Jakub Alexander has a way with tone and gradient. It can be heard in his work as Heathered Pearls, the latest of which is Loyal, an LP due out next month on Ghostly International. And it can be seen in his art, which has graced various projects related to the ISO50 Blog, where he curates, and Moodgadget Records, which he runs. The Brooklyn-based, Polish-born artist takes us through his colors below, along with a sonic backdrop provided for the very occasion:
Future Totems is playing right now (above). Where is this mix coming from…what kind of space does it live in?
Future Totems is similar to some of my other mixes which are about communicating the beauty of how I see sound expanding slowly. I see it living in a naturally carved out, small cove full of very simple, large vegetation surrounding a huge slow-moving body of water; it’s a calm place yet there’s plenty of moving parts, and once in awhile everything aligns and you get these still moments.
It wasn’t until this past year that I had discovered your visual art, until then I had only known your music. Have you always been making both? Can you speak to the connection between the two, and how they inform one another?
Being able to select specific sound and color has been so important to me since the earliest I can imagine being alive. I still look at what I’ve done on the art end as experiments working towards a future project, while my music being closer to where I want it to be and just finding the time to grow it from where it is now. As for both connecting, only in the past two years have I started seeing them crossing each other’s paths. I aim to find color schemes that match the range of sound a piece might have.
Your color palette appears to derive from landscapes heavily saturated in natural light. Do you find your present location to alter the mood of what you create? Did you feel any shifts in your recent move from Brooklyn to the Bay Area and back?
I feel like I do brighter experimental work quicker when I live in New York. In the Bay Area (where I just moved from), I felt no rush but things became darker, yet I was happier with the color selections. It could have been just me missing the atmosphere of Brooklyn that made me feel like that; right now I’m back on the East Coast and winter is coming, I haven’t designed anything or made music in a month because of moving, getting a puppy and new apartment. I have some projects lined up that I’m eager to work on, mostly trying to make inverted colors look less inverted and more dreamy is my next goal.
Looking at your images I imagine influences of Barnett Newman, Otto Piene, and Frank Stella. Can you talk about the visual artists that have helped shape how you experience and make art?
Those are some names I definitely respect. My biggest visual influence is J.M.W. Turner for atmosphere, he captured haze in the most attractive way possible. As for getting into the process of making something, I really find myself going back and forth and looking to see what Gerhard Richter and Francis Bacon did. Subject wise they are way off from what I do, but I sit there mostly listening to music and just arrange color until it gets to where I want it. Those two talented men always have me rethinking details which is a beautiful filter to work with.
Rothko saw his color field paintings as dramas, as a stage of actors expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on. What does the color/form relationship express in your work?
I like the feeling of an unexplainable low glow, when light is sitting in-between two colors, when I see that color I get the most excited and curious, that feeling of a glimpse of something special so don’t miss it. Capturing that expression by using many colors is what I strive for.