{BR Note: Maia Nicholson is youngest daughter of Lilian, Maia stars in Dominion SF Web Series}

Lilian Sten-Nicholson’s Retrospective, ‘Wings of the Morning‘, opened on Sunday Nov.7th at 6.30pm at the Queen’s Park Gallery. Due to the passage of Tropical Storm Tomas there is no electricity at the Gallery. Until electricity returns Gallery hours are as follows: Monday to Saturday 9:00 am – 4:30 pm. After the electricity returns, the hours will be 9:00 am – 5:00 pm.

This exhibition allows you to see the development of an Artist born in Sweden, who has lived most of her life in the Caribbean. There is an accompanying catalogue of the exhibition from which I quote:

Lilian's 2nd daughter at left, with guest appreciating her mom's "Sharpeville" series - political art as a commentary of 1961 South Africa {NB - ALL IMAGES WITH CONSENT OF THE ARTIST & NCF }

The primary colours and black dominate the work of Lilian Sten-Nicholson. The marks, layering and colour choices create a very vibrant space as opposed to a flat patterned surface. Colour and the movement of colour often represents sound in Sten-Nicholson’s work.

What does painting and Prince have in common? The picture was created in 1999, one of the Purple One's most famous tunes! This picture is called? "Fledgling" {NB - ALL IMAGES WITH CONSENT OF THE ARTIST & NCF }

The scale of her paintings is always significant. She seems to more fully realize her ideas successfully on a larger scale. She manages to make every inch of the canvas count; every mark contributes to the atmosphere. The large, monochromatic ‘And Still I Rise’ (2005), has a female nude figure emerging out of a metaphorical space of brush strokes. Although the blues vary only a little, Sten-Nicholson creates a space by her control of the brush stroke. This is a gentle image of spiritual triumph against the odds.

Holy Ground’ (2003) has the atmosphere of a Nativity scene. It is a night scene with four very distict figures grouped around a female figure, who seems to be awaiting something, perhaps an initiation? It is a small painting, which is very strong and arresting. We don’t know what these figures are gathered for and there is the suggestion of more figures in the background, less distinct than the five. There is a source of bright light from the left.; the figures seem to glow. The central female figure has a figure behind her with what appears to be a halo.

Close Up of Lilian's woodcut "Sharpeville II" at the QPG in the City {NB - ALL IMAGES WITH CONSENT OF THE ARTIST & NCF }

The figures are largely androgynous and emerge out of the darkness with a heavenly light surrounding them. Working with blacks, dark browns and blues in a composition with figures coming out of the darkness is something that this Artist does extremely well. The entire space is aglow with something mystical.

Former head of the CTO, Jean Holder glances upwards to "Caprice #10" {NB - ALL IMAGES WITH CONSENT OF THE ARTIST & NCF }

Through her travels with her husband in Asia, Sten-Nicholson was exposed at a deeper level to the beauty of the calligraphic gesture. In 1984 Sten-Nicholson attended Chong’s School of Chinese Painting in Kuala Lampur in Malaysia. The calligraphy she learnt there brought a new dimension to her lines in work such as ‘Caprice’ (2009) and ‘Irons 5‘ (1995) using the traditional ink and rice paper to great effect. These are works of great delicacy and economy of means.

Setting oil to canvas, in 2003, Lilian did "Pan Father" {NB - ALL IMAGES WITH CONSENT OF THE ARTIST & NCF }

Like Picasso and Matisse, these portraits are based on contour lines and ink wash but seem to capture the essence of the sitter’s features, but we have not much of a sense of their personality. ‘Pan Father’ which is a brush drawing, but not really using the calligraphic lines is a portrait.

Part of Sten's earlier works of 1961 - "Two Faced" {NB - ALL IMAGES WITH CONSENT OF THE ARTIST & NCF }

In her more recent work, the energy of her work comes from the mixing of media. There is a greater element of risk-taking involved, as her seductive brushstrokes easily draw the viewer in. It is far more difficult to balance the visual information in combining oil pastel with acrylic, inks, printmaking, charcoal drawing. When it works as in the ‘Dance of the Dingolay’ (2008) and ‘Mirror Image’ (2010) it results in very arresting images.

The ‘Dance of the Dingolay’ was exhibited at CARIFESTA 2008 in Guyana. The theme is once again Carnival, but these relatively small works relied on a mixture of pastel marks combined with acrylic paint combined in a non-representational image to create the atmosphere of various bands in Trinidad Carnival. This series was so effective that visitors to the exhibition immediately recognized the bands!

Ras Ishi & Ras Akyem at Sten's evening debut on 7/11/2010 {NB - ALL IMAGES WITH CONSENT OF THE ARTIST & NCF }

The work of Kamau Brathwaite has always resonated with Lilian in a very profound way, both thematically and in the rhythm that is central to both. In this series, Brathwaite’s use of language is transposed by collaged images. The ‘Mirror’ image series are part of the ‘Tribute to Kamau Brathwaite’ exhibition at the Queen’s Park Gallery in celebration of the Poet’s 80th birthday.

This exhibition will allow you to understand the work of Lilian Sten-Nicholson as you never have before. Come and enjoy it.

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