The critical/visual challenges presented by Guy Beckles’ recent body of work cannot be engaged by mere reference to its constructivist antecedents. A desire to move from the illusionistic into the literal …. to explore/conquer the time/space continuum, is only one (minor) pre-occupation.
Unlike some of his earlier pieces of ambiguous geographical/cultural origin, these works admit to and articulate, a specifically Caribbean-Trinidadian physical/psychological landscape. Rather then dwelling primarily on cerebral/esoteric “formal factors’, the kinetic conventions of Gabo and Duchamps together with Vasarely’s non-representational Op Art dicta become the vehicles for confronting the constants with which his island people, children of a hybrid Diaspora, negotiate.
A Beckles assemblage/environment is a microcosm of society – his “visual vernacular” recalls, defines and questions the mental and physical space which he inhabits – a valid contribution an emerging New Caribbean iconography.
Freelance Art Critic – Caribbean
To me, as a fellow practitioner, the artwork of Guy Beckles represents a process of investigation and experimentation, with the discarded components of toys and electrical appliances.
These objects are usually associated with consumer society’s comforts and prowess. By re-configurating or re-animating these “items” the artist begins to alter our relationship to them. Consequently, they become, as raw material, subject to his own particular requirements as a creative individual.
One can say that he has had his “way” with them. His discreet mischief becomes a symbol of our will and inventiveness.
I often wonder if the placement of these moving artworks inside of glass cases contains and highlights or isolates these art actions in our traditional art space.
The work can then be perceived as a metaphor for our anxiety as artists working within the confines of the slowly receding convention-bound arena of expectations, better known, thus far, as “the local art market”.
The significance of this work is not to be derived exclusively from the immediate an obvious entertainment value of its “movements”, in space or by the artist’s natural inclination toward reflecting upon our social environment.
After all, shouldn’t formal and methodological restlessness combined with concern with one’s word be a given? Aren’t these the expectations that make some calypsonians significant to us and others as digestable as they are forgettable?
Significance may then be derived from the spirit of adventure that drives this artist to work in a manner that does not deny the dynamics of our cultural and historical location.
Artist, Columnist, Art Critic – Caribbean
Minshall describes Guy Beckles and his work.
“ . . .Clearly his work is unique among Caribbean artists, but beyond that, what is it about? It is about the artist himself. My earliest impressions of Guy Beckles remain – that seriousness etched with a smile. He is whimsical, yet very profound. He is unfeignedly courteous, but always demanding the closest attention. As he is, so is his work. The seriousness is invariably etched with a mischievous chuckle and the smile can sometimes conceal despair. When the work so clearly reflects the spirit of the maker of the work, we are witnessing truth. The artist is revealing himself. He is telling his inherent truth . . . and this, is the best any artist can do….
Internationally Acclaimed Stage-set Designer/Artist:
q Co-designer of 1992 Barcelona Olympics’ Opening and Closing Ceremonies
q Designer of the 1996 Olympic Ceremonies in Atlanta.
q Contributing designer of the 1999 Miss Universe Opening Ceremony in Trinidad & Tobago.
q Avant-Garde Conceptualist/Designer of some of the most innovative masquerade productions in the recent history of Trinidad & Tobago’s annual carnival street-parade. (More than 100 other similar Caribbean-styled carnivals around the world, have modeled after Trinidad & Tobago’s).
q Recipient of innumerable awards from the government and people of Trinidad & Tobago.
Pat speaks about Guy Beckles . . .
“To walk into a room full of spinning, whirring, dancing and experience Guy Beckles’ mobile sculpture, is to return to the long forgotten magic of a fairground of childhood fantasy. The shapes and their colours have their own lives slicing through space, creating pattern uponpattern; shape upon shape, always magical and always beguiling.
Art persons call this kind of sculpture KINETIC that is derived from a Greek word which means motion. So that this kind of art allows or enables material bodies and the forces and energy associated with them as they move, to move.
And what bodies Guy Beckles builds!! Some of them are jokey, quirky and singular.
But all of them are full of free colour, and none of them are still.
In an environment of white walls and having a clean wooden floor, this sculpture transforms the space into a giant kaleidoscope with colours swirling around and about, so that we become Kinetic ourselves; always moving; never still; always transforming an art of FREEDOM.”
Dr. Pat Bishop, B.A., M.A. (Hons.)
Artist, Musician, Honorary Doctor of Philosophy – (University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad & Tobago.
Musical Director of the Acclaimed Lydians Singers Choir and Steelband Orchestra
Holder of the Trinity Cross, (Trinidad & Tobago’s highest national award)