February 2017

The figure:
an Alison Chapman-Andrews retrospective
with guest artist Ras Ilix Hartman

Location: Morningside Gallery, Barbados Community College

Opening reception: March 15th, 2017

Exhibition dates: March 15th to March 31st, 2017

Punch Hotseat: March 22nd, 2017

Website: www.alisonchapmanandrews.net


After completing studies at the Walthamstow School of Art and the Royal College of Art in London, Alison moved to Barbados in 1971.  In addition to being a renowned painter, most closely associated with the Barbadian landscape, Alison was an art educator, teaching at St. Michael School for 18 years.  She was the first vice-president of the Art Collection Foundation, and the author of the Nation Newspaper art column, “Galerie” for 7 years from 1989-1996.  She has exhibited widely and is the recipient of the Collector’s Club’s Lifetime Achievement Award. 


Ras Ilix Hartman describes himself as a sculptor and a farmer with studios in St. Andrew and Temple Yard in Bridgetown.  He has exhibited locally and internationally including in Cuba and numerous venues throughout the US. 
During November 1999, his work was part of the exhibition, "Barbadian Art at the OAS", held at the Organization of the American States, Washington, DC.



When I was an art student, one learnt the basics of drawing in the life room. The model (usually female) posed surrounded by electric heaters, then the students, drawing at easels or sitting on "donkeys". The tutor drew corrections and explanations on your drawing. So one learnt to see, to notice, by studying the figure. When not working from “life" we drew the skeleton or muscles from plaster casts of flayed figures, long consigned to storerooms. It wasn’t just learning how the figure was articulated, but how to see form, light, volume and how to draw contour lines so they showed these things. A most valuable lesson was to make one’s thoughts concrete. Even when I went to the Royal College of Art, in 1963 just after pop art had exploded on the London scene, ten life paintings per year were still compulsory. But after the first year this was ignored and the lovely airy life rooms, linked by a spiral staircase, were gradually emptied of students. Apart from one or two people like me, who loved lonely painting......

This academic background in drawing basics was indispensable in the work I have done since. The very act of drawing, somehow opened one’s eyes to the possibility in the Barbadian landscape. So it is mainly in landscape and flora that I have worked. This preparatory drawing is often hidden in about 30 sketchbooks (another student legacy).

However, every few years I have produced a figure painting, and it is these that make up this exhibition, plus two drawings from student days (an old and young model) and the only painting not lost. The two nude monotypes show young and old again, both beautiful, differently. In years since, each figure study has been a test of my ability. They were a welcome contrast to my landscape painting. Each one is often also a reminder of friends; relationships; fellow artists; my collection; my life. They are personal glimpses, everyday or genre painting. The figure paintings, from student days onwards, are presented here together for the first time, giving the viewer and myself a chance to evaluate them. 




The figure predominates in the wood sculptures of Ras Ilix Hartman. His work then provides an interesting counterpoint to the figurative paintings of Alison Chapman Andrews. They each represent both male and female forms, full length as well as cropped studies. But Ilix does not focus on portraits of named individuals. Occasionally his sculptures reference a specifc occupation or situation as in the case of the Guyanese Pork Knocker prospecting for gold and diamonds. But more often they are more broadly conceptual, representing ideas such as womanhood or shamanism.

The material itself often inspires the form and content of the sculpture. The ancestral figures emerge out of aged trees that have witnessed the passing of generations. Twisted forms become dreadlocks that frame a face; the decayed and shredded trunk of Shaman in Exile suggests that spiritual power resides in the swirling recesses of the wood. The burnt and charred surfaces of Seer and Queen, the result of the 2011 fire in Temple Yard, invest these figures with a sense of resilience. It is this resilient and enduring spirit that speaks through much of Ilix’s work. 

SELECT WORK By Ras Ilix Hartman