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From breathless to joyful

By ANNE HILTON Monday, November 26 2007

click on pic to zoom in
"Studying at Night" acrylic by Mary Adam....

THE 66th Annual Exhibition (2007) of The Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago opened with a Private View at the society’s headquarters last Tuesday.

With 98 works of art on display it wasn’t easy to decide which ones to photograph for Newsday. However, quite a few of the paintings on display had been exhibited in the past year in solo, joint and group exhibitions, so — putting works previously featured in Newsday aside — we did our best to pick out the more interesting works, or at least, those that most appealed to this viewer.

Tonia St Cyr’s collages are justly famous in Trinidad and well known in certain art circles in the developed world. “Tishana’s Beach Chair” is a joyful expression of this artist’s work.

One had to look twice at the catalogue to check that “Studying at Night” is indeed the work of Mary Adam. One is so accustomed to her exquisite still-life studies of vegetables, plants on a window sill and well observed portraits that this piece came as a surprise, not to say shock to some. However, artists need to grow, to experiment. Over time the works of those who stick to a tried and true formula, never venturing to explore alternative ways to express their artistic vision become dull and uninteresting, of the ‘been there, done that’ school of painting. The coloured squares in this work intrigue, the suggestion of vegetation, the barely sketched attitudes so typical of teenage angst cramming for exams give life to this painting.

Seen from the door of the Art Society building a large, bold piece on the far wall seemed to scream “Martin Superville” — but it wasn’t, far from it. James Armstrong’s dancers are frenetic, their skirts a whirling blur of white, their faces but an impression like the rest of the work, except for the highlights on dancers arms and legs. One felt quite giddy, somewhat breathless on viewing this piece.

Each viewer interprets “Organic Urban II” according to his, or her, taste; for me the bubbling grey-yellow represents dirty foam on the dark brown stagnant waters of a canal or drain, the tall vertical stripes in white, red, brown - skyscrapers, the cream-yellow shapes - diesel and gasoline fumes.

I include Charles Gruny’s “Lunchless in Mayaro” because it made me smile, taking me, in imagination, well away from urban pollution, from the hustle and bustle of city life. It’s the sort of tonic we all need from time to time.

Finally Habib Jahoor’s “Ananda (Bliss)” carved in Samaan wood is sheer bliss to caress, to trace the grain of the wood, the shape of the piece itself, merely to run one’s fingers over the sensual satin-soft surface is a delight.

The Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago’s 66th Annual Exhibition continues at the Art Society Building in Federation Park until December 4. Opening hours are from 10 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday, 10 am to 3 pm Saturday.

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