ART IN SAINT BARTH
It may not be obvious to the casual visitor, but St Barth is a beehive of artistic activity. In addition to the local painters who immortalize the little Saint Barth’s houses or perhaps the yachts in the harbor, there also seems to be a steady stream of visiting artists who exhibit their work in a variety of places. Gallery Porta 34 in Gustavia, which for some reason used to be called the Bank of Bagdad, has an ongoing series of exhibits by artists from near and far. On the upper road, Les Artisans doubles as a jewelry store and art gallery, with the work of several artists on the walls, although the work of French painter Alain Le Chatelier really stands out. He paints with a sense of skewed realism, and I’m anxious to see what the theme of this year’s exhibit will be (opening coming up on February 6…). Recent artists to show in Saint Barth also include Raimundo Figueroa from Puerto Rico, who created a series of paintings and drawings called Vital Forces, intended to express a feeling of tranquility, hope, and eternity to the viewer. What was different about this exhibit was that it took place at the Anglican Church in Gustavia. This was for several reasons: first the Reverend Charles Vere Nicholl hopes to make the church more of a community center with a lot of different outreach programs. In addition, Figueroa wanted to do something for the children of Saint Barth so his exhibit is a fundraiser of sorts, with 10% of the sales donated to a new association called Avenir Plus, dedicated to developing programs for the island’s youth. The paintings, with large abstract black shapes on white backgrounds, looked fantastic hung on the outside walls of the church with lights on the ground grazing the architecture and the art. The exhibit has moved to the To B. Art gallery (behind Hermes in Gustavia) and is worth a visit. One of the movers and shakers on the local art scene is a young curator named Valentine de Badereau who recently created a gallery in the lobby of the Tom Beach Hotel, and also organizes showings elsewhere on the island, such as a small gallery in the Carré D’Or in Gustavia. One of Valentine’s interesting ventures is an exhibit here of eight photographs of projections taken in the ruins of Autour du Rocher, the once infamous nightspot above Lorient (soon to become a private home we hear). These photographs are by Camilla Langoux, who lives in Saint Barth, and named her exhibit “A La Recherche du Temps Perdu,” or “Remembrance of Things Past,” as in the celebrated novel by Marcel Proust. Her work evokes a sense of memory, childhood, and loss, and captures a sense of beauty as well, with the sea outside the ruins for example, as Langoux adds a layer of fiction to reality. So keep an eye out, you never know where art may pop up as you tour the island or set out on a shopping trip. Of course the island itself is a magnificent landscape, which will continue to inspire artists who strive to capture its beauty.
More to come,