Thursday, February 22, 2007

Zoya Tommy - Make Up Girl

A mirror of my everyday life

During the carnival season a little gem of a show opened at Art Creators. It continues to the 24th of February, 2007. Zoya Tommy, the artist, calls her presentation, Blanket. Forty-five works in oil and watercolour. On first observation the lush colours are striking and energizing. Using repetitive patterning and overlapping, the work takes on a very contemporary feel of present day media. Miss Tommy’s personal drawing style is loose and quirky and when it works, it is delightful. When it doesn’t quite do so, as in Delight (Girl in Plant) it is awkward and disturbing.

Nonetheless, the show is filled with wonderful views, from the simple line drawings of intimacies of a girl combing her hair, titled, Mirror and Girl III, to a girl kissing her boyfriend or the couple being playful in bed, titled, French Romantic I through VIII. Featuring several views of the couple. Images such as these are not common as themes of interest in Trinidad and Tobago, and so, work like this here, in St. Ann’s takes on a very refreshing air. Some of her large pieces explore the idea of the decorative and her layered painting of lace has an embroidered texture akin to the American artist Philip Taaffe. It is ironic that she plays with the
decorative and the pretty and yet for many locals, the work has been seen as difficult or startling in its quiet intent. Her colour palette recalls Brigit Riley in its use of pigments like citrus, turquoise and rose, and her work is so expressive and vibrant that they almost look like silkscreen prints suitable for fabric and fashion.

There is a subtle current flowing through the work that gives it a pleasant energy. There is also something in the style of line that is reminiscent of the American artist Elizabeth Peyton, it is possibly the model posed bodies that give off a sort of voyeuristic sense of appeal, only Miss Tommy’s people are not recognizable. But I do not name these other artists to suggest that Miss Tommy is mimicking their work, far from it, what is happening in this exhibition, is an attempt to show a personal, diary-like interpretation of a life using colour and image in a graphic way and that is enjoyable to see.

Miss Tommy’s work in the past has been a bit self conscious, but now I believe that she has become more self aware. She includes seventeen watercolour pieces that require a different sort of contemplation, although some retain the multiple image of the girl, many are abstract and light-hearted. Her shapes are organic and bulbous, the colour palette here keeps a continuity throughout the work in a visual short hand akin to Trinidadian artist Eddy Bowen’s remarkable pencil drawings. However, being watercolour, they are far less dense and intricate. However they attempt to capture a take your pencil for a walk ‘on acid’, a trip that leads you to an imaginary fantasy landscape that has no borders.

Miss Tommy’s show may not be for everyone. Some people are challenged by an artist whose drawing style is not dependent on perfect symmetry, or whose brush strokes are not formed into perfect photo realistic settings. This knowledge makes this show even more relevant and important to witness as an experience of another way of seeing. Very few artists expose themselves this way. I commend Miss Tommy for having such a show, doing just that, something off the beaten path, reflecting so many personal thoughts. Her work has grown and blossomed and really deserves to be on a bit longer so that people really can take a first, second or third look. ~ Adele

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