An artist who portraits with watercolors the big jazz musicians
In 1998 I went to a concert during the Arco della Pace Festival in Milan, and I had with me my “security blanket”, that is paper and watercolors. I started to paint what was happening on stage, and it was very moving to put into painting what the music spread and to get lost into a creative trance. From that moment on, it became a need, I wished to feel again those sensations which were almost “transcendental”.
Yes, I think I’m jazz too… I don’t paint in an academic way, but I think, on the one side, to have a very personal way of painting, and on the other to be a portrayer, that is to have the capability of catching that particular feature going besides a person’s simple somatic traits. Watercolor is a technique that does not allow you to make any mistakes, therefore you must be fast, you must control the means, so that you can bring it under your control, a thing you can only learn by practicing it. In this, I believe the similarity to jazz is very clear. The improvisation, that is not to have preparatory drafts, and let yourself go by following the energy transmitted by the music, in that I also believe to be jazz. If you add a bit of craziness, the fact that I paint in the middle of people and in uneasy conditions (in the dark, in non-optimal positions and in a limited space), I definitely believe I’m jazz.
At the end of the concert I always try to show the watercolors to the protagonists: the musicians. The amazement of being portrayed is the most common reaction: Hamid Drake once told me that in the portrait he could see something of his grandfather, Freddie Hubbard gave me his address and asked me to paint a watercolor for his personal memorabilia collection, Jack De Johnette specifically asked me for his portrait I had painted, or Gary Bartz taught me the difference between an alto saxophone and a tenor saxophone, as I had wrongly painted the saxophone he was playing as it was a tenor saxophone, without watching it but according to my idea of saxophone. Les McCann signed the portrait I made of him during the concert and then he asked me to paint him a portrait in the backstage, and he posed for me.
I’m very attached to a portrait of the Manhattan Transfer I painted at Lugano’s Estival. This is because it is particularly difficult to keep in mind one single person only, so that to be able to stop four people moving together on stage, and to paint a fresh and dynamic watercolour was really a big challenge. I could make all of them sign it in the backstage and it was for some months the cover of the Manhattan Transfer Facebook cover.
I definitively would have liked to meet Miles Davis, who besides was a painter himself. I was so lucky to listen to him playing in Milan at Palatrussardi but, at that time, I wasn’t painting yet.
During a festival in Bisceglie I personally met Esbjorn Svensson, the EST pianist; I portrayed the group during their performance and he visited my exhibition. After some months, he contacted me and bought the portraits I had taken of his group and gifted the bass player Dan Berglund with them for his wedding. I delivered them to him at Verona’s Roman theatre the day they performed with Pat Metheny. It was a very big satisfaction.
Jazz Art, Alessandro Curadi – copyright Jazzespresso 2017.