AMONG the artists exhibiting their work at the Arts Village recently was ShallonFadlien, a St. Lucian resident in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.
While Ms. Fadlien may be familiar to some of her art contemporaries here in St. Lucia, her work is still too little known and deserves wider attention, locally, regionally and internationally. She posts images of her work quite generously on her FB page. She is a major St. Lucian artist and is among a group of younger artists like Gary Butte and JallimEudovic, whose work is distinctive, and represents departures from the usual, traditional pastoral themes of much of St. Lucian art.
For the Arts Village exhibition, she exhibited six pieces from her forthcoming new work titled “Symphony Series.” Her form and content are strong in narrative power, bold in conception, challenging our perceptions, as she studies social attitudes and postures. Working mainly in acrylics on canvas, she shows strength in her drawing techniques and innovative exploration of colours to suit her themes. Some of the work enters the “fantastic”, the realm of the folk tale, the carnivalesque, the masquerade – reflecting her St. Lucian and Caribbean background. She sets forth the whole human personality: strong and bold physicality, unafraid of the erotic; the emotional complexes seen especially in the eyes and mouths; she is a thinking artist, and the intellectual, thinking, mental states of her characters and settings are not to be missed; and for those who will pay close attention, she does not avoid the deepest spiritual possibilities of the lives she draws and paints.
The work is not to be taken for granted or easily boxed into its strong physical imagery. This artist gives us much, across many dimensions, to think about.
The new Symphony Series explores the trajectory of male-female relationships using musical motifs interlinking sensuously with the human figures. Her palette choices, bright contrasting colours, are well tuned to the emotional narratives she is searching out, and enhance the strong impressions left by these paintings. Other artists will note her preference for strong lines instead of impressionistic techniques, even as this series also works with a kind of artistic “marvelous realism.” All of the canvases on show averaged size of 31” x 39”, all acrylics on canvas.
Those who visited the Arts Village during the too-short time it was open would have experienced the wealth of talent that is currently in evidence among our visual arts community. ShallonFadlien is one of our very talented painters and I was pleased that we got a chance to see her work close up.
John Robert Lee is a St. Lucian writer, critic and broadcaster. His most recent publication is City Remembrances (Mahanaim, 2016).