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Review: Soundwave, Eternal Loyalist

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Leon casino, Photo Courtesy of Peveto Gallery

Late March to late April at Peveto Galley, located on Colquitt Gallery Row, artist Felipe Lopez presented an exhibition of paintings and a sound performance centering around the phenomenon of synesthesia. “Soundwave, Eternal Loyalist” examined not only the aural quality of sound, but also how it plays out in a visual sense. Synesthesia Sound Series is a body of work that emphasizes the visual center of the brain and its connection to the auditory system, and this exhibition displayed this psychological phenomenon in an open and unique way. The artist addresses his experience as an individual with synesthesia through the work of both the visual arts and music, showing this experience on canvas. The exhibition borrows its name from Transformers; Soundwave is known as one of Megatron’s most reliable troops in the mechanical coalition. This troop leader has a legion of cassette troops to carry out commands big and small.

Similarly, Felipe Lopez carried out the commands of the concept of sound and his experiences with synesthesia through rich combinations of watercolors and definition of oil bar, drawing upon various experiences with audio both natural and manmade. As a visual artist and a sound engineer, Felipe combined visual and aural strands of the arts to weave together an experience engaging multiple senses. The exhibition included a survey of the Synesthesia Sound Series and interactive performances by the local electronic music community.

The visual component remained true to the organic and natural production of sound such as in nature while the electronic component offers commentary on man made components of aural experiences. Similarly to Megatron’s use of machinery, both the artist and guest musicians implored the use of pedals, computers, synthesizers and other means of technology to command new sounds in an artistic environment.

Harkening back to art history is the combination of musical performances within an exhibition. “Having two art forms play off of each other was very important to this exhibition,” said Lopez. “Since I myself construct synthesizers and audio tracks, many of which inspired my work, I wanted to invite local musicians in the community to give their creative take on how the paintings inspired them. By placing the performers amongst the paintings, the two art forms would have a much needed dialogue for the exhibition.”

The first performance in April came from local musician, David Garcia, known for his role as a drummer and arranger performing in multiple bands. For “Soundwave, Eternal Loyalist”, Garcia created a musical meditation in three movements, exploring and melodically commenting on the color fields of Lopez’s pieces along with relating them to the notion of life and death. Using a set up of a microKORG, pedals, and electronic drumbeats along with the assistance of vocalist Moji Abiola, textures of ambient pads and chime like leads filled the tall spaces of the Gallery. Spacious yet complex in sound, the music took a nod from Brian Eno and his use of ambience. The piece moved in a cathartic tempo, revealing the rich voice of Abiola through the warmth of the synths. The final movement came in with the march of a drumbeat, opening up all sounds for a transcendental ending of a life cycle. One was left with the echoes and the images of colors from the artwork, a true reflection on sound and art in one’s life.

The second performance within the exhibition was with electronic musician wizard Paul Connolly, who is well known for his work in the experimental and improvised music communities local and abroad. In May, he will be joining harsh noise pioneer Black Leather Jesus on a European tour traveling to Europe. For this particular exhibition, Connolly crafted a piece titled “Penelope and the Land of Moonbeams” based on the birth of a child and the experience as parents. Drawing from his own personal experience from the arrival of his son, along with hearing about the similar experience from Felipe Lopez with the birth of his daughter, Connolly created a multi-movement piece that took listeners on a sonic journey of a parent navigating various landscapes.

“My initial reaction to Felipe’s work was one of a geographical or topographical resonance,” said Connolly. “Each piece representing (to me) various landscapes while each distinct in themselves, connected to the greater whole of the landscape overall. This connection is similar to one that all parents have with their children, as well as with other parents.” Landscapes he did create and the vividness of sounds played off the canvases that surrounded the musician. Breaths of new life from a small baby seemed to melt out of his musical textures, and the slow build of sounds revealed the layers of connection. Quiet contemplation of synths ended the piece, lending themselves for the perfect ending of space and color in the gallery.