Small Paintings

Stephen Henriques, Jazz and Painting

Stephen Henriques, a participant of the Bay Area artistic community, comes from San Francisco, that colorful and foggy city. Suddenly the fog sweeps down, throws a veil over the landscape while at the same time revealing all, the trees, the woods, the bay, the people, and just as suddenly as it swoops down, it vanishes into thin air.

Henriques has developed a language in his painting that is closely linked to jazz, his passion ever since his childhood. These roots—so profoundly American—also impregnate his art, imbued with the foggy yet multicolored scenarios of the city. One may say that the artist is neither figurative nor abstract. The images rise to the surface inspired by jazz, a musical form so conducive to the creative impulse.

Another characteristic has contributed to the joyful chromatic force of his art in which figures emerge from the hues of mist and assume a density in splashes of color, taking on contours and identity then evanesce once more, dissolving into small multicolored stains or splashes where the drippings and the flux and flow of paint are not uncommon. He not only incites jazz cerebrally in his fluid syncopated paintings, with bold strokes of the spatula, he also mirrors the organic vibrant rhythms of jazz in the spirit of his work. At another level, the imaginary world of the artist is inhabited by personae of the coterie of jazz clubs and groups where the musicians emerge with their instruments, their clothes, their typical gestures and stances—and frequently feminine figures can be discerned, or pairs intertwined, dancing.

The work of Stephen Henriques is unique—a watershed. Before him the history of modern and contemporary art offers some examples of art created under the impact of music. Henriques goes far beyond this: he integrates music and the imaginary world of jazz in his work. In each canvas we can perceive a musical and pictorial narrative that is at the same time seductive and refined.

                                Daisy Peccinini

                               Art Critic – ABCA-AICA
                               Curator  – Museu de Arte Contemporânea- Universidade de São Paulo