Art Exhibition: “Remix in the Caribbean”

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As part of the Tropiques Atrium Scène Nationale’s Classics Revisited theme for the last trimester of the 2015-2016 season, the “Remix in the Caribbean” exhibition opened at the André Arsenec Gallery in Fort-de-France, Martinique, on May 12, and will be on view until June 23, 2016. Here are just a few a few excerpts from a magnificent and detailed review by Dominique Brébion and Monique Mirabel:

The boundaries between appropriation, spin-off, remix, remake, cover and parody are tight and fluctuating. Stretching appropriation and remix between respect and rupture gives pre-existing pieces a new beginning by recontextualising them. How did Caribbean graphic artists seize upon this combinatory method true to contemporary art? What issues arise from the gap between spin-off pieces and original pieces?

Appropriation in art is an old and ever-changing custom. For example, Eduard Manet’s Olympia (1863) has been redone by Oneika Russell from Jamaica and Thierry Tian Sio Po from Guyana is inspired by Giorgione’s The Sleeping Venus (1510) and Titian’s Venus of Urbino (1538). Edouard Manet himself took inspiration from bold past artworks but with the aim of making them look better by focusing on the perspective, model, contrast between light and dark and meaning by putting a contemporary spin on classic themes.

Just like Picasso copied Eugène Delacroix’s Women of Algiers (1834) and Las Meninas (1656) by Diego Velazquez countless times between 1954 and 1955 before Roy Lichtenstein put his own spin on Picasso, these Caribbean artists are updating artistic masterpieces and redoing them their way. [. . .]

These appropriations, be it in homage or derision, create a dialogue between the artists through the decades or centuries whilst making the artist consider and question their own work. This is true of the remixes by Ciro Art and Ruben Alpizar. The painting is the subject of their work. Appropriation and iconographic recycling are a constant in this scholarly art form. Ciro Art creates an exhilarating mosaic of fragments borrowed from paintings and sculptures from bygone centuries and contemporary features such as cartoons, ads and crime fiction often bordering on kitsch. Ruben Marcel Duchamp brought a playful and parodic side to appropriation when he wrote L.H.O.O.Q.  (1919) beneath the Mona Lisa. This iconoclastic touch can be seen in Alpizar’s La Revancha series and the digital fairytales by Jean-Baptiste Barret. The sense of strangeness in Barret’s work undoubtedly springs from the juxtaposition of abandoned, disillusioned and usually night-time urban landscapes with characters taken from art history inspired by anyone from Raphael to Gauguin. These contradictory worlds are steeped in subtle humour. Jean-Baptiste Barret and Ruben Alpizar share this light-hearted irony and a unique remix approach separating and removing isolated silhouettes rather than appropriating an entire piece. [. . .]

However, the majority of works use remix to address questions about the three identity issues: gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation. This contemporary trend is very much in fashion, particularly among graphic artists using photography from the 70s and 80s.

[. . .] Remixing also breaks down barriers between disciplines that so characterise art today. These contemporary interpretations of past artworks go hand in hand with technique exchange: from painting and post-modern photography with Renée Cox, Jean-Baptiste Barret, Marvin Bartley, René Peña and Russell Watson to Joiri Minaya’s digital collage and Oneika Russell’s film animation. The transformation goes the extra mile with Christian Bertin, Ruben Alpizar and Thierry Tian Sio Po when the item replaces the painting in which it appears. [. . .]

For full article, see https://aica-sc.net/2016/05/13/remix-in-the-caribbean-2016/

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