The Caribbean was a theatre for historical colonial encounter. This encounter produced new peoples, new religions, new cultures an d new economies—a New World. It was a moment of relentless change, altered meanings and adaptations. Central to these adaptations was the production of sugar on plantations which also became scenes of slave rebellions and the Haitian Revolution. Plantations become sites of death and life while creating new taste and desires in the Americas and Europe. How to grapple with the creation, constant unfolding, and afterlives of the colonial encounter, and what these produced within the everyday, has been a preoccupation of many Caribbean artists.
Within this frame, the work of Edouard Duval-Carrié stands out. His artistic themes are many variations on the symbolic and the historic life of the region. His work weaves the aesthetic with the everyday, creating signs that represent a Caribbean Diaspora in motion. He paints and sculpts the Loas of Vodou, showcasing how they migrated from the Caribbean to North America. In these and other works, he is preoccupied with history and the creation of memories without histories, but also with the politics of history and knowledge.
His paintings and sculptures explore how the region’s flora and the fauna were intrinsic to the colonial enterprise, and the ways in which our natural environment has itself been transformed into a new problem of our times. Throughout all of Carrie’s work is the drive to create a visual grammar of the region as an experimental colorist and mixed-media artist. In this exhibition are paintings of a slave who transforms himself into various forms of animal life; boats transformed into containers of sugar; disfigured human forms, heads and faces metamorphosing from their symmetrical shape into things unknown; and lighting methods on resin which changes old forms into the new.
This exhibition not only revises the artist’s work, but presents a new imaginary. Duval-Carrié’s current work creates contemporary echoes of the historical colonial encounter and the construction of the New World, considering its meanings for today.