art in all its forms

art in all its forms


Under leaves so green

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan's Gardening in the Tropics

Photo by Michelle Jorsling, courtesy y art gallery.

How to describe it? The extraordinary work of Jasmine Thomas-Girvan, who twists pieces of palm fronds into tongues of flame, who places a cage within a cage within a cage, whose human figures twist into tortured, glorious creatures: bodies illuminated by the mahogany that encases them?

I am referring, of course, to Thomas-Girvan's most recent show held at the Y Art and Framing Gallery at Taylor Street, Port of Spain. The show took its title from Olive Senior's now classic collection of poetry and fused poetry with sculpture to create meditations that, for me, were profound and deeply affecting. This was work commenting on society: Caribbean and beyond (Thomas-Girvan was born in Jamaica but lives in Trinidad).

Consider 'Seeing Red', a lacquered box painted post-box red (of is it blood red?) with a figure sitting with legs split atop it, fingers to its ears. Not hearing, but red all around. The piece is about not being open to what is around us. Unlike the figures in 'The Message' who, in the course of one conversation are confronted, literally, by an iron fist with a message of its own. The intrusion of violence. A violent intrusion. A moment of power. A power reversal.

The stand-out, however, for me was 'The Illuminated Heart', a hybrid between a sculpture and a pendant: an illustration of how art can literally be wearable. A bronze pendant (a heart with a head atop it in ecstasy/pain/worship/song) is detached from a mahogany body. The idea of detachment revealing something more vulnerable beneath. The feeling of isolation. The suggestion of a fetal kind of vulnerability. The simultaneous suggestion of strength; of a solid core. All from this piece, which you can see in the catalogue for the show.

The Tower of Victory - mahogany and bronze, height 15". Photo courtesy Y Art Gallery.

Other highlights included 'Flame', a simple sculptural construction made of palm frond material and brass and inspired by Orwell's line: "and I was alive it's a feeling inside you a kind of peaceful feeling and yet it's like a flame." Another was 'Finding your Soul', which offers a glimpse of freedom by placing its subjects behind bars. There is politics in all of this: both in a limited and wider sense of negotiating a place amid oppressive forces. But the key note is a sense of hope, and, in my estimation, love.

SEE the catalogue here. READ more here.


FILM REVIEW: The Skin I Live In (La Piel Que Habito)

Antonio Banderas in The Skin I Live In

This is the creepiest Almodovar film yet, and that's saying something for the great Spanish director.

La Piel Que Habito is an uneasy blend of suspense/thriller and melodrama. To describe the plot is to rob the film of part of its considerable power. That said, the movie follows a crazed plastic surgeon (Antonio Banderas in the performance of his career) and his experiments on a woman he keeps captive at his home. From the start, an overwhelming sense of mystery intrigues each scene. Slowly, bit by bit, Almodovar lays down plot pieces of a complex puzzle which coils into a frenzy of sex, violence, gore and murder.

The film falters and lags, however, in its middle section, especially after Almodovar deploys the device of the expository conversation to reveal crucial plot points. Also, the film sometimes lacks the flair we expect from Almodovar. It's as though the weirdness overwhelms key plot sequences which, in an Almodovar film, normally flow with a kind of effortless ease.

However, all of the tension is in the service of a powerful ending that is astonishing in its contradiction: simple yet complex. Complex because of its questions about identity. This is an audacious film that builds itself on a central premise revolving around the nature of the body and what it really means to inhabit it. Queasy, astonishing and philosophical. One of the year's best films.

STARS: ****/ four

Studio Swap // Che Lovelace


Opening Reception
Thursday 08 December 2011
6.30 - 9.00pm
at 37 Fitt Street, Woodbrook, Port of Spain
RSVP 740 7597 /
Exhibition continues until 22 December 2011


Conceived as an open studio event that takes place outside of Lovelace’s studio, Studio Swap will showcase many new, large-scale paintings, smaller works, and a projected piece. Lovelace’s new, large-scale paintings demonstrate the artist’s increased focus on the human body in various environments and situations. He has been using performance as part of his work process, executing and photographing specific actions, out of which he then develops his paintings. Short stop-motion films are also produced from these performances.

Parallel to his work with the body and movement, Lovelace has continued his long-standing series of Carnival and 'Mas' oriented paintings. A selection of the most recent of these works will also be presented. The artist has also been a fervent documenter of his works in progress as well as day-to-day life and moods in the studio, and a selection of these and other images will form part of the projected piece.

READ MORE at Medula Art Gallery website here. WATCH a video of painter Che Lovelace talking about his process below: