Over the last few months we’ve been featuring an interview series with Motor Racing Art and Music Artist Juan Carlos Ferrigno, aiming to give you a little insight into the paintings of this renowned artist, whose works are admired and much sought after around the globe. Here’s Part 4 of the interview series…
Can you tell us something about yourself that your fans are unlikely to know?
“Due to my age (54 years) I ‘come from’ a time when people used traditional methods to work and communicate, and I still tend to work more or less in the same way. I’m not very good with computers and technology, though I know I should be sometimes. I just use them to send messages and to look for information, but I’m not good at all with applications like “Photoshop” for example. Though I can see the importance of forms of online marketing and do use them a bit, I don’t like very much to link computers with paintings – I feel that painting is something that comes more from your feelings, from your heart, and that’s why you could say I’m perhaps a little ‘behind’ the times with regards to technology.
The most powerful tool I have to help me with my painting is music…!”
That’s interesting – please tell us more!
“In every painting I produce, the music I listen to as I create the work has a special role, it helps me to connect with the colours and the paint. I love Blues and Jazz music, and depending on the painting I’m working on, I choose the right music for the moment. This is of course loud! Apologies to my neighbours!
If I come across a problem when I’m creating a painting, I listen to loud Rock music, as it gives me a ‘boost’ and I am able to work through the issue. Music was in fact responsible for one of the distinctive features of my paintings – the red colour spots. This came about due to listening to loud Rock music one day when I was using a palette knife instead of brushes.
I can’t recall exactly when that first time was that I used the red spots in my painting, but it was definitely a long time ago. I think it all started when I was painting a red racing car, and I wanted to imply some sort of movement, to give that feeling of speed. The colour red goes so well with greens and blues that I use in relation to the race track, so I started to incorporate this feature in every painting. So the red gives the painting a sense of speed and movement, but then I started to use the red in places when there was not implied movement, but I liked the effect when the painting was finished.
Music as I have said, plays an important part in my painting – when I first paint the racing cars to be more realistic for instance, I then ‘break’ the shapes up to also give them a sense of speed. Music during these moments gives me the confidence to not fear ruining a painting – the music ‘pushes’ me if you like, to be brave enough to use the red to help spread the colour in the composition, also with little touches of the red here and there, which I like. I soon realised that people also liked the use of the red spots as they mentioned this to me on many occasions, so I kept on using this in my works.
It is normally Rock music that pushes me in these final steps of completing a painting, and very loud – if possible!
So as you can see, it’s not possible to split my painting from music, as they are one piece.”
Music certainly sounds very important to your work – can you tell us more about what you particularly like listening to when you are working?
“When I was younger, I listened to the Beatles songs, but later I became a great Rolling Stones fan – their music really ‘pushes’ me to paint. I also like Queen, and on days when my mood needs a lift, there’s a song that never fails; “Somebody to Love”. Queen playing live is also very good, the Talking Heads, Guns N ‘Roses, U2, Lou Read, Tom Waits, and even ACDC – I listen to all of these whilst painting. Some funky James Brown, Maceo Parker or reggae by Bob Marley is great also and gets me moving whilst painting. When a quieter mood is called for, I listen to Jazz; Miles Davis, Marcus Miller, Marsalis, or the great saxophonists John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Michael Brecker, Joshua Redman or some of the old Jazz songs sung by legendary female artists such as Billie Holiday.
Just lately, I have been listening to a lot of Blues music; Chris Rea, Eric Clapton, Keb’ Mo’, Taj Mahal etc, but what I really love is the old Blues played by Robert Johnson, Elmore James, Leadbelly, Lightening Hopkins, BBKing etc.
Music in my case is an important part of my paintings – some artists need silence to paint, I need just the opposite, loud music that I choose depending on the moment and the painting.”
So talking of music, what are the favourite music themed paintings that you’ve created – as some fans may not realise that you also produce music related works?
“One is Michael Jackson, and the other is that of Pavarotti. Regards the Michael Jackson painting, years ago, I was watching a concert on TV and Michael’s on-stage presence really impressed me – I saw a real star on the stage, a man who’s dancing and singing was totally different to other musical artists, so I immediately decided to paint him. I chose to paint him dressed in the black with all the golden details of his outfit, and to have him stand out, I created a red background. I wanted to totally capture the expression on his face along with his very strong presence on the stage, and I incorporated all the action that he displayed when playing live in that concert. I endeavoured to portray him in a way that everyone would remember and recognise, with his own unique gesture. I feel that this is one of my best music paintings, capturing his power, passion and on-stage presence, that had made such an impression on me.
The painting of Pavarotti is also important for me, as I had produced many Rock and Pop music related paintings, and I realised that I needed to widen my scope to other kinds of music inspiration, even though up to this point I had never been overly keen on Opera, Pavarotti struck me as having the passion and strong presence I like to portray. I chose the moment at the end of one of his concerts to capture the expression on his face, when the public went ‘crazy’ with applause, and he opened his arms to his public giving thanks for the moment, with his white handkerchief in his hand. For me it’s a moment of glory, a highly emotionally charged moment in time for everyone and probably an unforgettable moment for the public in the theatre that night. I needed in this case to use more neutral colours, as Opera is obviously very different and doesn’t necessarily require the bright colours of Rock and Pop – the dark and neutral colours helped to make his figure stand out. I am very happy to have captured his expression, which is maybe the most important aspect of this painting.”
All the Original paintings by Juan Carlos Ferrigno featured in this article are available for sale at Pole Position Gallery:-
Part 5 of our interview series with Juan will be coming soon.
Read more about Juan Carlos Ferrigno
NB: You may be interested to know that motor racing legends Sir Stirling Moss OBE and Derek Bell MBE are Patrons of Christine’s Charity, Hope for Tomorrow. You’ll recognise a few other names too including Ross Brawn OBE, Martin Brundle and Gloria Hunniford.