MAFA Studio Process
Blue Devil at Caribbean Carnival
During the Easter break, I spent some time in the Chelsea College of Arts MAFA studio space mixing acrylic paint and studying the colour blue as I examined Caribbean Carnival and it’s connection to colonialism and how many in the region approach cultural history in modernity.
There was stillness in the room as a passerby on the curb outside the studio window stopped and glazed. However, the silence gave me some clarity and direction in which I should chance while I realised time was not on my side.
During research, I discovered the tradition of jab jab in Grenada carnivals, then I connected the blue pigment body painting before mask or carnival celebration to Trinidad and Tobago. While Grenadians “grease down” with black oil and decked out in costumes made of found objects, Trinidadians dye themselves with blue paint to perform as blue devils before the main course of the fiesta.
Inspired by the tones of blue devil persona and pigments on my test palette the experimentation with monochromatic shades of blue instead of black charcoal on paper brought to life a portraiture of a canecutter gazing into space from 1.5×1.5 meters of a mounted canvas.
Stepping back from time to time to analyse the brush strokes a sense of oddity in the composition reminded me of an awkwardness in my style of painting, from light to deeper shades of blue. Later I came across a quote by Wassily Kandinsky, “the deeper the blue becomes, the more strongly it calls man towards the infinite awakening in him…the brighter it becomes the more it loses sound, turning into silent stillness.”