About the Artist:
Norman Perryman was born in Birmingham, England and graduated with Honours from the Birmingham College of Art and Crafts, where he studied painting. He has exhibited widely and has won international acclaim for his dynamic watercolours. His principal themes are portraits, dance and in particular, music. He exploits the fluid transparency of watercolour to convey the illusion of movement and the transient nature of music and dance, his figuration moving naturally into abstract expressionism. Perryman, who now lives in Amsterdam, travels frequently to carry out commissions in Europe and the United States. He also appears internationally as a performing artist, painting continuous kinetic abstract images to music, a visual collaboration which is projected on a giant screen as he works.
Perryman has been expressing his passion for music through painting since the early sixties. One of his first subjects was Bernard Haitink conducting the Concertgebouw Orchestra. This led to many 'action portraits' of other great musical personalities, which not only convey an excellent likeness - they radiate energy and tremendous presence. His aim is to make the whole painting emanate music. The late Yehudi Menuhin, a friend for more than thirty years, once described Perryman as “a musician, who makes music with his brush".
In 1990, Perryman was commissioned to paint a series of large watercolours of musical celebrities for England’s renowned Symphony Hall in Birmingham. This unique Collection now contains nearly thirty paintings of great singers like José Carreras, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Jessye Norman, Luciano Pavarotti, cellists Yo-Yo Ma and Mstislav Rostropovich, conductors Riccardo Chailly, Valery Gergiev, Bernard Haitink, Kurt Masur, Sakari Oramo and Sir Simon Rattle, violinists Yehudi Menuhin and Itzhak Perlman, pianists Vladimir Ashkenazy and Alfred Brendel. Two selections of these works have been published as the Symphony Hall Calendar, evoking great enthusiasm from both the performing artists and the public.
Perryman is currently writing his book ‘Painting through Music’, which tells how he became so deeply involved with music, and how he portrayed these fascinating personalities. Other paintings include the tenor Plácido Domingo (both as tenor and as conductor), violinist Sarah Chang and conductors Sir Georg Solti and Leonard Slatkin. A selection of these works was shown for the first time to the public in 2001 at the Metropolitan Opera Gallery, New York.
Norman Perryman has also undertaken major large-scale commissions, among them the twenty-two foot mural for the Netherlands Dance Theatre; 'The Mahler Experience' - a large canvas painted as a tribute to the magnificent acoustics of Birmingham's Symphony Hall; the huge (7x5foot) triptych watercolour inspired by Elgar's oratorio 'The Dream of Gerontius', unveiled in Birmingham by Lord Menuhin in 1996; and the acrylic painting ‘Enigma’ (inspired by the ‘Enigma Variations’) for the new Elgar Birthplace Museum in Worcestershire.
In 1993, BBC Television made the fifty-minute documentary 'Concerto for Paintbrush and Orchestra', reviewing Perryman's life and work with music and painting. The programme included a performance of Mussorgsky's 'Pictures at an Exhibition', with Sir Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, in which Perryman could be seen painting his own semi-abstract kinetic pictures, inspired by and synchronized to Mussorgsky's music, and projected directly onto a giant screen. As he interprets the score like a musician, Perryman’s brushes allow the colours to pulsate or explode in huge, luminous, continuous- image sequences.
The Times described the performance as "an ingenious audio-visual experiment, with brilliantly conceived imagery".
Perryman has been performing in this way with dance and music for over thirty years, with Yehudi Menuhin, Simon Rattle, José Carreras, the percussionist Evelyn Glennie, the Dutch ensemble Circle Percussion and in several films for television.
In 1989 he co-created and performed the modern ballet ‘Invention’ (for painter and dancers) with the Netherlands Dance Theatre. In 2004 he performed with the Rotterdam Philharmonic (Takemitsu’s “From me flows what you call time”), the Holland Symfonia (Ravel’s Sheherezade) and with the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra (Stravinsky’s “The Soldier’s Tale”).
In 2005 he performed with the Flemish Radio Orchestra (John Adams’ ‘El Dorado’). Perryman is planning a new audio-visual work for paintbrush and orchestra with composer Huang Ruo.
More recently, Perryman has performed in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Greenwich CT and at the Great Mountains Music Festival in South Korea.