Grenadian artists Susan Mains and her son Asher Mains, and a few artist friends took a trip to Italy in 2013 to see the Venice Biennale. It was a look see. Could Grenada possibly participate in this world famous art event. It was a dream — a day dream.
Fast forward to 2016, and Grenada’s participation as an official National Pavilion in the Biennale di Venezia is a fait accompli. Over 40,000 visitors passed through Grenada’s pavilion and interacted with the art. Many signed the guest books with statements of surprise and support. Even noted Oscar winning Steve McQueen left his mark — “you are putting Grenada on the map,” he penned. (Of course he was proud — he is Grenadian).
Out of this, Susan and Asher were also seen in Rio di Janeiro at the TRIO Bienal. This Bienal hosted 144 artist from over 80 countries. Over 200,000 people had a look. Further, Asher has been invited for a residency in Bolivia later this year.
Now these 2 ground breaking artist once again share their work with Barbados at the Gallery of Caribbean Art in Speightstown. It is a mixed show of paintings, and is entitled, Lions, Fish and Vestiges of Gold. The lion represents Venice, the fish, Rio, and for the explanation of the gold, you just have to pass by and see the show.
Susan Mains delves into some of her familiar icons — the working boats of Grenada at regatta, as well as richly textured and coloured landscapes. Susan says, “With so much trouble in the world, it is once again good to look at the value of life that we have in the Caribbean. Even the smallest bit of colour is something to be treasured.”
Asher Mains further develops his stencil work. You may think you have seen this before, but each one is a new iteration of thought. His experimentation with an ink made of pomegranate leaves and iron oxide is laid down in layers, then painted with oil paint on that surface, a cocoa farmer portrait. He is currently completing his studies for an MFA with Trans Art Institute, Berlin. This year’s work is heavily influenced by his exploration in using naturally found materials for art making.
Along with the Ministry of Culture in Grenada, plans are already afoot for the next Biennale di Venezia in 2017.
The opening of the exhibition is 9 January at 5–8 pm, at the Gallery of Caribbean Art, Northern Business Centre, Speightstown, St Peter. Barbados admission is free. The exhibit continues through 3 February.