Sarah Beckett’s The Heart’s Calligraphy is an unusual art exhibition incorporating poetry—reading as an allusive enhancement strategy for more poignant appreciation of her works—at opening night of the exhibition. This is allowable but the viewer may at a later stage, revisit her exhibition to examine the paintings again. And then read the poems mounted on the walls, which relate to each panel as personal synoptic explanatory texts. An internationally experienced multi-purpose artist with several exhibitions in the Caribbean including France and England, Beckett shows versatility by her involvement with the Arts. She has conducted workshops in Singapore and Malaysia and has a studio in London. She has used poems of Lorca, readings from Boswell and rapso from Malik de Coteau of Grenada, as featured items in a private programme. Designer, painter, poet, teacher, her work is broad—based and varies with interest in film, music and song.
In her art work, she chooses a dominant, primary colour (red, blue, yellow or green) with which she uses as the colour of the entire painting and the frame as well. Her own three-line, four-line and dispassionate free verses alongside the exhibits are viewed for their incalescent simplicity. They connote a feeling for open spaces and their outdoor luminescence relating to a sense of freedom, the wonders of nature, the flora and fauna, enriched with the tenets of humanity. Evident in her paintings is her exuberant decorative habit to hold the spatial balance of forms by highlighted spots of pure colour. These accentual dots like floating gems create a perspective to the entire background, giving credence to the tonal values. Most times the central areas of nothingness of some paintings provide spaces of relief to the busy lacing of unrecognisable form, some laid down by her own choice of gardening skills and plantation methods for agriculture. The viewer is confronted by the likes of dots, leaves, roots, vines, ponds, flowers and shrubs, all adding a sense of mystery and curiosity to the luminous background. But one wonders what aesthetic value the artist has selected for depiction in her love Tango Series, with legs entwined in an intimacy, prompting a feeling of fetishness and a sexy adulation for legs and feet—done in black against a red background; six same-size panel photographs placed in page one of the brochure—possibly as a matter of importance, a priority item in place of the major pictorial submissions.
Graphically and mentally challenged, we are confronted by the paintings L’Heure Bleu and Distant Music done in oils on canvas, the pristine underwater azureous-toned areas, stimulating gorgeous delight. Her poems as mounted texts are prosaic, expressing a supportive spirit of ruralism, in which pebble, sand, garden, pond, rock, shore and moon contribute to the hallucinatory effect of a gardener’s dream. Here she is researcher, herbalist—countryside wanderer in search of Truth in the relationship between Man and Nature; the “still sad” but symbolic Music of Humanity. She has a “presence” that “disturbs her with a joy elevated thought, a sense sublime of something far more interfused.” The melancholy reverie of an image-dreamer, in her attempts to show the bonding relevance of paints and words (in poetry) used in her own unique heraldic manner. In Amor, a large vertical oil painting, a couple in dynamic action poise, depicts the dancers’ gait convincingly, but the woman’s body is wooden with no reference to human anatomy, her hair likened to a muddled foot mat. But the male partner is dominantly assertive in his white shirt and black coat and hat. The bottom and left half of the painting are lost in shadows of obscurity, inconsequential to the whole emotionally charged image.
Her portrait of herself, is a dynamic portrayal through use of brisk confident strokes, using the canvas frame on the left as a means of contrast, the strong vertical line serving as a structural device to strengthen the impact of the curvilinear features; mouth, cheek, lips, eyes and the rounded plains of the face and neck. Horizontal background strokes of pigment could have given the portrait a more stabilised impression, of definitive value. But then one may only suggest, unmindful of the artist’s intension. Each Note is a Rose is a square-boxed, super-imposed panel of enriched paint with small doses of low-keyed, frivolous brown calligraphic curls serving as embellished borders of indecipherable items that become the passage of the main theme—done in alazarine crimson—blobs of cherries.
This summarises the artist’s own code of approach that appears as a method of expression on her landscapes, except those of the human figure. This exhibition is testimony of a wide range of interest of the poet-painter, an image dreamer whose long experience and devotion to many facets of her artistic ability, serves as an example for emulation for all practitioners seriously involved in the arts.