Fusion and Connectivity of the Senses

Late last year I received a surprise request from the writer and musician Amit Chaudhuri,  to provide a short moving image film to accompany his music. The film was centred on paintings I had created many years ago. I was so pleased with the results of this film and the reception to it, that I thought it would be a good progression and process to look over the other pieces I had created during performances over the years to create further moving image work.

 I produced some paintings many years ago with the music of Olivier Messiaen. This music is uniquely composed in terms of Colour and  was the start of a body of work with music and sensorily responding to sounds through colour.

The performances of where these paintings were created were little documented at the time , and so it seemed a worthwhile excersise to try and remember them and somehow recreating them in a different and filmic form. They were largely collaborations with the musician/Organist Gillian Weir (DBE) with whom I produced a series of paintings for the covers of her complete Organ works in the 2000’s. During this time in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s I came across some manuscripts of Messiaen’s in his own handwriting. I always harboured an urge to try and using them in some way, somehow incorporating them in the work. Then more recently, I have become aware of many more.

During the pandemic and the lockdown period, I started experimenting with these notations, and making some digital collages to try and weave them into the paintings. I also experimented with images of the refraction of natural light both through Perspex performance paintings and through old Victorian windows, further revealing a deeper connection, with the senses and of time . This seemed to create a sense of the music itself generating light and colour as well as form.

As part of this whole process, I also thought it worth exploring footage of performances alongside these colours and notations in order that I could make further connections between the Gestures in the movement and actions in performance with the colour associations within the music. I remembered a particular adventurous performance in Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral where I curated the music in such a way which moved from Plainchant with the Met Cathedral choir to Messiaen’s Organ music and the colour and action of my painting.

These films and digital work and the resulting paintings that ensue will I hope further and exemplify the fusion and connectivity between the senses.

In this piece I’ve chosen the second movement in a piece called Combat de la Mort et de la Vie. A piece reflecting upon life and death, gesture and the emergence of light.

Rowan Hull 2023.