Nightscapes with Palms and Egrets
September 9, 2023 - October 28, 2023
Various Small Fires proudly presents the Texas debut solo exhibition by Trinidad-based artist Che Lovelace. Nightscapes with Palms and Egrets poetically advances Lovelace’s practice that celebrates the artist’s homeland and hones in on the island’s lush flora and fauna.
Utilizing a palette of rich colors and compositions with abstracted forms, Che Lovelace portrays diverse facets of life in Trinidad. Past works depict scenes from Carnival celebrations to urban architecture and the natural landscape surrounding Lovelace’s studio in west Port of Spain. He paints his subjects with a geometric sensibility and fragments the picture plane into multiple panels, a reflection of the island’s multi-cultural reality as shaped by a layered history of embattled colonialism and independence.
In this body of work, Lovelace focuses on the vegetation and animal life in his homeland. He writes, “A wealth of inspiration exists right there in the shapes of some of my favorite plants: heliconias and palms and bois canot trees. All very common plants that grow wild and abundant.” This inspiration emboldens an increase in scale for Nightscapes with Blowing Palms, 2023, an 8-panel painting and the artist’s largest work exhibited by the gallery to date. In the painting, Lovelace creates an interplay between shapes, marks, and textures to capture the magnificent energy of the wind-blown trees in the moonlight.
Derek Walcott’s collection of poems White Egrets also bears influence. The writer served as a central figure and supporter of visual artists in Trinidad, including Lovelace. His poems in this body of work reflect on the same egrets that are often seen near Lovelace’s studio and that in turn spark memories of the poet’s presence. Through his depictions of these birds, Lovelace pays tribute to a friend who he describes as one who wrote with an unforgettable “honest fragile beauty and transcendence.” The artist encapsulates the spirit of Trinidad’s wildlife, arriving at paintings that exude freedom, prosperity, and resilience.
Che Lovelace (b. 1969, Port of Spain, Trindad) received his training at l’Ecole Régionale des Beaux-Arts de la Martinique. He has had solo exhibitions Corvi-Mora, London; Nicola Vassell, New York; Various Small Fires, Los Angeles and Seoul; Independent New York; Y Art Gallery, Port of Spain; Loft Gallery, Port of Spain; Galerie Éric Hussenot, Paris, France; and Half Gallery, New York. His work is in the public collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami, X Museum, Beijing, China, and the Aïshti Foundation, Lebanon. Lovelace lecturers at the University of the West Indies Creative Arts Campus.
Portrait of Che Lovelace, in studio. Courtesy of the Artist, and Various Small Fires, Los Angeles / Dallas / Seoul. Photograph by Brendan Delzin.