3 Contemporary Painters Obsessed With Music

Alex-soareBy Alex Soare, the founder of Art Rise.

There has always been a very real connection between visual art and music – both mediums move us in deep, emotional and, sometimes, unspeakable ways.

And for centuries, musicians have been inspired by visual art and vice versa. But, who are the artists who have best depicted the feeling of music being made and heard? They’re the ones whose art can almost make its viewers hear the tunes and feel the rhythms coming through the canvas.

Some of their art is in history books and museums and some is in tiny urban galleries, but it all of it has one thing in common: it brings together the passion of two great art forms.

1. Frenchy

Randy Leo Frechette is a contemporary American artist who’s known in the art world as Frenchy. He’s so very inspired by music that much of his work is done next to the stage at live shows. He sets up his easel and canvas, paintbrush in one hand, palette in the other and dances a bit as he creates an entire painting of the musicians and the scene they’re in the process of creating as they play.

Frenchy is based in New Orleans and is frequently seen haunting joints like The Maple Leaf, where he paints local superstars like Rebirth Brass Band. But he’s painted many, many other musicians of all genres in action – from B.B. King to Foo Fighters to Snoop Dog. Though each work has a different vibe inspired by the specific performance, his style always captures the dynamic nature of live music, and each piece makes visible the invisible and intangible colors and life that’s conjured by musicians and their fans in the moment.

2. Nicola Lautre

While Frenchy portrays the movement and action of musicians at work, South African artist Nicole Lautre does studied watercolor portraits of musicians in repose, looking right out at the viewer. Her arresting paintings manage to show what’s unique about the artist and the sometimes tortured soul that lies behind their well-loved music. Some of her most popular works are of classic rockers like Neil Young, David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix.

Lautre’s two Neil Young portraits are very different – one is more realistic, showing the piercing blue eyes and every hard-earned wrinkle on his face, while the other is slightly more abstract, bringing into focus his eyes, looking off to the side (perhaps at the memory of a beautiful woman riding a Harley on a desert highway) that seem to be almost surfacing from under water. And then there’s Kurt Cobain, whose face is saturated in light while an abstract darkness rages behind him. It’s clear that the artist has a profound respect for each of her subjects and seeks to depict the mystery behind their music.

3. Jason Gluskin

A Brooklyn-based artist who admits to being obsessed with music, Jason Gluskin paints wildly colorful and almost cartoonish works of musicians both real and fictional. Like Frenchy’s work, many of Gluskin’s musical paintings show musicians in the moment of creation. Sometimes called a rock ‘n roll painter, Gluskin has paid homage to some of his own favorites – Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan & The Band, and The Who. As opposed to the intensity of Lautre’s portraits, Gluskin’s impressionistic style lends a sort of whimsical nature to his portrayal of musicians.

But some of his more poignant pieces are of unnamed musicians. His Po Man shows a blue-faced bluesman with a sorrowful look on his face, playing guitar on the street, a money-collecting pork pie hat at his feet, and his body literally in pieces. And in Guitar Man, we see another sad man strumming on the street, this time on a bench in a hoodie and jeans, looking like he just might be on the verge of asking you for spare change to buy some coffee. The lively colors and style is the same as his paintings of wildly successful and famous players, but these others show the struggling side of being a musician playing solely for the love of their art.

Perhaps what makes paintings of musicians so affecting is the attempt to capture in static form such a dynamic art. These painters seek to snatch the immaterial spirit and sound and pin it to canvas forever. The ones who most succeed are those who, like these 3 artists, find ways to make us feel the very soul of the invisible magic of music.

Author Bio: Alex Soare is the founder of Art Rise, a social network site for artists. His experience as a professional opera singer is what inspired him to create Art Rise. In addition to his own artistic pursuits, he’s passionate about helping other artists network, collaborate and find job opportunities. To find out more, connect with Alex on Google+ and click here!

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