A Review of the Visual Art Exhibition, part of the recent National Arts Festival; BY JOHNATHAN GLADDING
THE Blue Coral Mall is a very good venue. It is easily accessible and its third floor location has good natural lighting and circular traffic flow for those viewing the exhibits.
Nice idea to have a different artist highlighted for each exhibition. Gary Butte was a great choice for this year. His work was professional in a modernist tradition reminiscent of Picasso’s synthetic cubist tradition with additional African influences evident in his palette of earth tones, use of masks, and patterned markings. The featured artist would be a good tradition to continue and the selection for the following year’s artist should be made as early as possible, perhaps at the conclusion of the current year’s exhibition, thus giving an artist as much lead time to prepare as possible so that he/she can have something special ready.
A good grouping of artists, many of whom have had little exposure yet presented memorable work. That is one of the great things about this annual national exhibition – a singular event on the calendar that artists can work toward so that they can present their best work and have a moment to shine in front of a national audience.
Great range of styles and a good range of media. Abstraction was represented by a few artists like Phaedra Cozier and her heavily-textured expressionist paintings and Jharoam Dondiq Welz, whose lacquer and paper on glass work Misogynesis was striking, while most painters leaned toward realism. While abstraction has its adherents, realism is probably best at visually describing and documenting the aspects of Saint Lucian life and culture which we seek to preserve, and more accessible to a general audience.
There were several standouts in the field of painting. Cecil Fevriere’s Sugar Mill painting, I suspect caught the eye of everyone, with its palette of ochres, roses, and lavenders capturing the warm, late afternoon light.
Monique Soudat’s Bamboo was another favorite. Her simple composition of a stand of bamboo was mesmerizing in its soft gradients of deep green and umber.
Alcina Nolley took another simple composition- that of the legs of stilt walkers- and expertly rendered the variations of green in the folds and wrinkles of the pant legs.
Young artist Ron Henry continues to show great promise as a serious realist with his detailed and carefully rendered genre paintings.
Vaughn Louis-Ferdinand lovingly rendered the aging boards of wooden houses, preserving them on canvas, at least.
The inclusion of a few works by the late John Phulchere was truly bittersweet. His work, while painted with amazing facility was often full of wit and humour. It would be worthwhile to make him the featured artist one year.
Cedric George offered work interesting and enjoyable as always with his “organimetrics” signature style.
Donna Gomez captured flowers and other vegetation with a wonderful lushness and delicacy.
Simeon Brizan’s landscapes were fresh and appealing with his loose brushwork, use of palette knife, and slightly tweaked palette.
Ron Savory presented bold and interesting work in mixed-media and collage.
There were fine offerings from many other artists, too numerous to mention
Other artists were creative in their use of media. Particularly memorable was a portrait of Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy done entirely with nails.
Craftwork like basketry was a welcome component and the show could benefit from the inclusion of more handmade furniture like the ornamental mini chairs made by Sylvester Felix. Furniture is an excellent example of functional art that has a long tradition in Saint Lucia and is appreciated by many who may not consider themselves “art lovers” in the traditional sense. Shirley Ann Edward’s placement cards were a fine example of paper craftwork.
Textile art was another good inclusion and was vividly represented by Gertrude Casaubon’s colorful batiks. Daniel Jn. Batiste continues to take the medium of silk screening to new levels.
There were excellent examples of handmade jewellery. Alcina Nolley’s Banana Palm Leaf and Sapphire Hunt’s necklace sets were delightful and original.
The organizers of the exhibition should be congratulated for putting on an excellent display of Saint Lucia’s artistic talent. There was obviously a great deal of hard work done and Saint Lucia can be grateful for the opportunity the show and its organizers provided to showcase our creativity. There are few occasions where all the artists in Saint Lucia can exhibit together. The creation of art is often a solitary experience which is why it is so important to make the most of any chance we have to come together as artists and share what we do with the general population.