Guyana Diaspora

'89 percent of Guyana 's graduate population live and work in the 30 relatively rich countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) -"Fruit that falls far from the tree",
The Economist, 03 November 2005'

It is estimated that there are as many Guyanese living overseas as they are in Guyana
They are spread out far and wide to almost every country on the planet
This blog was created to chronicle the news and and stories of the Diaspora

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Sculptor and Painter

Born in Guyana in 1930 and educated in England, Donald Locke now lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Although he makes sculptures and paintings, there is not much difference between the two given that his paintings are sculptural, and his sculptures are, well, painterly. Since leaving Guyana in 1971, his work has been preoccupied with the experiences of African peoples in the New World -- their lives, myths, folklore and their social and political aspirations.

Atlanta resident Donald Locke is an artist with exceptional talent as a sculptor and painter. He has been a part of the “international scene” for over 30 years. Originally from Stewartville, Guyana, South America, Locke began studying art in Guyana in the 1940’s and continued his training at the Bath Academy of Art in England and Edinburgh University in Scotland in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Mr. Locke’s work brings together cross-cultural experiences influenced by his homeland and his journeys as an intellectual living abroad in Europe. His mixed-media sculptures, figural constructions of wax, roots and other organic materials in his creations are considered to have magical, fetishistic overtones. Other sculptures contain bush rope from Guyana’s forests along with exotic woods and ceramic.

Locke’s drawings start at US$1,800 and his paintings range from US$7,000-$15,000. His sculptures are priced between US$1,200 and $8,000.

Some of the public and private collectors of Donald Locke’s work around the world include the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Guyana National Collection, Guyana, South America; and The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. Exhibitions of his work have also been featured at Skoto Gallery in New York, Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art in Newark, New Jersey, Solomon Project in Atlanta, and City Gallery East, located in Atlanta City Hall East.

From PBSAtlanta

Picasso, Guyanese Jungles And a Robust Hybrid Art

ART history is a story of big names and bold ideas. But it is not the whole story, not by half. For every Pollock or Picasso, there are tens of thousands of artists who work a lifetime with scant recognition or reward. What sustains them is a love of their craft and the hope that someone, someday, will find merit in what they have been doing.

This kind of thinking led the staff at Aljira: A Center for Contemporary Art in Newark to instigate ''Bending the Grid,'' a continuing series of exhibitions that examine the work of outstanding yet under-recognized artists who are more than 60 years old. Aljira also commissions new scholarship on the artists, and prints substantial catalogs.

Donald Locke is the third artist to be featured in the series. Born in Guyana in 1930 and educated in England, Mr. Locke now lives in Atlanta. Although he makes sculptures and paintings, there is not much difference between the two given that his paintings are sculptural, and his sculptures are, well, painterly.

Mr. Locke has spent the past two decades living, working and exhibiting in the Southwest and occasionally contributing to international biennials. Rarely has his work been shown in the New York City area, with the main exception of a smaller exhibition at Aljira in 2000. Now, at last, there is a chance to see almost 50 of his works in one hit.

''The Caribbean is a location of conflicting traditions, where the past and present still collide in an unstable accommodation,'' writes Carl E. Hazlewood in the show's catalog. Pretty much the same goes for Mr. Locke's artworks, which blend Guyana's native cultural traditions, African vernacular myths and folk art, and European influences. This artist is broadcasting on a distinctive aesthetic wavelength.

The show spans roughly the mid-1960's to the present, beginning with a pair of early timehri paintings. Dark, murky figure studies, they apparently refer to the ancient rock engravings found in the jungles of Guyana, known as timehri. But they also play off the work of famous modern artists, notably Picasso in his Cubist period.

Picasso is one of Mr. Locke's heroes and a constant source of inspiration. Hints of Picasso's late self-portraits waft through a grid of recent acrylic sketches of craggy heads on rectangular panels included in the exhibition, while imagery of bulls (one of Picasso's favorite subjects) litters Mr. Locke's sculpture and ceramics.

Although Picasso might provide the formal inspiration for much of Mr. Locke's artwork, the content derives from another, more personal source. Since leaving Guyana in 1971, his work has been preoccupied with the experiences of African peoples in the New World -- their lives, myths, folklore and their social and political aspirations.

This preoccupation is most visible in the paintings, which juggle fragments of personal, cultural and historical information. For instance, a typical painting blends imagery of black political leaders, notices from Guyana's newspapers, photographs of the artist's sculptures and icons of the American South. These are radically hybrid, pan-African images.

Of course, some works have more specific meanings. ''Landscape with Kwame Nkrumah'' (1992) is about the struggles of black colonial peoples for self-determination. How do we know this? The title gives us a hint, for Kwame Nkrumah was the first president of Ghana, the first British colony in Africa to gain its independence. This event, in 1957, galvanized subjugated peoples throughout the African diaspora.

Alongside the paintings here are two kinds of sculpture. The first group, dazzling and delicate, is made up of small wax animals and figurines lightly decorated with twigs, wire, hair and other materials. The others are bold, precarious arrangements of thrusting, painted sticks into which the artist has lobbed wax masks, plastic flowers and slivers of fake fur.

The large sculptures are the most dramatic. Partly it is their size, with some soaring nine feet, and partly because there is a daredevil quality to them. Many pieces look as if they are about to collapse. They also possess a spellbinding spiritualism, reminiscent of votive sculptures used in hybrid Afro-Caribbean religions like voodoo.

From Art Review :NYTimes

Phaedrus Bull (Bronze) by Donald Locke


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