Pascal Martos on Jazz Colours magazine
Hi everyone! Recently Pascal had an interview with an online magazine “Jazz Colours” about his painting!!
Here is an English version of the interview:
Interview with Pascal Martos
[Q1] To start with your next show “Mars en Jazz”, scheduled in March 2012 in your town, Maisons-Alfort. What differences will there be compared to your previous exhibitions and which artworks will you display? Moreover is it true that you are preparing new Jazz & Soul portraits for this show?
Well, I think this exhibition will be the same kind as the previous one. Mrs Dominique EDMOND (manager of Maison-Alfort ‘s Mediathèque musical section) who asked for it, wanted me to bring every kind of paintings and not especially the “Jazz” ones. So they’ll be Miles Davis as well as Marvin Gaye or Prince for that exhibit. There will be a total of 40 canvas and 10 pictures of the canvas in different places in Paris displayed in the Mediatheque .The pictures have been photographed by my friend, the french actor and photographer Jean Claude BOURBAULT. We went in some special places in Paris, related to some paintings and their subject, for the shooting session.
As I’m regularly painting there will be of course new paintings for that show. The special piece will be the Miles Davis Bitches Brew tribute painting I did recently.
[Q2] Among your new works, there is also a painting on Miles Davis that celebrates both his fusion-jazz change and the artist Mati Klarwein who painted the “Bitches Brew” Lp cover. What relationship do you have with your favourite albums and how much does their music (and their covers as well) help you in creating a “good” portrait?
As long as I remember all the Miles CD covers I saw, the Biches Brew cover always amazed me visually. It’s a perfect beauty for me. I love the colours, the style, the composing, everything in it. Mati Klarwein did many others, but that one has always been my favourite one. And the music…Oh my!!! The first time I listened to it was in the 80’s ,when I began to listen to jazz music, and It was a choc : I completely misunderstood that music…But I tried again and every time I putted the record on that music penetrated me more and more and it became my favourite one: I was hooked! And then I began to buy jazz fusion LP’s from other musicians. Miles opened me to a new style of jazz music. I recently read Mr George Cole bio of Miles focused on the electric part of his music “The Last Miles” , and I understood what pushed him to those changes in his musical journey. So I thought It was time to put my art back to “Bitches Brew” to pay Miles and Mati a tribute, pointing some important moments in Miles’s life, including the Electric turn. I chose to use the symmetry of Mati’s painting with the same backgrounds: A storm on the ocean and the night sky with stars. I portrayed Miles half young and old, drew by his own hand, because the man decided his ways like he wanted. I painted Juliette Greco hidden behind the poppy flower, because he was so blue to left her when he came back to the US, that he fell again into hard drug using. The storm then began to happen in his life… On the other side, hidden behind the Electric guitar/trumpet, is Betty Mabry (Davis) his 2nd wife who influenced him a lot for his electric musical turn. Then I draw some spotlights for his love of the stage and for his love of boxing too. The cigarette is also there because I think it was always there in his life… I listened to the “Bitches Brew” CD every time I worked on that painting and it helped me a lot put all my love for Miles and his music in it….
[Q3] How do your paintings usually come to life and which are your main sources of inspiration?
The idea of a painting, often come after listening to some music. A new tune or an old one I forgot. Sometimes it’s triggered by a musical gig to come that is exciting me, or after one concert when I’ve been deeply moved. For example: The “Trombone Shorty” painting came right after the first time I saw him on stage….So much energy, talent….It was awesome and I needed to show what I felt on a painting.
[Q4] Looking at the portraits of great Jazz & Soul musicians you have realized, it’s clear that you are a real music fan. How did this passion originate and what urged you to intertwine it with your artistic talent?
As far as I can remember I always loved music. Coming from a Spanish family my first memories of music are some Cuban music played by Antonio Machin whom my Grandfather Manolo, was listening to, as well as the Golden Gate Quartet and Sidney Bechet : He was the one who introduced me into the “groove”. Then I switched to Rock Music and Soul Music as I was around 10 years: I loved Carlos Santana especially combining Rock music and South American rhythm. Then came the Funk and I discovered the Horn sections : Earth Wind & Fire, James Brown, The Comodores, Kool & The Gang and many more: I discovered many great musicians and I began to read the credits on LP’s and when a musician I knew came to play solo on an album, I listened to it. Since then, I bought many solo albums and I discovered a lot of great Jazz and Funk musicians.
Jazz music rather came in the 80’s when I was in University and had time to chill in music shops: Miles Davis, Herbie Hancok, Wayne Shorter, George Benson, and so on…
[Q5] Who were your masters and inspirers when you began to paint portraits, nudes and other figures and in which way did this background help you in developing a personal style also on musical themes?
As a young boy in school I always admired great masters like Michelangelo, Caravaggio or David. Pictures of their paintings were in my History Class book and I admired them. I wanted to be able to draw like that one day (Still looking for…) As a young man I discovered Hyperrealist artists like Boris Vallejo or Wojtek Siudmak . I worked a lot as a self-educated to do more and more true to life portraits improving my technique on acrylic working from pictures I found in magazines. So now that I have the credit to make exhibitions, I try to put all of that technique I acquired along the years for my musicians portraits.
[Q6] The musicians you portray are rare to find in another Jazz artist gallery. How do you choose the subjects to paint? Is it just a question of musical taste or is it also due to occasional meetings and live concerts, which you participate as a guest or a spectator?
The subject is chosen for both reasons in fact. When I’m not working on order, I just paint musicians I love to listen to and some are not often painted indeed. I try to find a picture free of any rights to use for a model .Then I think about something to tell about the musician on the canvas or to express something I felt seeing him on stage. I put his music on and I go for it beginning by a sketch on paper to have an idea of the size of canvas I’ll need. Then I switch on canvas making a more precise black & white draw. Finally I put a gesso layer on that draw that allow me to see it still and I began to use the acrylic colours: that’s the simple way I do it.
[Q7] Living in France, near Paris, a wonderful city as to culture, music and live performances, I figure you often attend live concerts of European and American musicians, right? I wonder why there aren’t French players in your portraits ? Maybe you prefer the American Jazz scene or that of other European countries rather than the French Jazz scene? If so, for which reason?
Yup, You caught me and You’re not the first one to ask me that question …lol…. But I know some French ones of course…It’s hard to explain but maybe it’s just because I’ve always listened to American and English artists and that they’ve built my musical culture foundation : singers or musicians….Maybe it’s just a way for me to travel in their country (I’ve never been in the US) and escape from mine…I’ve got a friend who’s a great French bass player : Chyco Simeon (You should listen to his music a mix of jazz & caribbean rythm) and You can find his painting in my gallery…But he’s got West Indies roots…lol
[Q8] To finish with, what could you tell us about the portraits you realized setting against a player and his instrument (Candy Dulfer, Esperanza Spalding, Hiromi Uehara) but also two different musicians (John Lennon & Herbie Hancock, Lalah & Donny Hathaway, M3)? How did this idea spring up and in which way did you carry it forward?
The first half/half portrait I did was the M3 painting half Miles Davis/Marcus Miller. I did it when I knew that Marcus Miller was about to tour with his “Tutu Revisited” show. I loved that album so much and I love these two artists. I wanted to show one soul in one only face combining the two characters. I was afraid of the final result when I finished the precise sketch….But finally it comes something that people liked a lot when the painting was done .Marcus Miller owns it by now…I found it cool to split a canvas in two parts presenting the artist and its instrument so I made Esperanza’s painting and it worked again…So I made some others…Maybe too much…I think I’ve reach the limit of that concept…For now I’m coming back to much more classical compositions.