Saturday, March 04, 2006

Folksy Period Art - Adrian Camps-Campins

Adrian Camps-Campins is one of the most known artists in Trinidad and Tobago. His work is known through his stamps and more so through his cards. Mr.Camps-Campins has worked tirelessly to promote his work by having it displayed in stores that sell souvenir gifts and book shops. This decision has made many in the island assume that he is more a commercial artist than a painter, and Mr. Camps-Campins himself may agree. However when one visits Mr.Camps-Campins home and observes his process it is clear that he considers himself a painter. To discuss his work, it is also important to talk about another artist working in the same vein.

Larry Bascombe. At one point Mr. Bascombe�s work was extremely commercial. It is likely that a whole generation of Trinidadian and Tobagonian people see his work as classical art of the island because he painted vanishing images of the islands, many with people going about the rituals of washing clothing, cooking and cleaning. His work is still in print, still available in stores, and can still be seen in many businesses throughout the island. He tested the saturation point of the genre, as Mr. Camps-Campins has done.

But unlike Mr.Bascomb, Mr. Camps-Campins continues to create work that he shows constantly. Showing work in more commercial ways was considered controversial because it seemed like suicide to many artists. The thought in the 1980�s was that if you went the way of the greeting card business, you were somehow diluting your messages, and making the work similar to poster art. If your work looked commercial like poster art, then you couldn’t play with the” big painters” like Leroy Clarke.

However today, many artists have let their work be reproduced for sale, Dr. James Isaaih Boodhoo, Carlyle Harris, Noel Vocrossen. Even Leroy Clarke has allowed the reproduction of his work in book format, it is only a matter of time before he allows some of his work to be reproduced even more commercially.

In 2005 what was perceived as selling out in 1982 is now considered fiscally sensible. The fact that some artists want many people to see and appreciate their work is no longer in question. Artists have many more choices today than ever before.

Mr. Camps-Campins saw this need twenty something odd years ago and to his credit has remained steadfast in his resolve to do for his work what he sees it needs. He has been painting the rapidly vanishing architecture of Trinidad and Tobago against the festivals that are a part of the culture. His work reminds one of the primitive style of artists from the turn of the 20th century like Henry Rousseau.In fact his palette is very similar to Rousseau�s. Whether this is intentional or not is unclear. What is known is that Mr. Camps-Campins has managed to influence a whole new generation of artists like Brian Wong Won. There is no way to look at Mr.Wong Won's work without comparing it to Mr. Camps-Campins. There is the same architectural underpinnings and gay revelry in the foregrounds. Where Mr. Wong won differs is in his interest in skewing the perspectives to make the architecture dance. His pallet is also purer and to some extent more psychedelic. For someone who saw a need to test the commercial waters of art and has become an icon of his genre, I would state that Mr. Camps-Campin�s has been vindicated as the artist he is. Adele

YUFE's ? - Public Art on the walls of Port of Spain

YUFE's ? Of all of the wall signage that I have written about, this one is a head scratcher. I have to say first off that the people look like images straight out of magazines from the 1980�s. They also look like clowns because of the unusual amount of white in the faces, and most of all they look like clowns in a Camps-Campins painting or postcard. I feel much better getting that one out from the start.

As layout goes, this image is more sophisticated than the others, but only just. The grass in the foreground does not help to make the sign any less odd. The unkempt grass seems to be mocking the work in the background, as if to threaten that it can soon be completely obscured. The comparison to Camps-Campins is also because of the bright colours used. This artist has some sense of colour. But the choice of images are questionable. - Adele

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