Concept note: Introduction.
I am working on an exhibition and I already know that it will be unsuccessful. Ultimately, it may make money- there is no reason that it should not. And at the end of it,the images may be well received- that remains a subjective negotiation. I know that the exhibition will be unsuccessful in terms of what I would like to express through it. Also, I know that the exhibition will be unsuccessful given the subject that motives it.
This exhibition aims to reflect the majesty of the landscape that surrounds me in the Caribbean. The Landscape here does not only mean the physical environment; it simultaneously alludes to aspects of culture; presence of peoples and spiritualities. In short, it seeks to image a psychological space as well. It is both the psychological and physical macrocosm of the Caribbean that the work aims to reflect and I already know that my work is inadequate. At best, I can only clue to ideas. Ultimately, whatever I create will be only gestural…it can only be gestural- far from any real intimacy with the subject. Neither will it genuinely encapsulate the moments of wonder that the landscape creates nor its confusion and chaos.
It will fail to scale the torrent of humility that can be triggered by the landscape. It will not speak with any authority of the moments of pain, sorrow and recalled hurt. I know that whatever I put on canvas, at its most articulate, will only be sketches that will not summate the aspects of hope , courage, faith, humanity, space and cosmos- the vastness of this place- that surrounds me. So in a way, even at the beginning, even at this point in the process where I am months from the completion of a body of work, I already feel undone. I already feel anguished and inadequate. Why then continue ?
On a very basic level, I have no other reason to continue than the impulse to follow; to explore what this work means for me. It wells within me and I do not know what that means. I know the significance of the landscape but I do not know the significance of myself, having this relationship,with this subject at this point in my life. I have clues. I have inferences, but the truth is it is simply the flicker of an idea that has now spread. Now it is an impulse, I feel it under my skin. It is a mystery to me and the work is my only way of searching.
Perhaps, on a thinking level, for I am responding to the continuous impact of the landscape on me . I am in my late thirties and it would be untrue to say that I am without significant life experiences. Others would have had more to bear in life-much more- but my experiences have not been without their trials and they have been their own lessons. They have asked for me to be more; Or rather within them I have asked for myself to be more than the circumstances. And in attempting to be more I found sanctuary from this landscape. I drew from the things that I saw, the breaths that I took… the sensations that rolled over my skin. And those interactions held me above the fragilities of my conscience. Out of those moments I came to realise that I could not have been the only one buttressed by the meter of the wind and the haze of distant mountains. How many times has renewal been found by the people who engage this space through the pathways of its landscape?
The Caribbean is not an easy stage. So much has happened here. Some of the greatest atrocities of the world have happened within these lands and waters. The Caribbean has known genocide on a scale that Global political thought is still unwilling to unpack. This archipelago has known warfare, servitude,and exploitation. It only stands to reason that the place has, time and time again, willed those who survived to persevere through their passages. I feel that this is an often forgotten and underrated part of our history. I feel that in our attempt to move away from perceptions that others have placed upon us( the troubling image of the convivial native; lighthearted societies of leisure; tourist enclaves of rum, sex, turquoise waters and viridian vegetation) we have dissuaded ourselves from recognizing how powerful that physical landscape remains.
I feel that in our attempt to resemble other places we resist the effect of colour on our psyche and of moisture on our thoughts. We have grown anxious towards the impact of cumulus condensations climbing over saturated hills on our dreams. We have beguiled ourselves away from the persuasion of ancient currents on our courage. And we have distanced ourselves from our landscape for fear of being thought inferior through it. We remain filled by the measurement that those who come from and remain connected to such a landscape can not know the cradle of ascetic thought. In a way, we have seduced ourselves away from places of strength, regeneration and healing. And in a way, in attempting not to acquiesce to descriptions wrongfully projected onto these landscapes, have succumbed to being second-class citizens in our own environment through the neglect and disinterest of further exploration into our place.
The task remains to put language to the power of our space. What remains to be internalized is the act of embracing that we exist in a locale that simultaneously throws beauty and pain at us. Venturing into that territory is a project that I feel has slowed almost to a stall. In truth, It has not stalled, though it has become tremendously sluggish. We have become tremendously sluggish in concertedly attempting to reaffirm ourselves based on where we are, what we have experienced and what we inherently have…which is a Caribbean Majestic.
Kenwyn Murray. September 2016.
Photography by Kewnyn Murray.