Category Archives: Art of This World

Astro-Caribbean: Return


The last post for Caribbean Heritage Month is a mix between Space:Queens and Art of This World segments, featuring three visual artists whose work I’ve seen in Queens — Reginald Rosseau and his exhibition, Unmasked — Embodiment of Spirits, at Seed Capital Cafe; Nari Ward and his G.O.A.T., Again exhibition at Socrates Sculpture Park, and Fritz St. Jean who lives in the southeast Queens area and whose daughter I met a few months ago at the Queens Council on the Arts grant awardees ceremony.

Reginald Rosseau

“Reginald “Big Art” Rousseau is a Haitian-born and Harlem-made working artist whose artworks are generating a lot of buzz, in the hood and beyond. In addition, he is the founder of the Reginald “Big Art” Rousseau: Harlem Art Projects, a creative space located in a funky storefront which serves as part working art studio, part art gallery and part retail art store, for him to create, promote, exhibit and sell his artworks. The creative space also serves a physical space to connect with the community, collectors, curators as well as galleries.

His artistic style, which he affectionately, coined “Neo-Haitian Expressionism”, is derives from a radical fusion of Haitian Art, African Art, Street Art, POP-Art, Folk Art, Stained Glass, Pointillism, Art Nouveau and Modern Abstraction. His work, which explores multi-ethnicity and multicultural identity, are based on his own personal experiences as a Haitian, a Blackman and an Immigrant with a Haitian heritage encompassing a unique blend of African traditional customs, mixed with contributions from the French, Caribbean, Latin, American and indigenous Taíno culture. His signature work, encompasses curvilinear black lines, vibrant colors, flatness of forms, jeweled pointillism, multi-layered textures and bold patterns.  On a recent interview, when asked to describes his working process, Reginald responded ‘My working process, is like jazz, with an eight-bar theme, you start it by the “T” and improvise as you go to generates rhythmic accents and beats as well as conveys emotion and power’.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Nari Ward

Via Socrates Scuplture Park: Jamaica-American mixed-media artist Nari Ward “recasts tropes of outdoor structures – the monument, the playground, lawn ornaments, architectural barriers, and the advertising sign – into surreal and playful creations. Nari Ward: G.O.A.T., again examines how hubris creates misplaced expectations in American cultural politics. This exhibition also brings new insight into the artist’s exploration of identity, social progress, the urban environment, and group belonging.

G.O.A.T. is an acronym for Greatest of All Time, a phrase commonly used in American sports, made famous by Muhammad Ali, and in hip-hop, most notably, as the title of Queens native LL Cool J’s best-selling album. The title alludes to the African-American experience and political theater – common themes in Ward’s work.

The figure of the goat features prominently in Nari Ward: G.O.A.T., again as the artist’s articulation of social dynamics, conjuring the animal’s attributes and symbolic connotations, from an ambitious climber of great heights to an outcast. A flock of goats cast from lawn ornaments traverse the landscape, both in groups and as solitary individuals, manifesting the show’s title. The appropriation of the word goat, turning an insult into a moniker for excellence, demonstrates the power of wordplay, while the modifier again implies historical repetition. Scapegoat, a forty-foot long hobby toy further develops the goat metaphor and highlights another strand of the show: the satirization of virility, masculinity, and monument…”

Nari Ward’s exhibition is the first single presentation of an artist in the park’s 30-year history. Read the New Yorker feature about the exhibition.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Fritz St. Jean

“Born in Port Au Prince, Fritz St. Jean emerged as one of Haiti’s most illustrious self-taught artists. Initially, his style consisted of painting animal and jungle scenes on canvas. However, in 1980, St. Jean broke away from the staid pastoral themes to memorialize his hopes and dreams for Haiti through his paintings. Being widely viewed as socio-political commentaries on the dichotomous realities of Haitian life, St. Jean’s paintings transport the viewer to scenes of mysticism, idealism, and humanity all in one. He is noted as a master in color and detail as his works are continuously punctuated by the use of bold colors and fine lines. Often, his paintings celebrate Haiti’s religious culture in Voodoo and encapsulate its rich history. Paying tribute to a country that was once called La Perle des Antilles (The Pearl of Antilles due to its natural beauty and countenance), St. Jean’s paintings are artistic love notes to his homeland.  Suffice it to say, Haiti continues to be the source of St. Jean’s inspiration.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

Astro-Caribbean Series: Art of This World!


Happy Caribbean Heritage Month!

Also, welcome back to the return of Astro-Caribbean!

All this month, I will present visionary work from the Afro-Caribbean diaspora. Today’s post is a presentation of visual artists — Sheena Rose, Carlo Theartus, Dirk Joseph, and Alicia Brown.

Continue reading Astro-Caribbean Series: Art of This World!

Astro-Caribbean: Zak Ove


25wk_img2-1
Nubian Return by Zak Ove (Source: Arc Magazine)

Since tomorrow I will be moderating the Astro-Caribbean panel, Midnight Robber Chronicles, which was inspired by Nalo Hopkinson’s speculative novel Midnight Robber, I thought I’d share an a British artist whose work centers on exploring the significance of Caribbean carnival.

 

According to Trinidadian/Irish- British artist Zak Ove, Caribbean carnival, especially those in Trinidad, started as a mockery of European colonialists, but then became a declaration of “we can be anything” and “not just what we’ve been duped” into believing we are by these colonialists. It became an investigation through transfigurement and costume into all kinds of mythologies and into a sense of Africanism that had been subdued and suppressed through slavery.

Continue reading Astro-Caribbean: Zak Ove

“Space:Queens”: First Fridays at JCAL


Last Friday, I went to Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning’s First Friday event where they showcase creative artists who participate in their one month residency program. Below are the three visual artists (Jason Lalor, Steven Sivells and Joyce Sanchez Espinoza) and works they showcased:

Multi-disciplinary artist Jason Lalor’s BlackBody Radiation

“In physics, a blackbody is an idealized body which absorbs the electromagnetic radiation it encounters and emits it as a spectrum of light; the body itself is revealed only through this spectrum. Similarly, the black and brown communities from which rap poetics emerged remain invisible to the pop culture it fuels. Nonetheless, the poetics – blackbody radiation – allow for the creation of new experiential worlds for its practitioners and audience.”

Continue reading “Space:Queens”: First Fridays at JCAL

Art of This World: Renee Cox’s ‘Sacred Geometry’


Self-Portrait of Renee Cox

Jamaican-American visual artist Renee Cox recently released her latest collection of work, Sacred Geometry: where she turns bodies of various people into mandala-inspired geometric fractal patterns. Given several of the stories I have heard lately in the news, her work is again relevant, reinforcing the divine power and value of ourselves, our cultures, our spirituality, and our bodies that is so often dismissed in the world we live. Here is part of her artist statement about her collection:

“…My new body of work, ‘Sacred Geometry,’ consists of digitally manipulated black & white portraits that display self-similar patterns. They are executed with precision, creating sculptural kaleidoscopes of the human body while exploring the power of symbols as elements of collective imagination. The inspiration for this new work comes from fractals, a mathematical concept centuries old and used by many ancient African cultures.

The work has also been the result of my embrace of the digital world. Bridging the gap between the old and new technology has brought on new challenges and endless possibilities. As the digital world has transformed the medium, I have embraced it and integrated it into my process.

 ‘Sacred Geometry’ has brought a new viewing experience. The simplicity and connectivity of the fractal concept seems to be engaging the viewer in a profoundly different way, bringing a certain peace, reflection and joy.”

Continue reading Art of This World: Renee Cox’s ‘Sacred Geometry’

Art of This World: Sol’Sax + Maksaens Denis + Kara Walker


Become a patron and support my blog and other writing endeavors on Patreon!

____________

Despite having a cold last week and recovering from it, which is why I have not posted in a week, I managed to go to three exhibitions — Sol’Sax’s Medicine from Heaven: How African American Culture Was Used to Cure the USA, Maksaens Denis’ Mutation X062 and Kara Walker’s A Subtlety. Below are slideshows from each event:

Sol’Sax‘s Medicine from Heaven: How African American Culture Was Used to Cure the USA at Skylight Gallery in Brooklyn

This exhibition reminded me a lot of Margaret Vendryes’ African Diva Project where traditional African masks are placed on the faces of legendary African-American figures symbolizing the sacredness of African-American and African Diasporic cultures.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Continue reading Art of This World: Sol’Sax + Maksaens Denis + Kara Walker

Art of This World: Jill McIntyre


Hey everyone! I am still fundraising for Atlantic Impact’s Abroad for a Cause Challenge in which the organization is inviting two bloggers to travel with them to Barbados this summer. Atlantic Impact is an organization that helps at risk youth by giving them opportunities to travel abroad. Please donate and/or share; I have until June 9th to raise all the money.

Today’s artist that I am featuring is self-taught Barbadian artist Jill McIntyre. Her joyfully colorful and vibrant artwork is filled with fantastical sea and nature-related imagery, combining this imagery “with mythology – mermaids (la sirene), dragons, sea monsters, a phoenix or two – and she is intrigued by the use of symbolism in art.” She says, “I never paint to record life exactly as it is, I paint snapshots of my imagination. I like being able to rearrange reality and create my own little alternative world.” As for why the sea inspires her, McIntyre expresses, “for me the sea has always been associated with beauty, romance, mystery, fantasy, fun and adventure.  In my mind, water has always symbolised life… an element with cleansing, renewing, refreshing, and healing power.   I’m an optimist.  I choose to imagine the depths of the ocean as filled with mythical creatures of beauty rather than mythical monsters of destruction.”

McIntyre purpose of her painting style is to remind viewers that “we should appreciate this gift of life; that we should dream and imagine, and believe anything is possible; that we should magnify what is good and positive.  My paintings are windows to my soul; I paint to celebrate life.  I want my work to express my joy in being alive, and to share my love of the Caribbean mystique. Essentially, I want my art to inspire viewers, my message is simple: ‘Smile, laugh, dream, live!'”

“Red Sky at Night”

Continue reading Art of This World: Jill McIntyre