Gypsies and Dancers
In June 2008, a friend gave me a book on the legendary jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. A truly amazing guitarist playing with a disfigured right hand, Django was the inspiration for one of my first paintings since college: a 30x24 oil, featuring his explosive guitar and omnipresent dangling cigarette.
Reading about Django and his gypsy roots, I became drawn to the fascinating, seedy history of the gypsies in Paris of the 1930s. I used an old black and white photo as a subject for “Musette Quintette and Dancer”. I followed this with “Returning Home”, a view of a Romany guitarist coming home to the wretched conditions evoked in the gypsy caravan encampments in “La Zone”, a vast slum land on the outskirts of Paris. Most recently, I completed “Fading Muse”, which also depicts the terrible living conditions but focuses on the melancholy of a Romany guitarist mourning a lost love.
The majority of my gypsy pieces concentrate on the romantic notion of gypsy dancers—beautiful bejeweled women pirouetting with swirling scarves. They encompass variations both European and Middle Eastern. One of my favorite models, Radiant Jasmin, is a gifted artist in her own right, as well as an expressive dancer. We combined for a two-person show in November 2009 at the Hensen-Jackson Art Gallery.