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Vis Vires – a show of power and strength

Story and photos by Christopher Tobutt.

 

Vis Vires is a latin word meaning force, power, strength, might and influence. It is also the name of a startling collection of art by local artists put together by Arteccentrix Gallery owner Nickola McCoy-Snell. It can be seen upstairs at Woods Furniture for the next six weeks, and is certainly worth seeing . It represents some of the very best and most original work from local artists since the last exhibition there — Changes, earlier in the year.

Two well-known local photographers, Courtney Platt and Patrick Broderick have extensive exhibits.

Mr Broderick has for some years been venturing into the realm of semi-abstract photography. Much of his work, here reproduced on very high quality giclee prints, involves photographs of landscapes and seascapes which have been manipulated using photographic software to produce a horizontal blurring. The overall effect is very pleasing, as there are no distinct forms to break the spell of the tranquil, horizontally drawn-out forms so produced.

Many of his canvases are easily recognisable to those who are familiar with Cayman’s scenery, despite the intentional blurring.

Rich golds and yellows of the sand blend into the dark blues, greens and turquoise hues of the sea and sky. Again, the brownish-green and yellow of the edge of the mangroves that border the North Sound are a little more difficult to place, but once you have been there, you know.

Courtney Platt’s breath-taking photographs are some of the best studies of local sea life that have ever been made. His unique strength is an ability to compose photographs by capturing recurring natural forms and patterns. Take, for example, the study of several large sting rays, seen from above and positioned across the cool blues and greens around the Sand Bar and Sting Ray City. The forms are natural, yet his judicious inclusion of them is what makes a perfect blend between scientific observation and artistic composition – the place where art and science meet.

While there are many photographers who use the manifold blessings of digital manipulation to change the real world, it is refreshing to see a photographer using photography in its purest, most traditional sense in an expression of high art.

Mikael Seffer is an artist whose work uses both abstraction from the natural and the man-made world. Some years ago this original and thought-provoking artist explored sculptural pieces incorporating large flat monoliths of concrete encasing steel artifacts.

His recent work uses paint, spread in many thin, transluesent layers across a canvas, and finished in a thick coat of reflective resin. Two large works were principally produced using blue, turquoise and very light brown, with some grey and cream too. The colours not blending so much as laying on top of one another, so that, at any one time you can see many different hues, each making a pure statement in its own right, yet blending with the whole like many voices in a choir.

The colours form strata across the canvas like the layers and colours of ancient, polished granite. They make one feel that the painting has been made by the natural world and then uncovered, rather than being deliberately made by conscious will.

Scott Swing is an artist who continues to push the boundaries of sculpture by his daring use of innovative materials such as large shards of coloured glass which is used as an aggregate mixed with cement, or specially treated fibre glass. Many of the sculptures here appear to have been moulded from casts taken off real human beings. The deliberate fatiguing of the surface of the cement form, in one sculpture, to reveal nests of brightly coloured glass, like a demonstration of the muscle structure beneath skin in a biological dissection, is both fascinating and disturbing.

Al Ebanks’ large works have evolved out of careful studies of the natural realm. While on first glance his work appears to be purely abstract, the human figure inhabits his landscapes in broken and fragmented forms. His use of distilled visual elements from Cayman’s natural and native flora, fauna, geology and culture and his articulation of them to create new symbols and a new visual language represents some one of the purest, most original and most vibrant examples of contemporary Caribbean art.

David Bridgeman has painted and drawn a landscape full of stylised and simplified flora concealing what appear to be disembodied heads and disjointed humanoid forms. Some of the painting has not been coloured in, leaving a feeling of child-like desolation: something unfinished, half remembered, and unfulfilled; the vague memory of a disturbing dream which comes with no conclusion upon waking.

Gordon Solomon has perfected the art of capturing the spirit and essence of local scenes, evoking a Cayman of years-gone-by. His paintings use thickly applied, impasto paint, in distinct blocks of colour that form an image, rather like pixels on a digital photograph.

Exhibition Curator, Nickola McCoy-Snell also had some of her own work displayed. Windows is the title of an intriguing abstract study in dark and light blue acrylic paint. As its name suggests, it is full of what appear to be small windows looking out into a much brighter world. Yet they are obscured, so that, tantalizingly, as if we were a child standing on tip-toe, the brighter outside world can only be imagined.

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