vls_gf_album id="63"]

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.

 

 

 

 

UK drummer Gilson Lavis’ portraits of music greats in NYC show

Jimi Hendrix, ink on paper, signed by artist

NEW YORK – British drummer and artist Gilson Lavis will present his first ever New York City art exhibit “Gilson Lavis: In Tune With The Portraits” at the Salomon Arts Gallery at 83 Leonard St. in Tribeca from Sept. 15th through Oct. 5th. His paintings have become very much sought after in British music and art world inner circles.

This acrylic on canvas board paintings and ink drawings by the veteran rock and rhythm and drummer are now making their U.S. debut after becoming popular in and around London. Best known currently as the versatile drummer with Jools Holland’s Rhythm & Blues Orchestra and the original drummer for the British band Squeeze, Gilson Lavis is now shining the spotlight on his second career as an artist, after enjoying acclaim as one of the most sought after drummers in the UK over the last 40 years.

Lavis started the Jools Holland Rhythm & Blues Orchestra over 20 years ago, with longtime friend and former Squeeze band mate Holland, who, of course, has become an institution in the UK hosting BBC Television’s Later With Jools Holland over the last 25 years. The orchestra performs throughout Europe and the U.K on a regular basis.

Mainly known for his unusual portraits of music legends and performers, much of his inspiration as an artist came out of genuine respect for many of the talented people he has admired, known and played with over the years, which reads like a “who’s who” of popular music. Lavis was a founding member and original drummer in the group Squeeze, along with pianist Holland. Squeeze achieved huge success all though the 1980s, 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 and Amy Winehouse.

Ronnie Wood, acrylic on canvas board, signed by artist

As Lavis 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 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.”

And, as Music Riot in the UK remarked in their recent story, “I’m fascinated by the paintings and the way they reflect the personalities of the people Gilson portrayed. It struck me that, while they’re not hyper-realistic, they’re a long way from caricature.”

The subjects in Lavis’ series of paintings and sketches span the decades from the 1950s and ’60s: 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.

Bruce Springsteen, acrylic on canvas board, signed by artist

Much like New York City, the art and music worlds in London often overlap. Many of his musician and tastemaker friends there began collecting his paintings, which are increasingly in demand in celebrity circles.

“Gilson Lavis: In Tune With The Portraits” is being presented at the Salomon Arts Gallery, a mainstay on the Tribeca art and music scene since the 1970s. Rodrigo and Gigi Salomon have been bringing together the worlds of art and music through their exhibits and various events for many years.

Auction Central News

Gilson Lavis artworks 22/06/17

Gilson scrollerBy an interesting series of coincidences, I found myself backstage at a Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes gig at The Forum in Kentish Town pointing the trusty MusicRiot microphone in the direction of Gilson Lavis. If you have any interest at all in popular music, you must have heard of Gilson in one of his two musical careers; he’s a great and highly respected drummer but I wasn’t there to talk about his music; we don’t do the obvious stuff like that at MusicRiot. I was there to talk to Gilson about art. There’s a reference at the end to Johnny stealing my thunder; he voicebombed the interview about a third of the way in to talk to Gilson about how much he loved Squeeze. 

Allan Hi Gilson. Some of us know you as the drummer in Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, The older ones know you as the drummer in Squeeze, but now you’ve got a new career as an artist, so how did that start?

Gilson Well, it started out of boredom really. I lead a pretty clean life these days; I don’t drink or any of the other stuff, thankfully and hanging about on the road or hanging about in hotel rooms, I’ve been doing it for about fifty years now, and it started to get a bit wearing, so I started to doodle and the doodles turned in to sketches and the sketches turned into paintings and now the paintings have turned into exhibitions. So it just sort of grew really and I’m in a very privileged position because with my position in the Rhythm and Blues Orchestra we get to play with some of the world’s best entertainers and performers and I see them close at hand and I try and paint them, and I think I can capture some of the real essence of the person.

Allan You had an art school background didn’t you? Did you continue to draw after you left art school and joined Squeeze?

Gilson No, I went straight into music, the driving force being sex; I wanted to pick up girls. It never really worked, but I got into the music business and I’m still doing that so the art was just put away really. I didn’t pick up a sketch pad or an easel or a paintbrush until about ten years ago, when I started again.

Allan Do you think you choose your subjects or do you think they choose you?

Gilson It’s a mixture of both really. As I said, I tend to sketch and paint people that I work with and sometimes I’ll get inspired by an image I see of somebody and I’ll paint from that, but really it’s working with these people that’s the driving force.

Allan You’re working mainly in acrylic on canvas aren’t you? Do you work in any other media?

Gilson Yeah, I do. I do ink sketches. That’s really what I do on the road, sketch in ink, but when I’m at home, I’ve got a large studio and my own gallery, so I paint at home and sketch on the road.

Allan In the creative process, do you have certain steps that you follow? I’m thinking of the preparation; I saw the Louis Armstrong sketch that you did and obviously you couldn’t do that from life so presumably you researched that online.

Gilson I do actually. A lot of the people I’ve painted or sketched, they’re too busy to sit for me; they’re not going to come round to my house and sit, so I do have to sketch from images. I try to take photographs when I’m working with them and sketch or paint from those, but it’s not always possible, because some of these people like Louis are no longer with us, I have to research them and I look for images that are inspiring and I tend to blend three or four images to get the look that I’m searching for, so it sort of grows.

Allan I’ve met quite a lot of musicians who have other artistic pursuits, painting, photography and so on. Do you think it’s a bit of a release valve?

Gilson I’m sure it is, it absolutely is. Though it’s a real privilege to work with the Rhythm and Blues Orchestra; it’s high profile and we play big venues, but it is quite a restrictive environment. I’m there to make Jools sound good, I’m there to make the big band work, I’m not really cutting loose on what I want to do and the painting really allows me to be creative.

Allan So the band becomes the day job and your creative outlet is the painting.

Gilson But it’s a very enjoyable day job, I’m in a very privileged position.

Allan I’m fascinated by the paintings and the way they reflect the personalities of the people you’ve portrayed and it struck me that they’re not hyper-realistic, but they’re a long way from caricature, aren’t they? The one that particularly struck me, and I wonder how people will react to it, was Keith Moon, because he has a really serene look in that portrait.

Gilson Well, thank you. There are many, many images of Keith being crazy, that’s what he’s famous for, but I really wanted that sort of innocence of the young lad before he went on that crazy journey. I think that’s what I was aiming for, that innocent, lost look, not even knowing what’s going on. What went on of course was craziness and death in the long run.

Allan That was what immediately grabbed me about that particular image, the innocence. I understand that you’ve got a book of some of your images out as well.

Gilson Do you mean the one with the drummer portraits?

Allan That’s the one.

Gilson It was released two months ago actually. It’s eighteen portraits of drummers that have influenced me with a short snippet of a quote by each of them. I was asked many times, who influenced me as a drummer and eventually I thought “I know, I’ve got a good idea, what I’ll do is I’ll paint my influences and put them in a book” and it seems to have worked really well, it’s popular and it’s selling quite well, I’m pleased to say. It’s called “Drummers” by Gilson Lavis.

Allan I understand there’s an exhibition coming up in New York as well.

Gilson There is, yeah, at the Salomon Arts Gallery in Tribeca and it opens on the fourteenth of September. I’m really excited about it; I’ve been fortunate enough to have a few exhibitions in Great Britain but this’ll be the first in New York and I’m really excited by it and a bit nervous, to be honest, because we’re all deeply insecure, us painters, we’re all waiting to be laughed at.

Allan I think photographers are exactly the same. Your career must have had so many highlights, is there anything that really stands out in your memory as a real high point?

Gilson Yes, there is. It was when I was fortunate enough to get the phone call to play drums with Smokey Robinson on Later and on rhythm was Eric Clapton, Jools Holland on piano and Dave Swift on bass and me on drums. In fact there’s a little story about that, we were there, Eric, myself and Jools were there ready to rehearse with Smokey and he was flying in from America and it got to his allotted rehearsal time and we got the message he was a bit tired so he’ll be here in a couple of hours. We all downed tools and waited and then he didn’t show up, he was still a bit tired, and the show started to be recorded and we still hadn’t seen him and I’m sitting behind the drum kit and Eric’s looking a bit sort of worried. We knew the song, everybody know Smokey’s songs. The band before us was playing and thirty seconds before they finished, Smokey Robinson walked out on to the set and I’ve never seen anybody look more like a star than he did; he glistened. His skin was beautiful, his hair was just perfect, he had an incredibly dapper suit; he walked out and I counted the song in and we played it and he was just magnificent and then he turned round and nodded at Eric, he ignored me completely but I don’t mind and off he went and that was it, that was my experience of Smokey Robinson. But it was fantastic, it was a real buzz to play with one of my heroes, and there have been many.

Allan Johnny actually stole my thunder earlier because I was going to say at the end, did you know that Johnny’s a big fan of Squeeze and Jeff Kazee’s also a huge Squeeze fan.

Gilson I didn’t know. I had no idea.

And with that, we had to clear out of the Jukes’ dressing room as the band prepared for the show, but not before Gilson presented Johnny with an ink portrait of Mr Lyon himself. A couple of hours later, Gilson joined The Jukes on stage, taking the drum stool for “Key to the Highway”. And here’s the Keith Moon portrait:

Keith Moon Gilson portrait