CHRISTINA SMITH CREATED :
Dominican artist, Shadrach Burton speaking about his artwork during the Caribbean Fine Art Fair (CaFA).
(LoopNews) Shadrach Burton was a brilliant artist long before the category four Hurricane Maria ripped through his hometown in Dominica last year.
But now ‘Shadi’, as he is affectionately known has adopted a new and inspiring vision out of the chaos of a deadly weather system which left 31 dead, 34 missing and most of the island of Dominica virtually uninhabitable.
Loop caught up with Burton at the Caribbean Fine Art Fair (CaFA) being held at the Courtney Blackman Grande Salle Gallery in Bridgetown over the weekend. CAFA is a regional arts festival which features paintings, sculptures, photography from artists in the Caribbean and the Diaspora.
Burton, now in his third year of the art fair, said he was forced to make a new start in his artistic process much in the same way that the rest of his country is in the process of a starting over.
“It was a time to start again. After the hurricane I decided to start back sketching, as you know every artist starts out with a sketch. The sketch is like the foundation. I went back to my foundation and I did that for a couple of months.”
Burton resides in Roseau Valley in the mountains above the capital. On hearing the news of the approaching weather system, he took the risk to battle out the hurricane alone at home as opposed to seeking refuge in a shelter or at his parents’ home, just a short distance away. When Maria got into full swing Burton said it was his most terrifying experience to date.
“The winds was blowing and it blew my roof off. I was hiding in the bathroom, I had to stay there and hold the window shut. While I was holding it, it was literally cutting my hand.”
Sometime after the rains and the winds died down, Burton was met with a deadly quiet, the eye of the hurricane, and he decided to venture outside to assess the damage to his home and village.
He described a scene of destruction with toppled roofs, galvanize thrown across roadways and all trees and vegetation uprooted. It was within this calm of the monster that was Maria, that Burton’s new series of art was borne- one he has dubbed ‘The Eye of Maria’.
Burton explained he uses a literal human eye as a recurring theme in his artwork. At first glance, it may appear to be a collection of unrelated images but upon further inspection, the viewer can see Burton has used the destruction of Maria to create a busy and thought-provoking piece of art.
Burton went on to explain it was not only the physical landscape and infrastructural damage he wanted to capture in this series but also the despair and depression Dominicans felt in the hurricane’s aftermath.
This he portrays using a variety of blue hues- blue to signify the sadness of the people having lost most everything they owned to Maria. A sadness Burton admits he too has been struggling to overcome for some time.
For someone who has been drawing from age eight and painting from age 13, Burton said it was difficult to start fresh, but a necessary part of overcoming the grief.
Now at the CaFA fair Burton has on display not the many pieces from the Eye of Maria series but the beauty of the Dominican people as they carry out the rebuilding process. In explaining the technique he employs, Burton said he uses a palette knife to create rough textures on canvas. This results in sharp sporadic strokes which allow the mix of bright colours to quite literally jump off the canvas.
“The hurricane left a lot of scars on the island so I decided to put that into my paintings. I also use a lot of colour. I just want to show that despite the chaos in Dominica, everything is still beautiful.”
Burton has already accomplished a great deal in his artistic career having had his work on display at major Caribbean festivals such as Artchipel in Martinique and Carifesta XIII in Barbados. His work has also been in galleries in New York, England, Germany and France. Sharing his plan for the future, he said he will continue to push his art in the region and abroad. He also plans to transform the ‘Shadi’ brand with the help of his new marketing agent.
In helping his country to return to its former glory, Burton said he will be lending a hand in the rebuilding effort by offering his services in painting murals and hanging art pieces in new buildings across Dominica.
Read more: http://www.loopnewsbarbados.com/content/hurricane-maria-gives-shadrach-new-artistic-vision
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