ALL OR NOTHING

jazz and the abstract truth

OIL AND ACRYLIC ON CANVAS

VARIOUS SIZES

2017

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Jazz, arguably the United States' greatest musical contribution to the world, was created by the very people it enslaved and continues to oppress. In the book Moving to a Higher Ground, Wynton Marsalis writes, "you can't teach the history of jazz without talking in depth about segregation, white bands and black bands, racism, sex, media, and the American way. We still tend to look at things in black and white... That obsession is still alive and well in America" and is "still undercutting the spirit of jazz."  It was born of the black experience in white America, but Marsalis posits that Jazz music itself is not race music, for people worldwide of every possible make up play and listen to it. There is a transcendental truth and beauty to the music that speaks volumes, perhaps because it comes from the depths of the most human of souls. 


Bed Hermin's first series of 2017 is a departure from early figurative and surreal works. Titled as an homage and reference to Oliver Nelson's 1961 album Blues and the Abstract Truth, the colorful and chaotic series improvises on a few visual motifs and works within certain tonal structures. The artists own internal conflicts come out in the textures and busy marks on each canvas. Jazz and the Abstract Truth brings vivid colors in conversation, devoid of the definitions of lines or extremes of black and white, to suggest the beauty of working through a greater struggle and reality beyond projections and social constructs. Most importantly, the musicality of the series lends itself to the deeper and abstract truths of emotions and impermanence of life.

In Western musical theory, a mode is an inversion of a tonic scale starting on different degrees. These modes, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and Locrian have different feelings, tones, and textures. With the help of my father playing each scale, we discussed each individual work and paired them with a mode. The tonic mode, however, is missing from the series which suggests either a groundlessness and instability or the option for the viewers to determine a foundation for themselves.

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