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Part of the Emergence series

Part of the Emergence series

There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who, with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into sun.”― Pablo Picasso.

With these words, Ioan Hădărig, Art Director at Inter-Art Aiud, Romania and manager at the Centrul Cultural Liviu Rebreanu in Aiud, introduced me and my work at the opening of my solo exhibition ‘Emergence’.

Just half hour before, next door in the studio, I was nervous. So nervous in fact that my bottom lip developed a tic that would not quit. I was biting and chewing and sucking and it would not stop quivering. My table mates Delphine (France), Elisabeth (Germany) and Jo Ann (Tunisia) tried to reassure me that the opening would go well, and that I had nothing to fear.

Nothing to fear, my foot. Most of the artists at the camp, if not all of them, are academically trained, so you understand that to show my work at this forum was nerve wracking. Further, I was the first Grenadian artist to show in Aiud, perhaps in all Romania. Big shoes to fill for me quaking in my size 8 sneakers. I marshalled my courage, and installed a YouTube playlist of videos, including Tallpree’s Jab Jab Nation. I hit play, and immediately the warm pulse of Jab riddim brought home to surround me, and to soothe my anxiety.

Director Hădărig, Suelin and Zoltan Balog.

Director Hădărig, Suelin and Zoltan Balog.

Hădărig was generous in his review of my work. I felt he had known my work from inception, and that we were old friends that he could speak so comfortably about my work, and put me at such ease. The 20 framed works comprised untitled small paintings I had brought with me from Grenada, several of which were from my 2013 show at the gallery of the Caribbean Art project. A few others sized 12×16 inches in the same theme and technique, I created in Aiud. These were all based on an excerpt from Teach a Daughter to Fish, a short story taken from my 2013 short story collection titled ‘a patch of bare earth’.

This is the video taken at the opening. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIqTK1xVdK4&feature=youtu.be

Grenada Jab in conversation with Romanian sunflowers

Grenada Jab in conversation with Romanian sunflowers (series of sketches)

in Aiud, the plan was to continue my exploration of Grenada’s traditional mas characters. Earlier this year, I had more or less exhausted the ShortKnee, and had started on the Jabs. I created a series of horned hats decorated with words from a few Jab songs, as well as paintings on brown paper with a mixture of liquid molasses and acrylic varnish. In Aiud, sans molasses, I was content to create black paint line drawings of Jabs – on paper, cardboard, glass and on fragments of Carrera marble taken from the sculptors at work outside the atelier. These works formed the second part of my exhibition.

The first line drawings were Jabs by themselves. The next set showed the Jab in conversation with Romanian sunflowers that cannot follow the sun, and instead must pay obeisance to the Jab, who blocks out the sun. These conversation drawings reference the fields of sunflowers we drove past en route to Aiud, plus that particular line about the Jabs having ‘skin so black they blot out the sun.’

Jab installation - line drawings on paper, music videos, drawings on Carrera marble

Jab installation – line drawings on paper, music videos, drawings on Carrera marble

While my framed works were well received, I believe the audience was perhaps more intrigued by the Jab phenomenon. The installation of music video, line drawings on paper and on the marble fragments, stirred artistic and I-want-to-come-to-Grenada-for-carnival interest. Who knew that Jabs could bridge two cultures?