It seems that the judges opted for themes not usually depicted in competitions of this sort, and a certain “Caribbean-ness”, as distinct from the Eurocentric style with which some of our artists are so taken. This was posited by Mr. Roberts in remarks as the winners were announced at the unveiling Wednesday.
And so, the first, second and third prizes were announced, going to Travell Blackman for `In The Midst of Life’, to Josefa Tamayo for `Maticore’, and to Shawnton King for `The Lily’.
Perhaps `In The Midst of Life’ is not a hands-down winner, but it is an arresting work, a clamorous, porcine celebration made intriguing by so much being left to the viewer’s imagination. A sow lies supine on the ground, and it’s feeding time for her litter of ten, huddling along her belly. One feels the distinct urge to get into the picture and see the young ones pulling at their mother’s teats and slurping the thick, fatty milk. Even the sow’s face is hidden by foliage, and again the viewer is robbed. One can only imagine the contentment on the snout of this milk machine.
Blackman manages pleasing skin tones for these farmyard denizens, and the green bower in which they feast offers a restful, muted contrast, fashioning what is probably close to the Peaceable Kingdom.
`Maticore’ by Tamayo, the second prize winner, features a band of street musicians, drumming as they move along an otherwise deserted roadway, standing in their shadows in what must be the heat of the day, utility poles receding into the background and lending depth to the piece. Here, Tamayo’s brush work is sketchy and minimal, though she manages to suggest movement and sound and light quite admirably.
And then there is the third prize winner, Shawnton King’s `The Lily’, a daring piece with a reflection of the flower taking up more than half of the canvas. The lily sits majestically by a pond, its lush, spreading petals reflected in the water, shimmering and broken, the artist applying transparencies and hoping it will all come out well. It does actually, and the result is an arresting, dramatic still life.
Now for the Honourable Mention, Tamayo’s `Orchid’. Unlike her `Maticore’, Tamayo’s `Orchid’ is carefully created, a still life throbbing with vitality and set jewel-like in an incredibly green setting. A parallel set of slim vines joins with a wide leaf to create a gabled architectural motif, and other stems and leaves lend movement to the piece, the whole picture flanked by the sturdy tree trunks.
The orchid itself is done in a variety of pinks, with a touch of gold, and sits there in pride of place, very much like the main theme of a Mozart symphony gleaming through the lush obbligato of its green domain.
Castellani House bolstered its exhibition with a set of watercolours from the national collection, including pieces by Broodhagen, Hubert Moshett and Emerson Samuels.