New Orleans is separated from Kiev by some 9,356 kilometers.
What could warm Louisiana, home of jazz, have in common with cold Ukraine?
Simple: the series of paintings People of Jazz by Roman Nogin, a multifaceted artist from the east who has been exhibiting in galleries all over the world for many years.
Nogin is an artist with a surreal, abstract, almost dreamlike nature.
In People of Jazz he confirms his temperament and, indeed, reinforces his style by engaging with an arduous task: telling Jazz through brushstrokes and hues.
The series includes intimate glimpses of clubs, music-centered abstractivity, and especially portraits of jazz icons.
In each painting the colors play with the shapes: the gentle brushstrokes blend the musicians with their instruments, creating what we might call a cream of jazz.
So we have a Ron Carter playing with his hands almost dissolved in the strings of his double bass, against a background chorus of lively and joyful chromaticity. Like the flashes we’d have before our mind’s eye if we heard him play live while sipping a good whiskey.
Next up is Ray Charles, grinning and enjoying himself in his typical pose with his head leaning backwards, while playing a piano whose keys recall the lapping of the waves on the seashore.
Then comes a swollen and cheerful Dizzie Gillespie who, rather than playing a trumpet, seems to be about to explode in a roar of notes and carefreeness. This may be why the background is a solid carpet of warm orange. You can’t be sad as you watch Gillespie’s cheeks blow cheerful riffs.
Perhaps the only melancholy note is a portrait of Billie Holiday singing into a microphone taller than herself, frail and twisted, like the frail and twisted background. It’s amazing to discover how a soundless image can so perfectly recall the sweet and painful feelings Holiday’s suave voice arouses.
Do we want to talk about the jazz Nogin has recreated??
Suffice it to say that the atmosphere is intimate. The sense of partying never gets the upper hand: the scenes always suggest environments for the few, hidden, perhaps secret. Where the brown and warm skin of men and women and their sinuous shapes prevail over the music, giving life to a melody of tipsy nights with a soundtrack of jazz.
People of Jazz is not just a series of paintings, it is a dreamlike experience that you should observe with eyes wide open and conclude with eyes closed, while listening carefully to the sensations it is capable of arousing within.
Defining Roman Nogin as a quality artist is reductive.
Defining Roman Nogin as an able storyteller of environments and exceptionally talented in making sound emerge from color … well, that’s more honest.