Jonas Kaufmann, Verdi, Wagner Inspire New Paintings by Elizabeth Peyton

By David Salazar

Artist Elizabeth Peyton has started an online exhibition of her new works, with the first two in the series emphasizing scenes from opera.

Peyton, who has painted such subjects as David Bowie, Leonardo Di Caprio, Napoleon, Queen Elizabeth II, David Hockney, has taken on images of Otello and Isolde.

For the “Otello” painting, Peyton was inspired by famed tenor Jonas Kaufmann’s performances of the role in London and Munich.

“With both of these paintings I had been moving them around with me unfinished for a while – more than a year,” Peyton told OperaWire regarding the new pieces. “The Otello/ Jonas painting is from The Otello that was in London but I started it after his intense – upsetting in a good way – performance in Munich. The scene, in particular, is when Desdemona is comforting Otello – he has a terrible foreboding in direct relation to the love he feels for her.”

She added that the painting of Isolde was named after Tristan’s dog Petitcru, which the mythic hero won after slaying a giant.

“In both paintings, there is a rhythm of paint through the marks and color that keep you moving around the picture,” Peyton continued. “There are parts that are dense and then parts where there is more room- space between marks  – which I think give the room to experience the pictures. In this time of grieving, I started looking at these two paintings and feeling like it was important for me to finish them now and mix into the images that are in Eternal Return.”

Learn more about Peyton’s work here.