`A dazzling display that left the senses reeling’

Guyana Chronicle
June 29, 2003

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GOING INTO the Umana Yana this past week was like shouting, “Open Sesame” and entering Ali Baba’s Cave, where the 40 thieves had stored their booty - banks and banks of gleaming, splendid treasures.

At the Benab, masses of colour rushed at you in unrelieved waves. Paintings, textiles, sculpture and ceramics all jostled for attention with brilliant reds and greens and blues and gelds, and with highly distinctive forms, a dazzling display that left the senses reeling.

Aspects of Perception 10, staged by the University of Guyana’s Division of Creative Arts were too much to take in at one viewing. One would have had to go back again and again to enjoy it all.

In pride of place at the exhibition is a sculpture by Jynelle Osborne that is to be executed in larger-that-life replication and set up at the Turkeyen Campus.

Head of the Arts Division at the University of Guyana, Doris Rogers says the work is very much indicative of the sentiments behind the university’s current 40th anniversary celebrations.

She speaks of the piece firmly planted on a triangular base, with its sweeping curves calibrated to suggest the lean times and the good times and the great moments celebrated at the tertiary institution.

The exhibition showcased the work of the Division’s students from every class, and was marked by a distinctive individualism that is not mere happenstance.

Ms. Rogers insists that her students do not conform to her mould, and encourages their very own devices and bents.

“I do not want to reproduce artists putting out works that look like mine,” she posits. “They must express their own individuality, and produce their own works”.

And this they do, joyously and brilliantly, with banners flying.

Among the most distinctive works at the showing were Shawnton King’s `Safe Haven 1’ and `Safe Haven 2’. The Brickdam Cathedral, complete with the spire which was part of its blueprint but which was never erected, and the St. George’s Cathedral are central to these two pieces, with geometric shapes at the approaches to the places of worship and stacked in the sky above.

The artist says she is keen on architecture, hence the rectangular shapes tumbling on each other as if striving to be incorporated into the design of the two churches.

Kwesi Bovell’s `Memories of a Place I once knew’ is striking dramatic, a window opening on a black wall, with contrasting suggestions of movements inside, with flashes of muted colour, dark and just a bit forbidding.

Genghis Khan is obsessed with music, with his `Colour of Music’ and `Play the Blues’ and `Sound in the Hallway’ showing off a flair for broken shapes morphing into guitars and saxophones and their players in random displacement.

Damian Moore also plays round with `Colours of Music’, though his forms are a bit more conventional. He displays, too, a sense of movement in his pieces.

Sonia Gumbs speaks of nature as a reflection of God’s character, and she displays this brilliantly in her `Amidst the Forest’, a somber, dark cottage ensconced in the shadows of dense foliage, with a road leading the eye from the bottom of the picture up to the trees.

The organisers did the best they could displaying so much of the students’ work in the space at the Umana Yana, but they could hardly avoid the clutter and too-rich ambience at the display.

A much larger space, with room to stand back and enjoy the paintings would have added immensely to the viewers’ pleasure.

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