Thursday, February 3, 2011
Is the artist a liar
Or is he of truth
Meek on the surface
But beneath a brute
On surfaces flat
Much like a braid
Strands become one
Chaos now staid
Keep up if you can
Gentle and strong
Cross borders of class
Bones and sketches
And plaster of paris
The world keeps on turning
Through his work
At night he interprets
By day maybe… he's a clerk
Is the artist a liar
Or is he of truth
His work so meek
With the strength of a brute
I do believe that the work of the artist is to make beautiful what is not in this world. Beauty is however subjective and so the artist is then entrusted with the responsibility of justifying their work so that innocence then softens what may sometimes be less than gentle, or cohesive or symmetrical or any of the other qualities academically ascribed to beauty.
Having met Bahamian artist Heino Schmid I encountered a gentle soul. This does not however rob him of his humanity which is complex and goes beyond the ethereal.
Soft spoken and very considered in all that he does Schmid is consequently able to execute his vision with such ease that it renders it ironically seemingly artless.
His gaze is usually far even when engaged in conversation about his work, his life and the world.
A trained artist and curator, Heino is not only qualified but experienced. While these may seem like lofty descriptives the contradiction of the man is that his feet are evidently and purposely planted in the same place that every other person walking this world’s are.
In his external world there is a feeling that not every thing need find its place and not everything need be in its place. This manifests in his work in a real sense as he tries not to create surrealistic or fantasy type work but draws on the seemingly mundane and overlooked applying to them concept and narrative that again read as easily as the proverbial sands through the hour glass.
Speaking with him on a random afternoon at Alice Yard where he was in residence for a number of weeks in 2010 revealed how his daily journeys informed his work not just with physical material but as well thoughts that layer his work in sublime and sometimes invisible ways.
Heino came across a yard in St James where he found the bones of horses and saw value in them. They would eventually form part of his final night exhibit.
Like many of us, Heino focuses on that one moment, that one great love, that one point of success. At the end he realized that all that he saw as incidental came together to form that point for those who experienced his exhibit. He moved on, perhaps not sure that he had done any work other than what had been on show. His gaze again fixed far.
Art in many spaces is the stuff of galleries and musea but where does it come from?
While liming at one of his favorite spots in Trinidad, the seemingly always open Smokey and Buntys he became captivated by the spontaneous architecture of the nameless probably homeless artist who used the friction and grooves of discarded bottles to attract the motley crue that frequents the Western Main Road landmark while also attracting a couple dollars.
While I too have marveled at the ability of this urban sculptor Heino was clearly moreso. It became a starting point for his most deliberate creation while here, the looped video of his attempts to have two bottles find peace, one balancing on the edge of the other.
He tried to explain to me why he had just a little bit of water in one of the bottles and what that represented in terms of it being a horizon transformed into something else as the failed attempt to balance the bottle spilled the water as it rolled down the slanted surface he mounted it on in the studio in which the mini film was recorded.
The point being that as we try to understand the artist, his work is too about him trying to understand.
He wondered out loud about why he found himself drawn to places like Smokey and Bunty and the abandoned lot that would have been the burial ground of horses perhaps recently or in a more romantic sense some many years ago.
Over a beer and cigarettes we would talk of the Bahamas. His wife would come up, the house they had built, the art scene on the island, his work as a curator and teacher and too a lot of questions. His work is in a great deal about investigation, discovery, internalization and creation.
It may be clichéd and even unnecessary to place him within the confines of the temporal continuum of art as Heino clearly inhabits a place all his own but the post-independence regional politics and dare I say post-millennial artistic sensibility are evident in his work.
Trained in the traditions of the Europeans, Schmid recognizes the value of the world in which he lives, the Caribbean that is, and seeks to re-present it and represent without apology and too without locating it anywhere but in the now.
His academic thesis, which recorded the journey of his finding a set of teeth and his attempts to find the owner, led to him finding a place for the work at a museum dedicated to dentistry, something he never foresaw. Again I see here how the journey is as important as the destination.
He left Alice Yard to go on to prepare to exhibit somewhere in the United Kingdom, the details escape me.
While it may be said that his work here is done it may provide a launching pad for what he will next present to the world as his art.
Heino one day said he had worked on one piece in 30 different ways before feeling that it had reached where it was meant to go.