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Rita Draper Frazão: A Fine Artist's Representations Of Creative Processes In Music (Part 2)

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 at 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. This is Part 2 of my navaid to the work of Rita Draper Frazão (read Part 1).

In this part we will further navigate the pictorial universe of Rita Draper Frazão with the following five aspects as orientation points:

  1. characteristics of the live drawing/creational situation;
  2. the interconnectedness of the artist's personal engagement, the musician's soul, and the spirit/potential of used materials and techniques;
  3. the unification of heterogeneous materials, techniques, media;
  4. the narrative fixture;
  5. the elucidation of personal creative processes and their sources.

Immersion in the creational situation of live drawing

Rita Draper Frazão has been making drawings of musicians at concerts since she was a teenager. Through her father she became a frequent and experienced concert visitor and was able to keep developing her craftswomanship and artistry during the past two decades. Through these creative activities she had become quite familiar with a lot of musical developments. However, her approach of a concert situation differs from that of a writing journalist. It is actually quite the opposite. She emphasizes she has to be free and open in her mind, soul and perception when entering the performance situation of both the musicians and herself—no classificatory grids to rely on. It is the moment-to-moment performance that needs to be caught in speaking, touching and convincing imagery created on the spot.

Bill Laswell at Jazz em Agosto 2014

It is impromptu work demanding deep immersion, determination, richly flowing imaginational forces, clarity and a capability to take quick and apt decisions. Traces of these aspects can be recognized in the short narratives belonging to her portraits. These narratives give an impression of how a personal view (in a double sense: the observing creator of the portrait and the observed creator of music) is realized through the composition of a portrait and the special shapes it takes.

One of the most salient features of her work is the deeply personal account of observable sound making processes, its modification and transformation. She has the great gift to uncover the connection between personal characteristics and a portrayed person's search (and struggle) for his/her very own sound and voice. In a performance situation she consistently follows its logics to connect it with the logics and nature of the materials chosen for the creation its visual expressions.

To achieve this she has to recognize and filter personal and contextual characteristics and figure out apt ways to represent or hint at it. It is similar to open improvisation/real time creation in music. She has to watch/listen, take quick and sensible decisions to act and follow the architecture arising from it. In principle necessary post-performance production is meant as activity to complete/refine the projected architecture/composition. Examples of portraits that required this are for instance the portraits of percussionist Hamid Drake, vocalist Maria Radich, and vocalist/trumpeter Jaawwad Taylor.

Hamid Drake at Jazz em Agosto 2014

The great variety she uncovers and gives shape can make us aware of the richness, depths, resources and forces of personalized expression. It corresponds with a great diversity of representational forms and compositional approaches in Draper Frazão's work. A clearly discernible and very strong signature forms a connecting thread in the diversity of her work.

As mentioned before, traces of her choices and decision-making become apparent from the narratives embedded in many of her portraits. These narratives, in various ways, elucidate the process of creation while hinting at things filtered out in observation, decisions taken and imagery shaped. By opening up to these underlying processes, offering a glimpse into Draper Frazão invites viewers to in turn share each other's narratives and imaginations.

A triad: empathy, music(ian)'s soul and spirit of material/techniques

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