Artist of the Month at Hilton branch of Gallery of Caribbean Art – Catherine Forter-Chee-A-Tow
As an autodidact artist exercising in my adoptive country I felt rather constrained. Quite a paradox defying the freedom of being an artist. Maturity in my personal and painting life eventually gave me the confidence of my artistic expression.
A very accomplished and veneered fellow artist said to me once, ?I am proud of being a self taught artist. It just means that I read a lot, and worked very hard. ?
As a matter of fact, I do paint just about everyday, several hours a day. I do have a studio, in my home that many times, in a slip of the tongue; I refer to as my office!
I cherish the fact that as an artist, you give away a part of yourself with each painting. A painting is not only about image, color or technique. It is somehow a product of your subconscious, a resurgence of your childhood or past experiences. It is not always clear as an artist why you are inspired by such or such subject matter. The introspection is certainly enriching as an individual.
Markets are an extensive part of my body of work. Markets are reminiscent of my childhood in the south of France, times that I spent with my grandmother, Again as a young adult spending time in a small town of the province of Cordoba writing my University thesis on the wine economy of that region, I used to have long coffee hours at the market in the heart of the city, wishing that one day I could immortalize the uplifting mood that the spirit of the market transmitted to me. I did not paint at the time.
Whether, I am in Barbados, St Lucia, and Grenada?markets have not lost their magic.
I paint markets for their rhythm and movements. I paint generosity of nature, colors and shape. I actually have difficulty restricting my brushes and extend the enthusiasm to very spontaneous and generous brush strokes. Having spent the last 20 years of my life in the Caribbean and a fair part of it in Barbados, my markets depict subtleties of the Barbadian market, the trays, hats?The characters of my markets are women in their large majority. Just as in Latin societies, women were in the past responsible for trading and feeding the family.
In an amateur way, I love social history and literature. I have actually spent the last years with the works of ?classic? French Caribbean writers such as Maryse Conde, Patrick Chamoiseau, Rafael Confiant, Eve de Castro or yet Sharon Maas from British Guyana?
I have very much enjoyed the rich, evocative, colourful writing with Creole language as its backbone. To me they are such a beautiful consecration of the incredible metissage which is the Caribbean today.
These readings have inspired me and comforted me in my depiction of Creole women, sometimes in their turn of the century ? robes matadors ? with their intricate jewelry and very feminine apparels such as fans, umbrellas, lace as well as in the depiction of more contemporary Caribbean women with their madras and Creole hoops. The madras and other fabrics ?indiennes? which made the ?matadors? or ?wob dwyet? actually came from the French Comptoirs in India and were also used in the traditional costume of Provence in the South of France.
My Creole ladies are all very feminine.
I have integrated into this collection 2008 lush vegetation, more or less suggestive foliage, surely as a tribute for the beauty and fulfillment they bring to us? I hope you enjoy it as much as I did painting it.