(For Shawn Peters)
By LEROY CLARKE
Where do Eye begin again? Eye must confess that a great part of me is inclined to say nothing about your latest work. Probably, Eye have already said too much about your endeavours! You are matured enough to be on your own way, taking with you the advice of your experiences that suits your essential hunger. That is so right for an individual, more so for a talented one, thusly gifted to pursue his life as an artist. But, be reminded that you walk on the shoulders of your ancestors.
At thirty odd, the hunger is raw; the verve for one’s own authority is already aloof and apes the pluperfect, often aggressively shunning the tendency to be beholden to any inheritance. That early in life, one is seldom gracious, one is unconcerned with gratitude except for the minimum gesture that approves, without criticism, where one is. And that is perverse and can be a stumbling block to the benevolence of growth with its prevalence to open sanctions of seasons’ cognition of earth and sea and sky to a waiting soul!
The open naturally entices us to romp through its bounty, and, for a time it is so easy to exceed ourselves with that ready volatility of our spirit that matches the glee and glib of our informal, youthful energies. Very remarkable too, is how this behavior is repeated throughout the changing stages of our lives.
Sooner than later it should become our responsibility to be cognizant in our role to gather, and to assimilate the best ideas of all perspectives offered, both of our inner and outer natures, but civilized by us to become the platform from which we are determined to be launched, balanced in the zeal to find that dominion which embodies the thought of the unity of Man, yes, Man, at one with the Universe.
Composure teaches us to be Prudent, to be still, be mindful, even in our gain, to wonder at the gaze of one’s eyes as it gathers the codes lifted from the sleep of the hills, first by feathered tones of sound, then successions of strophes of light as they reveal leaves, contours that match fragrances to the mind, perhaps, setting aglow the meditation of a wondrous unity of all things with the One who created them and you, and me, and the Eye am that is entitled to worship!
Essentially, worship is subjugation to the divine, a caste that is strictly observed by sacrifice. Such a thought occupied my mind as Eye viewed your current exhibition of recent works at Fine Art Gallery. Eye wondered, how much of your everydayness, your common habits were you able to cast aside in the grueling task required to work at Art, which, in the process transforms you into a work of Art.
How difficult it has become to truly worship, which is to art our lives or make of us, Art. To worship what was and is still true! For, in spite of all the cacophony of ever-ponderous enticements that irrevocably insist on us to suit the appetite of ambitions gone wild, pass our humanity, there remains a moment untouched -a primeval space that rallied with our youthful dreams that were transformed to a fleshy taste and smell, oh, to hear and to feel, all beheld in the glimpse of an unfolding rose, and be reminded of the safety of your mother’s bosom! My infant, and her breasts already fashioned by adulthood; would that we knew the philosophy of such moments by which the fulfillment we shared came, not without the harmony in which all things are bedded!
If freedom is the ultimate prerogative of Mankind, such intimacy with people as well as with things, are the seals that bind us, yes, but away from an unsympathetic world-thought shaped by wretched indulgences wrought in selfishness and greed, by roguish mentalities that extort dignity wherever it shuns corruption and bring pillage to floral discourses among Nature’s saints.
Thus saved from the ordinary commons, one is uplifted by the spirit and can be held to intensifying any and every experience to arrive with them in shared essence at the convergence of perspectives between subject and object, capable of becoming kin to the beauty in the essence of all things. We are back to the idea of Art being an act of Worship, which is in subjugation to the Divine, and which demands of us no mean measure of sacrifice, if we were bound to the call of our imagination to enter and to serve in the Landscape of Consciousness.
All that presupposes my critical approach to my own practice as an artist; and to those that Eye teach -the root of lessons that may inspire them to engage their creative tendencies with sterner ardour and, of course, to that end of self, longing for grace.
Eye must confess here and now, that the Holy Bible has been my life-long inspiration. In my early twenties, while fumbling with the idea of answering to my artistic prowess, Eye was irrevocably touched by the erotica of Ovid and Catullus; the mysticism of Rabindranath Tagore, Khalil Gibran, Baudelaire, Whitman, Lorca, Rilke, Rimbaud and Mallarme; the philosophers Socrates, Nietzsche and Heidegger who followed my flirtation with Aristotle, while Eye was still a teen. Home grown minds like CLR James, Aime Cesaire, Wilson Harris, Derek Walcott, Lindsay Barrett, Jacques Roumain, Garcia Marquez and of course the Africans Soyinka, Okigbo, Rabiervello… My personal library will attest to my span of reading and influences that Eye keep regurgitating, seeking my own Word scent in things—Language, Music, Dance, Theatre, Science… All that and more tools, are made available to me as Eye view your Exhibition—
My genuflect to the aforementioned sources of my inspiration was for one reason only, which is to urge you to consider, seriously, the road you have taken, and how important it is to understand and value the significance of legacies left by ancestors, on whose shoulders we walk, and to whom we need be grateful.
Let me now express a few thoughts about your current exhibition. Overall, Eye venture to say, the work is made very interesting by your effort to mix your mediums: carvings with paintings -a blend that leaves us guessing between techniques used in collage and assemblage.
One can understand the aw-shucks enthusiasm aroused by a mostly uninformed viewing public that should not be the bench mark we use to judge the success or failure of the work itself, and, you should be guarded away from that, to find a meditation on the principles that constitute balance in the composition of ideas that are to be made explicitly direct in the genre selected. Less than that is to patronize and be patronized in return. And, that solicits the death of your Art.
But, what about the route that has brought us here? Have we yielded sufficiently to its curiosities that can allow us sanction among the elemental that holds us spellbound in the enigma of its timelessness? Have we suffered blindness that eventually, but only after immeasurable back-breaking hours of its dark weight, reveals the slightest modicum of a presence for which we must now perpetually long?
Are we satisfied that we have made well of the thing we glimpsed by lending to ourselves the patience it demands; if only to see light, and touch it! To feel fully the expanse of our conscience and that certain involuntariness of gathering and sifting, prized to an “unvarying obedience”, moulding that thing to find in it, with it as with ourselves, a seamless closeness, a unity, a realization among the infinite -our self-same Word!
Before the gaze of that enunciation where do you hold yourself in account for the too often raw imitations that are becoming clichés, further cheapened by a lack of self-criticism or the merciless urge to make it at all costs? That enthusiasm diminishes your talent at being very skillful by demonstrating the need to be more equipped intelligently charged to the tasks of elucidating the dreams you dream, and about which you are only able to stammer.
Very obvious here is a sense of déjà vu that can hinder the ardour of surprise. The inconclusiveness of these pictures, if only because the volume of voices that abound becomes imprecise in their statements, or muffled in the distraction played out by ostentatious use of differing elements that make up what seems to me as a struggle, where unmanned components in their capricious turning, spill over into the spectacular.
Does that have anything to do with the maturity of your self-confidence, which, perchance is permeated by flattery, and with which, the cleverest of youth is infatuated? Think, young man, there is your psychical side deep within, that hungers after itself in the open, given forms of the physical world with its wealth of latent potencies awaiting you.
Thus caught in that circulatory where your eye becomes Eye, and eye see eye to Eye mingling between light and light to reveal shadows that define them, elatedly etched on the landscape of consciousness! We know for sure: it may not be the hand on the head, but the head under the hand that blesses. Consecrated by Art.
A last word of encouragement: Cherish your hands and your eyes, your nose and your ears and your tongue and the body that houses them, but learn to cherish even much more the mind that moves them to its soul spinning toil. Constant toil can train your impulses to truly hear, see, feel, smell and to taste the cadences of dream which are merely the reflections of the all too common inheritance of Man when he senses, strong enough, God in him—his God-manliness, so to speak! He is Artist… He is Creator!