Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 26th 2013 Contents as a type of transport as his
thoughts travel to the many
moments in time when artworks
have been made; when various
image-makers have taken empty
surfaces and transfigured them.
Crichlow asks himself: What am
I to make of the blank canvas? He
responds by approaching the can-
vas with hope, with expectancy
and optimism, and attempts to
transform nothing into something.
Crichlow s new "somethings"
are based heavily on his attention
to the language of colour and the
capacity of colour to communicate
ideas of hope and opportunity. He
continues a line of thinking from
his 2008 show, Hope, but he aims
to be more direct with this exhi-
"In 2008, the paintings were
touching on several different
things. This exhibition focuses
more clearly, I hope, on a body of
ideas through my restricted use
The paintings in this exhibition
have all been created with blue as
a foundation colour. Crichlow then
moves from blue to address colour
contrasts and harmonies to give
different canvas spaces of possi-
bility, spaces he invites us to enter.
"Blue for us means hope. When
we see blue skies we say today is
a day to do something.
"The other side of blue is black.
Outer space appears black. The
blue is the space we inhabit.
"I start the paintings with vari-
ations of blue as a base like in
music. Blue becomes a chord. From
blue I can go to the contrasting
colour of orange, then I can
increase the vibrations with red.
"In music it would be like soar-
ing through to a crescendo. From
blue I might go to green and then
take the intensity of green up by
moving to yellow. The process is
built very much on extemporis-
ing---making up, without making
do," he says.
"A square canvas is one of the
most difficult formats to compose,"
Crichlow attempts to transform
the square canvas such that the
space opens up and the vision
does not feel boxed in.
"Paintings like At the Edge of
a Third Dimension give a sense of
deep space. We feel like we must
push past hanging fronds of blue
to get to glows of orange in the
In Quiet Storm, Crichlow plays
with the margins of the canvas.
He teases our visual perception
with a centrifugal force established
by way of strategically positioned
curvilinear gestures of a whirlwind
or spiral so that the square space
is transformed into a more circular
With this art-making process
characterised by both improvisa-
tion and deliberate efforts,
Crichlow s signature use of dots
of paint remains evident. His flecks
of colour give vitality to the con-
cept of hope, as clusters of dots
seem to vibrate on the canvas.
Each dot is different, has a unique
personality, and the artist is always
in search of the dot that will be
the concluding mark that resolves
his painted compositions.
"With each dot you feel that is
the touch that will breathe the life
into the work. As I work I am
always considering which dot is
going to bring the piece to life;
which one is going to say: not
another mark," says Crichlow.
His paintings may be seen as
nonrepresentational or abstract
renderings of concepts such as
hope and optimism, which are
Yet Crichlow insists, "The work
is not abstract. It is based on real
experiences that I have had, expe-
riences that I hope we all have
had. We all wake up and experi-
ence the sun coming out of clouds.
The work asks us to reflect on our
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt May 26, 2013
Brianna McCarthy s second solo exhibition,
Saints + Jumbies, opened on May 22 at Medulla
Art Gallery, Woodbrook. This self-taught mixed
media artist often depicts women in her work,
addressing issues of beauty, stereotypes and
empowerment especially in relation to the rep-
resentation of black bodies. Here, McCarthy
again puts a spotlight on the black female, pre-
senting her as a divinity---as both a saint and
a jumbie---with intercessory power.
The conjunction "and" in the title of her
work compels us to make connections between
Christianity s saints and the spirits that fall
outside of a Christian belief system---spirits
which are popularly regarded in Caribbean con-
texts as jumbies.
For McCarthy, the word jumbie does not
refer to an evil spirit, but a deity that can inter-
vene in human life in beneficial ways. Both the
saint and the jumbie are objects of veneration
and prayers and they can be called upon to
attend to everyday concerns.
McCarthy says, "I had been considering that
saints and jumbies were at separate ends of a
linear progression but I don t believe that is so.
To separate them with a gradient between sug-
gests that they are dissimilar and in opposition
when I feel as though they are really in the
same intimate space---only required or invoked
at different times."
The exhibition features an array of saints
and jumbies that the artist has felt the urge to
summon at one time or another in her personal
experiences. Some deities are born of her own
imagination while others, like the saint presented
in her piece The Rebirth of Kimpa Vita, come
from an actual nucleus of divinities. Dona
Beatriz Kimpa Vita was a Congolese woman
who claimed to be possessed by the Catholic
spirit of St Anthony. She led the Antonian
movement, a religion that envisioned Catholi-
cism in terms of black African history and
geography. In 1706 she was killed for her beliefs,
which were regarded as heresy by the church.
"The Rebirth of Kimpa Vita is actually the
second of the saints I made. She is a piece I
am very attached to---a piece I feel most as a
self-portrait, though not completely. She is a
calmer, stronger, wiser version of myself, yet
so other to me," says McCarthy.
With this new work, McCarthy constructs
around her saints and jumbies a mythology
she calls the maker/mender. It is the idea that
we are always in a process of creating, restoring,
renewing and healing ourselves, and the saints
and jumbies are the powers we can draw upon
for making and mending ourselves.
"It is the idea that we are constantly con-
structing and deconstructing ourselves, pulling
elements from nature, shamanism, religious
iconography and other areas of humanity to
construct who we are, have been, are becoming
and would like to be. Through this sacred and
selective composition we are able to choose
our own power and our own elixirs, our own
Brianna McCarthy's Saints + Jumbies runs
until June 13 at Medulla Art Gallery, 37 Fitt
Street, Woodbrook. Info: 740-7597 or e-mail:
The Rebirth of Kimpa Vita.
From Page B3
At the Edge of a Third Dimension, by Kenwyn Crichlow.
Rather than come from a place of pre-
meditation, these visceral works no longer
lecture to the viewer. Instead, the artist is
speaking to himself. What he now invites
audiences to participate in is a conversation
between himself and his paintings.
"In the past I was pushing people to
take another look at themselves, to garner
their interest in self-reliance and doing
good for self and everyone else---maybe
because I was a teacher. Now I am telling
myself, Do your good works. I have become
As part of his efforts to work intuitively,
the artist paints and then titles each piece.
He notes that it is not difficult to give a
title to a painting because the piece allows
him to confront and acknowledge aspects
of his personal journey. Such paintings as
Nuances of Gethsemane and Jubilee seem
to tell of moments in Harris life charac-
terised by mental suffering and celebration.
Yet Harris does not reveal all to us.
"I am still private. I won t tell all. You
get a glimpse into my psyche and that is
modulated by my technique." Each of his
paintings is a subconscious effort to make
sense of and develop self. "If you give me
a large canvas, I will just start working.
You can make all your mistakes there, expe-
rience all your heartaches there and be tri-
Along with this exhibition, Carlisle Harris
launched a monograph featuring an array
of his artworks.
From Page B3
The exhibition ends May 30 at 101 Art
Gallery, 84 Woodford Street, Newtown,
Port-of-Spain. Info: 628-4081, or
Artist Crichlow teases
our visual perception
Kenwyn Crichlow's exhibition
runs from May 27-June 8, at Y
Art and Framing Gallery, 26
Taylor Street, Woodbrook. Info:
628-4165 or e-mail
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