Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Cape Town Chronicles - Dean Arlen

Freedom is what you make it, and an understudy sees the light

Fort San Andres, the Museum of Port of Spain is located in the heart of the city, South Quay, and the gallery is at street level making it accessible to the public and the bustle of pedestrians and street hustlers washing cars just outside.

Dean Arlen has managed to curate a visual exhibition that brings art to the public. His exhibition, Cape Town Chronicles is based on sketchbook drawings
and the lower floor of the museum is transformed as if a graffiti artist had defaced it with an aerosol can. The rooms are filled with photocopies, interspersed with twelve posters, digitally enlarged.

Arlen has personalized his work by deliberately marking the territory with familiar symbols and slogans such as, KFC or the Blimp.
These posters are from his sketch book specifically made for the purpose of his six month South African Artist residency where he drew inspiration from. Cape Town Chronicles - 28 November to 17 December, 2006, Fort San Andres, the Museum of Port of Spain, Trinidad


Is it important for an artist to have a large body of work to understand them? Or is it the quality of the work we see that should be contemplated? Or more so, what of concepts yet to be made, should an artist’s work be considered important based purely on conversations about the work? These are the question that comes to mind first when I think about Dean Arlen the artist. He took Commonwealth Fellowship at the Ontario College of Art in 1994. He showed work at the Trinidad Art Society and he has won a competition in Trinidad in the 1997 for sculpture that was not realized by the creators. He has tried to get other artist involved in community environmental art projects over the years, and has produced one show at CCA7 in 2002.

It is not for want of trying that Dean Arlen has produced so little, he has spent more time focusing on creating a groundwork for the works he intends to make. This is difficult at the best of times, and even more so in Mr. Arlen’s instance because of the fact that projects such as his are practically unheard of and this is the beginning of his decade long vision realized at last. He also intends on creating environmental sculpture with other artists on the campus of the University of the West Indies sometime this year. - Adele 2004

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