Recently, Trinidadian artist Che Lovelace posted on Facebook, that one of his pieces has become part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles.
The painting, Nyabinghi Drummers, has special significance to him because, “it is so rooted in Caribbean iconography and energy”.
The MOCA’s Instagram describes the piece as “colourful abstracted figures” which “reference the costuming and characters of Carnival….Through his almost Cubist representations, dancing between the abstract and the realist, Lovelace transforms any tropes about Caribbean art and aesthetics”.
Lovelace is “particularly drawn to the Blue Devil masquerade, one of the oldest Carnival icons in Trinidad and Tobago.”
Che Lovelace, son of writer Earl Lovelace, was born in San Fernando in 1969, but grew up in the village of Matura. His full name is Cheikh Sedar Lovelace, after African historian-philosopher, Cheikh Anta Diop.
He first became popular locally as a champion surfer and was appointed president of Trinidad’s Surfing Association in 2012. He attended Queen’s Royal College, and later trained at L’Ecole Régionale des Beaux-Arts de la Martinique, Fort-de-France, where he graduated in 1983 and continued his pursuit of art, experimenting with various styles and materials, and exploring dancehall, Carnival and dancing figures as subjects.
In 1998, he was awarded a residency at the Gasworks Gallery, London, in a collaboration with the Institute of International Visual Arts (Iniva), UNESCO’s International Fund for the Promotion of Culture, and the Gasworks Studios.
In 2017, The New Yorker noted about his work: “Poised on the border between Cubism and realism, Lovelace doesn’t really belong to any school; part of the beauty of the show lies in watching the artist establish his own rich vocabulary and letting the work stand on its own. He’s not afraid of pleasure and knows how much the soul craves colour—a refuge during these dark days.”
Reviewing Lovelace’s first exhibition in France in 2017, Le Figaro, the oldest national daily in France, said that his use of landscape and bright colour recalled that of Gauguin and Matisse (Wikipedia).
Of this latest success Lovelace says, “Hopefully, it represents an expanding interest in Caribbean art and culture within a larger global conversation”. —SD
You can follow this artist on Instagram @chelovelace, and on Facebook.