• Miriam Benjamin

Jack Coulter - Seer of Sound

Being able to 'see' sounds and translate them onto a canvas, Jack Coulter - a synesthete - is becoming one of the most popular abstract artists of our generation. Born in 1994 in Belfast, Ireland, Coulter had grown up surrounded by art. Mentored by his aunt Christine, an abstract printmaker, he could channel the colours and movement of music onto a blank canvas.

Synesthesia is a neurological condition where a stimulus meant to rouse one of our senses can stir up one or several more. In Coulter's case, when his auditory sense is stimulated by any sound, his visual sense is also stimulated, allowing him to 'see’ sounds in various colours. Beyonce, Vincent Van Gogh, Kanye West, Jimi Hendrix, Lorde, Frank Ocean are some famous personalities who also have synesthesia.

“It’s always been difficult for me, explaining to people my specific case of synesthesia, as I can hardly understand it myself,” Coulter says. “The intertwining segments of tetrachromacy leaves me experiencing changing colours of actual things. Like, if I’m looking at something even without sound, my colour spectrum shifts. A leaf can turn into shimmering gold, roses in a field can change to violet, yellow, then arrive back at red. On top of this, I have sounds resonating colours. They pulsate in front of my eyes in response to the specific sounds I hear, then still linger on my iris.”

Working with sticks, knives, and broken glass rather than a paintbrush, his work is an explosion of colour. The vibrant hues splattered and streaked throughout the canvas gives his work a unique, acidic quality. Rather than using the traditional canvas-on-easel method, Coulter prefers to lay his canvas on the floor and work over it. He says that his work is more of an outlet of his emotions - the visions he sees when listening to music, rather than a well thought out piece.

Though only 25 and never having hosted a solo exhibition or gallery, his work has already been acquired by the likes of Anne Hathway, Paul McCartney, and the Freddie Mercury Estate. Its visceral, paradisical nature is full of powerful emotion.

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