Manetizing the Spirit of Jazz

Some time ago I have mentioned my project for a new high quality fine arts printing company called Manetiz. I am proud to finally present to you the finished artwork. It is my first ever tryptic drawing, a three-part black and white tribute to jazz music. I worked with china ink fineliner and brushes to show a jazz septet, split over three canvas. Unsurprisingly, this is the artwork series that has taken me the longest yet, which you can see in the level of details.

The first part of the tryptic shows percussion, bass, saxophone and keys. It is called The Saxophone.

"The Saxophone"

"The Saxophone"

"The Trumpet"

"The Trumpet"

The second illustration, called The Trumpet, shows keys, trumpet and drums. Part three shows drums, guitar and percussion and is called The Guitar.

"The Guitar"

"The Guitar"

The Saxophone, The Trumpet, and The Guitar can be appreciated as standalone pieces or as a tryptic (the three together as a single piece) showing the full jazz septet.  Although I wrote part one, two and three you may have noticed that this order is actually arbitrary. I have drawn the tryptic as a loop, because jazz music is infinite. This means you could also start with the second artwork, then the third, and end with the first. Or start with three, then one, then two. The three artworks together form the collection Spirit of Jazz.

Jazz music is my favorite music genre and it was a pleasure to pay homage to this music. Believe it or the first recording happened exactly 100 years ago. A century old yet never dated, jazz is alive and well thank you, I therefore chose to illustrate a modern group, with a trumpet player, a saxophone player, a guitar player, a keyboard player, a bass player, a drummer and a percussionist. The spirit of jazz legends are represented as spirits guiding the young musicians, and also putting them under a lot of pressure: not easy to pick up a saxophone after John Coltrane, a trumpet player after Miles, a double bass after Mingus... Yet I’m glad some are courageous or crazy enough to carry on the torch, and even advance it into new territory. Two young performers, Keyon Harold and Kamasi Washington, are featured on an album I did the cover artwork for. They are extremely talented, the kind of young blood that pushes jazz to new directions. Both of them have just released new albums that I recommend highly. 

The framed tryptic exhibited at the Manetiz inauguration. More exhibitions to follow.

The framed tryptic exhibited at the Manetiz inauguration. More exhibitions to follow.

When Manetiz approached me and asked me to be part of their first collection, I was honored because they showcase renowed Swiss artists, mainly photographers. Only few other illustrators were chosen for the first collection, but you should definitely check out their awesome work on the Manetiz website. On the website you can also learn more about the special Manetiz frame, which is key to the final product. Each Spirit of Jazz artwork comes as a 30x30cm original or 20 piece limited edition high quality print in a tailor made frame, certified, and exclusively sold on their website.

But if you want to see what the illustrations look like on a wall, you can visit one of the upcoming exhibitions. The Manetiz collection will be showed in various locations in Switzerland and France, for instance in Montreux as part of the Montreux Art Galerie fair, from Nov 8-12, 2017.

Paying tribute to the living legends: Dj Premier

This year a lot of music legends have left us, from Bowie and Prince to Bernie Worell and Maurice White to name but a few, unfortunately there were many more. There were a lot of tributes and more are under way since these music icons have had a huge impact on modern music. But isn’t it sad that we don’t talk about most of them while they are still alive and often ‘rediscover’ their genius only when they pass away?

This is why I am starting a new series of drawings that pays tribute to living legends. I want to pay tribute to music icons alive and well, and hopefully so for a long time to come.

The first tribute goes to a living legend I have had the honor of handing over my illustration in person: Dj Premier, the sound of New York hip hop from the 90’s, the golden era of the genre. Dj Premier is considered one of the top if not the top all time hip hop producers and is a celebrated dj as well. He was the Dj/producer of Gang Starr and produced or remixed everybody in the rap game (Nas, Jay Z, Notorious Big, Rakim, Jeru, Krs One, Dr Dre, Snoop, ODB, Joey Bada$$, DITC, MOP…) and beyond (Christina Aguilera, Janet Jackson, Mark Ronson, D’Angelo, Branford Marsalis, Macy Gray, Limp Bizkit, Black Eyed Peas…). In the last decades he produced hundreds of tracks and still going strong. He elevated sampling to a real artform and pushed this recording technique to new heights. He sampled jazz records before other hip hop producers caught on and did the same. And he has been important for me personally because he is one of the reasons I started collecting vinyl records and djing. Thanks to his encyclopedian knowledge of all music he introduced me to a lot of great and overlooked music from the sixties and seventies, jazz, soul, funk, blues, rock and original soundtracks.

The pencil drawing of Dj Premier. He said he would hang the original in his NYC studio.

Needless to say that meeting him was a dream come true. In July, Premier was headlining the closing night of the Free4Style sports and music festival in Estavayer, Switzerland, a venue where I had been djing during the day for a couple of years. When I learned they had booked Dj Premier, I asked the organizers about an opportunity to meet him. So in the afternoon, when he arrived backstage to prepare his soundcheck, I gave him my drawing as a present.

This tribute drawing is a very different piece of artwork than what I usually do. It is a portrait inspired by graffiti art I wanted to be close to reality, integrating a lot of details of Dj Premier’s amazing career that I had been following, as a fan, for more than 20 years. I was really pleased that he liked the illustration, and I was humbled that he appreciated the level of details to the point of posting about it several times on his instagram account. My fondest souvenir remains our picture together, beause it reminds me of our wonderful little chat, where he talked about his music and forthcoming projects the way other people talk about their kids.

Later in the day he went on Estavayer’s one and two and rocked the crowd, mixing not only hip hop tracks but also soul music and rock as well, cutting AC DC « Back in Black » and even Phil Collins « In the Air tonight ». For those who missed it, here’s a mix he did on the Diplo & Friends show on BBC Radio where he mixes a little bit of everything (from Rush, the Doors, to AC DC, RATM and Steve Miller as well as a lot of hip hop of course, you can check the tracklist here) and showing he has not lost a step.

Looking back at my last exhibition in Switzerland

My latest artwork exhibition called Unities/dualities, taking place at the Iris Gallery in Pully near Lausanne, closed very recently. It was also my last one in Switzerland, at least for a while, and I will tell you why in a moment (yep: big announcement ahead).

But let me start with the exhibition itself. Its name is drawn from a recurrent theme within my artworks. It was a new step in my artistic career because it showcased exclusively handmade drawings and paintings. This was the first time I did not exhibit iPad and iPhone illustrations like in my previous exhibitions. All 36 pieces shown were new handmade artworks created during the past year. The smaller illustrations were taken out of my sketchbooks that I carry with me all the time. I had already posted some of those, often in a preliminary version, on my facebook or instagram feed. But the bigger pieces were exclusive to this exhibition.

I was very excited to show these new creations during the Unities/dualities exhibition and to receive feedback. It was overwhelmingly positive, and I have been lucky enough to sell quite a few paintings and drawings, which is really great. And to be honest, it is also a bit weird because have to let go of some of your favorite pieces... Then again, I know they are all in good hands will be hung in cool places, so I feel more honored than sad. A big thank you to all the visitors, and to those who decided to purchase my illustrations or paintings: a good choice if you ask me ;-)

Of course I also need to thank the wonderful Iris Gallery, where I was welcomed with open arm as one of the first artists to exhibit there. Iris is a brand new gallery that opened in a lovely location in the old city of Pully a few months ago. My exhibition is over, but there is a new one ongoing that consists of artworks done by past and current students of the Iris art school. It is running until the end of August and if you're nearby you should visit.

As I said, the Unities/dualities exhibition was not only my latest exhibition, it was also my last one in Switzerland. Why? Because 2016 is a big year: I will move to the US with my family in a few weeks. We will spend some time in Ithaca NY for my wife will continue her research at Cornell University, and I will continue to do what I do best: creating new gregoart material. I am also looking forward to getting to know the local art scene, which seems to be small but very lively. In the best case scenario I will even be able to present some of my artistic drawings and paintings over there, and of course I will continue to present my artwork on social media (FB, instagram and pinterest) for all of you who are not close by.

Speaking of showing my artwork online: to keep a memory, I took another new step with Unities/dualities by taking a 360 picture of it, which allows you to visit the exhibition virtually.

Additions to my visual discography

Maybe you have already realized how much a music fan I am by reading this blog or by following my personal Instagram feed. Not only a music fan, but a very old school music fan: I prefer to listen to music on vinyl or tape rather than streamed or downloaded. Some of my music related illustrations are published in the "sound pics" section of this website.

Last year, thanks to my online postings, music producer Ologist BBB from the Better Beat Bureau collective of Virginia approached me and asked me to provide him with a couple of illustrations. His request eventually lead to my very first album cover artwork, for his "When Crates Create", which is a beat tape on actual old-fashioned tape. Therefore I owe the Ologist my very first entry in the online encyclopedia of discography Discogs.

This was only the beginning of our collaboration: thanks to the Ologist I am currently working on the cover artwork for another tape release. (Yes another tape release, and yes we are indeed living in the 21st century.) Actually, there seems to be a revival of tapes, similar to the vinyl revival we have witnessed during the last few years. Like the vinyl revival, the tape revival is spearheaded by music fans who like to have a nice object on physical support (a digital file is just not the same!), although the love of tapes represents more of an underground phenomenon than the love of vinyls.

The new tape project is inspired by breaks and samples mixtapes such as the "On track" series by Djs Kon & Amir in the mid 90's, mixing parts of soul, funk, jazz, rock records already sampled on hip hop or electro records or potential breaks to be used. Contrary to these releases, the originality of the project comes from the fact that the records have been selected by various vinyl collectors from all over the world, who have found each other thanks to the vinyl community on Instagram. I will not only provide the cover artwork, I have also had the honor to select a track for the mixtape. It is not easy to select only a single track out of the thousands of records I own, but I have finally found the one. A rare 70's Swiss psychedelic rock record, discovered some time ago through a fellow vinyl connaisseur and friend of mine.

My collaboration with the Ologist has sparked another project: I have been approached by his friend Jason McGuiness aka Analog Burners. He is a L.A. based DJ, record collector, graphic designer and music producer. You may know him because he released an incredible tribute to legendary Motown producer Norman Withfield a couple of years ago. I was very humbled when he asked me to draw the cover artwork for his new project, a jazz album mixing sampled beats and live instruments, which will be released on vinyl. Jason is currently putting the finishing touch on the recording and mixing of the full-length album. The first single will be a 45 vinyl with two tracks of the project titled "We could be / Empyrean Tones", featuring the works of such great musicians from the L.A. scene as keyboard player Mark de Clive Lowe, Aloe Blacc, drummer Te'Amir Sweeney and trumpet player Keyon Harrold, who played with D'Angelo, Beyonce, Jay Z, Kanye West, and played the trumpet parts in the Miles Davis biopic "Miles Ahead" (to be released in Europe soon).

You can listen to "Empyrean Tones" above and pre-ordrer the 45 single on fat beats records. It has already received raving reviewes by major US music magazines such as Ego Trip and Wax Poetics.

One of the privileges of being an album cover artist is the fact that I have already had the chance to listen to some other tracks, and I am really excited about the forthcoming release. It will also feature jazz legend Phil Ranelin from the Tribe collective of Detroit, who released many classic spiritual jazz albums on their Tribe independent label in the 70's and 80's (all releases are collectors' items today) and even recorded an album with Detroit Techno legend Carl Craig some years ago.

I am very happy to report that Jason liked my artwork proposals for the album cover. He liked them so much he had a hard time selecting only one illustration and might even be using two different drawings/paintings... To be continued.

Cover artwork llustration proposal by Gregoart (2016). All rights reserved. China ink and pencil on paper.

Cover artwork llustration proposal by Gregoart (2016). All rights reserved. China ink and pencil on paper.

Cover artwork llustration proposal by Gregoart (2016). All rights reserved. China ink and acrylics on cardboard.

Cover artwork llustration proposal by Gregoart (2016). All rights reserved. China ink and acrylics on cardboard.

Un magnifique week-end de portes ouvertes à notre atelier

Comme je le disais dans mon précédent article, j'ai la chance de pouvoir travailler depuis quelques mois dans l'atelier du sculpteur et peintre Didier Guex, avec également l'illustrateur et peintre Christophe Thomas. Un atelier qui a ouvert ses portes le week-end dernier dans le cadre de la 10ème édition d'Aperti, un week-end de portes ouvertes d'ateliers d'artistes de Lausanne et environs. Un grand merci à ceux et celles qui sont venus, c'était un plaisir de vous accueillir.

Vue d'ensemble de l'atelier. Sculptures et tableaux sur la droite par Didier Guex (l'homme à la casquette). 

Vue d'ensemble de l'atelier. Sculptures et tableaux sur la droite par Didier Guex (l'homme à la casquette). 

La manifestation a été une réussite pour Aperti en général et pour notre atelier de la Pontaise qui a reçu la visite d'une centaine de personnes, ce malgré une météo maussade et un emplacement un peu décentré par rapport à d'autres ateliers. L'occasion de montrer nos travaux et l'endroit de travail le reste du temps fermé voire secret, une ouverture appréciée par les amateurs d'art reconnaissant de pouvoir pénétrer cet atelier. Une opportunité également de discuter et d'échanger avec les différents visiteurs sur nos travaux et les difficultés liées à ce métier. Le travail de sculpture de Didier a attiré beaucoup de visiteurs qui ont du coup découverts nos illustrations et peintures à Christophe et moi, dont c'était notre 1er Aperti.

Des visiteurs devant mes dessins et peintures. A gauche, sculpture de Maurice Béjart par Didier Guex.

Des visiteurs devant mes dessins et peintures. A gauche, sculpture de Maurice Béjart par Didier Guex.

Je me suis rendu compte avec ce week-end de la chance de pouvoir occuper un espace dans ce lieu d'exception avec des artistes talentueux comme Didier et Christophe. Une chance car il est par ailleurs difficile pour les artistes de pouvoir se permettre d'avoir un atelier et de le garder, l'urbanisation de la ville entraînant la destruction de bien des ateliers d'artiste, plasticiens ou musiciens d'ailleurs. 
Une chance aussi de pouvoir travailler aux côtés d'artistes au style et à la démarche assez différente comme nous le faisaient d'ailleurs remarquer des visiteurs surpris par un tel mélange des genres. Artistes différents avec qui je partage l'envie irrésistible de créer, d'expérimenter et de partager le travail avec le public.

Christophe Thomas en pleine discussion sur son travail (toutes les illustrations sont de lui, sauf les 2 tableaux les plus gauche qui sont de votre humble serviteur)

Christophe Thomas en pleine discussion sur son travail (toutes les illustrations sont de lui, sauf les 2 tableaux les plus gauche qui sont de votre humble serviteur)

Un seul regret peut être, celui de ne pas avoir pu aller à la rencontre d'autres artistes dans les ateliers ouverts pour l'occasion. Ceci est d'autant plus dommage car les artistes talentueux ne manquent pas à Lausanne, ce qu'Aperti prouve chaque année, avec beaucoup de jeunes créateurs qui participaient pour la première fois à la manifestation. Ce n'est peut-être que partie remise à la prochaine édition et il en va de même pour ceux auraient raté ce week-end de portes ouvertes. Pour ceux qui seraient intéressés à voir mes tableaux, j'exposerai du 27 mai au 18 juin à la galerie Iris à Pully, j'en reparlerai plus en détail dans un prochain billet.

Portes ouvertes à notre atelier les 16 et 17 avril

Depuis quelques mois, j'ai le grand plaisir de pouvoir travailler dans l'atelier du sculpteur et peintre Didier Guex, qui accueille aussi l'illustrateur Christophe Thomas. C'est une première pour moi que de travailler en atelier et autant dire que je savoure chaque instant passé dans cet endroit des plus inspirants.

Extérieur de l'atelier, pour voir l'intérieur, lisez la suite... (photo: Didier Guex)

Extérieur de l'atelier, pour voir l'intérieur, lisez la suite... (photo: Didier Guex)

Cela me permet de pouvoir travailler sur des tableaux de plus grand format en utilisant des techniques mixtes et de l'encre de chine. L'atelier me permet aussi d'être dans un cadre stimulant, de par les travaux des autres talentueux artistes qui y travaillent. Même si le travail artistique reste individuel, personnel voire solitaire, il est toute fois bénéfique d'avoir une émulation de par ces énergies créatives cumulées. D'un point de vue plus intime, l'atelier me ramène à l'époque où mon père travaillait dans un endroit similaire, dans des odeurs de térébenthine et de peinture à l'huile qui restent gravées à vie. 

Mais bref si je vous raconte tout cela, c'est surtout pour vous annoncer que vous pourrez venir visiter notre atelier ce week end, samedi 16 et dimanche 17, l'après-midi, de 12h à 18h. Une journée portes ouvertes qui s'inscrit dans le cadre de l'APERTI, une association d'artistes lausannois qui organise ce week end d'ouverture des ateliers d'artistes de Lausanne et environs, ce pour la 10ème fois. Didier, Christophe et moi-même nous réjouissons de vous faire découvrir l'atelier et nos dernières créations. Alors rendez-vous à la Pontaise 45... Je vous conseille également de prendre le temps de visiter d'autres ateliers, il y en aura en effet une centaine d'autres à visiter dans tout Lausanne et environs, bande de veinards (nous, on sera de piquet à notre atelier :)

le site web aperti.ch

le site web aperti.ch

Ma page sur le site aperti.ch

Ma page sur le site aperti.ch

Spring update: atelier, exhibition, cover artworks etc.

Back to business after a short vacation in Italy.

Back to business after a short vacation in Italy.

Since I last posted on this blog, I have been busy with quite a lot of private matters such as my wedding among other small things :) I have also been busy with gregoart related stuff, and I am happy to give you an update of what I've been up to since winter.

'Open atelier' week-end

First of all, please get your calendars and note the week-end of April 16th and 17th. On this week-end, artists from the Lausanne region will open the doors of their ateliers and I am one of them. The open house event for ateliers is organized by APERTI, a very dynamic association of Lausanne artists. Wait, I realize I haven’t told you about my atelier space yet. Since the end of last year I have had the pleasure of working in the atelier of sculptor Didier Guex (actually there are three of us, with illustrator Christophe Thomas). This space has given me the opportunity to work on bigger scale mixed techniques paintings. Please visit us in our atelier at Rue de la Pontaise 45 on the afternoon of Saturday 16th or Sunday 17th. We will be happy to welcome you and show you some of our recent artworks.

Gallery exhibition

Another occasion to see some of my recent artworks will be my next exhibition at the Galerie Iris in Pully. I hope your calendars are still close, so you can save the dates: the inauguration will be on May 27th and the exhibition ends on June 17th. I am very excited to show you brand new artworks. Without giving away too much I can already tell you that they have not been realized on iPad (the «old friends for sale» re-exhibition which ended in February was the last that showcased my iPad drawings). The exhibition at the Galerie Iris, taking place during the month of the gemini, will focus on the theme of duality, a theme I am very fond of.

Cover artworks

Furthermore, I have created cover artworks for two upcoming, great music releases. After the cover artwork for "When crates create", an awesome beat tape on actual tape, I will provide my very first artwork for a vinyl release. It is a jazz soul record produced by Jason McGuiness alias Analog Burners from Los Angeles, one of the artists who did a beat for "When crates create". He enlisted the help of great session players (who had already played with the likes of Aloe Blacc, Kendrick Lamar, D’Angelo and Robert Glasper to name but a few) including the rising trumpet star Keyon Harold who plays Miles Davis' trumpet parts in the forthcoming Miles biopic "Miles Ahead". A 45 vinyl single has already been released through Fat Beats (you can listen to it here) and been reviewed in two of the top music websites/magazines: Wax Poetics and Ego Trip . And spoiler alert: based on the new tracks I have had the pleasure to listen to already I assure you that the rest of the lp sounds just as great .

The second cover artwork will be for my man Ologist, who is into some great projects after his "When Crates Create" beat tape. One of them is a compilation of obscure vinyl records mixed together in the vein of the classic Kon & Amir "On track" breaks and samples mixtapes, with tracks curated by various records collectors from all over the world active on Instagram. Not only will I do the cover artwork for the tape, I will also provide a track for the compilation.

As a vinyl addict, collecting records since the mid-nineties, I cannot tell you how excited I am about these two music releases, and about playing a humble part in their creation.

More gregoart-y stuff

I have always been interested in experimenting and I like the idea that my artwork comes alive in different contexts, on different objects. Some of my characters already appear on t-shirts, and I have designed a few accessories, but the experiment was very limited. Thanks to the internet and partner websites there are so many possibilities to make my artwork accessible that I am currently in the process of creating more diverse objects. Stay tuned!

Limited edition prints

Last but not least, I am also planning to release a limited edition of high-quality prints on the theme of jazz music through Manétiz, an impressive start-up dedicated to providing an original art experience.

As you can see, a lot of great events and releases to come in the near future! And to be sure not to miss any news, you can subscribe to my newsletter using the form on the right of this page.

 

A week end with old friends

This week-end, I had the pleasure of inaugurating an exhibition of my iPad drawings at "Particules en Suspension" in Lausanne. I named this exhibition "Old friends for sale" as these artworks were created a few of years ago and have been exhibited a couple of times already, in Fribourg as well as in Lausanne. The current exhibition, running until February 6th, is the last time I am showing these illustrations of imaginary characters. Most of these portraits have been drawn in the train, during my daily commute.

Although the people around me on the train have inspired me, the characters depicted are all invented, like imaginary friends. These friends are in the spotlights one last time, before I will center on exhibitions of my newest creations. (done the analog way, as you may have noticed if you follow Gregoart on instagram or on facebook).

You can see some of these iPad paintings on my website, but believe me it's really something else to see the final form of the artwork. The final version of the artwork is a forex print of the original drawing which is - of course - a digital file. I like to think of it as a sort of digital lithography: there are ten prints per drawing, plus one I own (number zero). but it is only a "sort of" lithography because there is no 'physical' original in the traditional sense.

Each exhibition is also a good way of seeing these illustrations in a new context. This time, it is the colorful surrounding of "Particules en Suspension", an artsy giftshop. (It's a coincidence, but I just realize this goes well with my resolution of adding more colors to my art.) For those who cannot make it to Lausanne, I include some pictures from the vernissage.

The exhibition opening week-end has also been a wonderful occasion to meet some old friends who have supported me. These friends were not imaginary but very real, and I want to thank everyone who has come by.

Spectre  is shown behind a window to nowhere.

Spectre is shown behind a window to nowhere.

Artwork  Tête d'affiche

Artwork Tête d'affiche

Me in front of the "Particules en suspension" window showcasing my artwork   Mozaïk  .

Me in front of the "Particules en suspension" window showcasing my artwork Mozaïk.