Artister / Designers » Norman Perryman

For nearly forty years Norman Perryman has been pioneering a unique art form as a performing artist.  He creates kinetic paintings to musiclive in concert. As he paints on multiple overhead projectors, the audience can watch the evolution and dissolution of his fluid images on a giant screen. These semi-abstract images are keyed to the ideas and feelings of the music, enrich the musical experience and touch people deeply.  The colours have a sensual, organic quality as his brushes cause them to flow, pulsate or explode, synchronized to the music.  This is a sensational experience in synaesthesia (a sensory cross-over where you see colours to music or vice-versa).

Recent performances include the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (Scriabin’s Poem of Ecstasy), the National Orchestra of Belgium (Scriabin’s Prometheus: Poem of Fire), the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the Netherlands Philharmonic and the Utrecht String Quartet. In 2012 he performed in the recital Piano Colours with pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard at the Aldeburgh Festival, Helsinki Festival, Amsterdam Yellow Lounge and Salzburg Mozarteum Dialoge Festival. He also performed with the Bergen Philharmonic.

Norman Perryman (Birmingham U.K.,1933) has won international acclaim for his many dynamic watercolours of great musicians in action. He moved to the Netherlands in 1957 and soon created a series of paintings of Bernard Haitink in action with the Concertgebouw Orchestra. Later action-portraits include the celebrities Riccardo Chailly, Plácido Domingo, Valery Gergiev, Carlo-Maria Giulini, Kurt Masur, Yo-Yo Ma, Yehudi Menuhin, Jessye Norman, Luciano Pavarotti, Mstslav Rostropovich, Sir Georg Solti and many others. Many of these paintings form part of the Birmingham Symphony Hall Collection. In 2013 Norman will also make paintings of Bryn Terfel and Andris Nelsons for this Collection. Perryman has made over four hundred paintings of various ensembles and musical subjects and thousands of kinetic images to music.

In 1993, BBC Television made the documentary Concerto for Paintbrush and Orchestra, about Perryman’s life and work with music.  This 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 pictures, inspired by Mussorgsky’s music.  The Times described the performance as ”an ingenious audio-visual experiment, with brilliantly conceived imagery”.

Perryman made the film Esquisses for Télévision Suisse Romande in 1996 and has performed regularly for television and with ensembles in Switzerland, France, England, the Netherlands, Belgium, South Korea, the USA, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar.  The late Lord Yehudi Menuhin, a good friend with whom he performed Vivaldi’s Four Seasons for French Television in 1979, referred to Perryman as ”a musician, who makes music with his paintbrush”.  The modern ballet Invention with the Netherlands Dance Theater was greeted with headlines of ”Surprise and Delight – Something New in Dance” and ”Boundary-breaking Dance Theater”.

Other performances include those with José Carreras and the Hallé Orchestra, percussionist Evelyn Glennie, the Rotterdam Philharmonic (Takemitsu), the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra (Stravinsky: The Soldier’s Tale), the Radio Orchestra of Belgium (John Adams), the Amsterdam ASKO Ensemble (Huang Ruo), Arnhem Philharmonic, Holland Symfonia and a chamber opera by Gertrude Stein: Dr. Faustus lights the Lights.  Perryman has performed at the Greenwich Music Festival CT (John Adams) and at the Great Mountains Music Festival in South Korea (Augusta Read Thomas and Takemitsu).

Perryman’s memoir A Life Painting Music has appeared in the form of a blog: that tells how he became so deeply involved with the world of music, recounts the challenges of painting so many great musical personalities and the adventures of performing live kinetic paintings to music in concerts internationally. Norman Perryman spent years in international art education, heading the creation of a new Visual Arts curriculum for the International Baccalureate. He has also given many workshops worldwide on his passion for the natural integration of art and music.

Norman was educated at the Worcester Royal Grammar School and studied painting and art education at the Birmingham College of Art and Crafts, where he graduated with Honours. He has spent most of his life in Europe and travels frequently to perform and carry out commissions in Europe and the United States. He now lives in Amsterdam.