Eager to know more about this homecoming, I asked Hubert his views on art.
He described his art by saying “At this point I would not categorize my work. By the very nature that it is new work makes it contemporary. But, because I have developed several styles and work in different media, the answer to that question is still to be determined.”
I think the fact that an artist would choose not to categorize or label the art he or she produces would allow them to feel completely liberated. Without the label of abstract expressionist, for example, an artist can paint, film, or even sculpt. In a world where everything is packaged with prominently positioned labels so that it is the label which sells the product and not vice versa, ‘uncategorized’ definitely promotes a space for true creative freedom.
Neal said that “the overriding themes of his work are social issues, sometimes personal, usually global.”
I remember when one of my art teachers told me that ‘it has all been done before, so now the question is not who did it first, but maybe, why is it being done now?’ Pondering that, I was a bit crestfallen because I had viewed art through a lens of science or invention. I had always assumed that the art game was to not only do it well but also to do it first. I will admit though that the new information did lift some pressure off my shoulders.
I asked Hubert how important individuality and creativity were to him. Then I asked him if he creates or re-invents, or both?
He said “I love that something from your days of studying stayed with you, because there is a quote from one of my professors that has stayed with me:in drawing studio back in college, my favorite professor walked over to me and examined my drawing for about 5 minutes. He then gave me a compliment and posed a question in one breath. He said 'you draw like a master, but, can you make art?' I got the message. I took his words to mean that anyone can learn to make a pretty picture, but can you make work that moves, work that feels, work that matters.”
Belize is a cauldron of inspiration and raw material: do you access some of it for your work? How would you advise other artists, especially young artists?
Hubert responded “I do. In fact, one of my styles, I'll call it figurative abstract, is partially derived from Mayan art.”
“I have found that artists don't need advice. Of course, we are open to it, but when you are an artist you are already driven. It is not just what we do, but a way of life. We make art because we need to. It is as vital as oxygen. We would die (inside) without it. One piece of advice I will give, to those that are unsure, is this: 'Don’t let someone who is not successful in their life try to tell you how to live yours. Do what makes you happy now because if you forsake it for any reason (money, relationship, status), you will wake up one day as a bitter 60 year old with regrets and yes, I know some.' Long after he had anything left to prove, Picasso continued to paint until his death at age 92. When he died, his last canvas was still wet.”
Art is open to interpretation. So even if the artist was discussing rage, it is possible that some audiences would see force based on cultural background and even artistic exposure or education. I asked Hubert to share his view on this and to explain how he delivers his message in his work.
“What I love about art, and this goes for all disciplines, is it is hard to fake. When art is successful it provokes a visceral reaction in the viewer/listener. That's why I am dubious when people need art explained to them. It reeks of laziness and/or fear. Challenge yourself. Venture into the unknown and see what you discover. Yes, when I create anything, there is something specific I am trying to convey and I would love if everyone who viewed my work said 'yeah, I see what he's doing', but that won't always happen. Perhaps they come away with something else. And that's great too, as long as they come away with something. In terms of my approach, I prefer simple and direct.”
When I asked Hubert what can be expected from his exhibit at the Image Factory he answered “If at least one person who views my work can't go back to the way they thought before, then I succeeded.”
The Belize Show will be launched at the Image Factory on January 13, 2012 at 7 pm. The event is free and open to the public and the work will be on display for one month. The gallery is located on 91 North Front Street in Belize City.