Martel Chapman’s paintings celebrating Nduduzo Makhathini’s upcoming release “In The Spirit Of Ntu” will be on display during an open house at the Waypoint Public House in Monona on May 26.
“I will be exhibiting seven pieces dedicated to Nduduzo Makhathini and his regular saxophonist Linda Sikhakhane for one night,” Chapman told Madison365. “Other jazz paintings will also be in place. I have a dozen or more jazz-themed works that have been part of an ongoing exhibit.
The event will be hosted by the Harlem Renaissance Museum, located at 1444 East Washington Avenue, which aims to tell the story of the rich artistic heritage of the Harlem Renaissance, one of America’s most creative movements. The museum offers visual art, live music, writing workshops, and an artist-in-residence among other creative exhibits.
A jazz music lover and educator, Chapman breathes new life into jazz musicians with his works.
“Music is my source and I’ve had the chance to work with musicians who inspire me. I also did two painted canvas covers for Brooklyn pianist Victor Gould,” he says. “Nduduzo Makhathini’s music really resonates with me because in recent years I started listening to Fela Kuti and African music.”
Visionary South African pianist, composer, improviser and healer Nduduzo Makhathini releases his 10th studio album, In the mind of Ntu, which condenses the thematic, sonic and conceptual notions explored throughout its catalog into a layered yet accessible 10-track album. Chapman drew the paintings, as he has done many times before with other artists, to honor Makhathini who then requested to use them for his new album on the new label Blue Note Africa, a new label which will focus on African jazz artists.
“He’s been using one of my paintings for the cover and for the last three weeks he’s been posting video footage of three other paintings to match his other versions,” Chapman explains. “So it’s very, very exciting for me. It’s surreal to see how something like this happens.
Chapman adds that he’s really excited because “this has really been a dream of mine.”
“I’ve had album covers in the past, but not to the extent that Nduduzo used them and I’m so grateful for this opportunity to contribute to his music in any way I can,” he says. “So I thought it would be a good thing on the eve of the full album release – May 27th – I’m going to be exhibiting these tracks he used for a night at Waypoint Public House.”
Chapman says he’s been drawing since he was a kid.
“I didn’t start taking it seriously until I started listening to jazz seriously with John Coltrane’s ‘Blue Train’ reissue. [in 1997] that really piqued my interest. I had never heard a musician call themselves an artist before, so it was something very interesting,” he recalls. “That cover of Blue Note is also something to watch. It really lends itself to creating some interest in seeing what this cover means to the sound within.
“I started learning to paint jazz musicians for myself and I started learning about the music and the musicians and other musicians too,” adds Chapman. “When you read a lot about the careers of these musicians, it always comes down to how they have to develop their own sound. And learning that, I tried to see what I could do with portraits to combine that idea in my own visual art, and take what jazz is like improvised music, and improvise forms in my work .
Chapman developed a cubist style where he produced intricate compositions and delivered a musical atmosphere with his portraits.
“Because cubism lends itself well to improvisation because you create multiple views of the subject and lines can indicate boundary lines, changes in horizon line…and those lines can also indicate movement,” says -he. “So all of those things kind of came together so that I had my own take on Cubism.”
Chapman says he’s really excited about the upcoming event on May 26 at the Waypoint Public House, hosted by the Harlem Renaissance Museum.
“For the Harlem Renaissance Museum — David Hart, Caitlin McGahan and myself and a few others — the pandemic hit us a little bit, but we were able to do a few shows and bring in artists and have musicians performing,” says Chapman. “We are still doing things and we are still trying to put that back together and move on and I think this event will kickstart us again.
“It’s going to be fun to share what I do and share the music that inspired me for a night. I can’t wait to be there. I have seven pieces in total that I haven’t posted yet It should be awesome.
For more information on the event, Martel Chapman Paintings to South African Jazz Pianist Nduduzo Makhathini, click here.