Erik ReeL painting #1671
Erik ReeL, acrylic, Opus 1673

Blues, a la Miles.

Witold Lutoslawski

Erik ReeL painting, #1297
Erik ReeL, #1297, Ascent, acrylic on canvas, courtesy private collection

The German philosopher, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling [1775-1854] in his Philosophy of Art [1802-3], said that “architecture is like frozen music”  , a sentiment famously echoed by Goethe in 1836. Since Paul Klee, a similar equivalence has often been proposed for describing abstract painting.

For many, much architecture and most painting has probably felt to fall far short of the musical, though I suspect it also depends on what music one is listening to.  For me, my painting has been directly inspired by and in some cases explicitly linked to specific music. I’ve mentioned elsewhere the inspiration I’ve received from the jazz of  Miles Davis, Monk,  Ornette Coleman, and others.

One composer whose music feels very close to my present work is the mature work of the Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski [1913-1994]; in particular, his aleatoric  ad libitum technique that dominates his Chain compositions,  piano concerto, and the third and fourth symphonies.  This is especially true of much of my work on paper, which constitute a virtually daily visual diary and reservoir of ideas for my larger works on canvas.

There is no explicit connection between us, but I can often hear his music in my own paintings.  There is an openness and freedom in his music that I seek to express in my improvisational work.  Both of us, I suspect, have our inner dread of the predictable and pre-determined.

Miles Beyond

Miles Davis
Miles Davis laying it down in his later years, photo wikipedia

28 September 2014- One of my favorite musicians to listen to is Miles Davis. He’s a fantastic musician to paint to.

In particular, I  am inspired by  his “spare and spellbinding lyricism with dramatic use of silence.”  I, too, seek a “spare and spellbinding lyricism with dramatic use of silence;” in my painting.

But there is nothing quite like Miles’ mastery of time.

Today, in the morning,  23 years ago, the great Miles Davis died  of a stroke.

Today, this morning, 28 Septermber, as I was listening to The Best of Miles Davis: The Blue Note Years, I happened to read the liner notes to the original LP, first released in 1992.  The notes end with the writer saying that it so happens that just as he finished writing those very same liner notes I was reading this morning,  the news came over his television that Mile Davis had just died of a stroke that morning, 28 September 1991.

Before reading those notes, I had no idea that Miles Davis had died on 28 September in the morning.

I tell you, when Miles plays,  things happen; worlds part and synchronicity just flows out into the universe.

As the writer of those liner notes concluded: “His restles genius will be sorely missed.”

Erik ReeL painting
Erik ReeL, # 1389, acrylic painting