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GILSON LAVIS – In Tune With The Portraits, Sept. 15 to Oct. 5 – 2017

 

 

 

 

GILSON LAVIS – In Tune with the Portraits.

This unique exhibition of acrylic on canvas board paintings by veteran British rock drummer Gilson Lavis are now making their U.S. debut at Salomon Arts Gallery in September 2017. The mainly black and white music themed portraits, along with some very personal sketches by Lavis, have become much sought after by tastemakers and those in art and music circles in the U.K.

Best known currently as the superbly versatile drummer with Jools Holland’s Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, Gilson Lavis is now shining the spotlight on his second career as an artist.

Much of his inspiration as an artist came out of genuine respect for many of the talented people he has played with over the years, which reads like a “Who’s Who” of popular music. As many people know, Lavis was a founding member and original drummer in the group Squeeze, along with band mate pianist Jools Holland. Squeeze achieved huge success all though the 1980’s and Gilson later went on to perform live or record with the likes of Bryan Ferry, Eric Clapton, Smokey Robinson, Cher, Paul McCartney, Barry White, BB King, Robert Plant, Amy Winehouse and so many others.

As he explains, “I find a peace and serenity in art that I have never known before. Most of my portraits feature artists and performers I have had the privilege of working with and that have been of inspiration to me. My art is a sort of painted biography of my musical life, one I can never hope to finish, but what a joy it is to engage in. I enjoy working in black and white, giving my art a bit of stage drama and allowing me to play with the shadows, while occasionally adding a little splash of color. My work, I hope, communicates the close working relationship I have with many of the subjects I paint.”

Exhibition runs September 15 to October 5 – 2017

Exhibition hours:   Wednesday through Saturday / 1 – 5 PM and by  appointment.

GILSON LAVIS – ARTIST’S BIO

Gilson Lavis has remained one of the most sought after, highly-acclaimed drummers in the UK over the last 40 years.

Best known currently as the superbly versatile drummer with Jools Holland’s Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, Gilson Lavis is now shining the spotlight on his second career as an artist. His talent as an artist, doing mainly acrylic on canvas portraits and sketches, has always seemed to stay in the background with his music career taking the lead.

He is now bringing his art across the pond to unveil his work in New York City. His portraits are mostly of musicians and recording artists he has long admired, known and worked with. Those in his “Music Legends” series of paintings span the decades from the 1950’s and 60’s…..BB King, Chuck Berry, Etta James, Eartha Kitt, James Brown, Wilson Picket, Ray Charles, Ronnie Spector, Sammy Davis, Dean Martin….to the more contemporary…..Keith Moon, Al Green, Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Debbie Harry, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Elvis Costello…..to current day songstresses like Adele and the late Amy Winehouse.

Much of his inspiration as an artist came out of genuine respect for many of the talented people he has played with over the years, which reads like a “Who’s Who” of popular music. His first taste of fame was backing the likes of Chuck Berry in the 1970s before he joined the band Squeeze, teaming up with the British pop group as their original drummer and founding member, along with band mate Jools Holland. Squeeze achieved huge success all though the 1980’s and Gilson later went on to perform live or record with the likes of Bryan Ferry, Eric Clapton, Smokey Robinson, Cher, Paul McCartney, Barry White, BB King Robert Plant, Amy Winehouse and so many others.

As a youngster in Bedford, England, Gilson excelled in art school, but the prospect of being a professional musician was far more enticing. “I think the prospect of impressing the opposite sex was the real driving force behind that decision.” But in more recent years, he has been drawn back into his early passion for art and creating. Much like New York City, the art and music worlds in London often overlap. Many of his musician and tastemaker friends there began asking for his paintings, which were now in demand in certain circles.

Just over five years ago, Lavis felt inspired to create while on a trip to Budapest. He picked up some paper and began to sketch pictures. He sketched his wife, then his Jools Holland’s Rhythm & Blues Orchestra tour manager. Once back in London, he sketched portraits of Jools, the entire orchestra and their wives. It was their delight and excitement over the portraits that inspired Gilson to continue with his art, then moving on from sketches to painting.

As he explains, “I find a peace and serenity in art that I have never known before. Most of my portraits feature artists and performers I have had the privilege of working with and that have been of inspiration to me. My art is a sort of painted biography of my musical life, one I can never hope to finish, but what a joy it is to engage in. I enjoy working in black and white, giving my art a bit of stage drama and allowing me to play with the shadows, while occasionally adding a little splash of color. My work, I hope, communicates the close working relationship I have with many of the subjects I paint.”

After an already impressive extensive background as a musician, Gilson joined a south London band called Squeeze in 1975. Their first record, Take Me I’m Yours, was released in 1977 and was a massive UK hit. This was soon followed by a string of hits including Cool For Cats, Up The Junction, Pulling Mussels From the Shell, Labelled With Love and many more. Squeeze made countless tours of the US, Canada, Europe and Australia, headlining shows at Madison Square Garden, The Hollywood Bowl, Maple Leaf Gardens, The Royal Albert Hall and Giants Stadium.

After just over eight years of great success, Squeeze broke up and went their separate ways. Gilson used this time to record an album with Graham Parker and toured and recorded with Chris Rea. Squeeze then reformed eighteen months later, producing a new string of hit songs and doing tours of America, Canada and Europe, culminating in a show at the Sunsplash Festival in Jamaica to an audience of 100,000. Around 1989, Jools Holland and Gilson parted company with the rest of Squeeze and started doing live shows as a duo under the name of the Jools Holland Big Band. The Big Band has evolved over the years into the now 18 piece Rhythm and Blues Orchestra with whom Gilson still plays today. In this present format Gilson has been featured on many TV shows such as The Happening, Later with Jools Holland, The Hootenanny series, and Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush. The band also had the honor of playing at the opening ceremony of the Millennium Dome in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen.

He is one of Britain’s most experienced and versatile drummers still performing and touring Britain and Europe on a full time basis, while he lives in the country outside London, where he also maintains his art studio.