Graham Coxon has created a piece of music for Tate Modern's Tate Tracks series that is inspired by Meryon, a black-and-white painting by the Abstract Expressionist Franz Kline. It can be heard in the gallery from 1 November at a listening post next to the painting.
The piece is a recording of sounds in Coxon's studio. "I didn't want my track to distract from the painting," he says. "It consists of vibrations of guitars leaning against amplifiers and the dissonance of messing around with an echo machine. I was eager to make a sound that was unstructured and not segmented with bars, rhythms and drums, and that didn't have anything repeating in it. The only way I could do that was to tape myself going about my own business, as I would have done had I been doing a painting myself."
Tate Tracks launched in September with The Chemical Brothers' "The Rock Drill", inspired by Sir Jacob Epstein's Torso in Metal from 'The Rock Drill' (1913-14). Other bands commissioned for the series include The Long Blondes and Klaxons.
The musicians were asked to choose from works in Tate Modern's newly rehung collection, and Coxon made a beeline for the Kline. "He made a big impact on me when I was a teenager," he says. "It was the first time I had an emotional response to abstract art, and it introduced me to his huge and powerful images." Coxon didn't need to spend a lot of time looking at the painting for inspiration. "People panic about abstract art, about understanding exactly what is going on. The gut feeling you get is enough.
"There's something very spiritual about Kline. It's like experiencing the void. When I was younger, I used to faint a lot. When I came round, it was the closest I have ever felt to God. There is a stillness, a strength and a starkness to the sounds I have made that reminds me of that experience."
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