Intimacy (April in Paris)

Intimacy (April in Paris) by Cath Duncan. 2023. Mixed media on stretched canvas.


Intimacy (April in Paris) was created as part of a 3-part commission for a wonderful couple in the USA. They selected 3 of their favourite pieces of music/ songs, and asked me to create an abstract painting inspired by each of these (very different!) pieces of music.

In creating the paintings, I tried to listen closely not just to the music pieces they chose and how the music made me feel, but also to our conversation, and what it evoked for me when I listened to the couple share about their values and their relationship.

Intimacy (April in Paris) is inspired by a jazz piece by Count Bessie called April in Paris. You can listen to the upbeat orchestral version I listened to here. Ella Fitzgerald and Louise Armstrong have done a much slower version that’s also lovely and includes the lyrics.

For me this song is about the courageous opening of one’s heart to intimacy… the slightly scary but really exciting sway of moving towards and together, an invitation into deeper vulnerability, feeding a fire that both warms and consumes, and the charm and delight in the discovery of new pleasures of all kinds.

I wanted my composition, like the music, to have a strong sense of rhythmic movement with lots of smaller, interesting textures that invite you to come closer and make it exciting to come back to and take in, again and again, because there’s so much richness in there that you find something new every time you draw closer. Just like in our most intimate relationships.

I used warm colours of passion, blood, and fire, contrasted with a rich green for growth, and creamy caucasian skin tones to evoke the intimacy and vulnerability of nudity. Paynes grey shapes – sometimes fluid and transparent and other times thick and opaque, and often with rough edges – express the “shadow” characteristics and “flaws” that we all have and often feel most vulnerable about and want to cover up from others, for fear that the other person might reject us if they saw it all. And yet the deepest, most intimate dance (both with ourselves and with the other) involves sharing and dancing with all of each others’ selves, even our shadows.

Thread-like lines connect shapes and there’s a circular or looping quality to many of the shapes and lines, evoking dance, embrace, and pathways that have the freedom to adventure out and away, with a joyous return to share stories.

There’s no ground. The dance is up “in the clouds” – the excitement and vulnerability we feel when we first fall in love.

Below are crops of close-ups of some of the colours and textures for you to enjoy…

Original artwork

This original artwork’s dimensions are 50 x 70cm (19.7 x 27.5 inches) and it was created using mixed media on stretched canvas. It is framed in a natural Obeche floating frame.

This artwork is SOLD.

See the other artworks created for this commission