Jeff Hessing is in my estimation, and that of a great many people, a uniquely talented artist in the truest sense of the word. When you think of an artist the mind imagines someone exactly like Jeff, a romantic thought though very real.
Jeff is a New Yorker, actual hailing from Brooklyn which makes him more a New Yorker than any New Yorker. Always a rebel. Always out there. Always finding his feet in the most diverse and interesting of circumstances. Jeff manifests and it works!
Apart from being an excellent artist who paints primarily in oils though now watercolour, Jeff is also a brilliant and engaging musician. He plays the harmonica with style, his singing voice is captivating. I remember so well his concerts in places like the Jam with the Last Apes and of course his work with Joe Hurt, a legendary, though still young, pianist/singer from Chicago. If there is an opportunity to listen to Jeff playing then that is an opportunity not to be missed.
Jeff, and I wished I had kept it in the chat, also played with an Outer Mongolian musician during his stay in China. Shanghai and other parts of China were able to share in his music. Unbelievably Jeff gigged in China, for real. Returning to painting, during this time Jeff began painting animals, which was something totally ‘out there’ and different to his normal landscape or occasional figurative work. In particular he painted primates which echoed his deep concerns for the environment and nature. It is a disappointment that these works are still languishing in Shanghai but Jeff, being Jeff, is still trying to get them out of China.
There is so much more to tell about Jeff, it’s not a movie rather a series. However, this amazing artist is thankfully back with us in the south of France with a residency at a chateau overlooking the sea in Mandelieu la Napoule. There will be an exhibition of his work for a short time from 22 September at the chateau. A superb chance to view the work of this genius and hopefully to meet this consummate and talented artist in person. One not to be missed!
All images courtesy Jeff Hessing & Mike Colquhoun