Welcome to the flotilla!” Hew Locke says ceremoniously. He walks amid his procession of more than two-dozen model-sized boats, all extravagantly ornamented and hanging from the ceiling of the Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art gallery in New York. “The Wine Dark Sea,” the London-based artist’s first solo New York exhibition, on view through April 1, derives its title from a phrase Homer used to describe the Mediterranean in The Odyssey. It immediately calls to mind the surge of refugees currently fleeing by sea to Europe from war and oppression, and it echoes other migrations, voluntary and not, throughout history.
Yet Locke’s show also feels like a parade. “It’s not just about something dark,” says the artist, whose clippers, battleships and lifeboats are like reliquaries, filled with torn doll’s clothes and burlap bundles suggesting worldly possessions and adorned with fake flowers, draped beads and medallions. “It’s about people searching for a better life, which is a human right,” Locke says. “It’s what we do.”
Imbuing this regatta is the artist’s own story of migration. Born in Scotland in 1959 to a white mother and a black father, Locke sailed with his family at age five across the Atlantic to his father’s homeland of Guyana, on the northern coast of South America. “The name Guyana literally means ‘land of many waters,’ ” says Locke, whose parents (both artists) influenced his aesthetic as much as did the vibrant, diverse culture of Guyana, a former British colony. “Guyana is six feet under sea level. You are aware of the sea as a real force.” [. . .]
For full review, see http://www.1stdibs.com/introspective-magazine/hew-locke-at-edward-tyler-nahem/
[Photograph of Hew Locke by Nicholas Sinclair; source: https://artimage.org.uk/artists/l/hew-locke/. Top image from http://www.edwardtylernahemfineart.com/exhibitions/2016-02-24_hew-locke-the-wine-dark-sea/.]