The drawing ‘Pannonica’ took about two months. I was about two-thirds of the way through when it acquired a very strong association in my mind with Thelonious Monk (1917-1982), whose recorded piano playing I have been listening to for over thirty years. .
Perhaps it was because my shapes, as they emerged, reminded me of 1950s-graphics, and the fifties was when he was arguably at the height of his powers. We seemed to share a taste for quirky ‘modern’ asymmetry, with unashamedly nostalgic ornament, (you might have to listen to his playing to understand). I listen to Monk in different ways, either intently, or letting it wash over.
By the way, if anyone told me that their artwork was inspired by music, I would take it with a pinch of salt. It’s probably a bad idea. The picture is possibly too decorative and too much an ‘all-over’ picture, but right now I care not. The interest for me is in the close-up invention of shapes. This is the instrument I am learning to play.
I was nearly finished when I saw a documentary about Monk’s soul-mate Pannonica Koenigswarter (née Rothschild), called ‘The Jazz Baroness’. So much of the information was a revelation to me (for instance Monk’s mental health issues) and for days I couldn’t stop thinking about their unlikely friendship. There are numerous musical compositions dedicated to Pannonica, including one by Monk called simply ‘Pannonica’. Her parents, being keen entomologists, named her after a moth. After learning this I couldn’t help seeing a kind of abstract animated dance, like moths around a light source. None of this is important, nor was it consciously put in the picture. It certainly isn’t a prescribed ‘reading’, but after it had occurred to me, I found it agreeable; hence the title.