Colour’s Rush

Posted in Art in Canada by Adele Todd on September 1, 2007

The work of my friend here, is based in his coming to terms with being a gay man in Canada. Having come from Guyana more than twenty years ago, he has found his niche in his colourful abstractions that he works very large on canvas. He initially draws images figuratively, then he slowly reduces the shapes into pure abstract forms. His is a similar subtraction that can be seen in the works of Wifredo Lam. He also manages to create movement akin to leRoi Clark who also tries for a searching sexuality within his work. However my friend’s colour palette is more on the lines of Ken Chrichlow, vibrant colours of red, yellows, blues and green.

Artists in Trinidad have the opportunity to use colour to represent feelings, as is done in Colour Therapy. You see this with such Artists like Sarah Beckett. She uses colour to express a passionate zest for life. Shalini Seereeram uses her colour in decorative ways as does Stuart Hahn. Both use their colour as a visual shorthand.

Is this a Caribbean palette I am talking about?

Perhaps, for my friend Stephen talked to me about the underpinnings that make artists works from the caribbean a special and different thing than work in Canada. We were talking about his friend Bernadette who I was fortunate to meet regarding a project for a Spanish speaking art paper many years ago. She does huge flags that are associated with Indian spiritual life. Her colours are all deep reds, oranges and blues. Writing from this distance, I am trying to think whether this profusion of colour helps West Indian work seem more passionate? Does colour work its way into message making? It is not a clear answer. The way that many artists use colour has more to do with personal taste than with sending specific messages. I would say that the artist Shastri Maharaj began his career doing so, but soon drifted away from that specific process. The only person whoes colour palette was loaded with colour meaning to me has been the late Dr. James Isaaih Boodhoo, who drenched his canvases in turquoise or complete orange to match his sense of Indian country life. The artist Carlisle Harris uses variagated colour and psychodelic backdrops to create tapestry like decorations on which his characters walk magestically.

This shall be an ongoing observation and other opinions are welcome.

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