Charles Compo is an Internationally recognized composer, multi-instrumentalist, and fine artist with a multifaceted career in the arts spanning four decades.
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 local artists at The Rivington School, including early works from Kevin Wendell (FA-Q), Shalom Neuman and Miss Understood. He found work as an artist’s assistant to Andy Warhol, Charles Ross, and Harry Smith. Compo recognized 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, “Seven Flute Solos”, were created for some of Harry Smith’s films and are now published by Smithsonian Folkways.
Today, Compo paints daily in his studio at The Music Building in Midtown Manhattan, tending to an intimate following of fellow artists, collectors, and art lovers. He has accrued a list of notable exhibitions including a feature in the 2021 London Biennale, award-winning works shown at Schweinfurth Center for the Arts and Oxford Arts Alliance, as well as a debut solo show at Pictor Gallery in the Landmark Arts Building in New York City. Most recently his painting “Down At The Rally” has received a special prize at the WAH center in Williamsburg awarded by MOMA curator Paulina Pabocha, which was acquired by the Yuko Nii Foundation’s permanent collection.
“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.”
© 2021 Compo Arts