A review by Rose Clark for Bristol 247.
Overstreet Ducasse is exhibiting in Britain for the first time. The Haiti-born, Florida based artist creates work that deals with race, white privilege and violence.
He works on everything from canvas to wood frame doors, believing “the number one rule in art is that there are no rules”.
“I’m trying to give Bristol a bang for their buck”, says Ducasse. The exhibition gives people a chance to see a great swathe of his work over the years.
“It says a lot about Bristol to be able to show my work at the tourist information centre.”
Not the usual location for an exhibition, it marks the beginning of a partnership between Bristol and Jacksonville in the US. The cities are both historic trading ports and are known for their aviation industries. They also claim to have a similar interest and passion for arts, culture and creativity.
The coalition, being dubbed the Jax Bristol Partnership, (#jaxbrs if you want to tweet about it) intends to bring the cities closer together, so they can feed off each other and benefit from each other’s ‘brilliant ideas.’ A concept Ducasse approves of, “we can’t be trapped in a bubble. Like minded people need to connect to make an advancement”.
Ducasse’s show brings the raw, vibrant work of a Jacksonville artist to the Bristol people.
Ducasse draws on his experience as a young man growing up as a Haitian emigre in urban Florida.
“My art contains themes of love of music, social injustice, even humour.”
His work looks honestly at racial division. The title of the exhibition, Stony The Road We Trod is a line from the Jacksonville poet and the civil rights activist James Weldon Johnson. The suggestion being that 150 years on, the road is for equality is still as stony.
A depiction of a black man with a bulls-eye target on his chest doesn’t shy away from the recent unrest in America.
Extra Extra refers to the incarceration of black people for marijuana possession. The bold colours and head-on glare of the main figure challenge the fact that black people are four times more likely to be arrested for possession than white people, despite no difference in usage rates.
Ducasse has travelled with his exhibition, and is taking up a residency at Spike Island.
“Bristol’s a great city. There are a lot of similarities with other great cities of culture. The architecture is outstanding and the people are friendly.”
You can find the show at The Tourist Information Centre until October 4th.