Still Life with Billie Holiday

Still Life with Billie Holiday

Guy Diehl

2012, Acrylic

“First, I want to say that without the support of the John Natsoulas Gallery and the fine group of contributing artists, known as the Davis Mural Team, my mural ‘Still Life with Billie Holiday’ would not have a life of its own. The artists on our mural team have shown great skill and respect for each other as we have spent close to six months working together. Beginning in 1992, I began to focus on the book as my primary subject matter for still life paintings. With references to art history, music and modern culture which would include; Jazz, Cubism, German Expressionism, Abstract Expressionism and the artists of the early Modernist period from 1900 to the present. My aim is to first capture the viewer’s attention with the objects themselves, then encourage the viewer’s further reflection on the work and its narrative. The idea of art-about-art has become the focus of my work. It is not a new concept as artists have been remixing ideas from other artists throughout history. By referencing artists’ images with books and their titles like ‘Billie Holiday-Song Book’, they are employed to comment on or link the objects within this mural. I make this juxtaposition to place the familiar in a different context combining ideas and titles to create an unexpected composition. In 2010 I created a 36” x 41” canvas painting with a reference to Billie Holiday and her love songs. After long thought as what to do for my mural, I decided that that painting would be the chosen image. As an artist, to be able to direct the viewer’s thoughts to her and the music she created, would be my tribute. Within the mural you will see a single magnolia in a glass. Billie was known for wearing a gardenia in her hair so why the magnolia? In her song, ‘Strange Fruit’ about racial inequality, the lyrics reveal, ‘Scent of magnolias sweet and fresh, then the sudden smell of burning flesh.’ Billie Holiday gave us great gifts, the ability to make us smile with joy, to feel lonely and blue, to love dearly and to feel the need to always be loved.” –Guy Diehl

Transmedia Site