Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 8th 2013 Contents B3
The word "nice," while often overused to mean
"pleasant" in contemporary English, has historically
meant other things, including "precise," "suitable"
and "refined in taste." Martin Superville has taken
up the word and applied it to his most recent works.
"Our country has hardly been recorded nicely, in
my opinion," says Superville whose exhibition entitled
Tavaco the Beginning opened at 101 Art Gallery this
past Tuesday. The artist s latest body of work offers
viewers an array of landscape and seascape oil paint-
ings of Tobago---or Tavaco, the Amerindian name
for the island.
In talking about the visual portrayal of various
aspects of the country, Superville uses the word
"nicely" to refer to approaching each subject of a
painting with sensitivity, thoughtfulness and under-
He explains, "You can t paint Pigeon Point like
how you paint the forest. Art is a big, serious science.
Some artists spend years squeezing out the same
colours to paint the beach and an old house with the
same colour palette, in the same way. Each subject,
however, involves study. If you look at the beach
alone for a whole day, the daylight changes and a lot
of other different things take place.
"I am therefore trying to show nice pieces of my
island. Cazabon did a good job of that---but that was
in the 1800s."
Superville, a Trinidadian, has lived in Tobago for
the past 18 years. He sees himself as a historian
aiming to record life there and in Trinidad. His creative
practice spans more than 20 years and he is the
founder of the Tobago Art Gallery. While his work
has included images of pan and cricket, he has become
known for an oeuvre in which dancing women are
dominant. Some years ago, however, he made a delib-
erate decision to make a break from his kinetic ren-
dering of the female figure.
"When we dance we are happy and I have always
wanted to convey joy and warmth. I wanted to record
different dance moves. I was never trying to paint
women for a tourist market but that subject has
become one for tourists. The art world in T&T is a
small one and it is flooded with images of dancers,"
Paintings of land and ocean are also prevalent in
the local art space. Yet, for Superville, there is still
room for "nice" landscapes and seascapes that address
the particularities and nuances of the many places
to be experienced in T&T.
"I have been working on landscapes and seascapes
nicely for five years now. I have made a separation
from what I have been known for. It is like getting
a divorce. You have to move on and I am doing that
but not with any anger or tension. It is time for a
new woman, so to speak, and I am loving her plenty,"
He admits he is still learning about depicting bodies
of water as well as the numerous characteristics of
land and sky; he has been studying the works of
such artists as Gainsborough, Monet and Constable
Superville finds himself taking delight in the ever-
shifting elements of nature around him. "I am into
clouds now. I am fascinated with them because they
change every second."
Superville uses the name Tavaco to acknowledge
his Amerindian lineage. The new exhibition is the
beginning of what the artist sees as a sustained
engagement with documenting the island of Tavaco
or Tobago, with plans to offer visual recordings of
Iere or Trinidad in shows to come. (He showed an
exhibition called Tavaco et Iere, at the gallery Horizons,
The current exhibit exposes the viewer to the mul-
tidimensionality of a number of locations. For example,
in the painting Pigeon Point I, Superville uses cool
hues and wind-swept palm trees to imply breezy,
crisp air. In Pigeon Point II, he turns up the tem-
perature with warm oranges and yellows as he shows
us the same location from a different perspective.
The view of the man-made jetty in one painting
contrasts with that of the flora in the other image.
In the past, Superville s human figures have, for
the most part, been set against vague backdrops but
in this series of paintings he is careful to give his
figures context as he inserts them into different local
His aim with this new work is to stir people to
want to visit and experience the depicted locations.
"If someone says, If Lambeau looks like that, I want
to see it in real, then I know I have accomplished
Pigeon Point II, by Martin Superville. IMAGES COURTESY MARTIN SUPERVILLE
Pigeon Point I
Down By the River.
has high hopes
Look out for
Issue 7 of
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