Jazzaomoart Vázquez improvises his art. ©Brett Delmage, 2011
Jazzaomoart Vázquez improvises his art. ©Brett Delmage, 2011

Thursday, September 8, 2011
Macdonald Stewart Art Centre
Guelph Jazz Festival

Take "Jazz" and "Love" and "Art". In Spanish, they can be rolled up into one word – Jazzaomoart – and that's the nom-de-art of a Mexican visual artist who appeared at the 2011 Guelph Jazz Festival.

Jazzaomoart Vázquez was introduced to Festival-goers at a Wednesday afternoon session at the colloquium by jazz musician and journalist Alain Derbez, who showed a video of a number of Jazzaomoart's works and of him in action. Although he has also created sculptures and more standard murals, Jazzaomoart is best known for actually improvising to the music created by jazz musicians (Mexican and international) – creating brush-stroke paintings and paper sculptures inspired by what he is hearing.

According to Derbez, Jazzaomoart tries to live his life like jazz, emphasizing freedom and improvisation. This has led to at least one right-wing Mexican politician to destroy one of Jazzaomoart's sculptures in a Mexican city, because it was considered politically dangerous. (Jazzaomoart was present at the session, but didn't speak for himself at any time, perhaps because of a language barrier.)

On Thursday morning, in a workshop entitled Mirar el ruido (To See the Noise), Derbez collaborated with the members of Tilting: Nicolas Caloia, Jean Derome, Isaiah Ceccarelli, and Guillaume Dostaler, to create a musical improvisation to which Jazzamoart could create the corresponding visual improv.

The open gallery on the main floor of the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre was cleared out and several wall hangings protected with a barrier.  Jazzamoart had prepared a number of paper rolls in advance and had more plain paper ready. The musicians started playing off each other, and he moved around them, crumpling and folding paper into interesting shapes, and creating a network of long strips of paper. He started unrolling already-painting rolls and attached those with masking tape near the walls. He painted on the plain paper with long, shiny black strokes using a medium-width brush – strokes that moved down and crossed around the paper to create an intricate pattern.

Jazzamoart had also created a series of cut-out paper masks which he put on the musicians and in some cases also drew on, although the musicians seemed to doff them again after a few minutes.

It was an odd experience: highly free, atonal jazz contrasting with a room steadily being filled with colourful, flowing paper. It was hard to say if the two actually reflected each other, but it was certainly a different interpretation.

    – Alayne McGregor

Other 2011 Guelph Jazz Festival coverage:

All photos ©Brett Delmage, 2011