Charles Chavannes, a Belizean artist and cartoonist who recently moved to Verona, Italy, has returned home to show his most recent work, a 75-piece exhibit titled Acquarelly Erranti (Wandering Watercolors). The work was inspired by the unique ancient buildings of his new home. In an interview with News 5 of Belize, he spoke about his new work:
“I was completely enthralled by the ancient or the old architecture that goes back to the middle eighties, some of them all the way back to the Roman times. So, what you see here will be a display of painting, of sketches and designs that I have made based on the place where I live. I’ve always been interested in not old or decrepit architecture, but architecture with a little bit of history, a little bit of age. I am not too interested in painting modern architecture. I was interested in learning how to paint water colors—water colors are a different medium; at least I was told it was a different medium. It doesn’t behave in the way you would expect it to behave. So, you have to learn about the materials that you are using—the type of paper, the type of color—so it has been an adventure for me to lean how to use the medium. Every painting that an artist does is a reflection of himself. The colors that I use in my depiction brings from Belize to wherever I go—the flavor and the passion that I developed while I was growing in Belize. The name Acquarelli Erranti in Italian basically means wondering water colors. So, son of Belize that has been wondering abroad has brought back some acquarelli from where he was to share with my people.”
Chavannes, in addition to being one of Belize’s seminal cartoonists, began painting in 1997. In contrast to his cutting caricatures and brutally sarcastic cartoons, Chavannes paintings are kinder and gentler. His cartoons dwell on accentuating people’s flaws, to mock their foibles, while his watercolor paintings dwell on traditional romanticized subject matter like boats, bridges, buildings and barges found around the Swing Bridge area of Belize City. His “4 Bs” (boats, bridges, buildings and barges) are not spanking new nor high tech, no they are weathered, run-down and worst-for-wear. They have seen better days and wear their wear as icons of nostalgia.
The exhibition, which opened this weekend, ends on September eighteenth.