Last Friday night, the Image Factory Art Gallery hosted Art Beyond 50, New Art from Cayo which in this case spoke of miles rather than years. Eight painters all residing fifty or more miles outside Belize City limits exhibited their work. These artists Ernest Garcia, Jose Gabb, German Figueroa, Carolyn Carr, Marlon Thompson, Lincoln Gordon, Jeanne Seawell and Orlando Nah ignited the walls of the gallery with fresh images from fifty or more miles away.
Luckily I got the chance to interview four of the artists at the launch on their style and artistic aspirations.
Orlando Nah, originally from Roaring Creek village, who is now residing in Camalote village said that he was inspired to paint by a Psalm in the Bible and that spirituality is a very important part of his work. Nah elaborated “for example Psalm 121, which says ‘I look up to the hills’ when you look at nature, you are inspired. When I read that I was very young, about seven years old, and it inspired me.”
Orlando nah hopes that when we see his work we would “understand that we need love in our lives and that the reason there is so much violence and crime is because we do not have love.”
Jeanne, who signs her work with her first name only, is a painter who is self-taught and resides in Belmopan. She, like a painter from the Romantic era of painting, is greatly inspired by nature and other artists’ work. This, in the art world of Belize, is something that may scare artists out of sharing their pieces to avoid ‘copy cat-ism’.
But if we are to call ourselves contemporary artists, we’d realized that we knowingly and unknowing take inspiration from everywhere and everyone. Jeanne shares this viewpoint and says “I’m inspired (by them), but I do my own variation of it. I do my own thing, and I love doing it.” She hopes that we see her work and are inspired to be creative.
Lincoln Gordon is a hyper-realist painter from Roaring Creek who studied Fine Art in the U.S and later taught art at the Belmopan Comprehensive School. His style choice is interesting as it is not widely used here in Belize. When asked why he chose hyper-realism he said that it was the genre that chose him and not the other way around. “I never pretend, whenever I meet someone I show them who I am, I am always real. I think this is reflected in the work that I do. I am real to myself so I am real to my project. So that is the reason I chose hyper-realism.”
Gordon hopes that when we see his work, his theme being urban landscape, we pay closer attention to all that surrounds us and thereby not take for granted the simple things and appreciate the beauty in them.
Marlon Thompson said he recalls finding coal from the fire hearth and scratching all over his grandma’s walls. Thompson also lives in Roaring Creek and said “he has been creating since birth, that this is something that has been in him, since the beginning.” He hopes that we would see his work and share his vision and the same feelings he had.
The artists have since returned to Cayo, but their works can still be seen in the Image Factory Art Gallery on #91 North Front Street. The exhibit will run until the end of November.