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Block and Blue in art

Published: 
Saturday, April 28, 2018
Shane Hanson Mohammed with his work at the UWI DCFA Final Year Art Exhibition 2017. INSET: Spite Block and Blue Block. PICTURE COURTESY MB PHOTOGRAPHY

How do we relate to the objects around us? Why do we keep some as precious and throw others away? Artist Shane Mohammed explores some of these ideas in the art he will be exhibiting in Block and Blue, his exhibition at the gallery The Frame Shop, A Space Inna Space from April 28 to May 12.

Mohammed uses everyday objects embedded in concrete blocks to reflect on the environment around him. “The objects I collect range from the everyday plastic bottle to the inner workings of an antique clock and everything in between. We all collect and value these objects, whether as heirlooms or the everyday meals we have. It’s a lifetime of collecting objects, using them, displacing them, storing them, putting them on the top shelf or below the sink and just sometimes disposing of them. That to me was quite interesting that we would take this sort of colour and form and texture and dispersed it within the environment, contributing to pollution, etc.”

Saying that he began looking at these objects as substitutes for paints while studying at the UWI, St Augustine, Mohammed said: “I wanted to tackle the ideas of painting itself, what painting meant to the Caribbean and to Trinidad. In a bold move, I just decided to take that object and paint with it and use it as a paint and work with it from there.”

He said he did not initially begin working with concrete, but with a series of different adhesives. “It went from being pigment to being adhered together, first with resin then glass and grout. When testing concrete, it seemed to have this idea that whenever it’s locked into that concrete block you can’t really tell what could be inside and what could be outside.

“I wanted to develop that and build that. The outside of the blocks would have certain things that I allowed to show and certain things on the inside would have this aspect of, the deeper you look into it you still wouldn’t be able to figure out what was really inside. It’s the idea of the unknown, what is really seen and what is unseen and what is not seen.”

Mohammed said the blue collection is a series of 20 pieces which he defines as “constructs based on unconventional and intuitive contemporary practices and guidelines of creating while considering traditional elements and principles of art. It is reliant on process whether it be searching for a specific colour or form, the concept of an unintentional colour, audience and self interaction and connection to the objects.”

Mohammed said he sees the project as a type of recycling in that he’s repurposing them and taking them out of the environment. “In a sense it is me living and working to obtain the objects and then using the very same objects to make a living to then use that living to buy objects or gather objects to make a living to buy more objects.”

Mohammed emphasised that this work is for private showing and not for sale, as many of the objects he uses, although they were disposed of, are examples of intellectual property. He said the work was “not intended to harm or represent any of the individual companies in a bad way but more of a reflection on the objects around me.”

Many of the objects used in the current exhibition were recycled from previous shows, as Mohammed said he was reluctant to get rid of them. “They were first created at a point in time where I had a mental block of knowing what to do with the vast collection of objects I possessed and issues regarding their importance and storage. It stemmed from a sort of mental state of not knowing what to do with the objects, and trying to represent it in a physical state while also not knowing what’s inside of the block or what the block is about. After I took all that down from the museum I didn’t want to dispose of it because I would be not only losing something valuable that I had put a lot of meaning into and that had a lot of meaning built into it, so I decided to build on that and to let the work continue into what it’s going to become next.”

Admission is free. The exhibition begins today from 4 to 7 pm and then runs during normal gallery hours until May 12.

For more info, find Shane Hanson Studios on Facebook.

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