Guyanese born U.S. based artist Dudley Charles recently opened his latest solo exhibition in Washington DC, after accepting an invitation from the Ambassador at the Embassy of Guyana to mount the show in celebration of Guyana’s 47th Republic Anniversary.
In a recent interview Charles explained that since there was no curator for the exhibition, he shouldered the daunting task of putting together a cohesive collection of works that echoed the spirit of the occasion. Nevertheless, he took on the challenge and curated a show which Ambassador Riyad Insanally in his message described as a, “sampling of his multifaceted opus […]” It was, as the Ambassador described, a show where, “[…] you will find yourselves drawn into a narrative that will inevitably lead you to a contemplation of more universal themes of human existence.”
Charles, who had his first solo exhibition in Georgetown in 1978, described how he first met local art veteran Donald Locke years ago and the spark that ignited the torch he still carries for his own work, “I was introduced to him through this woman who saw my father working on the LBI estate as a joiner/carpenter. He showed her some of my work and then she gave him a letter with instructions that he take me to Donald Locke, who taught an art class at Queen’s College. So I took the work to show Donald. He said I had a lot of talent but talent was not enough. There must be a passion in you to carry you through.”
His own passion for colour and painterly techniques as well as his reliance on memory, place and the migrant experience all inform his exploration of themes specific to the lived experiences in Guyana.
Speaking about his selection process and intention for the exhibition Charles explained, “I started out with the pieces Plaisance and Old House. There’s a piece called Demerara Seawall and another one called Rick Chick Chick. They bring back memories of my childhood days. I hope these stories would jar the memory of Guyanese people who grew up in the country or who would be familiar with those things. I want Guyanese people to know that there are Guyanese artists over here [in the U.S.]. We are small in number but we are very strong. We’ve been away from Guyana for a long time and some of the artists at home might think we didn’t stay to fight the revolution. But our revolution involves the paint and canvas.”
The exhibition continues until March 24.