Art Medium: Acrylic on canvas
Size: 71 cm x 56 cm
This painting is all about the hands, the ones that bend and flex and move to play, but importantly the other hard working hands, the ones that make musical instruments for others to play.
My 2020 solo exhibition: ‘A Brush with the Blues’ was filled with paintings and sculptures inspired by the Rebetika, also known as the Greek Blues. This incredible musical style emerged in the early 20th century and was forged by refugees, outcasts and rebels; the result of centuries of cross cultural creativity. A Brush with the Blues was an exploration into its history and a response to myself, having been immersed into a part of its culture, through a weekly music jam in my own city of Melbourne.
Sitting amongst musicians who play Rebetika, you often hear stories about the instruments they play, the journey to obtain them, admiration for the craft, stories about who made them etc. The Instrument Maker painting was created to acknowledge those people behind the scenes. I painted with trust and energy and then toiled over it to create just the right balance; but there are many marks that were never touched again after the first brush stroke. It feels perfect to me in all its roughness and spontaneity.
The back wall of his workshop is filled with string instruments adorned with the designs of some of the Melbourne jam attendee’s instruments. While I was painting I remembered one particular night when a new bouzouki player joined us and played with disarming sensitivity. This painting also honours such people.
The characteristics of the main figure in my painting are loosely based on Karolos Tsakirian. a famous instrument maker who comes from a long line of luthiers. In 1924 after leaving Smyrne (Izmir) his father opened his first shop in Piraeus, the port of Athens, a then music hub for the Greek blues.