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Original painting of Robert Johnson
Kyle Banner is an artist and musician residing in Asheville, North Carolina – a hub of musical and artistic creativity amidst the Appalachian Mountains. His paintings evoke jazz, blues and old-time musical traditions.
Kyle’s ability to capture these unique figures has its roots in an upbringing steeped in the music and history of the American South. His great grandfather, Wilcher Banner, was shot in the head at the battle of Gettysburg, and his other great grandfather Walter Smith, played banjo back in the 1880s.
Kyle grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, playing fiddle, guitar, banjo and harmonica with his family, dancing around the den while his father strummed a 1950s Gibson and blew mountain music on a rack harmonica. With an encyclopedic knowledge of music, Kyle hosted a popular early morning blues radio show in Atlanta. He went on to live and perform music in Los Angeles, San Francisco and later Asheville.
Kyle is self-educated in the arts, reading voraciously and visiting galleries around the globe. The artworks are on paper, wood or canvas and combine a variety of mediums, including acrylic paint, pen and ink and watercolour.
After 50 years of playing music I found I'd plateaued and began studying photos of the oldtime, blues and jazz musicians I revered. I began drawing and painting them to better understand what was missing. My aim is for the viewer to feel immersed in the performer and performances; to be taken back to that time and music. I wish for the paintings to reflect what I once read by an Iranian violin instructor born in 1880, "When you're playing it right, every movement is beautiful". A piece may initially appear harsh, like Rachmaninoff at first listening, but it's never ugly. I continue to experiment with many styles and mediums, including a personal favourite to drink and paint with - the finest Italian espresso. The paintings are often covered completely, sometimes sanded down to start over with the background that still remains. The paintings exhibit a range of influences and reflect the axiom, “everything is a study”.
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