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Rita Draper Frazão: A Fine Artist's Representations Of Creative Processes In Music (Part 1)

Henning Bolte By

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Part 1 | Part 2

This portrait of Portuguese fine artist Rita Draper Frazão is related to the recent Carte Blanche of percussionist Hamid Drake's that took place at the Amsterdam Bimhuis (read my February 2016 review). As a collaborative follow-up this article is published together with a series of portraits Rita Draper Frazão created of musician and others involved in or related to the Carte Blanche of Hamid Drake: From Chaos To A Dancing Star. Rita Draper Frazao's portraits are published simultaneously at Inner Tour. This is part 1 of my navaid to the work of Rita Draper Frazão.

Fine artists now

The portrayal of jazz musicians at work in visual arts has a long tradition emerging alongside new art forms that came up about a century ago. The syncretism of jazz and the way it was expressed appealed to and inspired new esthetics of that period. During the 40s of the last century photography began to heavily influence the shaping of a special jazz image from which emerged a rather influential and determining jazz iconography. Also in the visual arts the interaction between both art disciplines continued. Jean-Michel Basquiat and A.R. Penck are two major representatives of the period before the turn of the century.

Fine artists make use of today's great variety of tools and techniques, yet their work often takes more time to create and 'be read' by viewers than for instance the photography we are more used to. The work of fine artists often requires more effort to 'read' and subsume to one's own (automated) patterns of perception compared to for instance photos of (jazz) musicians. We are more familiar with the latter ones and know how to perceive and process them en passant via well-established patterns of perception. As far as the creation of portraits of live music is concerned, demands and efforts also differ, especially when accomplished by participation through live drawing. In a live drawing/creational situation the artist may produce a rough drawing or sketch an arrangement/composition of elements and materials he or she has to complete afterwards. Any required special materials and/or colors often are not available or take too much time to apply in real time in a live situation.

A fine artist's work does not necessarily transcend the prevailing atmospheric, heroic representation of jazz musicians at work, but often enough does. Some younger artists in particular focus on exterior things, like sound-qualities, as well as interior aspects such as their personal approach to (and struggle, obsessions with) sound qualities, dynamics etc. From a thorough grasp of music making they give it shape in their heterogeneous, multiform and multifaceted composition of images. With an abundance of media, materials, and techniques at hand, fine artists have to make sharp choices. To achieve highly condensed imagery offering uncommon, surprising personal views on situations of music making, they have to be aware of live situation aspects to work on and elucidate, take decisions on materials and techniques and the kind of imagery they wish to create.

It seems that this kind of artistic representation can give productive impulses by (re)triggering audiences' own dormant mental images related to music(ians) they experienced and re-gard, re-examine these. This is how such work contributes to the discourse on music in a significant, engaging way and how it can provide highly productive impulses to the perception and reception of music. It then no longer forms a situation in which different art forms co-exist and are connected through their common sujet: 'music making.' It can open up a 'real' interchange and mediation and form a bridge between art forms and audience (for a more advanced example, see the collaboration of Draper Frazão with British-Brazilian band Smoke City here). Personally it stimulated me to inspect and re-examine my perception of music making situations and musicians' acting as well as the use of the verbal imagery and perspective(s) in my own writing.

Towards The Hamid Drake Amsterdam Project

I experienced some stimulating examples of this during festivals last year, especially in Bucharest, Lisbon, Kristiansand and Wroclaw, places where musicians, film makers, photographers and writers meet and fine artists were involved and engaged. It instigated me to occupy myself more closely with this subject. It accelerated when I got acquainted with the work of Portuguese fine artist Rita Draper Frazão. The music(ian) portraits on her blog INNER TOUR and in Portuguese jazz magazine Jazz.pt opened up a new dimension for me.

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