The link between painting and music has been explored by numerous artists in the past. The Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky admired the way that music could bring forth emotional responses without describing a recognisable subject matter: he believed that painting should be as abstract as music and he began to combine colours that might relate to each other in the same way that musical chords did. These works are widely regarded as the first truly abstract paintings. In the late-1800s, composers, such as Alexander Scriabin and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, wrote scores accompanied by colour-light shows. The Lithuanian artist and composer Mikalojus Čiurlionis wrote scores as sound compositions based upon his paintings. The French composer Olivier Messiaen said that his chords and rhythms came to him in dreams of red, blue and green spirals which turned to the music. Pink Floyd pioneered elaborate psychedelic visual displays to accompany their music in their concerts in the late 1960s. Bridget Riley named one of her dazzling Op-Art paintings ‘Gamelan’ after the traditional ensemble music of Java and Bali. Beethoven called B minor “the black key” and D major “the orange key”. Schubert spoke of E minor as “a maiden robed in white with a rose-red bow on her chest”. In Australia, Donald Laycock – amongst others – made paintings based on his emotional response to various pieces of music.
“Colour is the keyboard,” wrote Kandinsky, “The eye is the hammer. The soul is the piano with its many strings.”
In his new works Aslanidis – who originally studied at Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music before completing a Fine Arts degree at COFA – further examines the ways in which sound can be depicted visually. His paintings chart the connections between sound /music and abstract painting. His aim has been to create intense chromatic waves, which mimic the physical and emotional states of listening to music, and in particular, electronica. Throughout the exhibition we are reminded of the ways in which natural forms repeat endlessly in recurring patterns: ripples on water, for instance, have the same guiding physical principle as sound waves travelling through the air.
Standing in front of the works the viewer is swept into a vortex of throbbing energy: Aslanidis has spoken of the “audible hum” experienced in front of his work. The sense of sound emanates from within the canvases and travels out to the edges and beyond. Working with an algorithm that he developed, the paintings are meticulously crafted with a mixture of mathematical precision and intuitive responses to colour. The resulting works suggest musical harmony; or dissonance; or chromatic scale etc.
For over two decades, Aslanidis has explored the links between sound and vision. He has exhibited internationally, including Berlin (2011) and New York (2012). He has undertaken a five-month residency at the prestigious Location One in New York. In 2011 Aslanidis collaborated with Berlin-based sound artist Brian May on some sonic performances of his paintings. He is one of Australia’s leading artists in this field of abstraction.