Transatlantic Dialogue:  Art in and Out of Africa
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JamPact/JelliTite (for Jamila)

Jeff Donaldson
American, born 1932
JamPact/JelliTite (for Jamila), 1988
Mixed media on linen
38 x 50 in.
Lent by the artist

This work pays homage to Jeff Donaldson's daughter Jamila and is a paean to African American classical music—jazz. The prominent role that music has played in West African and African American culture serves as part of the philosophical base for Donaldson's art making. Donaldson not only depicts fragmentary aspects of jazz musicians, such as hands playing the bass and piano and expressive, singing mouths, but also organizes the painting according to the qualities of the music itself. Although arranged symmetrically, the variation of forms parallels the improvisation that is such a distinctive characteristic of jazz. The work embodies the sonic concepts of John Coltrane, who filled every available space with sound in his later recordings, yet his soaring solos were rhythmic in their complexity. This painting is jam-packed with meaning and references.

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