Painting with Musical Notes: A new breed

By Jo Phillips

Connections can be made between music and art, we have seen many a music maker turn their musical notes into brushstrokes. Think of such luminaries as Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, and David Bowie all of whom have had their artworks shown in galleries. Well, two new exhibitions opening also show off musical talent turned into artwork. Find out more here in Painting with Musical Notes A new breed.

The image on Left Two Moons Thom Yorke & Stanley Donwood Photos by Rowan Farrell courtesy of Tin Man Art

If a musician writes a song, plays an instrument or evne sings out loud there is an ease of connection with the ideals of creativity. Maybe that’s why many such stars have been equally adept at fusing their talents into artworks. After all, the two areas reflect and inspire each other so often.

Unchecked, Thom Yorke & Stanley Donwood

The first exhibition includes Thom Yorke of Radiohead paintings co-created with Stanley Donwood will be presented by TIN MAN ART in a two-part exhibition, the first of which is in September, with a follow-up at the end of the year.

‘The Crow Flies’ marks an important moment in the duo’s 30-year association, with a series of artworks that were made by both artists literally side-by-side, painting at the same time.  

This new style of artistic collaboration was first born out of last year’s critically acclaimed debut album A Light for Attracting Attention from The Smile, a new band comprising Thom Yorke, fellow Radiohead bandmate and film composer Jonny Greenwood and jazz drummer and member of Sons of Kemet, Tom Skinner.

Having first met Yorke when they were both art students, Stanley Donwood has provided the artwork for all of Radiohead’s albums and materials since 1995’s The Bends. His iconic paintings provide the first visual foray into Yorke’s music, both throughout the musician’s solo career and with his various band projects.

Somewhere You’ll Be There, 2023, Thom Yorke & Stanley Donwood Tempera, gouache and gesso on linen

Beginning in 2021, Donwood and Yorke worked on these paintings while The Smile conceived, recorded and performed its debut album. In a complete example of co-creation, both artists worked on the canvases physically at the same time, often in a tiny studio setting. This differs from previous approaches, in which their artistic dialogue usually took place via faxes and notes. As well as providing album art, these sessions ultimately spanned two years and produced over 20 works that will now be exhibited to the public for the first time. 

The artwork itself is closely linked with The Smile’s genesis. The band’s name is taken from Ted Hughes’s seminal poetry collection Crow, which also inspired the paintings and title of the exhibition.

Part of an ongoing decades-long collaboration between the pair, this body of work draws on a fascination with maps and topography that can be seen from album artwork of 20 years ago; Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief (2003). Inspired by, among others, 17th-century maps by Persian pirates, early drawings of the British Isles, and US military charts from the 1960s, Donwood and Yorke began their own versions. 

The process of map-making has also inspired this new series. Techniques of drawing and painting on vellum (calfskin) that were commonly used in historic map-making have led to a difference in approach, eschewing the digital processing that has categorised much of their previous work. Water-based gouache, egg tempera and powdered mushrooms have been favoured over acrylic. The works are also considerably lighter in tone, a departure from earlier works such as Kid A Mnesia, with explosions of blue and a focus on gold, again influenced by the gold-leaf paint of centuries-old maps.

“that was what I found incredibly exciting. It just stays active for so long… I became so conscious of the fact that the two processes are almost exactly the same”.

Thom Yorke

Observing the similarities between music-making and art production, they have also both referred to themselves as a ‘two-piece’, working side by side and responding to each other’s work in real-time.

Membranes 2022, Thom Yorke & Stanley Donwood Tempera and gouache on canvas

Maxim, Artist and frontman of The Prodigy, presents “Infinite Drama Athens’, the Second musical and artistic show is at the Blender Gallery and Varvara Roza Galleries. Running from 16th September to 4th November 2023 at The Blender Gallery in Athens. 

Saturday the 16th of September at 20.00, at The Blender Gallery (Zisimopoulou 4, Glyfada) a live anti-violence art performance, inspired by the sculptural piece ‘Balaclava Ballerina’ will take place at 9 pm.

This series of retrospective work, which was originally presented in London in 2022, is a collection of haunting, mixed-media artworks that explore the darker corners of human nature while celebrating love and reflecting the artist’s appreciation of freedom.

 1066 (c) Maxim

Maxim’s artworks all possess an element of drama combined with a hint of Pop Art – which is fitting for a member of a game-changing rock band who emerged on the dance music scene in the 1990s before becoming part of popular culture – who is known for his high-energy performances and explosive stage presence.

The performing side of Maxim’s creativity has translated into his work, as a multidisciplinary artist whose musical product sometimes informs, yet is entirely separate from, his visual.

The butterfly is a recurring motif in Maxim’s artistic oeuvre, and becomes a symbol of strength, uniting nature and the inner workings of the human mind, with a series of exquisite paintings inspired by the Rorschach Test. Central to the exhibition are Maxim’s Afrofuturist sculptures inspired by ancient African masks, painted in bright colours with high-gloss reflective paint to lend them a futuristic edge. The elongated, oval faces of Maxim’s sculptures bring to mind Modigliani’s early 20th Century portraits inspired by primitivist art mixed with cubism, or Picasso’s iconic ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’ (1907), which both appropriated ancient African art and sculpture for Western art.

However, Maxim’s sculptures ‘Green Future X’, ‘Silver Future X’ and ‘Black Future X’, are actually associated with the Afrofuturist philosophy of a cultural aesthetic fusing science-fiction, history and fantasy in order to explore the African experience and connect those from the black diaspora with their forgotten African ancestry.

A strong ethos of promoting love and equality is also reflected in some of Maxim’s other artwork, which carries a strong sense of the toxic injustice that continues to permeate society.

Chaos (c) Maxim

Maxim The Prodigy frontman has more recently become known for his creativity as a contemporary artist under the pseudonym MM (Double M). He has been creating paintings, multi-media collages, and sculptures for the last 20 years; his art has been featured on various home goods, such as Bone China. Since 2012, he has displayed his mixed media artworks in various exhibitions across the world. MM is well known for his sinister, yet beautiful art. MM’s creative process tends to evolve naturally, without too much forward planning.

Black Future (c) Maxim

All of MM’s paintings contain signs of strength and positivity while putting a “spin on things” and seeing them from different angles. Grenades carried on the breeze by a raft of red balloons; skull-faced butterflies brandishing Samurai swords, and gun-toting cats are just a few of the surreal fantasy worlds created by MM. Since 2012 MM has supported various charities and donated artwork to raise money for research into Breast Cancer, BT ArtBox for ChildLine, Shelter, NHS Charities Together, Young Minds, and Chain of Hope (cardiac care for children around the world). Maxim currently lives and works in Essex, United Kingdom.

Opening: Saturday 16th of September to 4th of November. 
Zisimopoulou 4, Glyfada 16674 
Tel: (+30) 213 0280 597

‘The Crow Flies’ is presented by TIN MAN ART4 Cromwell Place, London SW7 2JEPublic Opening Hours:Wednesday to Saturday 11am – 7pmSunday 11am – 4pm

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