I find myself deliberately arranging items with or without so-called symbolic significance in a way that may or may not be affecting emotions and intellect. If I sit and stare at a painting that I am working on in my studio long enough or from enough different angles, forms begin to emerge.

I play with the brush and the paint on the canvas. With each stroke, thoughts emerge and find their place in the collective hallucination known as reality. I’m engaged in the ritual of exploring the boundaries of my imagination and passing the hours dedicated to an activity that has no practical use in the world other than the elevation of life.

– Charles Compo

Charles Compo is a New York-based composer, multi-instrumentalist, and painter. His colorful career spans four decades and has seen many incarnations including jobs as a bicycle messenger and construction worker, a stint Off-Broadway as a professional actor, and success as an entrepreneur.

Born in New York City, Compo is the product of musical minds. His parents were both professional musicians and performers. In the early eighties, he formed a band with some friends and moved into an abandoned warehouse in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He has since collaborated, performed, recorded, and toured with notable jazz artists including Oliver Lake, William Hooker, Sonny Sharrock, and Vernon Reid. He has also collaborated with choreographers and performance artists like Twyla Tharp and Robbie McCauley and has written over a hundred published musical compositions.

Hand in hand with his music career, Compo has had an equally rich history with visual art. Immersed in the up-and-coming art scene of the East Village as a young man, Compo became intrigued by painting and utilized his Williamsburg loft space to experiment with making large works. 

He began collecting art by unknown local artists and found work as an artist’s assistant to Andy Warhol, Charles Ross, and Harry Smith. Compo found that his background informed a unique sensibility, and was useful in applications where art and music coalesce. He has since created musical works for visual applications and vice versa. His original musical compositions were created for some of Harry Smith’s films and are now published by Smithsonian Folkways.

Today, Compo tends to an intimate but devoted following composed of fellow artists, collectors, and art lovers. Encouraged by his viewer response and the impending sense of a new chapter, he has recently declassified four decades of prolific visual work and has shown his work at a number of galleries and exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad. Notable exhibitions include an award winning feature at Schweinfurth Art Center, a debut of one of his paintings at the 2021 London Biennale, and an upcoming solo show at Pictor Gallery in November of 2021.

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