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A review of Paul Judd’s latest exhibition

La Mezz Gallery, Hamilton
10 October – 7 November 2009


Art as we have heard and seen is presented in the colourful splendour of Paul Judd’s recent exhibition Boplicity at La Mezz Gallery, Hamilton. Twelve mixed-media works titled ‘Drawings’ bring visual illustration to the jazz legends of the 1950s and 60s in an explosion of improvisation mirroring their style.

Judd’s visual performance pays homage to the creative genius of musicians such as Thelonious Monk, Stan Getz, and Dave Brubeck among others.

In typical Judd style, personalities feature in visual story-telling manner. Each work is based around one musician and their musical legacy. His narrative shows shades and layers of intrigue using manikins gathered as a crowd and text referencing the musician’s lyrics. This distinctly vibrant collection evokes the sounds of jazz: moody, vivacious, unconventional and at times discordant.

Judd recommenced this captivating range of work after many years, reworking them into this expressive and free collection, though Judd’s key influences, Cy Twombly and Juliao Sarmento, are still apparent in these pieces.

Among these colourful bursts, my attention was drawn to the rhythms and complex harmonies of three works: ‘Misterioso’, ‘Mambo’ and ‘Take Note’ strangely making me want to dance. ‘Misterioso’ focused on Thelonious Monk, an apricot-based palette with collaged figures utilising complementary sky-blue aspects. This was cleverly hung near to sky-blue ‘BeBop’ which read ‘for your pleasure’ and ‘GIANT steps will dance’ an intelligent interpretation of the legacy of jazz as it contributed to the history of music in the 19th century. Close reading of these works provoked curiosity into the lives and lyrics of the musicians and composers involved. Judd’s interest in jazz of this era allures similar interest in the viewer. The exhibition as a whole illustrated how well an artist can keenly explore subject matter that fascinates them, and combine it effectively as a medium to wet the appetite of the viewer. Boplicity demonstrates the artist’s power to more than simply entertain.


Reviewed and written by Emily Hill





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