Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 17th 2013 Contents B30
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt November 17, 2013
Art making is LeRoy Clarke s ritual. It is
his steady practice of self-discovery. His latest
exhibition, Rituals, was a personal ceremony
or what we might call a visual rite of passage
for the Master Artist, who celebrated his 75th
birthday. The showing of his art was also a
means of pointing us to the significance of
the actions and practices of our society---to
all that the notion of ritual encapsulates.
"It is important in this phase of my life to
remind people to look at ritual. Carnival, for
example, is a ritual that had a potency to be
redemptive. It is now scandalous and foreign,"
Clarke, a self-designated "pointer man,"
has been using his paintings and poetry for
the last 50 years to direct our attention to the
highest point in the development of ourselves.
He has had his own epic climb. Among his
achievements are his recognition as a Master
Artist by the National Museum and Art Gallery,
his receipt of an honorary doctorate in fine
arts from the University of T&T, and the Orisha
community s conferment of a Staff of Eldership
and Chieftaincy on him. Clarke has displayed
his art both regionally and internationally and
his work is featured in the Oxford History of
In his rise, he has wielded the power of art
to stir the ascent and climax of our spirit. He
has devoted his creative practice to opening
our eyes to the grace and sovereignty of exis-
tence that is present beyond what he calls
"the two hideous nightmares" of our place:
slavery and indentureship.
In his new exhibition, he presented over
100 pieces with the idea of ritual taking on
various forms. Paintings such as the De Kiss,
Let s Dance, Near Full Moon and Breath of
Poui offered different articulations or man-
ifestations of ritual as that which is physical
exchange, spiritual rhythm, celestial movement
and nature s inhalation and exhalation.
Women have always been a key part of
Clarke s image bank and this show was no
exception. The female form was a prominent
component of the works, including the paint-
ings Earth Mama and Woman on De Bass.
The strength of presence and energy of women
were palpable. Women function as fertile
sources of art for Clarke and he sees them as
the cultivators of action.
"The woman nurtures. She nourishes. She
is the greatest enhancer and stimulus for rit-
uals. No woman, no rituals," Clarke said.
While Clarke s signature aesthetic of densely
inscribed surfaces---rich with his intricate
application of lines and dots---was evident,
the exhibition also signalled his turn to a dif-
ferent means of expression that produced
paintings with forms that were less tightly
packed; paintings that offered more open
spaces for the viewer to enter imaginatively
and inject his or her own freedom. In doing
so, Clarke offered new room for the motion
and expansion of consciousness and liberty.
The painting titled Seeking a New Form of
Space gave a clear sense of the artist s efforts.
"The work has an architectural thrust. I am
playing with the planning and design of space,
both earthly space and spiritual space," he
In the piece There is Moral to Space, Clarke
seemed to suggest that the way we attend to
space can teach us something about our being
and what we might become. His focus on the
architecture of space is, therefore tied to his
consideration of the construction of ourselves,
to the geometry of our identities.
The subject of architecture in this exhibition
made it impossible to ignore thoughts of the
building Clarke occupies in Cascade. Clarke
has translated his careful study of space from
canvas to the physical abode known as De
Legacy House. The space is home to numerous
paintings and writings created by Clarke over
the years. He has made it accessible to students
and other art enthusiasts.
It is a space that the artist wishes to leave
as an inheritance for the people of T&T. It is
a space he is hoping we will value and want
to preserve, for in its conservation lies the
possibility of fashioning selves yet to be born.
"I am not painting or writing for now. I am
doing it for a generation that is still in our
loins," said Clarke. "I have shaped in my head
a time and place I am painting for: a place
receptive to creativity. A place that would seek
art; a place that would seek itself."
Rituals opened at 101 Art Gallery at Holder s
Studio, Newtown, on November 3, and closed
LeRoy Clarke turns 75 and marks it with an exhibition of over 100 works
Rituals and legacy
Geometric Being, by LeRoy Clarke. Acrylic on paper.
Artist LeRoy Clarke.
There is Moral to Space, by LeRoy Clarke. Acrylic on paper. PHOTOS COURTESY ANTHONY MOORE
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