used in these paintings to better express the sensation of invisible energy penetrating the material world. Colors are changing depending on light applied (daylight, usual and black light).
When I heard Miles’ music first time it was 1990. I was 17 years old. That album my friend gave me to listen was called “Aura”. At first it was like cultural shock for me, but in good way it’s just blew my mind far far away. It was so unusual and beautiful sound! It was like magic or meditation which more careful you listening the more you can hear. Miles’ trumpet sounded like angel’s voice. It was inspiring me then and it is inspiring me now. That day I made oil painting in very unusual technique for me, it came from the other side of the world and I think Miles’ trumpet was a key to this.
After this I did a lot of painting about this other side, while I was listening to Miles’ music. I always wanted to paint his portray, but not like photography or something simple. Now I have enough courage to do this because I found this technique, which can reflects what I feel. These shining in Black light layers can show image of energy.
I see Miles as someone from upper world, who tortured himself by living here, with all pain and unfairness which we have here, just because he tried to help us. He enriched our cultural live so much; he gave so many ideas for everybody. All his composition you can stretch and borrow ideas from them almost endlessly and not just for musicians. Being artist myself I’m not just feel inspiration. I also can see different side of things, when I’m listening to his music. I was thinking about how his aura was looking, when he was into creation. I was listening to his music till I started to see it.
In Black light you can see words: “This is the creation power device” and “yellow”. It reflects that I think of Miles’ masterpieces as of devices for waking up creation power into human beings. And “yellow” like color in East philosophy means spark or impulse for develop everything, which I believe Miles had and still has. I believe that impulse is most important thing; everything is based on this, started from this and continues to be from this.
I feel that Billie is alive now, she is happy, may be not on this Earth, but she’s still here. I feel that whatever her life was, she was happy, when she was singing. Through singing blues, sometimes hearing almost like crying, Billie transforming our pain into happiness. I never was so lucky to hear Billie personally, but when I listening her singing on the tape I can still see her aura. It seems like she took a lot of worlds pain deep into center of her heart then it goes through her throat absolutely changed. She transforms all pain and dirt to something amusingly beautiful. This is alive energy which can go to everywhere, some of that goes and became beautiful flower, some of that healing someone (in this case I’m agree with Haruki Murakami: …she takes all of pain from your heart while she is singing), some of that goes and inspire someone. It’s all still working, when she singing “…all I do is pray…” you can still feel her praying. That’s why I believe that she is happy now, whatever her life was, she did so much for us, that I believe she is an angel.
I want to tell some about symbols I use in this picture, all spiral-shaped moving in this picture goes from center of throat, in East philosophy it is called Vishutha Chakram you can see this on the picture like light spot. All different colors thin lines represent energy, which always changes and moving. All colors also have some sense: all different type of red color is – love, green is – charm and tenderness, blue is – wisdom and creation power, yellow is – sparks of energy, something for pushing everything to grow up. It’s also have other, more lightning vision in Black Lights and you can see some moving in 3D glasses. It’s very hard try to make vision of something so moving, like energy, that’s because I use this difficult technique, which I found more representable for this sense. Like other my works, it’s also painted with paints, which I made myself from mineral pigments, eggs yolk and essential oils.
Lester Young was first jazz musician who I’ve heard. I was 14 years old and I was very impressed by this tape. I was listening to this tape over and over again. I liked more than everything else “Polka dots and Moonbeams” and I even drew piece called same that time.
I feel that Lester had a very big heart. When he was blowing his horn, music was mixing with all love and excitement he has which was moving by spiral off his heart. Then it went through his sax and filled all space around him with his kindness and at that moment true beautiful music was born. His playing was so smooth that you start to hear not just sax play, it’s like his heart was playing…
I was 16 and really into Beatles, when I’ve heard Gerry Mulligan playing for the first time. That was “Live at the Olympia Paris” 1960. What a charming tape! Ones I was listening to his absolutely amusing solo and started to draw piece with oil paintings. I wasn’t thinking about composition or something like that just was choosing some color, which I felt I have to pick out. Then I started to draw something like tree with weaved roots and branches. It was complicated. I felt like Gerry’s playing growing something from inside me and I have to paint it into this world.
This time I was listening to “Funhouse” on “Mulligan plays Mulligan” album (1951) and same thing happened again… I just felt that I had to paint what I saw. I think, now Gerry definitely growing his own world somewhere. It’s filled with strong, fresh, but very soft sounds and lines. It has colors of everything that Gerry gets from his world to ours through his playing. And it’s healing; it makes you feel like flying above all bad troubles and dancing on clouds; it gives something more than just pleasure from hearing something beautiful – it also gives inspiration…
I first heard of Marcus Miller playing with Miles Davis on album “Tutu” in 1998. I told my friend bass-player Rustam Abdullaev that I love trumpeter very much and his answer was: “yes, he’s playing kind of nice, but listen to bass-man – that’s who is really cool!”
In 2010 I was happy to be at Marcus’s concert “Tutu revisited” and listen his music in person. It was best concert I’ve ever been to. Miles Davis and Marcus Miller both gifted musicians, who showed their talents from childhood, I believe that it is mark of people with indigo auras. Each time in manhood evolution, when something new needs to be discovered, people, who are born to do this, have different from majority, color of auras. In our time color of creative people’s auras is indigo.
For me music always has a color and Marcus’s music changes colors from yellow to green and then to blue. It can be explained like: when talented person gets light of creative power and then takes time and focus of energy to make it as perfect as it can be – yellow color changes to green and then, when hard work inspire other people to do something new, it’s changes to blue color, which symbolizes that positive example always works.
I love listen to Paco’s music and I was at his concert once, when he playing tune called “Guardian angel” I feel this music as waves of orange color with thin streams of blue, yellow and red colors.
Roy Eldrige was famous for his passion to competitions with other trumpeters. I think that his music is very similar to his character as person. I think best word for his music is – rollicking. Just to see expression on his face after a particularly successful chord, when he glances to other musicians to find out whether all noticed how steep the sound he produced and then blow away even better one.
People who knew Thelonius Monk in person were always saying that he was very strange person. I think this type of character was the consequence of his extraordinary statement of focus, just not here, not on this Earth. I think he was definitely hearing music from other worlds. It’s so obvious that at “The concert in Denmark” his fingers running by the keyboards lightly, he is staring into space transcendentally, suddenly his face changes with happy smile just for short moment, but that’s the moment, when he gets something from out there. From this moment whole different music starts. I painted this moment, because I think that’s the sense of his music, this short second of time, when creator gets his idea from out there…