Nov 10, 2013 News
Reviewer: Dr Glenville Ashby
Kinetic art is unique. It does not cling haplessly on walls or stand like cold, emotional sentinels. It engages you, eliciting a response, as it literally comes alive, thanks to unseen motion sensors. And the man behind the magic is Guy Beckles, the only celebrated kinetic artist in the Caribbean. In New York, the kinetic artist is a rare species and expectedly, the city was clearly wowed by Beckles.
Beckles’ work is subtle, neither realism nor abstract. It’s kaleidoscopic, with an unmistakable joie de vivre that captivated patrons at “Imagenation” in Harlem.
It conjures images of ace designer, Peter Minshall, but on a more personal level. It leaves the viewer with an indelible imprint lodged in the crevice of the brain. Beckles covers his bases, leaving little to the imagination. He plays the part of an illusionist, but is undeniably a social constructivist. He probes the viewer who is moved to interpret, to critique. His is the artistic path of the “middle-way,” – a mélange of literalism, surrealism and the abstract. It’s an opus of work that moves the aficionado and mesmerises the uninitiated.
It’s a reflection of arduous patience – long hours of working and reworking – of visiting and revisiting – of assembling and dissembling. It can take hundreds of hours – months to get it right. This is the sin qua non of kinetic art. Its exactitude demands a peculiar personality and insight. It’s an oeuvre that blends the rigours of science with the imagination of a philosopher. The artist loses himself in his project, enveloped by inspiration – by a muse, as if dwelling in an ineffable zone. And therein, Beckles excels. The zone is his second home. He calls the experience, “a leap of consciousness, from the ordinary to the extraordinary.”
Yet, he remains humble. “I will be foolish to take credit for my work.”
Beckles is a diminutive, bespectacled sixty-year-old man with a sharp, appealing countenance. But art it seems has reversed the wheels of time and presents a man that scrambles the mind when he reveals his age. He admits that much: “I realise that artists have a young spirit that reflects in their physical appearance.”
He is Barbadian by birth but was raised in Trinidad. He is articulate, soft spoken with an intensity that is hardly unsettling. He describes his early years and the conundrum in charting his professional future. “I was indecisive, unsure of my direction.”
A colleague at Dartmouth College suggested art. He attended a few classes where the genre of kinetic art was discussed. Providence had spoken. He is inspired by “simple things,” he says. “It could be a movement, a conversation, or people.”
The former teacher is now a full-time artist with some forty-eight pieces in his growing collection. Each piece has become an extension of himself from which it’s almost impossible to part. The monetary offers have been inviting, though. But his work has assumed a sentimental and existential value.
“The pieces cannot be replicated because the parts may not be available.”
This is “Tao” of the authentic artist, one whose self-worth and actualisation are tied to his creation. He asks rhetorically, “How can monetary value be placed on one’s being?”
His book, Guynetics, includes a DVD that showcases this hypnotic art-work. It defines and details each piece, leaving the door to Beckles’ world slightly ajar, allowing glimpses into a paradoxical mind of simplicity and complexity. The viewer is slowly drawn into a carapace of illusion wherein reality is embedded.
Guynetics also include commentaries from the finest designers and artists, including Peter Minshall who states: “When the work so clearly reflects the spirit of the maker of the work, we are witnessing truth. The artist revealing himself. He is telling his inherent truth…”
Dr Pat Bishop goes a step further: ‘To walk into the room full of spinning, whirring, dancing and experience Guy Beckles’ mobile sculptor, is to return to the long forgotten magic of fairground of childhood fantasy…”
And Canadian art collector, Diane Bosworth surely encapsulates Beckles’ ingenious display in the foreword of Guynetics: “His art defies definition and tantalizes your senses visually, intellectually and emotionally. It transcends us to another lace and time. In his Kinetic Art, Guy Beckles produces vivid, intricately constructed moving images that a painting can never capture…”
Need I say more?
Feedback: glenvilleashby[email protected] or follow him on [email protected]
Guynetics: Selected works from 1976-2012 by Guy Beckles
Publisher: National Museum and Art Gallery
For more information:[email protected]/www.guybecklesart.com
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