Fusion and Connectivity of the Senses.

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

 I produced many performance paintings some years ago, and a lot with the music of Olivier Messiaen. This music, uniquely composed in terms of Colour, working with this music and sensorily responding to sounds through colour. I’ve been thinking lately of why this music was and still is so very important to me. I find it so sensory, perhaps because of its huge immersive chords, it somehow transports me via the colour. I remembered during a commission ,  standing inside the organ at the Royal Festival Hall and hearing the chords envelop me.

The Painting performances were little documented at the time , and so it seemed a worthwhile exercise to try and remember them as closely as possible,  recreating them in a different and  filmic form. They were  collaborations with the World Renowned Organist Gillian Weir (DBE) with whom I was commissioned to produce a series of paintings for covers of her complete Organ works in the early 2000’s. During this time also in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s I came across some manuscripts of Messiaen’s in his own handwriting. I always harboured the urge to try and use them in some way, somehow incorporating their own beauty into my own visual work.

During the Covid pandemic and lockdown period, I started experimenting with these notations, and making some digital collages to try and weave them into the paintings. This of course was a period of quietness and reflection which helped the process, and I experimented with images of the refraction of natural light both through Perspex performance paintings and through old Victorian windows, further revealing deeper connections, with the senses and with time . The wonderful composer Edward Cowie  kindly remarked recently “This seems to create a sense of the music itself generating light and colour as well as form.”

I also use footage of various filmed performances,  alongside the colours and notations, forging further connections between Gestures,  movements and actions in performance with colour associations of the music. In this film, I remember a particular performance in Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral where I helped devise and curate the music with Richard Lea in such a way which moved from Plainchant with the Met Cathedral choir to Messiaen’s Organ music and then colour and action of painting.

The films, digital prints and resulting paintings that ensue will I hope help exemplify this fusion and connectivity between the senses.

In this particular piece,  the music chosen is the second movement in a work called “Combat de la Mort et de la Vie”. A piece reflecting upon life and death, Light and Dark, gesture and the emergence of light. The Title of the short film is from the poem by Georgos Seferis called “The Jasmin”.

Rowan Hull 2023.