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Many of Andres Chaparro’s striking mixed-media-on-canvas works bring to mind the audacious neo-expressionist paintings of the late Jean-Michael Basquiat. Several of those pieces are on permanent display at Black-Eyed Sally’s, a popular blues and jazz club in downtown Hartford, Connecticut, not far from the artist’s studio in nearby Windsor. Chaparro’s work has also been exhibited in galleries in New York City and elsewhere in his native Hartford. His jazz-inspired collages and paintings currently grace the walls of The Jazz Forum in Tarrytown, New York, and drummer Ralph Peterson featured Chaparro’s paintings on the covers of his three most recent albums. In April, Chaparro’s artwork was exhibited abroad in a solo show at the HUB Gallery in Kuwait City, where a robust jazz scene has been bubbling up in recent years.
“I am proud that my work has transcended cultural boundaries,” says the 55-year-old artist. “I attribute this to the universal and spiritual essence of jazz music, which serves as my source of inspiration and subject matter. It is great to be appreciated locally and throughout the United States, but very humbling to have my work recognized abroad.”
[caption id="attachment_18964" align="aligncenter" width="770"] "Alabama" (John Coltrane) by Andres Chaparro, 2011.[/caption]
A longstanding jazz fan, the self-taught Chaparro has been paying homage to the likes of Mingus, Monk, Bird, Miles and other jazz heroes since he began merging his twin passions of music and painting in the late 1980s. He had his jazz epiphany at age 12, which he describes as a defining moment in his life as an artist. “I kind of just discovered it accidentally,” he recalls. “I was listening to radio station WRTC one night and they were playing John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, and it was like getting hit by lightning. It was just an instant connection. And then I went on this lifelong journey of discovering what jazz was and who the great jazz players were. And when I started painting several years later, in 1989, one of my first paintings was actually John Coltrane. Later I experimented with more abstract stuff, creating paintings of my dreams, but I would always go back to creating jazz-inspired artwork. And that basically evolved into wanting to devote my abilities and my career to representing and reflecting my appreciation and love for jazz.
“For me,” he continues. “jazz is not only inspiring, but there’s a certain spiritual essence to that connection, and it’s one that I’m very passionate about. And I try to represent that in each piece that I create.”
Regarding his approach to his jazz-inspired pieces, Chaparro says, “I paint what I’m feeling and what the music’s making me feel. I don’t really set out with any particular end of what the painting should look like. My work is done in the spirit of improvisation. I just keep painting until it’s done. I’m just trying to capture the energy of the music, the flow of the music and my knowledge of the musician. It’s splattered all over the canvas.”
[caption id="attachment_18965" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] "Better Git It in Your Soul" (Charles Mingus) by Andres Chaparro, 2015.[/caption]
To learn more about Andres Chaparro, go to www.chaparroart.com.- Bill Milkowski
Featured photo by Cris Yarborough.