© Rita Draper Frazão

Inner Tour is a blog about People, Arts and Traveling by Rita Draper Frazão.
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quarta-feira, 17 de fevereiro de 2016

From chaos to a dancing star

The colors, the type, the places, the flavors, the sounds but most of all, the persons. 
All you're about to read and see, summed up here: vISual impro.

Welcome to my first post of the year!

Yes, I know it's already February, but I have been "cooking" stuff in January, to present you guys this, now.

I was invited to draw an event at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam, in The Netherlands. This event was their Carte Blanche series, where the referred venue, invites a musician to host and chose the line up of that night. This time, the musician given Carte Blanche was the American drummer and percussionist Hamid Drake, whom I have drawn live 2 years ago, in Jazz em Agosto Festival. That was, to me, one of those inspiring moments in life I won't forget. 


The Beginning of Chaos 


The stakes were high, and I couldn't be more excited about this trip.

While packing (what a chaos!), my suitcase had two thirds of overcoats and sweaters and a third of painting material. I wanted to have my colors ready for whatever situation popped in. Turns out, that as a matter of space, I just had my black pen with me during the flight (the rest was in the airplane cargo hold). I need to mention this so you can get into the story I am about to share.


It was midday, the sun was shinning, the light was incredible, and we were floating. 
That was my thought. 

I immediatly remembered PJ Harvey's song We float, and had the urge to draw it. Wanted the typography to convey the float flow, and that was what took me longer to draw. Blinking in my mind was the we float, take life as it goes verse part of the song.

But I didn't have my colors, so I asked the TAP stewardess for color crayons, that they usually have for kids. 

The Cloud Carer
I sure must've seemed a kiddo when she brought them to me, as I smiiiiiiiiiled...!
She inspired me to do a portrait of her and, in my drawing, she is The Cloud Carer - my color and dreams provider :)

I felt so comfortable on this flight. Lucky me who had my friend Júlio helping me out with a special seat!


Lib(e)ri
This was my first drawing in Amsterdam. 
I did it before sleeping. Or rather, I could not sleep! 
All was so visually inspiring, I wanted to draw everything! 
In front of me, there was a shelf full of books. The book's spine colors and the book's placing order are both real and accurate.

I thought about the colors that books set free. how books might set a person free, and then was wondering about a word in a language that could possibly mean both free and books, and remembered that Libri (books) and Liberi (free), in Italian, sound and are written almost the same way, and hence the title Lib(e)ri.

 I no longer was interested in the shelf. Since its content molded its form, I felt no need to draw it and books prevailed. I could go to sleep now.


Rotterdam


I had some busy days ahead, and still wanted to visit my friends Constança, Mariana and Louise in Rotterdam, where I had been before so many times, and I love it there.


I got lost in public transports and Dutch language and was late enough to catch a train that just allowed me to have a quick tea with them. But it was worth it! And speaking of tea, it is funny because I have learned this new word for me in German: Muckefuck. No, it's not motherf*****, it's a barley drink! 


During my train trip to Rotterdam, I met Ameneh ( آمنه) Deljoo. 
Ameneh is an Iranian citizen doing her Phd in the Netherlands. It was funny, because we just had a one hour conversation, but it was so powerful, I wanted to draw her straight away, in the train. 

From the very moment she told me her name, I loved the sound of it, and wanted to know its meaning. Ameneh comes from the word Amen, and means safety, trust, devotion, guardianship and loyalty. Uau! I wish I'd have such a meaningful name!! Inspiration knocked my door right away! 

That led us to a really interesting conversation about Languages, Traveling, Arts, Music, Psychology, Computer Science, Cuisine, and Portuguese Pastry. Santo pastelinho de nata! (Holy custard tarts!)

I felt Ameneh as a person full of life, and I wanted to register that. This portrait is about what she had brought within her soul and the thrilling things she is looking up to reach now.
I wanted to have a visual metaphor for that, so I chose the brown to represent her soil, her roots and the yellow represents the light she wants to attain in life. 

This last color was made with Saffron. Using a bright and meaningful color with taste (and a delicious Persian rice with that spice made part of our talk too!) made, here, all the sense to me.

These two concepts, were the starting points for the poem I wrote about her.
I asked Ameneh to help me out translating it to Farsi, so I could include it in the drawing too.
So, here it is:

آمنه
 آمنه از عشق تو به اين سرزمين 
كه به تو معناي معنوي اسمت را داده است
آمنه و تو با خود عطرِخورشيدِ شرقي را داري 
از روياهايي كه تو را دور كرده است از ان خورشيد
  زندگي از نزديك تو را حفظ خواهد كرد آمنه

Ameneh 
Ameneh, from your love for this land,
that gave you the grace of your name, 
Ameneh, it is with you the East flavor of the Sun 
From the dreams that made you far,
May life bless you closely, Ameneh.


It took me many hours to finish this image. Of this series done in The Netherlands, no doubt that, this drawing, was the most laborious one.


Back in Amsterdam



That same night, I met my dear friend Ryoko Imai
I will talk a bit more about her later in this article, because she was very important during this trip. Ryoko plays percussion and comes from Kawasaki (川崎市), in Japan. She currently lives in Amsterdam. 

Usually when I'm doing a portrait of someone, I need time to do it (to feel, to perceive, to think, to draw, to paint...). Very rarely happens such a thing, as finishing a whole portrait in 5 minutes, which was this case. Her brightness, beauty and inspirational attitude were immediate triggers for a "must draw now" urge! 


Carte Blanche to my imagination


The next day was the big day. 

The scooter ride
The day where the 3 concerts included in the Carte Blanche to Hamid Drake initiative would take place at the Bimhuis. I had a very special scooter ride, on my way to the venue. 

I had so many layers of coats, I felt like a Panda! It was windy, and the city crossed my eyes in frames with a beautiful speed, as in a movie. 

The canals, the water, the trees, the clouds, the boats, the ducks, the typography, the flowers, the people, the bridges, the bikes, the windmills, the markets, the old houses and buildings mixed up with De Stijl, Art Deco and Modern Architecture; the diamond factories business, the delicious restaurants, the arty cafes, the great painting, the stunning graphic design, the hip fashion brands, the great improvisers, the great punk scene, the different cultures melting pot - all, of Amsterdam's busy life was music to my ears. 

This little tour, with the (almost) full moon ripping a blue-grayish sky had the taste of freedom - alike a butterfly coming out of a rock



Already at the Bimhuis (and therefore I drew its logo), I wasn't expecting to come across with a live incarnation of one of Pompeii's Female figures on Villa of the Mysteries
Good to remember, these frescos were done around 60-50 years b.C.!! 
(If you don't know what I'm talking about, take a look at this video here

Yes, it could've been her, Ludmilla Faccenda, posing in another life. Reincarnation believers or not, on this life, she sure seemed to me, the perfect sample of the Italian Beauty (La Bellezza Italiana), worth making a portrait of. 

She was, definitely, my muse that night. Ludmilla's a sensitive woman, a force of nature with an intense presence. Yeah, things might not be perfect, but she is a fighter, a believer that will work hard to make things done, the best way. So, it made sense to me, that red was present in this portrait. 
This is the color of energy, of battle, of work in progress and of confrontation. Red is also the background color of the Villa dei Misteri's Frescos (Unesco's World Heritage), recently restored.  

Ludmilla is Hamid Drake's manager and was one of the responsible for making possible all this event, including having me drawing there. 

Indigenous Dragon
This one above, is Hamid Drake's portrait. The main reason to be of this whole trip!
I made it live, during the first concert of the night, while him and Pasquale Mirra were playing.

His long dreadlocks are, in my drawing, a poem I wrote on the spot. I called it Sol, the 5th musical note, but also in Portuguese, the Sun.

Sol

The channel of all the above
all you got, shines still
all you give, sees through
the spirits are high 
and thank you back,
and so do we
it's life and love
The entrancing joy
of Life
Life!
Life!

There's something about Hamid that redirects me to the generosity of the being, the group consciousness, and its power to built or destroy, as dragons can do, as drakes do. This has a relation to this dragon I have made some time ago, and to the story I told there, too.

And well, I called this Dragon Indigenous, because Hamid's chants reminded me of some American Indian Chants. Tribal, spiritual, brutal, deep, he's got a sort of childish creative power in the present now, that might pretty much change your life in a blink, while seeing one of his concerts. Or, I felt it so. 
Moving, to say the least.


The second concert gathered members of ICP Orchestra (Wolter Wierbos, Ab Baars, Michael Moore and Ernst Glerum) and had Kaja Draksler, as a guest on piano. 


The image above is the Dutch trombonist, Wolter Wierbos.
I was amused with his performance and his shoe laces were key to the concept of this portrait.

There was some roughness and stiffness with movements stuck to the ground of what he knew best (portrayed by the all brown safe outfit) and at the same time, there was some fun element within him (the red laces).

From his feet there was the connection to where he treaded, and to this unexpected element - his red shoe laces. I also didn't mark the horizon line on purpose, I wanted to keep the feeling that his figure might've just arrived!

And I didn't come up with the red and brown, they were indeed real. They just happened to be the perfect visual metaphor to what I was feeling.



This one is the pianist and composer Kaja Draksler, while performing with the referred ICP Orchestra members.
She showed great talent and sensibility, and I was very very pleased to hear what she was playing. It was really beautiful.

She definitely stood out, though I felt, as well, almost as if there was an invisible wall one needed to break to come across to the rough diamond she is.
Kaja comes from Kranj, in Slovenia, so I wanted to write about her (Poetický = Poetic) in the drawing, in her language, Slovene.

The typography I drew, was inspired by Slovenian type design (like this, for example). Its color is just a little darker than the paper's color shade: a color still to become bolder and a drawing that can look like a draft. Both, are signs of the flower to blossom, Kaja is. 


Also noteworthy, that this whole event was happening according to the Norwegian Punkt Festival's central concept, which is the live Remix. 
I regard the remix as a way to relate, to answer back, in a perspective of narrative with continuity.

This concept made sense, also because the third concert of the night, reunited key figures of the referred event in Norway, namely, Erik HonoréJan Bang and Eivind Aarset, who played along with Hamid Drake in this last musical moment of the night.

Bang Bang

Here's is my Jan Bang's first portrait (yes, I did other drawings related to him).
There were moments in this concert so thrilling, that I felt like jumping and dancing along, as Jan did.  His energy was contagious and he seemed to me, by far, the most excited of the group. Although, the most incredible thing about it, was that he never overshadowed the other elements of the group, by the contrary, he was at all times, sensitive to the environment, helpful and an important piece of the puzzle.
I envisioned his electronic paraphernalia as a city silhouette, his lego, his playground dividing the lower half of the drawing, of a constant moving Jan and a the higher half of the portrait of an attentive and still Jan. Double Jan, Bang Bang.


Too cool for school
Too cool for school is my Eivind Aarset portrait. This time I have done something different from my regular process: I painted before having drawn him and not the opposite. This was not about the structure and contour - the drawing - but about its expressive content - the paint. 

Since the moment he entered on stage, Eivind sure seemed to me the coolest thing on earth. His gestures, his pose, and his sonic-grungy playing, looked too good to be true. Everything kind of seemed so ethereal, so surreal, non-human, unbelievable, even.



An alpha being, with a double aa surname calls for a b side portrait.

He had such a strong impact on me, I drew harder on the paper (and the paint was still wet when I drew him), and this image is the result. It's his portrait's reverse.

Adding to all this, then - and in my musical awareness and unconsciousness - I found out he is the guitar player of one of my all time favorite records (will talk about it further below).
He's just too cool for school, in its best sense.


Another thing I have to mention about this event, is that sometimes happens that, the end of a concert catches me in the middle of a drawing, leaving it forever unfinished.
That was what happened with Erik Honoré. Hopefully, I'll have the chance to see him playing live some other time soon :) Anyways, I really liked his Heliographs, and I think they are worth checking out.

Post Concert


After the concert, nice conversations, at the Bimhuis cafe, followed.


Somehow, I often feel inspired with stuff others might consider rubbish, as napkins, like this one, above. It actually made part of a talk with Jan Bang.
I loved the colors and the drawing of it, also because I thought about the Dutch flag colors (I even used the exact cobalt blue and the bright vermilion), their amazing tiles, and the great inspiring flowers I saw everywhere there (not only Tulips).
Could link it to The Scooter Ride drawing because, much of what I drew here, was stuff I saw during that ride as well. Everything seemed like being in the landscape metamorphic process of turning things into free butterflies.

Tri Bang

The night ended up with me challenging Jan bang to make a drawing with me. He looked at me and said: "but I can't draw!"
In fact, there are many different modes of "making a drawing together", and at least in my concept, that doesn't necessarily mean that both persons involved need to draw. In this case, he was just being himself, inspiring me, posing and lending me his hands for the composition,  which was quite a big deal already. The result is what you see above.

Color wise, I wanted to portray, here, his vivid and energetic side (light green), along with a more caring, sensitive and watery mood side (blue) with parallel clear support, a structure, a ground (black and white). Regarding the drawing itself, I was sought to convey, in its technique and process making, the idea of multiplicity, that he's someone able to manage several things with precision and detail (and hence the number of layers and overlaps, producing new visual elements). It's my Tri Bang.


My drawing interview with Henning Bolte to All About Jazz 


The first initiative of inviting me to all this, was Henning Bolte's idea. So, none of this would've happened without him, and he was a key person throughout this process.
Along with Ludmilla Faccenda and the Bimhuis, a bridge between the Bimhuis and the musicians, the musicians among themselves, and me was made.

Henning presented the Carte Blanche to Hamid Drake event, and you can hear everything it happened that night, through the Bimhuis radio, here.

Henning is most known for being a writer and a critic (you can take a closer look on his work and read his review from Carte Blanche to Hamid Drake, here). But I think he's some other things too - he's an open spirit, a creative person and a provider.


This drawing was done in very special circumstances, since Henning interviewed me for All About Jazz magazine, and his portrait was done during the interview (the first part, you can read here and the second part here). 
His interview was inspiring, and made me think of many things in a way, I haven't done before.

Both, my portrait of Henning and Doris Day's Que Sera Sera share the same subject. This portrait of Henning, is about the things that get stuck in the way - the past; about looking at the present in the eye, and believing in the future - what will be, will be. It's about the snake in Henning, a skin shed, where one's standing and the metamorphosis in life. It's about what holds and what propels Henning.

His eyes gave me the blue color motto. As Theo Parrish once embraced, I wish that you never give up on finding new things and feel your journey - life - as if you're Walking through the sky.


Meet the Dancing Star


The next day was full moon night, and also my last night in Amsterdam.  The festivities program could've not been more auspicious, since me and my friend Ryoko Imai were about to meet again.
But this wasn't just a regular friends meeting. We had in mind drawing and playing together.
But I just could not imagine how deep and how amazingly important this encounter would turn to me.

From chaos to a dancing star

After a delicious dinner, Ryoko and I started our session. I had brought my painting stuff and we were at her studio, so we had everything we needed to start.

When Ryoko first improvised, I was observing and making her silhouette. When she played the Fuga from Violin Partita II in D minor by J.S. Bach, I was painting her silhouette, and when she finally ended up playing María Cervantes by Noro Morales, I was painting the background.

I just realized this, afterwards. We never spoke about any rule whatsoever before, during or after this session. The synchronized timing was natural.

In the end of the session, she mentioned the sounds I was making while painting and drawing (I used this special silver pen, that has a little moving ball inside). You can actually hear what she was talking about, since we recorded the session, and Ryoko edited a short sample you guys can listen to here:



The way Ryoko was playing, her commitment and the music she played made me feel really privileged to witness such a bright talent. 
I looked to her feet and to the floor of the studio, looked back at her and thought: 
Where you'd come from, what you might've lived and what you've become now: a shinning star, right before me. 

The connection in my mind to that One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star quote, from Friedrich Nietzsche, was immediate. 

In the microseconds these decisions take place in my mind, the next thing I know, 
I was painting her portrait background, with Ryoko's studio floor color, that beige.

While I was painting her figure, I made sure I didn't paint the whole surface, making her a plain silver figure.  On the contrary, I wanted the silver lines to be perceived, as if some effort (the chaos) was required to fulfill the whole space.

When our session ended, the studio lit. Colors and fireworks bursted. We were so happy!

I was already delirious with the bunch of emotions I was feeling, but it would get even better, when Ryoko gave me two very special presents.

One was a Taiko stick, Ryoko made herself.


During a concert, she hit too hard with it and broke it. As soon as she showed it to me she said something like: "this is for you to make something out of it". 
I knew right away this would be the tridimensional extension of our meeting.


Painting the broken parts with silver color, was my intervention.


It was the ultimate metaphor for the whole concept of the drawing and this session.


It was from a chaotic moment where the stick broke, that urged the shiniest part. And that was just possible because we did it together, Ryoko and me.


I wanted to find a special scenery to take these pictures too, since I wanted to find a place where the floor, or ground matched the color of the drawing, as the Taiko stick does, as well!


The other present she gave me was this:


It is a 紅白豆 (Kouhaku-mame) hand painted box from Mameya Bankyu. Kouhaku-mame is a traditional Japanese snack made out of soya beans. In this case, inside the box, there were two bean flavors: plum (red one) and a salt-honey one (white).

The hand painted monkey portrays the Earthly Branch sign for 2016. He is wearing a traditional Japanese vest. Also red and white are the national Japanese colors, and the ones used for celebrations.

I loved the box, and the snacks as well, so bad, that they inspired me to do a drawing about what I felt while eating them.


Eating these 紅白豆  made my imagination travel far. 
It was snow flakes gently landing in my stomach, as cotton balls. Suddenly, my 2016 seemed as golden as the monkey vests. I felt blessed.


Leaving with a colossus 



On my way back, I had the same airplane window, with a different view and another song in my mind. My pen exploded due to the atmospheric pressure, and that's how this drawing started. Black ink explosions? Sounded like Khmer!

It was just now, that I am writing this down, that I first saw there is a video clip of the song of Sand I had in my mind during that flight. And it's got airplanes too, Nils Peter Molvaer and all those great musicians, including Eivind Aarset.

The rest was done while having in mind this colossus, that this album is to me.


...And life was never the same, afterwards this album, and this trip. 


When I went to the Netherlands, my luggage was, basically, overcoats and painting material, but I came back with a suitcase full of life, art, music and love.

Feels like having made the journey from chaos to a dancing star.


________


A special acknowledgment to Henning Bolte & Ryoko Imai


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