'Gathering Voices' - a recent exhibition, thoughts on the emergence of the emerging artist.

‘Gathering Voices, the burgeoning of emerging artists’ opened at 101 Art Gallery May 25th. The show featured the work of four artists new to the gallery, Tyrel de Bique, Omar Jarra, Kriston Banfield and Christopher Ross Dick. Each artist brought bold artistic statements with them to the room with works in a series of medium laden with fresh perspectives and content.

De Bique showed from his R.A.N. Real Ass Negus” series, a collection that focuses on the figures he knows from his community, a place referred to by others as the “ghetto”. In R.A.N. subjects turn kings with gold embellished crowns that sit covering their eyes, a strong image in its portrayal of all that is unseen when we look at the sitter but also acknowledging the crown that sits imperfectly or perhaps in some instance a little too big on the head of its wearer. De Bique expanded on the images by adding resin finishes and mounting the pieces to wood for custom frames that extended the gold, linear and contrasting elements of the internal piece. What the viewer was left with was a piece of art in the honest styling of Tyrel with the finishes and finesse that we would expect to see on the walls of 101 art gallery.

Omar Jarra’s work came in the form of large abstractions. With a minimum palette he used contrasting colour to present a graphic element to his work but also create a sense of conflict. Jarra says his use of scale is a reflection of his need for space in his expression, both literally and figuratively. The piece ‘Self Portrait’, an unframed and raw finished art piece tacked to the wall showing a black figure in silhouette against a white background, highlights the issues that are important to Jarra, an easy example of the artists sentiment that “presence is the purest form of honesty in art, that’s what I am trying to practice”.

Kriston Banfield’s Kings series, a collection of intricate pieces that appear to be pen and ink (actually acrylic), show repeating themes of houses, figures and fabric laden with symbols. A nod to the artists experiences with death and fascination with religious imagery. Of particular interest is the use of the different kings to depict the artists ideas about the pillars of society and human experiences. Banfield describes his art making as problem solving which can be felt in the technical elements of his visuals, the meticulous and repetitious movements of line.

Christopher Ross Dick brought colour to the space and more familiar artwork in his classic themes of semi abstract landscapes and still life (His citron sketches, 3 works of spherical still life objects sell quickly in the show). Ross Dick wants the viewer to not find any messages in the artwork, instead he teases out areas of interest in his canvases to simplify his visual and rid it of metaphorical cues. Even as the artist works at being the antithesis of his peers he can’t help but let a bit of himself into his work. ‘Back Door Top Floor’, an image in pale hues of a surrealist looking house and more bizarre doorway suspended in the sky above it, is described to be the home of a neighbor, a visual that Christopher looks onto from his own home daily. In using his surroundings as a starting point for this piece particularly one that he experiences daily we get a glimpse into the artists own experience.

While there are a number of shared themes among the group all manifested in very different ways the connecting thread between them all is a sense of storytelling. The title “Gathering Voices, a burgeoning of emerging artists’ is a lofty one the use of the word emerging alone is enough to make most peoples head spin as it has no true definition in its use to describe artists. In fact I would venture to say that emerging is an all catching term we use as any alternative to ‘established’ when describing an artist. With a new trend in showing the work of the emerging artist (Horizons recent New Faces exhibition and the upcoming ‘Emergence’ show to be held at Napa) I am forced to query how we use this term and who we use it for. While I am still working to realize these things I can say that in the instance of ‘Gathering Voices” the work of these emerging artists is work of storytelling. Each artist bringing their offering with a raw honesty whether it be clad with interpretations or laid out as a simple aesthetic, the voices of the artists at 101 are those of defining themselves in the art world.

Gathering Voices closes Wednesday 5 June

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Trinidad, W.I.