“Everything you can imagine is real.” — Pablo Picasso
I grew up liking 2 things: Music & doodling.
A 5 year-old me would feel so happy to see crayon stains on my fingers just from gripping the colours hard to complete a disjointed doodle of “The Hungry Caterpillar”. I would later show it to my mom and stick it to the wall. That masterpiece was appreciated once and I thought I was a great artist! There was another thing in that moment of celebration; I could still remember so clearly the background music accompanying the whole process: it was relaxing to me.
Growing up in a music household, my dad was quite a junkie himself, collecting records from myriad genres before he gave them all up for charities. I find a number of similarities between the genres that he picked — there are soft but distinctive instruments playing amongst them. (Image Credit: Jan Jelinek)
Towards the end where records were slowly going out of fashion, my dad decided that those were no longer worth keeping as shops were at the brink of closing down and it would be hard to maintain them. We weren’t emotional when he decided to do that, we just thought how meaningful those things must be to him that he never stopped talking about it. Now that owning a record is known to be the epitome of ’cultured millennial’, we thought how cool we were to have a parent who embraced this before it was a cool trend.
Before I knew it was Jazz, I fell into the pit of calling the genre all sorts of names, mostly comfortable with labeling it ‘The Elevator Music.’ The language is universal, it has a flamboyant factor that adds a sense of upper class to it. Not to say it was created for the rich, quite the opposite actually! Jazz evolved from the slave songs and gospels among the African-American community.
I thought about that time when I doodled my caterpillar, a wave of familiar sound played in the background immediately took my interest. Music is indeed a form of imaginative art to your ears. This isn’t merely a personal take, many great paintings produced in Modernism were said to have a close association to music.
The pioneer of abstract expressionism himself, Jackson Pollock, openly embraced the influence of Jazz into his artistic journey. Granted, the man himself practiced art in New York in the late 1940s, a city regarded as the “Epicentre of Jazz.” Honoring experimentation, his work expresses freedom in the form of drips moving so fiercely in the direction of desires. As it stands, many of his paintings are still very much sought after.
Here are 3 of my personal favorite artworks with a connection to inspiration from music.
Image: Polyphony by Paul Klee from Wikimedia Commons
Paul Klee’s Polyphony in 1932 cited Bach’s polyphonic choral works visually. Swiss-born Klee had always been a violin enthusiast before turning to painting. His knowledge of music had influenced the music prodigy to visualize and create better artworks throughout his lifetime.
Henri Matisse’s Jazz Suite made in 1947 suggested a connection between art and music improvisation. Completely bedridden, Matisse produced the artwork during his final years when he was no longer able to paint and sculpt out of his health issues.
“These images, with their lively and violent tones, derive from crystallization of memories of circuses, folktales, and voyages,” Matisse explained.
Image: Icarus, 1947
Finally, the famous Composition 8, by Kadinsky (image below) whom as it stood, had popularized the term ‘Synesthesia’. He had also quoted: ‘The greatest art should foster an overwhelming, multisensory experience in the viewer.’
Here are my top Spotify playlist on the heavy rotation, songs that I put on when I need that wee bit of inspiration - so good it will teleport yourself to Paris sculpting in your art studio. (or you can imagine being in one!) and one that is specially curated by me for your enjoyment.
1. Soft Jazz Evening by Veronica Nedar
2. Parisian Chic by Kez
3. Louis Armstrong as time goes by by Jean Molony
4. Keepnews Collection by Chet Baker
5.The Classic Fix for Jazzy Soul by Dini from Artesque
As we let music flow and stimulate our brain, signalling harmony to inspire creativity and instantly connects oneself to the past. It is a language, like art, that speak in common stories along the trajectory of our lives.