Monday, October 02, 2006

A Suitable Distance – Impressions by five artists

Too many pieces to small a space

Of all of the shows on at this time, none interested me more than this one. A Suitable Distance features the work of Roberta Stoddart, Rex Dixon, Kofi Kayiga, Peter Doig and Chris Ofili. The latter two are arguably the most important British contemporary artists of their generation, and it is quite reasonable to say that the show is worth seeing purely for that fact. Anyone who knows something about art at least knows about Mr. Ofili’s piece, Madonna defaced by an irate New Yorker. It is Mr. Ofili’s first showing of work in Trinidad and Tobago. Let me say what disappointed me, and get that out of the way right away. It should be clear by now what it is, the curation. Too many pieces crowding the small spaces. This show deserved to breath. For such large pieces and several smaller ones, the show should have struck out for difference from all other art spaces in Trinidad and really sent a message and stood out boldly for where art should be going. How hard would it have been to gut the building of the everyday working environment in favour of one work per room?

This has never been done as far as I am aware, and the works of Stoddart, Doig and Ofili needed just such attention. Here is an opportunity for the art weary public to really see how art can be, and instead the decision was to pack it in, not to choreograph, and for that, I felt cheated.

Yet, I am thrilled to see the work of such luminary artists in a very new gallery space, what a coup for Soft Box and Andy Jacob who conceived of the show. Here is an opportunity to draw a line going upward stating what art should be, if we really want it to. Five foreign artists explore what working in this place means to them. I must say that this show left me thinking about colonialism and post colonialism, the expat culture and where local art stands at this time. I found that very good for me, as these issues are very real and worthy of discussion. I hope that those who were at the show also took away a sense of provocation about art, and not just the privilege of saying that they saw some work by some internationally known artists and that was all. Temperature – air conditioning cold Work – warm. - Adele

Top: Chris Ofili Cente: Roberta Stoddart (Detail) Bottom: Rex Dixon at "A Suitable Distance" exhibition in Trinidad, West Indies

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