The Italian Almanac

Miles Davis

Italian News / Art - June 13

A new show at Venice's Fenice opera house will be an eye-opener for Miles Davis fans who did not know that the jazz legend was also an accomplished painter. The exhibition is entitled 'The Colour of Miles Davis - paintings, drawings, videos' and runs until July 31. It features dozens of the great trumpeter's works, which are spread around different parts of the historic theatre.

The paintings are large, very colourful and created in a variety of styles, both abstract and figurative. They were produced in the 1980s, during a spell in which Davis' temporarily used the brush as his main form of artistic expression, rather than the trumpet. All the works are intriguing and some, like his interpretation of New York by Night, are strikingly beautiful, curator Chiara Bertola said.

"Davis did not limit himself to painting the sounds of his jazz, he took up a new form and sought out his own original style, which continually developed," added Bertola. "Music and painting contaminated each other (in his art). These two languages of expression came to resemble each other in ways they had never done before". One of the highlights is a fascinating self-portrait. In this, the artist's large, stern eyes emerge through a grid of colored circles to confront the viewer.

The show gives visitors insight into the soul of one of the most influential and innovative musicians of the 20th century, a man whose work was at the forefront of almost every major post-war development in jazz. The works are accompanied by Davis' music and video footage of his concerts.

The exhibition is part of a series of initiatives being held in the Veneto region to mark the 80th anniversary of Davis' birth and the 15th anniversary of his death.