“My studio is located in a warehouse complex that used to be a rum factory. About a decade ago one of those warehouses was dedicated to the arts and housed several studios and exhibition spaces. It was called Caribbean Contemporary Arts. It facilitated an artist in residence program that enabled local artists to interact and sometimes work with visiting international artists. It was a great program and during this period I meet a wide range of artists, the Cuban Inti Hernandez, Indian artist Gigi Scaria, the conceptual artist Simon Starling, Chris Ofili, Peter Doig and many more.”
“When things become too scattered I tend to arrange objects in lines or clumps. I helps me to think clearer, and creates a kind of visual soothing. The general appearance and mood in my studio moves between being messy and orderly on a regular basis. This cycle is important for me. I would think I had landed in purgatory if I woke up one morning in Francis Bacon’s studio and had to work there. Then again, that cavelike space is probably what he needed to make those fantastic paintings!”
is a Trinidad born visual artist working in Port of Spain, Trinidad. Central to Lovelace’s work has been his response to the social and cultural environment of Trinidad and Tobago and by extension the Caribbean. An avid surfer, he has been a major figure in Caribbean surfing. He has collaborated on several creative projects including the DJ outfit, The Amateurs
and the alternative cinema, StudioFilmClub
. His most recent exhibition was at the 2011 Volta Show
FROM YOUR DESKS: When do you like to work?
CHE LOVELACE: I try to get into the studio whenever I can, but inevitably the night-time seems to be when I really move things forward with regards to painting.
FYD: Do you keep a routine?
CL: I don’t have much of a routine, although many times I do long for one. I manage to get into the studio everyday when possible, usually by mid morning. Before I had a kid I would stay all the way through into the night. Now I leave the studio at about 4pm or so I can go spend time with my son. I return by 8pm…that’s when my next work day begins.
Regions like the modern Caribbean were born out of Europe’s desire to expand.
FYD: I was excited to see your work on Exhibition A. How did that come about?
CL: Bill Powers and Cynthia Rowley have been very supportive of my work; they are both involved in that project.
FYD: How does your environment of Trinidad help define your art?
CL: Though I have lived all my life in Trinidad and Tobago, to me, there are so many things about the cultural and social environment here that are elusive, that are not easily understood, so I do find myself responding and looking for responses by means of my art.
FYD: How does the Carnival encompasses your art?
CL: I consider the Trinidad Carnival to be the single most important cultural phenomenon that exists in Trinidad and Tobago. When you observe its history, development and current state you understand an enormous amount about people in the new world generally, the character or their creativity as well as the challenges of a society moving away from colonialism and towards defining what independence is or should mean.
Regions like the modern Caribbean were born out of Europe’s desire to expand. People arrived at different times and were brought together by various circumstances. As time goes along it seems a natural desire for people to want to be part of a single cultural idea, and contribute to a culture’s most dynamic, participatory and progressive aspect. The festivals ethos encourages participation, be it democratic or contested, while acknowledging communal and self-expression. Carnival is possibly the single experience in this society which propagates such an idea. I believe some of the ideas inherent in the Trinidad Carnival can, and have been applied to other urban and metropolitan contexts.
It seems a natural desire for people to want to be part of a single cultural idea…
FYD: You are a professional surfer. Talk about that.
CL: Thankfully the definition of “professional surfer” has broadened over the years. A surfer not necessarily competing for money on one of the various surfing circuits can still be involved in the sport in more than a recreational way. In that sense I am a professional. I still compete (I had stopped for many years) and most of my travel for surfing in recent years has been with the Trinidad and Tobago National team. A word I hear used in the surfing community to describe slightly older surfers like myself who are still active is ‘ambassador.’ I think that has a good ring to it.
FYD: Favorite time to paddle out?
CL: Anytime besides those predawn sessions, where one has to get out of bed when it is still dark to get to the beach. Once you make the effort, those morning surfs can be magic…with the day just beginning. Still, I must say late afternoon into early evening surf sessions are the best for me. My body feels most aware and comfortable in the water at that time. A few of my friends and I have been finding new surf spots on both the north and east coast of Trinidad, spots sitting right under our noses and we never made the extra effort to check them out. I find myself wishing to surf new or more remote locations to keep that freshness alive, and to not have to surf with too many people. A nice little point break with a few friends out is like having a little piece of heaven right here on earth.
FYD: Let’s say I’m visiting Trini. What’s on the agenda?
You would get settled in by heading up to Maracas Beach
( the closest nice beach to the city) for a swim and one of those yummy Shark & Bake sandwiches from the vendors there. Heading further up the north coast would you will come across tucked away beaches with lots of lush vegetation and some decent surf. The other end of the north and north-east coast are also great, Toco, Sans Souci, Grande Riviere…with good surf!
I consider the Trinidad Carnival to be the single most important cultural phenomenon…
Back into Port of Spain, if you wanted to dine on the higher end of things you would go to Chaud
, located right on the Queens Park Savannah (a huge activity-filled field/park in the city). Then go for drinks on Ariapita Avenue…lots of road side bars, some of them with music, so you can shake your thing! Take a drive to the South of the island as well…lots of East Indian culture there (more than half the population here is of East Indian origin) and a flatter landscape that the North… lots of sugarcane fields down there, as well as lots of oil and natural gas. The money sits in that region.
FYD: What about the Carnival itinerary?
You’ll have to make a separate itinerary: lots and lots to do, including Panorama – the massive steel band competition; the Soca Monarch
competition – high energy fun. Make sure to go to the village of Paramin, in the hills just outside of Port of Spain, to see the raw antics of Blue Devils. Then wander the streets on Carnival Monday and Tuesday, there will be no shortage of things to see and experience. A place called Alice Yard
has a nice alternative art scene, get to know a few artists and visit a couple studios. If you happen to be here on a Thursday evening visit the StudioFilmClub
— if there is a screening. Before you head back, go to the neighboring island of Tobago…a sweet, sweet place that feels more like a Caribbean island that Trinidad does. Warning: when you’re done with all of this you may need another holiday!
1: “The Crown and Rude Garden Figures” 2011 Oil on board 75′ x 60′ 2: “Overreacting Madman at the Independence Day Parade” 2011 Oil on board 78′ x 60′ 3: The Contest; Streched Canvas; (12.5″ x 15″) / (25″ x 30″) 4: Che surfing. 5: “Fatman Dance” 2011 Oil on board 60′ x 50′ 6: “Balancing Figure” 2010. Oil and collage on board 60 x 50
*A recent interview with Che appeared in Trinidad Guardian newspaper, and how his name came to be, read here. And, more about the The Amateurs.