Currently at Luhring Augustine‘s Tribeca exhibition space, the gallery is presenting The Sound Will Tell You, a presentation of new works on paper by artist and pianist Jason Moran, marking the gallery’s second exhibition with the artist. Internationally renowned as a jazz pianist and composer, Moran’s interdisciplinary and often collaborative visual art practice mines the history of music, and its social, cultural, and political subtexts. Here, he returns to a mode of practice that runs between both modes.
Jason Moran, Went Wild and left in Silence (2020), via Luhring Augustine
The show is comprised of a series of pieces Moran created while working to record runs and fragments performed on his piano. To create these vibrant and textured works, Moran places a sheet of Japanese Gampi paper on a piano and records his various attacks on the keys. The motion of his hands is tracked in layered lines of saturated pigment, and washes of color spill across the compositions, tracing the pull of gravity, or charting the creases and natural fibers of the paper. Recalling traditions of gestural abstraction and automatic drawing, these works are the material record of Moran’s private performances.
Moody and abstract, they convey the physicality of a musical phrase, investigating a new vocabulary of representing acoustics in visual form. Recurring hues of blue run throughout the works: a metaphorical color with meanings and associations ranging from expressions of melancholy, references to musical “blue notes” and the Blues, a symbol of healing and harmony in North Africa, to Egyptian Blue, the first synthetic pigment in ancient times, whose formula was re-discovered by the prominent African American scientist George Washington Carver in the early twentieth century.
Executed throughout 2020, a year that saw turbulent change and a consistent sense of anxiety throughout, the show here takes the imposed isolation of the year as its starting point, and sees the artist delving into the time and the world outside his window as inspirations for the work. Evoking tense, vibrant energy, the artist’s work is a powerful invocation of a singular point in world history.
The show closes February 27th.
– D. Creahan
The Sound Will Tell You [Exhibition Site]