Drowned Still Lifes (2018)

 

Still lifes as a tradition in painting have been used to represent a certain quality of life. By extension in art history they serve to show what someone was able to obtain and thus communicates to the viewer what sort of person they were. People have always used objects and symbols to stand in for them and tell a story that only these ordained objects and symbols could tell. These are the objects and symbols that the artist or patron identify with. In considering my own identity as a West Indian, the objects and symbols that I have a relationship with are the landscape and the familiar objects in it. We see things from our life and experience and they serve as mnemonic devices that remind us ultimately of ourselves. My drowned still lifes are natural material submerged in sea water and then painted.

Caribbean identity is fluid, dynamic and complicated; these Still Lifes attempt to express the nature of identity in the region. There are times you will only recognise a small part of the composition, there are times when it is unclear how they all work together. Derek Walcott, in his Nobel lecture, “The Antilles: Fragments of Epic Memory”: “Break a vase, and the love that reassembles the fragments is stronger than that love which took its symmetry for granted when it was whole…. Antillean art is this restoration of our shattered histories, our shards of vocabulary, our archipelago becoming a synonym for pieces broken off from the original continent.” These paintings within the context are less about “making” paintings showing leaves and petals in suspension in sea water but more about “re-making” the fragments of our collective epic memory. We grow together when we tell each other our stories and when we ask questions. We become more human when we are able to engage more fully with ourselves and the place we live.

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