The Art of Jazz
A series of paintings by Jillian Goldberg celebrating jazz music
Non-painters often ask what inspired a painter to choose the colors, shapes, lines and textures on the canvas: Is there a story? Is the color symbolic? What inspired you?
For this body of work, I listened to jazz and researched musicians, singers and composers. Many of the melodies that inspired paintings were old favorites, like Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and others were discoveries, such as the music of composer Billy Strayhorn, who spent his summers as a child with his grandmother right here in Hillsborough.
The simple answer to “what inspired you” is really whatever song or composition I was interested in that day. I started with either lyrics, or a title, and chose a palette of colors based on what those words suggested to me. Of course, since so much of the music was “blues” I explored the infinite variety of blue hues and values. But others suggested a warmer palette, one that suggests tropical flowers and sunsets, such as “Cantaloupe Island,” by Herbie Hancock.
There is no narrative in any of these paintings. Despite some imagery, such as a blackbird, or musical instruments, or a bridge (Paul Simon’s Bridge over Troubled Water) the nature of the works is abstract. Abstraction is a logical progression for many contemporary painters, where the basic elements of art, the lines, colors and shapes, come together without either illustrating a narrative or depicting what the eye sees in real time.
Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993) is one of the most beloved of American abstractionists. He said, “Abstract literally means to draw from or separate. In this sense every artist is abstract…a realistic or non-objective approach makes no difference. The result is what counts.”
For this body of work, I explored the feelings and thoughts that the rhythms and lyrics brought to mind. I allowed the gestures of the brush to respond to the sounds I heard, and incorporated marks like dots and lines to suggest notes and time signatures.
I hope that the viewer enjoys this musical journey as much as I did while creating it.